Gurbani on Meaningful and Mindful Poojaa

The term ‘Poojaa‘ (or Puja – ਪੂਜਾ) has Sanskrit roots generally seen translated as ‘reverence’, ‘adoration’, ‘worship’ etc.

Every object has three aspects — name, form and its essential nature.

The bodily senses can only dwell on the name and form of an object and not on its essence, which is beyond name and form.

Accordingly, at the level of the senses, Poojaa is done of the form or an idol.

This is the reason man is naturally inclined to idol-worshipping (i.e. Poojaa of the perishable form).

What is not Poojaa?

The Poojaa of the self-serving Pujaaree (clergy: Granthis, Parcharaks, Ragis, Dhadees etc.) and the freeloading Deraa-Vaad Baabaas (ਵੇਹਲੜ) is NOT the Gurbani’s (the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) Poojaa.

Poojaa performed by the Brahminical minset Pujaaree is External or physical and consists of rituals (Karamkaand), offerings, specific materials or objects, robotic chants etc.

  • ਬਾਨਾਰਸੀ ਤਪੁ ਕਰੈ ਉਲਟਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਮਰੈ ਅਗਨਿ ਦਹੈ ਕਾਇਆ ਕਲਪੁ ਕੀਜੈ ॥ ਅਸੁਮੇਧ ਜਗੁ ਕੀਜੈ ਸੋਨਾ ਗਰਭ ਦਾਨੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਸਰਿ ਤਊ ਨ ਪੂਜੈ ॥੧॥ ਛੋਡਿ ਛੋਡਿ ਰੇ ਪਾਖੰਡੀ ਮਨ ਕਪਟੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤਹਿ ਲੀਜੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: If a person goes to Baanaaras and performs penance by hanging upside down, dies at the places of Teeraths (locations of pilgrimage), suffer burns by fire, or put the body in difficult positions, make offerings of expensive items such as horse-sacrifice ceremony (Yagna) and donate gold as concealed donation; even then none of these is equal the Internalization of the Divine Naam (Shabad, spiritual Giyan-Wisdom, Virtues etc.). O my hypocritical (Pakhnadee) mind, do not practice deception ( fraud etc.), so renounce it. ॥1॥ Pause ॥ (sggs 973).

Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom of the SGGS tells this NOT to be the Gurmat ‘Poojaa’ at all.

Our perception of ‘Poojaa‘ is only that which we have collected from the complex ritualistic displays propagated by the self-serving Pujaaree system or Deraa-Vaad etc. that we routinely witness at various religious places and ceremonies.

Let’s find out from the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS — what is NOT ‘Poojaa‘?

Baabaa Nanak teaches us:

