Leave Ego And Shoes Outside!

The priorities of the Gurmat (Wisdom, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS) are totally different then the priorities of the mind which is ridden with egotism (Haumai), doubt (Bharam), illusion (Maya)…

In Gurdwaras, for example, we see signs asking people to leave their shoes (and socks in some Gurdwaras) outside before entering the Gurdwara building. In fact, many Gurdwaras have made special “shoe Room” to place the shoes. Furthermore, there is usually a separate shoe room for men and women near the entrance of the Gurdwara.

But, honestly, has anybody seen a sign in any Gurdwara in the world asking people to leave their false ego-sense (Haumai– ਹਉਮੈ) outside before entering the Gurdwara building for the purpose of learning the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom?

In fact, the Gurbani demands to remove the false ego-sense (Haumai– ਹਉਮੈ) before embarking on the Way of the Gurmat.

Obviously, the priorities are screwed up — the priorities of the Wisdom of the SGGS are different than the priorities of the false ego-sense (Haumai).

What’s the result of this screw-up? As evident, the result is lawsuits, legal disputes, assault with deadly weapons, shooting-fights, sword-fights, divisions, conflicts, etc., in Gurdwaras all over the world! The Gurbani asks:

  • ਜਉ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ ਗਲੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਆਉ ॥ ਇਤੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪੈਰੁ ਧਰੀਜੈ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਕਾਣਿ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥੨੦॥: If you desire to play this game of Divine Love with Me, then step onto My Way putting your head on palm. When you place your foot on this Way, give up your head (false ego-sense), do not be afraid or shrink ||20||. (sggs 1412).

To put it otherwise, before we step on the Way of the SGGS, the Gurbani commands to “first” accept death (“ਪਹਿਲਾ ਮਰਣੁ ਕਬੂਲਿ”) — death of the false ego-sense or Haumai mind…

  • ਪਹਿਲਾ ਮਰਣੁ ਕਬੂਲਿ ਜੀਵਣ ਕੀ ਛਡਿ ਆਸ ॥ ਹੋਹੁ ਸਭਨਾ ਕੀ ਰੇਣੁਕਾ ਤਉ ਆਉ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੧॥: Pahilaa maranu kabooli… (sggs 1102).

Removing shoes before entering the Gurdwara building is a sign of respect, a commonsense hygiene, etc. Nothing wrong with it.

However, as time and again indicated in the Gurbani, the false ego-sense (Haumai- ਹਉਮੈ) is more despicable then the footwear or the socks! The Gurbani calls it the great disease (“ਵਡਾ ਰੋਗੁ”, “ਰੋਗੁ ਮਹਾ ਦੁਖ”, “ਰੋਗੁ ਕਠਿਨ”, “ਰੋਗ ਬੁਰੇ “, “ਦੀਰਘ ਰੋਗੁ”…) – mighty virus of the mind.

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਝਗੜਾ ਪਾਇਓਨੁ ਝਗੜੈ ਜਗੁ ਮੁਇਆ ॥: Through ego, the world is caught in conflict and strife, and it dies (in these quarrels and suffers…). (sggs 790).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗ ਬੁਰੇ ॥: O Nanak! The diseases (born or begotten) of ego are wicked (sggs 1153).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਵਡਾ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥: Ego is a massive disease in the world (sggs 1278).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਮਹਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਲੇਵਹੁ ਰੋਗੁ ਗਇਆ ॥੬॥ Haumai rogu mahaa dukhu… (sggs 906).

Footwear however have a role to play in our daily lives. For example, they are useful when we are outdoors to get protection from dirt, thorns etc.

Not so with the false ego-sense (Haumai– ਹਉਮੈ) — the bad impact (ਬੁਰਾ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਵ) of Haumai on the mind is always despicable!

  • ਹਉ ਮੁਆ ਮੈ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਪਉਣੁ ਵਹੈ ਦਰੀਆਉ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਥਕੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਾ ਮਨੁ ਰਤਾ ਨਾਇ ॥: So long the mortal is smitten with “ego”, a river (of desires, Trishanaa) flow within. O Nanak! Desire is exhausted only when the mind is imbued with the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…). (sggs 1091). (sggs 1091).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਪੈਖੜੁ ਤੇਰੇ ਮਨੈ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: (O fool) your mind is tied with the rope of “ego” (ਪੈਖੜੁ-ਢੰਗਾ: A rope tied to the rear legs of an animal, which does not let the animal run or walk freely!) (sggs 1189).

Therefore, the Gurbani demands that no time can ego be entertained. The purpose of going to Gurdwara or any other spiritual practice is helping us learn the great lesson of surrendering the false ego-sense (Haumai- ਹਉਮੈ) so that we can improve the Inward Journey. To this end, the Gurbani demands that the bad impact (ਬੁਰਾ ਪ੍ਰਭਾਵ) of Haumai on the mind be removed.

  • ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਭੇਦੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਸੋਹੈ ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਿ ॥: Until (one’s mind) is NOT pierced through with the Shabad, (until then one does NOT) look Beautiful at the ‘Gurduaari’ or the Guru’s Door (Inner Beauty: state of Bliss or Anand, abidance in one’s Jot Saroop…). (sggs 19).

Hence, there should also be written on the doormats and walls of the Gurdwaras to leave the ego outside!!

This is unlikely to happen because the people who run Gurdwaras and their crafty priest-employees (Pujaaree group) are full of it themselves!

