Human Mind Acting Like Nonhuman Animals

Four things are common in animals and a sense-blind human beings with an empty mind: (1) eating, (2) sleeping, (3) mating, and (4) defending.

Mind infatuated with Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.) is not only restless, it also behaves and lives like animals while alive (ਪਸੂ ਵਿਰਤੀ-animal nature) — functions primarily on instincts, not much reasoning or discernment (Bibek Budh).

In nutshell, separation from Truth (Sach) = Animal Joon = Animal life = animal nature = mind living daily life at the level of animals…

  • ਕਰਤੂਤਿ ਪਸੂ ਕੀ ਮਾਨਸ ਜਾਤਿ ॥ ਲੋਕ ਪਚਾਰਾ ਕਰੈ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤਿ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਛਪਸਿ ਨਾਹਿ ਕਛੁ ਕਰੈ ਛਪਾਇਆ ॥: Although; human in name or creed, but actions are that of animalistic nature. But day and night he exhibits or shows off to people (that he is a human – ਬੰਦਾ)! Outside (on his body) he wears religious dress but in his mind is the filth of Maya. However he cannot conceal the filth of his mind with (outwardly wearing religious robes, cunningness, pleasing people etc.). (sggs 267).
  • ਪਸੂ ਮਿਲਹਿ ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਖੜੁ ਖਾਵਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਦੇਹਿ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਵਿਹੂਣੇ ਆਦਮੀ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਜੀਵਣ ਕਰਮ ਕਰੇਹਿ ॥੩॥: (Even though humans are known to be superior to animals, birds, etc., but) beasts have merits, as they eat grass and give milk. Without the Naam (Truth, Wisdom, Virtues…), the mortal’s life is cursed, (because forgetting Naam) they perform (worthless) actions. ||3|| (sggs 489).
  • ਮਾਣਸ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਕਰਣੀ ਕੁਤਾ ਦਰਿ ਫੁਰਮਾਨੁ ॥: O Nanak! A human being is a human in shape and name only; (but) by conduct he is a dog (greedy, selfish, corrupt, etc.) – this is the Divine edict. (sggs 350).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਸਿਮਰਨ ਕੂਕਰ ਹਰਕਾਇਆ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਲੋਭੀ ਬੰਧੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੬॥: Without remembrance (of Wisdom, Virtues..), one is like a mad dog. The greedy, Saakat (one separated from the Truth) falls into entanglements ||6|| (sggs 239).

That’s why the Gurbani had to say:

  • ਨਰੂ ਮਰੈ ਨਰੁ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ॥ ਪਸੂ ਮਰੈ ਦਸ ਕਾਜ ਸਵਾਰੈ ॥੧॥: When a person dies from within — death of good and humane actions or deeds (ਅੰਦਰੋਂ ਇਨਸਾਨੀਅਤ ਦੀ ਮੌਤ) — then I become worthless (for my own spiritual Journey and humanity around me). But when actions of animalistic nature are eliminated from within me (‘ਕਰਤੂਤਿ ਪਸੂ ਕੀ’), then I am of plentiful use — to my own spiritual Journey as well those around me. (sggs 870).

The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) has used many similes to help us understand this animal nature of the human mind. With these examples, the SGGS helps us understand the Gurmat Sidhaant (in the English language, there is no word equivalent to Sidhaant-ਸਿਧਾਂਤ).

When the Truth that has not been personally experienced, one cannot grasp it directly. However, with the help of analogies, similes, allegories, metaphors, figurative or mystic representations and illustrations, the Truth becomes relatively easier to grasp. Such methods have extensively been used in the SGGS to drive the Truth or Wisdom into our doubt ridden mind.

To start with, let’s consider the following verse in which the Gurbani compares the human mind with a donkey (ਖੋਤਾ-ਮਨ) and a buffalo (ਭੈਸਾ-ਮਨ). A donkey — beast of burden — symbolizes foolishness, and a buffalo symbolizes inflated false ego-sense (Haumai).