  • ਘਰਿ ਨਾਰਾਇਣੁ ਸਭਾ ਨਾਲਿ ॥ ਪੂਜ ਕਰੇ ਰਖੈ ਨਾਵਾਲਿ ॥ ਕੁੰਗੂ ਚੰਨਣੁ ਫੁਲ ਚੜਾਏ ॥ ਪੈਰੀ ਪੈ ਪੈ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਮਨਾਏ ॥ ਮਾਣੂਆ ਮੰਗਿ ਮੰਗਿ ਪੈਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਅੰਧੀ ਕੰਮੀ ਅੰਧ ਸਜਾਇ ॥ : (Pujaaree, ignorant people etc.) keep idols of gods and goddesses in their homes. They bathe (idols) and worship them. They offer Saffron, sandalwood and flowers (in front of idols). They try to please (idols) by falling at their feet. But beg for food and clothes from people’s homes (i.e. if there is god in the house then why are you begging?). In fact, these are ignorant, mentally blind people who do not want to understand. (sggs 1240-1241).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਪਾਹਨੁ ਪਰਮੇਸੁਰੁ ਕੀਆ ਪੂਜੈ ਸਭੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਇਸ ਭਰਵਾਸੇ ਜੋ ਰਹੇ ਬੂਡੇ ਕਾਲੀ ਧਾਰ ॥ ॥੧੩੬॥ : Kabeer, someone sets up a stone idol and the whole world worships (Poojaa) it as God. They who hold to this belief will be drowned in the river of darkness (of ignorance). ||136|| (sggs 1371).
  • ਹਿੰਦੂ ਮੂਲੇ ਭੂਲੇ ਅਖੁਟੀ ਜਾਂਹੀ ॥ ਨਾਰਦਿ ਕਹਿਆ ਸਿ ਪੂਜ ਕਰਾਂਹੀ ॥ ਅੰਧੇ ਗੁੰਗੇ ਅੰਧ ਅੰਧਾਰੁ ॥ ਪਾਥਰੁ ਲੇ ਪੂਜਹਿ ਮੁਗਧ ਗਵਾਰ ॥ ਓਹਿ ਜਾ ਆਪਿ ਡੁਬੇ ਤੁਮ ਕਹਾ ਤਰਣਹਾਰੁ ॥੨॥ : Hindus are utterly mistaken and going on the
    wrong path. They worship whatever Nard (a Hindu sage) told them to worship. They are spiritually blind and dumb, and are groping in the darkness. The ignorant fools worship stones. How a stone that itself sinks in water could help human being cross the ocean of worldly temptations (corrupting influences)? ॥2॥ (sggs 556).
  • ਪਾਤੀ ਤੋਰੈ ਮਾਲਿਨੀ ਪਾਤੀ ਪਾਤੀ ਜੀਉ ॥ ਜਿਸੁ ਪਾਹਨ ਕਉ ਪਾਤੀ ਤੋਰੈ ਸੋ ਪਾਹਨ ਨਿਰਜੀਉ ॥੧॥ : The gardener is plucking leaves (to worship the idol). But, she doesn’t know that in every leaf, there is life. On the other hand, the Idol made of stone for which the gardener is plucking these leaves is life-less. ||1|| (sggs 479).
  • ਪਾਖਾਨ ਗਢਿ ਕੈ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਕੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਦੇ ਕੈ ਛਾਤੀ ਪਾਉ ॥ ਜੇ ਏਹ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਸਾਚੀ ਹੈ ਤਉ ਗੜ੍ਹਣਹਾਰੇ ਖਾਉ ॥੩॥ : The sculptor carves the stone and fashions it into an idol; while carving he put his feet upon the Idol’s chest. If this idol were really a true god (possessing any power) it would devour the sculptor (for insulting and torturing him in such a way). ||3|| (sggs 479).

Baabaa Nanak was shocked at people’s moral bankruptcy as they were lost in the rigmarole of the Pujaaree invented caste system (madness of Jaat Paat), superstition, rituals (Karamkaand) and idol worships, and so on. He pointed out the futility of worships of gods and goddesses (ਦੇਵੀ ਦੇਵਤੇ) and the reading of scriptures that promoted such beliefs. He asserted forcefully that gods were mere mortals, nothing more.

  • ਦੇਵੀ ਦੇਵਾ ਪੂਜੀਐ ਭਾਈ ਕਿਆ ਮਾਗਉ ਕਿਆ ਦੇਹਿ ॥ ਪਾਹਣੁ ਨੀਰਿ ਪਖਾਲੀਐ ਭਾਈ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਬੂਡਹਿ ਤੇਹਿ ॥੬॥: If we worship stone idols of gods and goddesses (or any other kind of idol for that matter), they can’t give anything, (so) I don’t ask anything from them. Their Poojaa is like churning water and hoping for butter! (These idols) sink themselves in water — how can they save human beings from the world-ocean? (sggs 637).
  • ਰੋਗੀ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਬਿਸਨੁ ਸਰੁਦ੍ਰਾ ਰੋਗੀ ਸਗਲ ਸੰਸਾਰਾ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਪਦੁ ਚੀਨਿ ਭਏ ਸੇ ਮੁਕਤੇ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਾ ॥੪॥ : Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are afflicted with the disease of Haumai (egotism) as the rest of the world. Only those are liberated from Haumai (egotism) who realize God by contemplating on Guru’s Shabad. ||4|| (sggs 1153).
  • ਬੇਦ ਪੜੇ ਪੜਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੇ ਹਾਰੇ ਇਕੁ ਤਿਲੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਸਾਧਿਕ ਸਿਧ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਬਿਲਲਾਤੇ ਤੇ ਭੀ ਮੋਹੇ ਮਾਈ ॥੨॥ ਦਸ ਅਉਤਾਰ ਰਾਜੇ ਹੋਇ ਵਰਤੇ ਮਹਾਦੇਵ ਅਉਧੂਤਾ ॥ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹ ਭੀ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ਤੇਰਾ ਲਾਇ ਥਕੇ ਬਿਭੂਤਾ ॥੩॥ : Many Brahmas got tired of studying the Vedas, but they could not estimate even an iota of God’s greatness. The Sidhas (Yogis), who tried their utmost to realize God through yogic discipline, could not even liberate themselves from the corrupting influences of the world. ||2|| Ten incarnations of Vishnu including Shiva, the ascetic, who got tired of smearing his body with ashes, could not fathom the greatness of God. ||3|| (sggs 747).

