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 pierced through with the Shabad, (until then one does not) look Beautiful at the Guru’s Door (Inner Beauty: state Bliss or Anand, realization of 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. Thank you sir for the great post.
    Sir, I would be very grateful if you can share the ways through which we can eliminate ego from ourselves. Although we all recite the holy hymns in guru sangat but are we really bestowed to his path? My dilemma always strikes me to this end. Through the holy SGGS, I have came across certain verses which signifies,”That one who understands his path shall never speak in ego”, ” One who wants to free from ego, is beyond praise and slander, who looks upon gold and iron alike”. But Sir, if this would have been the situation then why do we long for making successful careers? Why do we long for building great mansions, owe luxurious cars etc.
    Looking forward for the response for the same.

  2. According to gurbaanee HAUMAI is the basic cause of Births. So its meaning should be understood in this context . I feel so.

  3. Dubida (Duality): A hurdle in Sikhi

    Houmai is caused by Dubidha and is revoved by Sabd Vichaar:-

    The destination in the life of a Sikh is to become Gurmukh through ‘Gobind Milan’ and the greatest hurdle in achieving success in Sikhi Marg is Duality (Dubida).

    For the removal of Dubida, the help of the Gurus who have successfully travelled on the same path and left guidelines for us in Gurbani to facilitate our journey is of paramount importance.

    Guru Nanak Sahib guides us for careful deliberation that leads to removal of duality and turns a devotee God-like. Let us delve deep into Gurbani in order to remove dubida, which separates us from Divine Wisdom:-

    ਰਖਿ ਰਖਿ ਚਰਨ ਧਰੇ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਛੋਡਿ ਭਏ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੀ ॥ (Raag Danaasree Guru Nanak Dev Ji, GGS. 685-14): After careful deliberation, the thoughtful person takes a step. Forsaking duality, he becomes a devotee of the Formless Lord.

    Guru Arjan Dev Ji, in the following Sabd, traces the abundance of divine attributes/virtues that await a Gursikh who with the grace of Waheguru is able to remove one’s duality (ਗੁਰਿ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਜਾ ਕੀ ਹੈ ਮਾਰੀ ॥ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ):-

    ਜੋ ਇਸੁ ਮਾਰੇ ਸੋਈ ਸੂਰਾ ॥ ਜੋ ਇਸੁ ਮਾਰੇ ਸੋਈ ਪੂਰਾ ॥ (Raag Gauri M. 5, GGS. 237-17).One who kills this is a spiritual hero.One who kills this is perfect…..

  4. ਜਿਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਤਜੀ ਕਰਤਾ ਰਾਮੁ ਪਛਾਨਿ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਵਹੁ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨਰੁ ਇਹ ਮਨ ਸਾਚੀ ਮਾਨੁ ॥੧੯॥ (Salok M. 9, GGS. 1427-10): That mortal, who forsakes egotism, realizes the Creator Lord – says Nanak, that person is liberated; O mind, know this as true. ||19||

  5. I think we must find what the “HAUMAI” is from within Gurbaanee

  6. Many thanks Veer Preton Singh Ji for taking the time to respond!
    Welcome to the Gurbani Blog!

    The Gurbani calls it the greatest disease or the chronic disease. Essentially all negativity is the fault of this ego (Haumai).

    The Gurbani tells us that the Shabad is the killer of ego.

    Fittingly, the Gurbani says a person is a walking-dead (ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤੇ ਮਰਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ) if he is devoid of Shabad-Vichaar (Brahm-Giaan, Divine Wisdom, Divine Virtues…):
    • ਬਿਨੁ ਸਬਦੈ ਮੁਆ ਹੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਇ ॥: Without the Shabad, everyone remains dead (Spiritual death – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤੇ). (sggs 1418).

  7. Ego ( Haumai )is the worst vikaar as compared to the others like :-
    Thank you ji for sharing the Gurbani Vichaar on Ego. Appreciate if you could share more of such Gurbani messages for the benefit of people likeme.

  8. According to Gurbani, there is ONE Step transformation that leads to ‘Gobind Millan’ i. e. by giving up one’s houmai:-

    ਆਪੁ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਸਰਨਿ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ॥(Raag Gauri, M. 5, GGS. 288-13: Give up your selfishness and conceit, and seek the Sanctuary of the Divine Guru.

  9. Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh

    Sikhi Sikhya Gur Vichaar
    Congratulations for initiating the much needed subject

    Basic purpose of Satsang is to get rid of ego. Origin of ego and cure for this chronic disease are described in Pauri 7 of Asa di Vaar.

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