  • ਹਰੀ ਅੰਗੂਰੀ ਗਦਹਾ ਚਰੈ ॥ ਨਿਤ ਉਠਿ ਹਾਸੈ ਹੀਗੈ ਮਰੈ ॥੧॥ ਮਾਤਾ ਭੈਸਾ ਅੰਮੁਹਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਕੁਦਿ ਕੁਦਿ ਚਰੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਪਾਇ ॥੨॥: The donkey (i.e., the foolish mind) grazes upon the green grass (of Bikaar or Maya); arising each day, (the mind) laughs and brays (like a donkey), and (finally) dies (in this ‘hee-haw’ or a donkey-lifestyle). ||1|| The intoxicated bull (of the deluded and Bikaaree mind) wanders around wildly. It romps (in false ego-sense) and eats (the crop of Bikaar, Maya …) and then is ruined completely (live a hellish existence or low life…). ||2|| (sggs 326).

In addition to donkey and buffalo, the crazy and crooked nature of the human mind is also compared in the Gurbani with the behavior of many other animals. For example, camel, dog, elephant, frog, monkey, stork or crane, fish, deer, and so on.

  • ਗੁਰ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਹੀਣਸ੍ਯ੍ਯ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੰਤ ਜਨਮ ਭ੍ਰਸਟਣਹ ॥ ਕੂਕਰਹ ਸੂਕਰਹ ਗਰਧਭਹ ਕਾਕਹ ਸਰਪਨਹ ਤੁਲਿ ਖਲਹ ॥੩੩॥: That mortal who lacks the Gur-mantra (Guru’s counsel, advice, Wisdom, Upadesh, ਸਲਾਹ), cursed and fallen (depraved, polluted…) is his life. That wicked person is a dog, a pig, a jackass, a crow, a snake (in this very life, here and now, not after death). ||33|| (1356).

In addition to many nonhuman animals, the crazy and crooked nature of the human mind is also compared in the Gurbani with the behavior of many birds, insects, etc. For example, crow, parrot, vulture, moth, bumble bee, etc.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਖੀ ਭਇਓ ਉਡਿ ਉਡਿ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜੋ ਜੈਸੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਸੋ ਤੈਸੋ ਫਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥੮੬॥ ਕਬੀਰ ਜਾ ਕਉ ਖੋਜਤੇ ਪਾਇਓ ਸੋਈ ਠਉਰੁ ॥ ਸੋਈ ਫਿਰਿ ਕੈ ਤੂ ਭਇਆ ਜਾ ਕਉ ਕਹਤਾ ਅਉਰੁ ॥੮੭॥: O Kabeer! The mind becomes like a bird (as bird flies in different directions in search for food, etc., similarly) the mind soars and flies in ten directions (i.e., wanders around chasing mirage, desires, sense objects, Maya, etc.). According to the company (a man) keeps, gets the similar reward (i.e., acquires similar thinking or Soch, qualities…) ||86|| O Kabeer! (Through living a life with Wisdom, divine Virtues…, I) have realized That Place within (i.e., Nijj Ghar, Jot Saroop…) which I was searching. What I called ‘someone else’ before (i.e., whom I used to consider separate from me before, now I) have realized I’m That. ||87|| (sggs 1369).
  • ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਮੀਨ ਭ੍ਰਿੰਗ ਪਤੰਗ ਕੁੰਚਰ ਏਕ ਦੋਖ ਬਿਨਾਸ ॥ ਪੰਚ ਦੋਖ ਅਸਾਧ ਜਾ ਮਹਿ ਤਾ ਕੀ ਕੇਤਕ ਆਸ ॥੧॥: The deer, the fish, the bumble bee, the moth and the elephant are destroyed, each for a single defect [ardent desire to hear sound (deer); fish: desire of tongue or taste (fish); desire for smell (bumble bee); desire for seeing (moth); desire of lust (elephant)]. So the (mortal) who is filled with the five incurable defects (i.e., lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride) – what hope is there for him? ||1|| (sggs 468).

Not only animals, birds, and insects, the Gurbani also uses the examples of trees and plants!

For example, the smell of sandalwood is so sublime, whatever plant comes in its contact gets uplifted. Similarly, the Gurbani urges us to seek the company of the divine-oriented, virtuous and wise people. In their contact, one gets spiritually uplifted, transformed, and changed from within.

  • ਜਿਉ ਚੰਦਨ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਵਸੈ ਹਿਰਡੁ ਬਪੁੜਾ ਤਿਉ ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲਿ ਪਤਿਤ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥੩॥: The poor castor oil plant, growing near the sandalwood tree, becomes fragrant; in the same way, the fallen or corrupt becomes approved (if willing to change, becomes truthful, Wise…) by associating with Truth (Sat). ||3|| (861).