The above instructions of Baabaa Nanak also applies to Sikhs (learners of the SGGS)!

In short, such ‘Poojaa’ is a business or beggary at an altar!

It is not in this sense that the term ‘Poojaa‘ is used in the SGGS.

Due to decadence of the Dharma, the term ‘Poojaa‘ has lost its real meaning and significance, and has become synonym for a kind of soul-killing, character-running etc.

  • ਕਿਆ ਜਪੁ ਕਿਆ ਤਪੁ ਕਿਆ ਬ੍ਰਤ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਰਿਦੈ ਭਾਉ ਹੈ ਦੂਜਾ ॥੧॥: What use is Jap(u), Tap(u), fasting, and Poojaa to one whose heart is filled with the love of duality? ||1|| (sggs 324).
  • ਕਹਾ ਉਡੀਸੇ ਮਜਨੁ ਕੀਆ ਕਿਆ ਮਸੀਤਿ ਸਿਰੁ ਨਾਂਏਂ ॥ ਦਿਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਪਟੁ ਨਿਵਾਜ ਗੁਜਾਰੈ ਕਿਆ ਹਜ ਕਾਬੈ ਜਾਂਏਂ ॥੪॥: (If there is deception in Heart) then there is no benefit in taking a bath in Odise (Jagannath Puri), nor is there any benefit in going to the mosque and offering prostration. If someone has deception in his Heart, what good is it for him to utter prayers? And what good is it for him to go on pilgrimage to Mecca (or any other pilgrim locations)? (sggs 1349).
  • ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਮਹਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਬਿਸਥਾਰਾ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਤਨਿ ਚਕ੍ਰ ਬਣਾਏ ॥ ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਮਲੁ ਕਬ ਹੀ ਨ ਜਾਏ ॥੧॥: If the mind is filled with anger and immense self-conceit (i.e. vices/Bikaar), but performs Poojaa all sort of ways with great ostentation; and even if ritual bath is taken (at the so called Teerath locations); and religious marks are applied to the bodystill the filth of evil instincts from their mind never departs. ||1|| (sggs 1348).
  • ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਪਾਖੰਡ ਜੋ ਦੀਸਹਿ ਤਿਨ ਜਮੁ ਜਾਗਾਤੀ ਲੂਟੈ ॥: (Whosoever does not Internalize — practice: ਅਮਲ — the Advice or Message of the Guru’s Shabad) his religious acts are just ‘Pakhand‘ (pretending, hypocrisy, ਦਿਖਾਵਾ); he is plundered by Jamm (i.e. vices or Bikaar). (sggs 747).

In the world, due to ignorance, imagining god, man performs Poojaa of many animals, birds, snakes, rats, lions, elephants and monkeys, moon, sun, wind, fire, water, stones etc.

Furthermore, on account of ignorance, man also performs Poojaa of tombs or cremation ground (crematorium, mausoleum, ਮਰਘਟ, ਸ਼ਮਸ਼ਾਨਘਾਟ etc.).

  • ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਨ ਪੜਉ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਹੋਰੁ ਨ ਪੂਜਉ ਮੜੈ ਮਸਾਣਿ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥: Obeying the dictates of the mind stuck in duality (i.e. superstitions, delusions, obsessed with desires etc.), apart from ‘Hari’ (-Naam, Giaan or Wisdom, Hukam, Virtues, Jot Saroop…), I do not perform Poojaa of tombs or crematoriums (i.e. No Poojaa of the perishable form), because the only one who can quench the thirst or desires of this mind is the ‘Hari’ (-Naam). (sggs 634).

In short, the present worship has become a mere ritual (Karamkaand) and the truth has disappeared from it.

