The Gurbani tells us that the entire world is consumed with the fire of Sootak!

  • ਸੂਤਕੁ ਅਗਨਿ ਭਖੈ ਜਗੁ ਖਾਇ ॥: (Due to the illusion of Sootak) The world is being consumed in the fire of Sootak. (sggs 413).
  • ਸਭੋ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਜੇਤਾ ਮੋਹੁ ਆਕਾਰੁ ॥ ਮਰਿ ਮਰਿ ਜੰਮੈ ਵਾਰੋ ਵਾਰ ॥੨॥ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਅਗਨਿ ਪਉਣੈ ਪਾਣੀ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਜੇਤਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਖਾਹਿ ॥੩॥: (For a Manmukh) the attachment of all the visible objects is all Sootak. That human being (in this spiritual death) repeatedly dies and is reborn. ||2|| (For Manmukhs) Sootak is in fire, air and water. Whatever food (Manmukhs) eat is also (for their mind) the cause of Sootak. (sggs 229).

In this context — through the Gurbani — this post will attempt reflecting upon:

  1. What is Sootak?
  2. How does it arise within
  3. How can it be eradicated?
  4. Who is stained by it?
  5. Who is free of it?

(1). What is Sootak?

Literally, Sootak (ਸੂਤਕ) => is the doubt of the mind (ਭਰਮ) which gives rise to impurity or defilement, attachment to Maya, duality, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed,etc.), Haumai (false ego-sense), fear

In nutshell Sootak is anything which does not let you walk on the Way of Dharma.

  • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ॥: Sootak of the mind is the love of duality. (sggs 229).

The Gurbani tells us that all our bodily senses are defiled. Accordingly, the Gurbani provides us with many examples of the Sootak of the mind (greed, etc.), tongue (falsehood, etc.), eyes (interested in what’s pertaining to another, etc.), ears (slandering, etc.). For example, the Gurbani says:

  • ਮਨ ਕਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਹੈ ਜਿਹਵਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਕੂੜੁ ॥ ਅਖੀ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਵੇਖਣਾ ਪਰ ਤ੍ਰਿਅ ਪਰ ਧਨ ਰੂਪੁ ॥ ਕੰਨੀ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਕੰਨਿ ਪੈ ਲਾਇਤਬਾਰੀ ਖਾਹਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੰਸਾ ਆਦਮੀ ਬਧੇ ਜਮ ਪੁਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੨॥: Sootak of the mind is greed, and the Sootak of the tongue is falsehood. Sootak of the eyes is to gaze upon the beauty of another woman and wealth pertaining to another. The Sootak of the ears is to listen to the slander of others. O Nanak! (These kind of people, even if they look beautiful on the outside like) Hans (swans), (but still) bound they end up in the city of death (i.e., hellish existence, doubt-ridden existence…) ||2|| (sggs 472).
  • ਨਵੇ ਛਿਦ੍ਰ ਸ੍ਰਵਹਿ ਅਪਵਿਤ੍ਰਾ ॥: The nine holes pour out filth (sggs 998).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਪਰਦੇਸੀ ਕੈ ਘਾਘਰੈ ਚਹੁ ਦਿਸਿ ਲਾਗੀ ਆਗਿ ॥: O Kabeer! The kilt (of sense-organs) of this alien (i.e., mind-“ਮਨੁ ਪਰਦੇਸੀ”) has caught fire on all four sides (i.e., fire of Bikaar – lust, anger, greed, etc.). (sggs 1366).
The Gurbani talks about impurity or purity at the mind’s level, not at the outer physical or body level.

In nutshell, Sootak (ਸੂਤਕ) is that which will not let one tread the Path of Dharma.

In other words, Sootak is impurity of character, impurity of thinking (Soch), impurity of speech, impurity of actions, impurity of habits, impurity of nature,  etc. It is untruthfulness (Asatt), wickedness, ugliness of corrupt thinking (Soch), defilement, and so on. In nutshell, impurity is a state being in which one is far away from his True Nature (Jot Saroop, Mool, Source…).

(2). How does Sootak arise within?

Simply put: According to the Gurbani, Sootak is nothing but doubts of the duality-ridden or May-driven mind.