To the contrary, consider a thorn bush:

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮਾਰੀ ਮਰਉ ਕੁਸੰਗ ਕੀ ਕੇਲੇ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਜੁ ਬੇਰਿ ॥ ਉਹ ਝੂਲੈ ਉਹ ਚੀਰੀਐ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਹੇਰਿ ॥੮੮॥: O Kabeer! I have been ruined and destroyed by bad company (Kusang), like the banana plant near the thorn bush. The thorn bush waves in the wind, and pierces the banana plant; see this, and do not associate with the Saakat (those separated from the Divine). ||88|| (sggs 1369).

What separates humans from animals?

The SGGS tells us that our mind’s True or Pure Nature is Jot Saroop.

This gives rise to a following question: If our mind’s True Natue is Jot Saroop, then how did it become deformed and perplexed?

And why does it behave like animals?

Let’s ask the SGGS:

  • ਜਿਨਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨ ਸੇਵਿਓ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕੀਤੋ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਓਇ ਮਾਣਸ ਜੂਨਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਪਸੂ ਢੋਰ ਗਾਵਾਰ ॥ ਓਨਾ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਸਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥: Those who have not Internalized the Message of the Guru‘s Shabad; do not call them human beings; they are as dead animals and stupid. They have neither spiritual GiaanWisdom of spiritual Life nor Contemplation (Giaan Dhiaan); they have no love and affection for the Creator Within. (sggs 1418).
  • ਮੈ ਪਤਿ ਕੀ ਪੰਦਿ ਨ ਕਰਣੀ ਕੀ ਕਾਰ ॥ ਹਉ ਬਿਗੜੈ ਰੂਪਿ ਰਹਾ ਬਿਕਰਾਲ ॥: I have not followed the Divine Way (Divine Wisdom), nor have I done good deeds. (As a result, my Original Jot Saroop) got deformed and remains perplexed. (sggs 24).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥: Without understanding, people become beast (-nature) and demon ||6|| (sggs 224).

Thus, in short, a mortal lacking Bhagti, the Divine Wisdom, VirtuesNaam, or the Gurmukh Lifestyle (the divine Lifestyle), lives  a Joon or life of animal-nature (ਪਸੂ ਜੂਨ), again and again (“ਵਲਿ ਵਲਿ ਅਉਤਰੈ”!

Now, let’s ask the Gurbani (Gur Shabad) as to why do we lack the spiritual Knowledge or a divine Lifestyle? As the Gurbani tells us, because people are not interested in it!

We may read, listen or study the Gur Shabad a lot, but very ‘rare’ one LIVES IT! Hence, the important step — earnest practice or implementation of the Wisdom of the SGGS in daily life (Amal-ਅਮਲ) — is missing.

Instead of living an animal-Joon or life (i.e., non-Gurmukh nature, etc.), the SGGS urges adopting the nature of a Hans or swan (i.e., the Gurmukh Lifestyle).

A Hans (swan) is said to have two mystic qualities: (1) a mystic quality of separating milk from the water, and (2) eating only the real pearls found at the bottom of a lake!

Everything we perceive through the bodily senses is not the Truth! Like a Hans, the Gurbani’s Wisdom expects us to utilizing the unique power of reasoning or discernment (Bibek Budh) to separate the Truth from all that enters our senses.

  • ਹੰਸ ਹੰਸਾ ਬਗ ਬਗਾ ਲਹੈ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਜਾਲਾ ॥: (By sermonizing, understanding, orating, etc., Naam,) filth of the mind diminishes, and from a great heron (i.e., great cheat or trickster), the mind becomes a great swan (i.e., Gurmukh). (sggs 567).

Virtuous conduct and thinking (Soch) is emphasized by Baabaa Nanak. After all, human actions are the louder expressions of his thoughts (Soch).

According to Baabaa Nanak, the Truth is the foundation of all Virtues. So the SGGS asks us to befriend with the Truth and disassociate from people of animal nature (i.e., Saakat-Manmukh-Mayadhaaree, etc.).

  • ਸਰਵਰੁ ਹੰਸਿ ਨ ਜਾਣਿਆ ਕਾਗ ਕੁਪੰਖੀ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਸਾਕਤ ਸਿਉ ਐਸੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਹੈ ਬੂਝਹੁ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਰੰਗਿ ॥: Associating with the crow-minded (i.e., Saakat: those separated from their Mool, Mayadhaaree, Manmukh…), the soul-swan did not respect the Sarovar (i.e., the Pool of the Wisdom). Such is the love with the Saakat. O wise one! Understand (the true Way of life) through the Divine love. (sggs 1411).