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) has critiqued and rejected the external Karamkaand of Poojaa (ਬਾਹਰੀ ਪੂਜਾ ਦੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਾਂਡ). The Giaan-Wisdom of the Guru (SGGS) is formless. Being formless, it cannot be honored with external Karamkaand. But reading it, listening to it, understanding it, and living it in daily life (ਅਮਲ) is its real honor or Poojaa which is only an action of the mind.

The Gurbani’s mindful Poojaa

The Poojaa of Sikhi or Gurbani is an Enlightened Conscience. Its an Internal Poojaa.

  • ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਆਰਤੀ ਮਜਨੁ ਮੁਰਾਰੇ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨੁ ਝੂਠੇ ਸਗਲ ਪਾਸਾਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: O God) Your Naam (Giyan-Wisdom / Virtues…)  is my supplication and cleansing bath. All other acts besides living your Wisdom are obsolete nonsense. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 694).

According to the Gurmat, the real meaning of Poojaa is to acquire divine Qualities/Wisdom and live daily life as a Gurmukh (Enlightened or Guru Shabad-Oriented mindset).

How does one obtain this wisdom?

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਰਿਦੈ ਵਸਾਈ ॥: The Bani that comes through the Guru’s mouth (i.e. Shabad – SGGS) is the Naam; enshrine this divine Naam (i.e. divine Giyan-Wisdom of the Bani) in the Heart — follow it and live wisely. (sggs 1239).
  • ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਵਰਤੀ ਜਗ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਇਸੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਾਇਦਾ ॥੩॥ : The Gurbani is revealed to the world, it is only through Bani can we realize the divine Naam (i.e. divine Giyan-Wisdom of the Bani) — only through teachings of Bani can we learn to live wisely. ||3|| (1066).
  • ਕਰਮ ਖੰਡ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਜੋਰੁ ॥ ਤਿਥੈ ਹੋਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ਹੋਰੁ ॥ ਤਿਥੈ ਜੋਧ ਮਹਾਬਲ ਸੂਰ ॥ : Within the realm or state of Spiritual Efforts permeate the Bani (divine Wisdom/teachings) of force. None else reside there but great and valorous warriors. (sggs 8).

The next question is: How does one perform such divine Poojaa?

  • ਕਵਨ ਸੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਤੇਰੀ ਕਰਉ ॥: (O PaarbrahmHukam!) How can I perform Your Poojaa? (sggs 187).
  • ਗੁਣ ਪੂਜਾ ਗਿਆਨ ਧਿਆਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਗਲ ਘਾਲ ॥ ਜਿਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਦਇਆਲ ॥੪॥: Praising and emulating Virtues as ‘Poojaa‘, Wisdom and its compliance, are all the right efforts. These are done by the person who finds (i.e. apply-ਅਮਲ…) the Satiguru’s kind Guidance. ||4|| (sggs 187).
  • ਮੈ ਅਵਰੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸਿ ਰਹੇ ॥ ਭੇਖੁ ਭਵਨੀ ਹਠੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਾ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਸਚੁ ਗਹਿ ਰਹੇ ॥੧॥: Divine Naam is dwelling in (my) mind; (equivalent to this divine Naam) I don’t think of any religious discussion, any meditation and any Poojaa. I know nothing about religious robes, pilgrimages or stubbornness; O Nanak, I only hold tight to the Truth ||1|| (sggs 843).

Hence, according to the Sikh Way of life (Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS), the meaningful (useful, beneficial, mindful etc. Poojaa is:

  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਏਹ ਪੂਜਾ ਥਾਇ ਪਾਈ ॥੫॥: O sants (Gurmukhs, Bhagat, Daas, Jan, good men…)! A person who dies through the Shabad (i.e., Upadesh, Giaan or Wisdom), that person’s mind becomes Immaculate (i.e. does not allow the mind to be influenced by Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride…). Such Poojaa finds place (i.e. meaningful, useful etc. — real honor or respect of the Guru). ||5|| (sggs 910).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਹੋਰ ਪੂਜ ਨ ਹੋਵੀ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲੀ ਲੋਕਾਈ ॥੭॥: There is no Poojaa other than the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…); without the Naam, the world remains deluded by doubt. ||7|| (sggs 910).
  • ਏਕ ਨਾਮ ਕੋ ਥੀਓ ਪੂਜਾਰੀ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਅਚਰਜੁ ਗੁਰਹਿ ਦਿਖਾਇਓ ॥੧॥: (The Guru’s Giaan or Wisdom) has enabled me to have vision (of the One All-pervading Universal Energy), now I have become a ‘Pujaaree‘ (worshipper) of your ONLY Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…). ||1|| (sggs 209).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਹੈ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਹੈ ਪੂਜਾ ॥: Satiguru is ‘GIAAN’ (i.e. WISDOM, ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ); and Satiguru (i.e. GIAAN or WISDOM) is the ‘Poojaa‘. (sggs 1069).
  • ਗੁਰੁ ਮੇਰੀ ਪੂਜਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੁ ॥: (My) Guru (i.e. Giaan or Wisdom) is Poojaa for me, (My) Guru (i.e. Giaan or Wisdom) is (the form of) Gobind. (sggs 864).
  • ਪੂਜਾ ਕੀਚੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਪੂਜ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : Contemplation on the Naam (Giaan or Wisdom) is the Poojaa. Without the Naam, there is no Poojaa ||1||Pause|| (sggs 489).
  • ਪ੍ਰਭ ਪੂਜਹੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਰਾਧਿ ॥: Perform Prabh’s Poojaa by contemplating the Naam (Giaan or Wisdom). (sggs 1304).
  • ਨਾਮੋ ਪੂਜ ਕਰਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Understand Naam, (the Guru) asks us to perform this Poojaa. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 910).

Without applying Giaan or Wisdom (Amal-ਅਮਲ) to daily life, Baabaa Nanak says humans are NO better than animals:

  • 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).

Hence, the true Poojaa taught by Baabaa Nanak is performed WITHIN THE MIND, not outside:

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪੂਜਾ ਥਾਨੁ ਮੁਰਾਰਾ ॥ ਜੋਤੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਮਿਲਾਵਣਹਾਰਾ ॥੫॥: (People go to the temple for Pooja but) god has made the temple within; this facilitates Union of individual Joti with the Universal Joti (sggs 411).
  • ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਘਟ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪੂਜਾ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਦੂਜਾ ਕਾਹਾ ਹੇ ॥੧੪॥: Raam Naam resides in the Heart (of Bhagat); they perform Poojaa within; they have no other entanglement (strife or engagement of Maya. ||14|| (sggs 1033).
  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਦੇਵ ਪਖਾਲੀਅਹਿ ਜੇ ਮਨੁ ਧੋਵੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਜੂਠਿ ਲਹੈ ਜੀਉ ਮਾਜੀਐ ਮੋਖ ਪਇਆਣਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥: As the stone idols are washed from outside, (instead) if one were to wash his mind, (then his inner) filth would be removed (i.e. filth of Bikaar: lust, anger, greed…) and his soul would be cleansed and thus his life-journey would be liberated (from Bikaar…). ||2|| (sggs 489).

In short, according to the Wisdom of the SGGS, dying in the Shabad Awakens the Wisdom (Giaan, Bibek, Truth…) and Virtues (ਗੁਣ) within, annihilating bad impact of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride etc.). With this, one is saved from the death of his/her spiritual life (i.e. Aatmic Maut – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ).

  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਫਿਰਿ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥ : Whose self-conceit/egotism dies in the Shabad (i.e. Upadesh/Wisdom/Virtues…), then he does not experience spiritual death (ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). (sggs 153).
  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਭਗਤਿ ਪਾਏ ਜਨੁ ਸੋਇ ॥੩॥: One who dies in the Shabad, obtains Bhagti ||3|| (sggs 159).
  • ਮਨੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਪਰਤੀਤਿ ਹੋਇ ਹਉਮੈ ਤਜੇ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥: When one’s mind dies in the Shabad gains Knowledge and conviction, and (he) sheds egotism and ‘Vikaar‘ (sggs 162).

Now perhaps we can appreciate why the Gurbani asserts that only the divine Naam (Virtues / Giyan-Wisdom etc.) is fit to be worshipped. This is the true Gurmat Bhagati.