It’s convenient and easier to remove shoes instead of removing the false ego-sense (Haumai– ਹਉਮੈ)! It takes courage to remove ego, because removing ego is like chewing the steel balls! Since it’s not easy to remove ego, the majority of us instead get attracted to Karamkaand (useless rituals or formalities).

The Gurbani’s declaration — “With your head in hand-ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ” — essentially indicates removing one’s ego (self-conceit…). It is a complete surrender of one’s head (i.e., false ego-sense). Because, the Gurbani says one must serve without ego (“ਵਿਣੁ ਸਿਰ ਸੇਵ ਕਰੀਜੈ”).

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਗਾਖੜੀ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ॥: It is very difficult to serve the Satigur (Shabad-Vichaar); (it’s difficult because to do so one must) surrender head (false ego-sense, self-conceit…) – give up ownself or selfhood (ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ ਦੂਰ ਕਰ ਕੇ). (sggs 649).

However, the Gurbani dares tell all of us that no one knows how to serve the “Gur (ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਕੋਈ ॥: Gur kee sev n jaanai koee (sggs 1078)).

Then, let’s ask the SGGS as to how are we supposed to serve (Sevaa) the “Gur” (“ਗੁਰ”) or the “Satiguru” (“ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ”)? The Gurbani tells us that we can serve the “Gur” (“ਗੁਰ”) or the “Satiguru” (“ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ”) through the Shabad-Vichaar (Reflecting on the Gur-Shabad, understanding the Gur-Shabad and living by its Brahm-Giaan or Divine Wisdom in daily life…).

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: The Gur-Sevaa is Shabad-Vichaar (Reflection on the Shabad — Upadesh, Giaan, Wisdom, Naam…). (sggs 223).

But the Gurbani reminds us that one can truly serve the Satigur only when his the false ego-sense (Haumai) is gone!

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੇਵਾ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਤਾ ਮਨੁ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਾਇ ॥: In ego, Sevaa cannot be performed so the mind goes wasted (useless, purposeless, troubled, no avail…). (sggs 560).
Therefore, as a Gurbani’s reminder, in addition to the signs for taking the shoes off outside, perhaps there should also be signs for taking the false ego-sense (Haumai- ਹਉਮੈ) off, outside!!


  1. Agree that the Haumai is the cause of lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, selfishness, jealousy, stubborn mindedness, and so on — the root of all trouble in the world.

    In fact, the whole purpose of religion is to kill the Haumai (false ego-sense).

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts

  2. I think that Haumai is the cause of other evils (lust, greed, attachment, desire
    ). If haumai goes by the blessings of god, all other evils vanishes because everywhere only he is seen transcending from his creation.Sabẖ mėh joṯ joṯ hai so▫e.
    Amongst all is the Light-You are that Light.
    ਸਾਰਿਆਂ ਅੰਦਰ ਜਿਹੜੀ ਰੋਸ਼ਨੀ ਹੈ, ਉਹ ਰੋਸ਼ਨੀ ਤੂੰ ਹੈਂ।
    ਜੋਤਿ = ਚਾਨਣ, ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ਼। ਸੋਇ = ਉਹ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ।
    ਸਾਰੇ ਜੀਵਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਇਕੋ ਉਹੀ ਪਰਮਾਤਮਾ ਦੀ ਜੋਤੀ ਵਰਤ ਰਹੀ ਹੈ।

    तिस दै चानणि सभ महि चानणु होइ ॥
    Ŧis ḏai cẖānaṇ sabẖ mėh cẖānaṇ ho▫e.
    By this Illumination, that Light is radiant within all.
    ਉਸ ਦੇ ਨੂਰ ਦੁਆਰਾ ਸਾਰੀਆਂ ਆਤਮਾਵਾਂ ਅੰਦਰ ਨੂਰ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ਼ ਹੋ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ।
    ਤਿਸ ਦੈ ਚਾਨਣਿ = ਉਸ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਦੇ ਚਾਨਣ ਨਾਲ।
    ਉਸ ਜੋਤਿ ਦੇ ਪਰਕਾਸ਼ ਨਾਲ ਸਾਰੇ ਜੀਵਾਂ ਵਿਚ ਚਾਨਣ (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ) ਹੈ।

    ਗੁਰ ਸਾਖੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
    गुर साखी जोति परगटु होइ ॥
    Gur sākẖī joṯ pargat ho▫e.
    Through the Guru’s Teachings, the Light shines forth.
    ਗੁਰਾਂ ਦੇ ਉਪਦੇਸ਼ ਦੁਆਰਾ ਈਸ਼ਵਰੀ ਨੂਰ ਜ਼ਾਹਿਰ ਹੋ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ।
    ਸਾਖੀ = ਸਿੱਖਿਆ ਨਾਲ।
    ਪਰ ਇਸ ਜੋਤਿ ਦਾ ਗਿਆਨ ਗੁਰੂ ਦੀ ਸਿੱਖਿਆ ਨਾਲ ਹੀ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਹੈ। (ਗੁਰੂ ਰਾਹੀਂ ਇਹ ਸਮਝ ਪੈਂਦੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਹਰੇਕ ਦੇ ਅੰਦਰ ਪਰਮਾਤਮਾ ਦੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ)।

  3. Blessed is he who is of pure heart. Another great read. By practice and shabad vichaar my ego can be destroyed. Keep up the excellent work T Singh. For waheguru has blessed you with Aatam Gian.

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