Rope Mistaken for a Snake!

The aim of Gurbani in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is to encourage man to come out of all kinds of fear, superstition, doubt, illusion, delusion, false notions, confusion, perplexity etc. to lead a Virtuous and constructive life by becoming ‘Sachiaaraa‘.

Like a person in the dark of night mistakes a rope for a snake, similarly, we also get mixed up about the true nature of things in this world including our own Mool (Source, Reality…) or True Nature (Jot Saroop). We get mixed up because of our ignorance created delusions, superstitions, doubts (Vahim, Bharam) etc.

As a result, we end up being confused about what is fleeting and what is not. We think that the gross body we have in this birth is all that matters, and we seldom spare a thought for the mind’s Jot Saroop which is of the nature of Pure Consciousness-Bliss-Eternal.

Spiritual Wisdom is the mean for liberation from the darkness of ignorance of our True Identity (Jot Saroop). With the dawn of the divine Giyan-Wisdom through the Shabad-Vichaar, we can realize that ‘Jot Saroop’ (Pure Awareness, etc.) alone is Real and all else is fleeting, perishable or false (Koorh).

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਜਿਨੀ ਨ ਸੇਵਿਓ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕੀਤੋ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਓ ਮਿਰਤਕੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥: (Those beings) who have not served the ‘Satiguru‘ (through Shabad-Vichaar), no Wisdom has Awakened within them, (they may appear as alive but they) are as dead in the world (spiritually dead-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). (sggs 88).

Rope mistaken for a snake

Superstitions, doubts, delusions etc. are ropes which create the illusion of a snake in the darkness of ignorance!

Darkness of ignorance is nothing but the non-apprehension of greater Reality. This non-apprehension of Reality causes the misapprehension in our life. For example, in darkness when we do not have the true knowledge of a rope, we may misunderstand it to be either a snake, or a piece of stick, or a streak of water, or a crack in the ground, and so on. Thus, due to initial non-apprehension of the rope, we could have misapprehensions of the various other objects superimposed on the rope.

  • ਰਾਜ ਭੁਇਅੰਗ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਗ ਜੈਸੇ ਹਹਿ ਅਬ ਕਛੁ ਮਰਮੁ ਜਨਾਇਆ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਕਟਕ ਜੈਸੇ ਭੂਲਿ ਪਰੇ ਅਬ ਕਹਤੇ ਕਹਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੩॥: As is the story of the rope and the snake (i.e., rope mistaken for a snake in darkness), some mystery has now been explained (to me). Like the many bracelets (made of gold), which were mistakenly thought (of separate or different from the gold); now, (I) do not say that. ||3|| (sggs 658).

It was our conditioned mind that mistook the rope to be the snake. In other words, it was our non-apprehension of the rope that gave rise to the misapprehension of the snake. When the misapprehension is removed, the snake disappears, and only the rope remains!

Similarly, when the darkness of ignorance (Avidiaa) is removed, Jot Saroop stands Realized as the mind’s Mool (ਮੂਲ); Just as once the darkness is removed, the rope alone remains, and the snake disappears.

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਬਾਣਿ ਬਜਰ ਕਲ ਛੇਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਿਆ ਪਦੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ॥ ਸਕਤਿ ਅਧੇਰ ਜੇਵੜੀ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਚੂਕਾ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਸਿਵ ਘਰਿ ਬਾਸਾ ॥: The Gur-arrow (of Wisdom or Giaan) has pierced the dark state (of my mind -imaginations, ਫੁਰਨੇ…) and the state of illumination (light of Wisdom) has dawned upon me. In the darkness of Maya, I mistook the rope for the snake, but that is over, and now I dwell in the Home (within – state of ever Bliss, Jot Saroop…). (sggs 332).

In short, Wisdom alone destroys the ignorance as light destroys deep darkness. Ignorance is nothing but the non-apprehension of greater Reality. This non-apprehension of Reality causes the misapprehension in our life.


Likewise, it is the ignorance due to which mind’s Mool within has been imagined as the false ego-sense, the intellect, the body, the senses etc. Thus, being attached to the ignorance of our Essential Nature, we are fallen into deep sleep of delusion. Consequently, we are unable to apprehend the Reality. Because of such misunderstanding and consequent superimpositions, we suffer under the ignorance about the Truth of our mind’s Mool.

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਅਲਖੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ਲਖਿਆ ਵਿਚਿ ਪੜਦਾ ਹਉਮੈ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਸਭੋ ਜਗੁ ਸੋਇਆ ਇਹੁ ਭਰਮੁ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਿਉ ਜਾਈ ॥੧॥: Within (the Jeeva – an individual being) dwells the Invisible Rabb, but (the Jeeva) cannot comprehend this because (within the Jeeva) lies the veil of false ego-sense (Haumai). In attachment to Maya, all the world is asleep. Tell me, how can this doubt (of the Jeeva) be dispelled? ||1|| (sggs 205).