  • ਜਪਿ ਮਨ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਰਧਾਂਭਾ ॥: O (my) mind! Understand the Raam Naam; (this Naam) alone is worth understanding. (sggs 1337).
  • ਮੰਨੇ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਚੀ ਪਤਿ ਪੂਜਾ ॥: To affirm Naam (Wisdom…) is the true honor of Poojaa. (sggs 831).

Hence, according to the SGGS, true or heartful ‘Poojaa‘ can only be performed by constantly having the mind attending to the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…).

In Essence, it is to revive or receive true Wisdom of of one’s Jot Saroop.

Accordingly, the Gurbani teaches us that any other ‘Poojaa‘ is just meaningless ritual or formality (Karamkaand). Due to ignorance of the Nature of the Spiritual Essence, the Gurbani says the Karamkaandee people just grope in the darkness of ignorance and carry on useless Karamkaand — Pakhand (pretending, hypocrisy)…

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਹੀਣੰ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਅੰਧ ਵਰਤਾਵਾ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ॥: Bereft of Spiritual Wisdom, (people) worship ignorance. In the love of duality (in love of Maya, their) conduct or behavior (keeps them mentally blind or ignorant of their spiritual life). (sggs 1412).

In short, according to the SGGS, ‘Poojaa’ is NOT bowing down in front of SGGS, fake pictures of the Gursu Sahib, circling around SGGS, offering flowers and edibles, offering Karhaah Prasaad, offering Langar (food), offering ‘Rumaalaa’ or ‘Chandoaa’ or Palki, etc.

Also, according to the Wisdom of SGGS, ‘Poojaa‘ is NOT performing ritual Aartee in front of idols, ritual ‘Ardaas‘ (ਪੁਜਾਰੀ ਦੀਆਂ ਅਰਦਾਸਾਂ), ritually showering flowers, offering food, taking out processions, touring the town singing hymns (i.e. processional Nagar-Kirtan), carrying SGGS on heads, taking SGGS for walks in cars and helicopters, wrapping SGGS in Rumaalaa according to cold and warm weather, and so on.

The Wisdom of the SGGS logically rejects all such Karamkaand of our deluded mind.

In other word, when ‘Poojaa‘ was made an external Karamkaand or Pakhand, then its real meaning (Virtues, Wisdom, practice in daily life etc.) disappeared and now only the useless and useless rituals are being considered as Poojaa.

  • ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਲੋਕੁ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥੪॥: O seekers of truth (Gurmukhs, Bhagat, Daas, Jan)! The whole world performs Poojaa (on its own), but no ‘Poojaa’ performed by a Manmukh (Unenlightened) is acceptable. ||4|| (sggs 910).

Ingredients for performing True Poojaa

First off, according to the SGGS, TRUE ‘Poojaa‘ is performed Within, by the mind (‘ਘਟ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪੂਜਾ ਹੋਇ-Ghat Antari Poojaa Hoi’).

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪੂਜਾ ਮਨ ਤੇ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਏਕੋ ਵੇਖੈ ਅਉਰੁ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Poojaa is performed within, by the mind. (A person who performs such Poojaa within, by his mind) sees (One Dynamic Divine Essence) alone and none else. (sggs 1173).

Now, what’s the true ingredients (Samaggree) of this real ‘Poojaa‘?

As seen in the world, fake Poojaa of the the various self-serving Pujaaree groups needs, external articles such as flowers and edibles, incense, water, food, fire, lamps, useless religious rituals and garbs, Palki, designer’s Rumaalaas, fancy bed (Manjee) or Chowar (fan), mechanical and insincere recitation of the Gurbani, Langar (food), Krhaah Parsaad, precious decorations, beads, elaborate buildings etc.

However, NONE of this stuff is needed for the true Pooja of Naam (Giaan or Wisdom…) as taught by the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS.

Then, according to the SGGS (NOT according to the fool-o-sophy of the self-serving Pujaaree groups), what are the true ingredients for performing the real ‘Poojaa‘?

  • ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਨਈਬੇਦਹਿ ਬਾਸਾ ॥ ਕੈਸੇ ਪੂਜ ਕਰਹਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਦਾਸਾ ॥੩॥: The Dhoop (burnt incense), lamps and the Naivaed (an offering of eatables presented to deity or idol. All of them become false) by smell. (Then, O Rabb!) If Your Poojaa can be done only with these things, then by placing these false things before You) how will Your Bhagat do your Poojaa? ||3|| (sggs 525).
  • ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰੀ ਚਨਣਾਠੀਆ ਜੇ ਮਨੁ ਉਰਸਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਕਰਣੀ ਕੁੰਗੂ ਜੇ ਰਲੈ ਘਟ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਪੂਜਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੧॥: I would make Your Naam (Giaan-Wisdom, Virtue) the sandalwood, and my mind (i.e. my thoughts, Conscience) the stone to rub it on. (Then) I would practice or live (that Giaan or Wisdom – ਗਿਆਨ ਕਮਾ ਲੈਣਾਂ) which will be my mixing of saffron; THUS I PERFORM POOJAA WITHIN. ||1|| (sggs 489).
  • ਗਗਨ ਮੈ ਥਾਲੁ ਰਵਿ ਚੰਦੁ ਦੀਪਕ ਬਨੇ ਤਾਰਿਕਾ ਮੰਡਲ ਜਨਕ ਮੋਤੀ ॥ ਧੂਪੁ ਮਲਆਨਲੋ ਪਵਣੁ ਚਵਰੋ ਕਰੇ ਸਗਲ ਬਨਰਾਇ ਫੂਲੰਤ ਜੋਤੀ ॥੧॥ ਕੈਸੀ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ਭਵ ਖੰਡਨਾ ਤੇਰੀ ਆਰਤੀ ॥ ਅਨਹਤਾ ਸਬਦ ਵਾਜੰਤ ਭੇਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਨੈਨ ਨਨ ਨੈਨ ਹੈ ਤੋਹਿ ਕਉ ਸਹਸ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਨਨਾ ਏਕ ਤੋਹੀ ॥ ਸਹਸ ਪਦ ਬਿਮਲ ਨਨ ਏਕ ਪਦ ਗੰਧ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਗੰਧ ਇਵ ਚਲਤ ਮੋਹੀ ॥੨॥ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਤਿਸ ਕੈ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਸਾਖੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਜੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਸੁ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ॥੩॥: In this platter of the sky (i.e. in this Cosmic sky), the sun and the moon are lamps and the clusters of stars are pearls. (I see) Your ‘Jot‘ in scented air fragranced by sandalwood, blowing wind, all the vegetation, and flowers (i.e. I see You everywhere and in all beings). ||1|| O Creator! What an amazing Aartee (of You) is already occurring (by the entire creation or Kudrat Itself! Your Divine Naad (Universal Energy everywhere and all beings) is the sound of drums being played (in Your Aartee). ||1||Pause|| (Being pervasive everywhere and in all beings) thousands of eyes of all of us are Rabb’s eyes — Rabb has no separate eyes. Thousands of forms of all of us are Rabb’s forms — (being Formless) Rabb has no separate form. Thousands of feet of all of us are Rabb’s feet — Rabb has no separate feet. Thousands of noses of all of us are Rabb’s noses — Rabb has no separate nose. I am amazed by this wonder. ||2|| The light flowing in everyone is from the same Supreme Light (i.e. the One Creator). The Light that aluminates all is from the same (One Creator). But the Understanding of this ‘Joti’ is revealed only the Teachings of the Guru (through the Guru’s Wisdom it is understood that Rabb is present within everything and all beings as ‘Joti’ and that we are jot-Saroop.). (Therefore) the true Aartee of the Omnipresent God is that whatever is happening in His Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature)  pleases the living being – to accept the Lord’s Hukam is to Perform the Lord’s Aartee (ਜੋ ਰੱਬ ਦੇ ਹੁਕਮ ਵਿਚ ਹੋ ਰਿਹਾ ਉਹ ਸਿੱਖ ਨੂੰ ਭਾ ਜਾਵੈ ਉਹ ਹੀ ਸਿੱਖ ਵਾਸਤੇ ਰੱਬ ਦੀ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੈ). ||3|| (sggs 663).

The SGGS asserts that those who have Becoming the Gurbani, ONLY they know this True Pooja (Gurmukh Mindset, Bhagat, Daas, Jan…).

