Gurbani Defines Kamdhenu

In order to CONVEY the truth of the BANI, all 35 composers of Bani (ਬਾਣੀਕਾਰ) who are included in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) have used language, vocabulary, beliefs, phrases, terms, metaphors and traditions that were already within the use and within the psyche of people of the time. The verses written in different poetic forms and various languages in the SGGS highlight this aspect well. The use of this vocabulary does NOT at all mean that they have accepted the meaning of the vocabulary in the form in which it was prevalent.

For example, when speaking to a farmer Baabaa Nanak used the language of farmers. When in discussion with Pandit, Yogi, Qazi etc. he used their spiritual language of the time. It was easy for the people to relate and understand his Unique spiritual Message.

However, as noted above, the use of this vocabulary does NOT at all mean that the writers (ਬਾਣੀਕਾਰ) of the Bani in the SGGS have accepted the meaning of the vocabulary in the form in which it was prevalent at the time. GURUS and BHAGATS have used these terms as examples (ਹਵਾਲਾ), but explicitly with new meanings and understanding to fit the new spiritual paradigms of Sikhi or Gurmat of Baabaa Nanak.

There are many words of Puranic/Vedic literature have been used in the SGGS to convey the truth. One of these words is ‘KAMDHENU’, the subject of this post. Just as the Gurus and Bhagats have not used all other words of Puranic/Vedic literature or Hindu mythology in their prevailing sense, similarly they have not accepted the prevailing sense of ‘KAMDHENU’ either.

Our Gurus and Bhagat Sahibaan questioned every cultural, religious or political tradition and every proclamations and RE-defined / changed as situation demanded. They all courageously and firmly stood up against the long held useless traditions, concocted narratives, and futile rituals (Karamkaand) of Hindus, Musalmans, Yogis, Jain etc.

  • ਕਾਦੀ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਮਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਜੀਆ ਘਾਇ ॥ ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਅੰਧੁ ॥ ਤੀਨੇ ਓਜਾੜੇ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ ॥੨॥: The clergy of the Muslim faith was corrupt, the Brahmin was murderous and the Yogi Un-Enlightened. These three (clergy) had become the root cause for the spiritual wreckage and desolation that mankind had come to endure. (sggs 662).

KAMDHENU and Pre-1469 spirituality

This term ‘KAMDHENU‘ comes from Vedic spirituality. Briefly, according to the Hindu mythology, ‘KAMDHENU’ is worshipped as heavenly, a desire fulfilling cow-goddess. Different Hindu scriptures give different accounts of ‘KAMDHENU‘. In Hinduism, ‘KAMDHENU‘ is usually associated with the priest class of Brahmins. Also called by various names (Surabhi etc.), more interesting stories related to ‘KAMDHENU‘ can be read in Puranas and various other Hindu texts.

Note that in the SGGS, neither the existence of heaven, nor the existence of heavenly cow, nor 33 Crore gods (330 millions!) etc. has been accepted. Because, the Gurbani in the SGGS is NOT the regurgitation of the pre-1469 belief system already in use in India’s religious traditions and teachings.

Gurbani Re-defines KAMDHENU

Since the Guru in Sikhi of Nanak is Shabad (Eternal Giyan-Wisdom)  the Core of Gurmat Spirituality is to become ‘SACHIAARAA – a person with divine Qualities/Virtues (Kiv Sachiaaraa Hoeeai).

For example, when speaking to a Brahmin/Pandit on the subject of the metaphoric ‘KAMDHENU’ cow, Guru Shabad says:

  • ਕਾਮਧੇਨੁ ਸੋਹੀ ਦਰਬਾਰੇ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਿ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸੇਵਾ ਗੁਰ ਪੂਰੇ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਮਾਇ ਰਸਾਇਣਾ ॥੬॥ : If you wish to have ‘KAMDHENU‘ (wish fulfilling mythical cow), then follow the teaching of the perfect Guru (SHABAD) and realize satiation and contentment Within and earn the divine Wealth of Naam (divine Wisdom / Virtues), the Essence. ॥6॥ (sggs 1078).
  • ਸੁਖ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਸੁਰਤਰ ਚਿੰਤਾਮਨਿ ਕਾਮਧੇਨੁ ਬਸਿ ਜਾ ਕੇ ॥ : ‘SUKH SAAGAR‘ (i.e. the satate of realization of God or Sach Knand, spiritual Enlightenment, divine Naam: Wisdom / Virtues etc.) is for me the heavenly trees of life, the wish-fulfilling mythical gem, and the ‘KAMDHENU’ (wish fulfilling mythical cow). (sggs 658).
  • ਚਾਰਿ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਅਸਟ ਮਹਾ ਸਿਧਿ ਕਾਮਧੇਨੁ ਪਾਰਜਾਤ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਰੁਖੁ ॥ : Divine Naam (Giyan-Wisdom / Virtues) is the ‘Chaar Pdaarath‘, great ‘Ashat Sidhi‘, ‘KAMDHENU‘ (wish fulfilling mythical cow), and ‘PARJAT‘ tree (wish fulfilling mythical tree). (sggs 717).
  • ਅਨਿਕ ਬਸੁਧਾ ਅਨਿਕ ਕਾਮਧੇਨ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਪਾਰਜਾਤ ਅਨਿਕ ਮੁਖਿ ਬੇਨ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਅਕਾਸ ਅਨਿਕ ਪਾਤਾਲ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਮੁਖੀ ਜਪੀਐ ਗੋਪਾਲ ॥੫॥ : There are countless earths and countless ‘KAMDHENU‘ (wish fulfilling mythical cow), there are myriads PARJAT (wish fulfilling mythical tree) and myriads Krishanas playing flute. There are many skies and nether regions in God’s creation. There are innumerable people trying to realize God.॥5॥ (sggs 1236).
  • ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਦਾਸ ਸਿਉ ਸਾਕਤ ਨਹੀ ਸੰਗੁ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਬਿਖਈ ਓਸੁ ਰਾਮ ਕੋ ਰੰਗੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਮਨ ਅਸਵਾਰ ਜੈਸੇ ਤੁਰੀ ਸੀਗਾਰੀ ॥ ਗਾਡਰ ਲੇ ਕਾਮਧੇਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਪੂਜੀ ॥ ਜਿਉ ਕਾਪੁਰਖੁ ਪੁਚਾਰੈ ਨਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਬੈਲ ਕਉ ਨੇਤ੍ਰਾ ਪਾਇ ਦੁਹਾਵੈ ॥ ਗਊ ਚਰਿ ਸਿੰਘ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਾਵੈ ॥੨॥ ਸਉਦੇ ਕਉ ਧਾਵੈ ਬਿਨੁ ਪੂੰਜੀ ॥੩॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਚੀਤ ॥ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਹਰਿ ਸਾ ਮੀਤ ॥੪॥੯੧॥੧੬੦॥ : A Saakat (Unenlightened mind or thought process) does not associate with a spiritually Enlightened person. (Because) the ‘Saakat‘ is caught in the clutches of sensuousness, while the spirituality Enlightened person is imbued with the love of God. ||1||Pause|| There association would be like an untrained person riding a decorated mare, or an impotent man trying to seduce a woman. ||1|| There association would be like a person trying milk a bull by putting a cord around its legs, or a person trying to chase a lion while riding a cow. ||2|| There association would be like worshipping a sheep mistaking it for ‘Kamdhenu‘, or a person going to market to buy merchandise without any money. ||3|| Nanak, realize God’s Naam in the mind. Remember the Creator who is like a Best Friend. ||4||91||160|| (sggs 198).

Ending Note

Thus, the Gurmat or Sikhi of Guru Nanak calls the divine ‘Naam‘ supreme.

By calling the divine ‘Naam’ supreme, Guru Nanak has urged the gullible public to connect with the truth by rejecting the mythical desire-fulfilling ‘KAMDHENU‘ cow, invented by the clever Pujaaree (clergy).

Aptly, living a divine life of divine Wisdom / Virtues, and living in harmony with the divine Hukam is considered the remembering of God‘s Naam – Gurmat Simron or Meditation, Enlightened or Gurmukh state of the mind (Guru Shabad-Oriented).

  • ਇਛਾ ਪੂਰਕੁ ਸਰਬ ਸੁਖਦਾਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਵਸਿ ਹੈ ਕਾਮਧੇਨਾ ॥ ਸੋ ਐਸਾ ਹਰਿ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਮੇਰੇ ਜੀਅੜੇ ਤਾ ਸਰਬ ਸੁਖ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨਾ ॥੧॥ : God (i.e. divine Virtues, spiritually Awakened or Enlightened state of the mind…) is the fulfiller of wishes and giver of all comforts, the ‘KAMDHENU‘, the metaphoric wish-fulfilling cow is in IT’s control. O my mind! if you meditate on such a God, you will realize all comforts. ॥1॥ (sggs 669).

Having said that, it is a serious mistake to take Puranic/Vedic meaning of ‘KAMDHENU’ to be the spirituality of Guru Nanak.

The spirituality of Sikhi or Guru Nanak is Unique and Revolutionary. It critiques, debunks and rejects blind worship, rituals (Karamkaand), fake stories (ਗੱਪ ਕਹਾਣੀਆਂ), religious paraphernalia, religious robes, pilgrim (Teerath Yatra), Pakhand, ritual bathing (Ishnaan), Pujaaree-Vaad, chanting etc.

  • ਮਾਰਿਆ ਸਿਕਾ ਜਗਤ੍ਰਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਪੰਥ ਚਲਾਇਆ । : In the world of spirituality, the Panth of Nanak has its Trademark in its Uniqueness as being ‘NIRMAL‘-uncontaminated (by existing pre-1469 beliefs). (Bhai Gurdas Ji, Vaar1, Pauree 45).

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  1. Wonderfully presented. Thank you so much for putting things in the right perspective as to how our Gurus meant it.

  2. Thank you Brother T. Singh Ji, for your refreshing presentation of this redefined metaphor used in SGGS in such enlightening ways. The continual emphasis you so rightly place on the incomparable uniqueness of Sikhi and Gurbani is hugely needed and appreciated. Your incisive and thought-provoking articles are always amazing catalysts to precious Shabad Vichaar!

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