We superimpose upon our Mool within certain conditioning. When the contamination caused by the false limitations is removed, Mool is realized and discovered as the One Timeless Spirit, which runs through All. Just as once the darkness is removed, the rope alone remains; the snake disappears. For we know that the rope alone is real, not the snake; however, it was our non-apprehension of the rope that gave rise to the misapprehension of the snake.

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਪਟਲ ਪਟਲ ਹੈ ਭਾਰੀ ਘਰੁ ਘੂਮਨਿ ਘੇਰਿ ਘੁਲਾਵੈਗੋ ॥: The veil of Maya is thick and heavy, a whirlpool which destroys one’s Home (mind, Heart…). (sggs 1308).

Here is an another example may further help understand the point. In the dark, a pole or a post may be mistaken for a ghost. As the darkness is removed, the ghost disappears; only the pole remains as reality. Ignorance begets false ego-sense. Due to our ignorance of the rope and the pole, we superimposed our false egoistic ideas on the reality, that is, the rope and the pole. The result was that our non apprehension of the reality (i.e., rope and the pole) caused its misapprehension into a snake and a ghost.


The essence of all spirituality is becoming free from the false self (false ego-sense or Haumai). When there is false self, there is bondage and resulting superimposition (‘wall’, ‘veil’, ‘covering’, ‘curtain’ etc. of falsehood or Haume). In the absence of these, there is the Freedom or Jeevanmukti — the state of being a Gurmukh. How can we remove the ‘wall’, ‘veil’, ‘cover’ or ‘curtain’ of superimposition from our non-dual, True Self (‘Jot Saroop’)? Through de-superimposition ( removing of the ‘wall’, ‘veil’, ‘cover’, ‘curtain’ etc.). Desuperimposition is essentially eradication of Mayaic or corrupted or conditioned consciousness.

  • ਪੇਖਿਓ ਲਾਲਨੁ ਪਾਟ ਬੀਚ ਖੋਏ ਅਨਦ ਚਿਤਾ ਹਰਖੇ ਪਤੀਨ ॥: I behold my Beloved, now that the curtain (superimposition) has been torn away. Now my mind is happy, pleased, satisfied and in bliss (sggs 716).
  • ਕੂੜੈ ਕੀ ਪਾਲਿ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਨਿਕਲੈ ਤਾ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥: If the veil of falsehood is removed from within, then lasting peace is obtained (sggs 490).

Last, but not least, consider this little story. Once there was an infant prince who was abducted by a bandit and brought up as his son. After the infant prince grew to adulthood, he was discovered by the King’s prime minister who happened to be passing through the jungle. The prime minister identified the lost prince by the birth marks on his body. The prince was then taken back to the palace. Thus, suddenly, the bandit’s son found himself to be a prince! But, as a matter of fact, he always was a prince! But, in ignorance he did not know about it. When the ignorance of his true identity (that he is a prince not a bandit’s son) was removed, he realized that he was a prince. That’s all. Nothing new was created, added or attained; yet, with the dawn of the True Knowledge, the false disappeared!

The Gurmat or the Way of the Sikhi is ‘Giaan Maarag’ (ਗਿਆਨ ਮਾਰਗ) = Way of the Wisdom or Understaning (ਸਮਝ).

By careful discrimination, reasoning or negation (Bibek Budhi) the Gurus and the Bhagat Sahibaan determined the True Nature of the Reality and discussed everlasting Bliss (Anand). No amount of rituals (Karamkaand) can take us to our Eternal Essence; for penance and rituals cannot destroy the false ego-sense (Haumai). In fact rituals bind us in more and more false ego-sense! That can be destroyed only on the direct experience of the Reality resulting from pure Giaan or Wisdom.

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਹਉਮੈ ਗਈ ਜੋਤਿ ਰਹੀ ਸਭ ਆਇ ॥: When the Satigur (Giaan or Wisdom) is realized, the false ego-sense is dispelled, then ONLY the shining Jot remains or stays behind, within! (sggs 510).
  • ਚੇਤਿ ਸੁਚੇਤ ਚਿਤ ਹੋਇ ਰਹੁ ਤਉ ਲੈ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ਉਜਾਰਾ ॥੨॥: (O my mind!) Remain Awake and Aware, then you will be enlightened and illuminated. ||2|| (sggs 339).

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  1. A very enlightening message in the most simplest way of communication. Feel indebted for having received the same. Express the sincerest gratitude. 🙏🌹

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