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.

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

What is not Poojaa?

The self-serving Pujaaree’s Poojaa is NOT the Gurbani’s (SGGS) Poojaa. The Pujaaree’s Poojaa 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 (in Yagna like horse etc.), donate gold on the quiet etc.; even then all these works cannot equal the Internalization of the Divine Naam (Shabad, spiritual Wisdom-Giaan, Virtues etc.). Surrender the pretense; do not betray (fraud etc.) your Conscience. ॥1॥ Pause ॥ (sggs 973).

Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (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 corrupt and illiterate 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 Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) — what is NOT ‘Poojaa‘?

Baabaa Nanak teaches us:

  • 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).
  • 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).
  • ਪਾਥਰੁ ਲੇ ਪੂਜਹਿ ਮੁਗਧ ਗਵਾਰ ॥ ਓਹਿ ਜਾ ਆਪਿ ਡੁਬੇ ਤੁਮ ਕਹਾ ਤਰਣਹਾਰੁ ॥੨॥ : The ignorant fools pick up stones and worship (Poojaa) them. But when that stone sinks itself (in water), who will carry you across (i.e. then who will pull you up)? ॥2॥ (sggs 556).

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 massive self-conceit (i.e., Bikaar), (but) performs Poojaa all sort of ways with great ostentation; (even if) ritual bath is taken (at the so called sacred shrines); and religious marks are applied to the body; (however, this way) the filth within (the 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 Gur-Shabad,) his religious acts are just ‘Pakhand‘ (hypocrisy); he is plundered by Jamm. (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 refuted the external Karamkaand of Poojaa (ਬਾਹਰੀ ਪੂਜਾ ਦੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਾਂਡ). The Gurbani is the Guru (Giaan or Wisdom) and 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 respect, 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.

According to the Gurmat, the real meaning of Poojaa is to acquire auspicious Qalities (ਗੁਣ) through the Guru’s Wisdom and live daily life as a Gurmukh (Hukami Bandaa…). In this context, the Guru Sahib says in answer to the question of Poojaa ‘How can I perform Your Poojaa?’ (‘ਕਵਨ ਸੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਤੇਰੀ ਕਰਉ ॥’).

  • 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).

According to the SGGS, the true Poojaa is to remember (think, meditate, contemplate, reflect, live etc.) the Wisdom (Giaan-ਗਿਆਨ) — keeping the Giaan or Wisdom in mind at all the time, and apply it to the daily life.

  • 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 ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਦੇਵ ਪਖਾਲੀਅਹਿ ਜੇ ਮਨੁ ਧੋਵੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਜੂਠਿ ਲਹੈ ਜੀਉ ਮਾਜੀਐ ਮੋਖ ਪਇਆਣਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥: Contemplation on the Naam (Giaan or Wisdom) is the Poojaa. Without the Naam, there is no Poojaa ||1||Pause|| 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).
  • 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).
  • 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).

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).

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 ॥: 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).
  • 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, Giaan or 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 (or Aarti ) of the SGGS, ‘Ardas‘ (ਪੁਜਾਰੀ ਦੀਆਂ ਅਰਦਾਸਾਂ), 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.

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

  • ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਲੋਕੁ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥੪॥: O sants (Gurmukhs, Bhagat, Daas, Jan, good men…)! The whole world performs Poojaa (on its own), but no ‘Poojaa’ performed by a self-willed Manmukh 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 true ‘Poojaa‘?

As seen in the world, the crafty Pujaaree’s fake Poojaa 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 Gurbani (NOT according to the fool-o-sophy), 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).

According to Baabaa Nanak, the important ingredients for the Naam-Poojaa are:

  • 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 PERFRM POOJAA WITHIN. ||1|| (sggs 489).
  • ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਆਰਤੀ ਮਜਨੁ ਮੁਰਾਰੇ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨੁ ਝੂਠੇ ਸਗਲ ਪਾਸਾਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (O Rabb! Ignorant people do Aartee of idols, but for me) Your Naam (ie.e. Wisdom) is the Aartee and cleansing bath. Missing the Naam, all other pretensions are false (useless, in vain etc.). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 694).
  • 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॥: The whole sky is (as if) a plate, the sun and the moon (in this plate) are lamps, the clusters of stars, (in this plate) are pearls. The wind coming from the Malay mountain is like incense (burning), the wind is fanning (ਚੌਰ ਕਰਨਾ), all the vegetation is giving flowers for the Aartee of the Jot Saroop (Rabb). ||1|| O Creator! What a beautiful Your Aartee that is already happening (in Nature or Kudrat)! (Roaming in all living beings) the celestial strain (ਇੱਕ-ਰਸ ਜੀਵਨ-ਰੌ) is the sounding of template drums for 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|| There is only one ‘Joti’ in all being and this ‘Joti’ is none other than That Rabb. With the Light of that ‘Joti’ there is Light (Soojh Boojhunderstanding etc.) in all beings. But the knowledge of this ‘Joti’ comes only with the Teachings of the Guru (through the Guru’s Wisdom it is understood that Rabb is present within all beings as ‘Joti’ and that we are jot-Saroop.). The Aarti (i.e. meaningful Poojaa of this all-pervading ‘Joti‘) is that whatever is happening in Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature, Universal Energy) is pleasing to beings. ||3|| (sggs 663).

The Gurbani asserts ONLY the Gurmukh (Bhagat, Daas, Jan…) knows this true Pooja.

  • 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).


  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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