Since the stubborn mind knowingly commits demerits, now perhaps we can appreciate why the Gurbani repeatedly ask us to investigate the mind, conquer the mind, freeze the mind, cut the mind, and bathe the mind in the Pool of Wisdom (Giaan), etc. Because it’s the mind that needs to become Sikh

Otherwise, a human will remain worse than an animal. Bhagat Kabeer Jee teaches:

  • ਚਾਰਿ ਪਾਵ ਦੁਇ ਸਿੰਗ ਗੁੰਗ ਮੁਖ ਤਬ ਕੈਸੇ ਗੁਨ ਗਈਹੈ ॥ ਊਠਤ ਬੈਠਤ ਠੇਗਾ ਪਰਿਹੈ ਤਬ ਕਤ ਮੂਡ ਲੁਕਈਹੈ ॥੧॥ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਬੈਲ ਬਿਰਾਨੇ ਹੁਈਹੈ ॥ ਫਾਟੇ ਨਾਕਨ ਟੂਟੇ ਕਾਧਨ ਕੋਦਉ ਕੋ ਭੁਸੁ ਖਈਹੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸਾਰੋ ਦਿਨੁ ਡੋਲਤ ਬਨ ਮਹੀਆ ਅਜਹੁ ਨ ਪੇਟ ਅਘਈਹੈ ॥ ਜਨ ਭਗਤਨ ਕੋ ਕਹੋ ਨ ਮਾਨੋ ਕੀਓ ਅਪਨੋ ਪਈਹੈ ॥੨॥ ਦੁਖ ਸੁਖ ਕਰਤ ਮਹਾ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਬੂਡੋ ਅਨਿਕ ਜੋਨਿ ਭਰਮਈਹੈ ॥ ਰਤਨ ਜਨਮੁ ਖੋਇਓ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਬਿਸਰਿਓ ਇਹੁ ਅਉਸਰੁ ਕਤ ਪਈਹੈ ॥੩॥ ਭ੍ਰਮਤ ਫਿਰਤ ਤੇਲਕ ਕੇ ਕਪਿ ਜਿਉ ਗਤਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਰੈਨਿ ਬਿਹਈਹੈ ॥ ਕਹਤ ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨੁ ਮੂੰਡ ਧੁਨੇ ਪਛੁਤਈਹੈ ॥੪॥੧॥: (Difference between a human being and an animal – bull etc. – is:) with four feet, two horns and a dumb mouth, (an animal) cannot live by Virtues (‘Gun-ਗੁਨ’). Standing and sitting the stick falls (on animal’s head, i.e., the animal is made to do all the work by the force of the stick; and the animal) cannot hide head anywhere ||1|| Without ‘Hari’ (-Naam, Wisdom, Virtues, etc., you have) become like that enslaved animal with a torn nose and maimed shoulders, and who is afforded just the straw of coarse grain to eat! ||1||Pause|| … (sggs 524).


  1. Thank you sister Khushmeet kaur Ji for taking the time to share your valuable thoughts.
    As emphasized by the SGGS, for a Sikh (learner or student of the SGGS), “Bhagti” is to thoroughly Understand the Wisdom (Giaan) of the SGGS through the Shabad-Vichaar, and then persistently live it in daily life (Sikhee Sikhiaa Gur Veechaari, SGGS, 465). In other words, In Gurmat, Bhagti is a Lifestyle — Gurmukhi Jeevan, the Divine Life based on the Divine Virtues and Wisdom of the SGGS…

  2. Sat sri akal veerji. I would like to share my views that Naam will reside in our mind if we will apply gurbani in our daily life. If we do waheguru Simran daily then our daily life will change into gurmukhi jeevan. And if we follow gurbani daily then Naam will come to reside in our mind.means to merge with waheguru,we need two things- daily waheguru simran and daily living our lives according to gurbani. I find no other way to merge with waheguru.thanking you.veerji please correct me if I’m wrong

  3. Sat sri akal veerji,I want to share my views that gurbani is to apply daily in life.means see ,hear,speak,do ,think what pleases to waheguru. and whenever our mind gets distract from it then we should ask ourselves that are the things we are ,seeing,hearing,doing,thinking ,speaking pleases to waheguru?this will bring us on truth path in daily life.means we should put waheguru happiness first in our life whatever pleases to waheguru,do that.thanking you.please correct me if I am wrong .

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