  • ਸਭੋ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਭਰਮੁ ਹੈ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਗੈ ਜਾਇ ॥: Sootak is entirely (ਨਿਰਾ) doubt and it attaches to those who are duality-ridden (in love with Maya). (sggs 472).
  • ਭਰਮੇ ਆਵੈ ਭਰਮੇ ਜਾਇ ॥: Bharmae aavai bharmae jaai (sggs 161).

(3). How can Sootak be eradicated?

Accroding to Baabaa Nanak, Sootak of the mind can only be eradicated by the Divine Knowledge (Spiritual Wisdom, Aatam-Giaan…).

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਏਵ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਉਤਾਰੇ ਧੋਇ ॥੧॥: O Nanak! Sootak cannot be removed in this way (i.e., being deluded); it can only be washed away by Wisdom. ||1|| (sggs 472).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਿਐ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਜਾਇ ॥: Satiguru seviai sootak jaai (sggs 229).
Impurity of “Mann” (mind) can’t be eradicated merely by cleansing “Tann” (outer body).

Hence, the purpose of the Gurbani’s Wisdom (Giaan) is to remove Sootak of our mind, tongue, eyes, ears, etc. The Gurbani makes it very clear that the mind afflicted with Sootak cannot be purified by any washing of the body (externally), by any Karamkaand and worship.

  • ਸੂਤਕਿ ਕਰਮ ਨ ਪੂਜਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਮਿ ਰਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਇ ॥੪॥: No Karamkaand (ritualism, formalities, etc.) can purify the (mind ridden with the doubt or Bharam of) Sootak, no devotional worship can purify. Only by being imbued with the Naam is the mind purified. ||4|| (sggs 229).
  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਜੂਠਾ ਕਿਉ ਸੁਚਿ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਸਬਦੀ ਧੋਵੈ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਕੋਇ ॥: If (someone) is impure within, (he) cannot become pure (without washing the mind with Shabad. How rare is the person who washes (his mind) with the Shabad (Wisdom, Upadesh, Sikhiaa, Naam…). (sggs 1344).

Thus, the purpose of listening/reading the Gurbani is to cultivate the Divine Knowledge. If that does not happen, then, the Gurbani thunders forth the following warning in very stern terms:

  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥: Listening to the Gurmat (Shabad-Giaan, Teaching of the Gurbani, etc.), (if) no Spiritual Wisdom (understanding of the Spiritual Life…) wells up within; (then it would be) like a beast (routinely) filling its belly (sggs 685).

(4). Who is stained by Sootak?

The Gurbani tells us that so long the mind remains Manmukh (Saakat, Mayadhaaree, etc. – opposite of the Gurmukh), Sootak will never leave the mind alone. Simply put: A Manmukh mind is self-willed, doubt-ridden, attached to Maya, separated from its Mool, has no true understanding of the Gur-Shabad

  • ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਕਬਹਿ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੈ ਨਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: The Sootak of the Manmukhs will never go away, as long as (that Manmukh person) does not get drenched with the Shabad (Giaan, Wisdom…). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 229).

Thus, without the Naam (Shabad, Hukam…), the Gurbani tells us that the world remains in Sootak:

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਜਗਿ ਛੋਤਿ ॥: Without the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…), the world is infected with Sootak. (sggs 413).

(5). Who is free of Sootak?

The Gurbani tells us that only the mind that has become become the Gurmukh is free of Sootak:

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੁਝਿਆ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥੩॥: O Nanak! By becoming the Gurmukhs, who Understand (the Truth, Reality…), are not stained by Sootak. ||3|| (sggs 472).
  • ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਰਾਮੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਬਿਚਾਰੈ ਸੂਤਕੁ ਤਿਨੈ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੩॥੪੧॥: Says Kabeer – those who contemplate on Raam (Mool…) within their hearts, are not inflicted with Sootak. ||3||41|| (sggs 331).

Now, who is the Gurmukh? In nutshell, opposite of the Manmukh, a Gurmukh is the follower of the Truth (“Sach-ਸਚ”) or Gurmat (Wisdom, Upadesh or Way of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS, ਜਿਸ ਨੂੰ ਗੁਰਮਤ ਦੀ ਪੂਰੀ ਸੋਝੀ ਹੈ…); he remains detached in the midst of Maya (ਮਾਇਆ ਵਿਚ ਉਦਾਸੀ); he abides in is True Nature (Jot Saroop)...

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