  • ਜੋ ਤੁਧੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਸਾਈ ਭਲੀ ਕਾਰ ॥ ਤੂ ਸਦਾ ਸਲਾਮਤਿ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ॥੧੬॥ : I accept all that You Command (me from within my Conscience). (Because) Your Eternal Formless Self is the Sustainer of my Conscience. ॥16॥ (sggs 3).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਜਾਣੈ ਭਾਣਾ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਾਈ ॥੧੧॥: The spirituality of the Guru’s Shabad knows what Poojaa is (the Gurmukh-Hood State of the Mind); the mind abides in the Hukam (i.e. System-Rule-Law of Nature…). ||11|| (sggs 910).

9 comments

  1. Thank you so much Vir ji for clarifications on external puja or karamkaand.
    Can you please elaborate little bit more on the following:
    ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਫਿਰਿ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: One who dies in the Shabad (i.e., Wisdom, Virtues…), will never again have to die (ਫਿਰ ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ ਨਹੀ ਹੋਵੇਗੀ). (sggs 153).
    ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਭਗਤਿ ਪਾਏ ਜਨੁ ਸੋਇ ॥੩॥: One who dies in the Shabad, obtains Bhagti ||3|| (sggs 159).
    Thanks 🙏 🙏

  2. Thank you brother Ramjit Singh Mann Ji for your thoughtful reply.

    Im wondering if Sikh Ardas could be included in the external karamkaand? This Ardas is propagated by the corrupt Pujaari system in our Gurduaras

    Excellent point!

    We thought about that and then decided to have a separate article on ‘Ardas’ in future. That decision was made to keep this article from getting too long. will revisit this article and see if a sentence can be added to it. In short, the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS rejects the Pujaaree’s Karakaandi ‘Ardas’:
    – ਵਿਣੁ ਬੋਲਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਜਾਣਦਾ ਕਿਸੁ ਆਗੈ ਕੀਚੈ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥ (sggs 1240).
    – ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥ ਤਾ ਸੁਣਿ ਸਦਿ ਬਹਾਲੇ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੧॥ (sggs 878).
    – ਕਿਆ ਮੁਹੁ ਲੈ ਕੀਚੈ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥ ਪਾਪੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਦੁਇ ਸਾਖੀ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੨॥ (sggs 351).

  3. Veer T Singh ji, thanks for the excellent explanation of ritualistic pooja. Im wondering if Sikh Ardas could be included in the external karamkaand? This Ardas is propagated by the corrupt Pujaari system in our Gurduaras and it serves nothing more than source of income for the Granthi. Your views would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Thank you brother Gurinder Pal Singh Ji for your thoughtful reply.

    we also insist that SGGS is the “ਪ੍ਰਗਟ ਗੁਰਾਂ ਕੀ ਦੇਹ” and that it should be treated like Royality.

    Crafty or illiterate Pujaaree people, DeraaVaad etc. have propagated that anti-Gurmat Karamkaand.

    As far the Gurbani is concerned, it asserts why worship someone (i.e. embodied being) who is born and then dies?:
    – ਅਵਰੁ ਦੂਜਾ ਕਿਉ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਜੰਮੈ ਤੈ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਨਿਹਫਲੁ ਤਿਨ ਕਾ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿ ਖਸਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਅਵਰੀ ਕਉ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ ॥: Avar Doojaa Kiau saeveeai Jammai tai mari jaai … (sggs 509).

  5. I think Sikhs are confused about the status of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. No one denies that understanding Gurbani and inculcating those values in oneself is the most important aspect of Gurbani. But on the other hand we also insist that SGGS is the “ਪ੍ਰਗਟ ਗੁਰਾਂ ਕੀ ਦੇਹ” and that it should be treated like Royality. At least some of the rituals that we criticize like palki, designer Rumalas and flowers and offerings stem from this second interpretation of that status.

  6. I am glad I read this piece. A long standing doubt is dispelled. I had often wondered as to why the ‘advice’ is directed to Saints at numerous places in SGGS.

    I agree, conventionally pooja has come to imply “the dogmatic and complex ritualistic displays witnessed at religious places and religious ceremonies”.

    Right again, “This is (in fact) a business or beggary at an altar!”

    During my Sahaj Path yesterday evening, I came across this verse … ਜਪਿ ਮਨ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਅਰਧਾਂਭਾ ॥ and I was not sure of the precise meaning of ‘ardhaambhaa” (as worthy of worship). Glad again to have read this post.

    Thanks for your noble endeavor Veer Ji.

    Deep Regards

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