In addition to ‘Supan-ਸੁਪਨ’ (lit. dream),  ‘Jhooth-ਝੂਠ’ (lit. false, untrue etc.), ‘Koorh-ਕੂੜੁ’ (lit. falsehood etc.), ‘Bharam-ਭਰਮੁ’ (lit. doubt, confusion etc.), ‘Chalanhaar-ਚਲਣਹਾਰੁ’ (lit. fleeting etc.) and so on, the Gurbani calls the material world ‘Mithiya-ਮਿਥਿਆ’ (lit. illusion, delusory etc.).

‘Mithiya’ (or Mithiya ) is really an interesting word. And there is no equal word in English.

  • ਸਾਧੋ ਇਹੁ ਤਨੁ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਜਾਨਉ ॥ ਯਾ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਜੋ ਰਾਮੁ ਬਸਤੁ ਹੈ ਸਾਚੋ ਤਾਹਿ ਪਛਾਨੋ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : O Wise Ones! know that this body is false (i.e. fleeting, temporary etc.). Recognize Raam who dwells within it alone Real (i.e. Lasting, Eternal etc.). ||1|| Pause|| (sggs 1186).
  • ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਅਰੁ ਫੇਨ ਬੁਦਬੁਦਾ ਜਲ ਤੇ ਭਿੰਨ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਪਰਪੰਚੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕੀ ਲੀਲਾ ਬਿਚਰਤ ਆਨ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੨॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਭਰਮੁ ਅਰੁ ਸੁਪਨ ਮਨੋਰਥ ਸਤਿ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਜਾਨਿਆ ॥: The waves of the water, the foam and bubbles, are not distinct from the water. (Similarly) this manifested world is the Play (Leelaa) of the Supreme Being; reflecting upon it, we find that it is not different from Him. ||2|| (Watching this ‘world-Leelaa‘) People think that our attachment with the worldly things is everlasting; but the reality is that all these things are false illusions (Mithiya) as seen in the dreams. (sggs 485).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਕਹਤ ਜਗਤ ਸਭ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਰੈਨਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥ : Nanak says, the entire material world is illusion like the nightly dream ||2||1|| (sggs 1231).
  • ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਿਉ ਝੂਠੋ ਇਹੁ ਜਗ ਦੇਖਿ ਤਾਸਿ ਉਠਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥੧॥ : This world is false like the deer’s delusion (ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ: ਠਗ-ਨੀਰ, mirage). (As a deer chases after mirage – ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ, ਠਗ-ਨੀਰ – and dies chasing it), similarly, (the Maya stricken person) on beholding this world runs after it (and suffers – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ) ||1|| (sggs 219).

By calling this world ‘Mithiya-ਮਿਥਿਆ’, ‘Supan-ਸੁਪਨ’, ‘Jhooth-ਝੂਠ’. ‘Koorh-ਕੂੜੁ’, ‘Bharam-ਭਰਮੁ’ etc., the Gurbani does NOT mean this world is non-existent. If this world was nonexistent then it would not have been experienced by us.

Then is it real? Yes, it is real since we experience it. However it is called unreal in a sense that it is subject to change every moment. We think it to be permanent, it is not; we think it to be nonperishable, it is not; we think it to be changeless, it is not; and so on.

If a person mistakes a rope for a snake (or a pole for a ghost) in the darkness, then would the snake or ghost vision be real? No.

  • 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).
  • 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).

Anything that cannot be described as real or unreal is called ‘Mithiya-ਮਿਥਿਆ’ in the Indian scriptures.

In the Gurbani, this world is also called Supan-ਸੁਪਨ’, ‘Jhooth-ਝੂਠ’. ‘Koorh-ਕੂੜੁ’ etc. for a person in whose mind there is NO Realization of the Creator — who has non-realized state WITHIN.

Hence, these terms that describe the material world are used so that we can remain affectionately detached in the world.

  • ਮਿਥਿਆ ਤਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਕੁਟੰਬੁ ਸਬਾਇਆ ॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਮਤਾ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਰਾਜ ਜੋਬਨ ਧਨ ਮਾਲ ॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਬਿਕਰਾਲ ॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਰਥ ਹਸਤੀ ਅਸ੍ਵ ਬਸਤ੍ਰਾ ॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਰੰਗ ਸੰਗਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਪੇਖਿ ਹਸਤਾ ॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਧ੍ਰੋਹ ਮੋਹ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਆਪਸ ਊਪਰਿ ਕਰਤ ਗੁਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਅਸਥਿਰੁ ਭਗਤਿ ਸਾਧ ਕੀ ਸਰਨ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਪਿ ਜਪਿ ਜੀਵੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਚਰਨ ॥੪॥: Mithiya Tan Dhan Kutamb sabaaiaa … : Sinvce body, wealth and whole family are ‘Mithiya’; (then) Maya’s love and false ego-sense (i.e. aggrandizement due to wealth and family etc.) is also ‘Mithiya’. Rule (Power, kingdom etc.), youth, wealth, and property are all ‘Mithiya’. (Therefore, because of these) lust (waves of desires) and fierce anger are also ‘Mithiya’. Chariots, elephants, horses and (beautiful) clothes are ‘Mithiya’. Looking at (all this) Maya with love (the creature) laughs, (but this laughter and pride too) are ‘Mithiya’. Betrayal, attachment and pride (all these) are ‘Mithiya’. Being proud of yourself is also ‘Mithiya’ (addiction). (The Creator NOT Mithiya for He) is Ever in Existence, and His Bhagti is done by taking shelter of the Guru (Shabad). Nanak, live in constant Realization (of the Creator) through Realization of the Divine Wisdom. (sggs 268).

For example, if a person does not consider this world as ‘Mithiya‘, then it will become the cause of his attachment, followed by the ‘greatest pain’ that arises from the bondage to the world and its gross objects.

  • ਮਤ ਭੂਲਹੁ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਜਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਭਰਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਸੁ ਪਤਿ ਰਾਖਸੀ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਪਹਿਰਾਇਆ ॥੪॥੧੬॥੪੬॥ : O mortal beings! Don’t forget to fall into the delusion of Maya. Nanak, whosoever has perceived the Creator‘s Hukam, his dignity (of human birth) will be preserved. ॥4॥16॥46॥ (sggs 812).
  • ਕੂੜੁ ਰਾਜਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਪਰਜਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਸਭੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਮੰਡਪ ਕੂੜੁ ਮਾੜੀ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੈਸਣਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਸੁਇਨਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਰੁਪਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਪੈਨ੍‍ਣਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਕਾਇਆ ਕੂੜੁ ਕਪੜੁ ਕੂੜੁ ਰੂਪੁ ਅਪਾਰੁ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਮੀਆ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੀਬੀ ਖਪਿ ਹੋਏ ਖਾਰੁ ॥ ਕੂੜਿ ਕੂੜੈ ਨੇਹੁ ਲਗਾ ਵਿਸਰਿਆ ਕਰਤਾਰੁ ॥ ਕਿਸੁ ਨਾਲਿ ਕੀਚੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਚਲਣਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਕੂੜੁ ਮਿਠਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਮਾਖਿਉ ਕੂੜੁ ਡੋਬੇ ਪੂਰੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਵਖਾਣੈ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਤੁਧੁ ਬਾਝੁ ਕੂੜੋ ਕੂੜੁ ॥੧॥: (Pay attention to the last verse – ‘ਵਿਸਰਿਆ ਕਰਤਾਰੁ’ – which depicts Non-realized state of the mind). If there is NO Realization of the Creator WITHIN the minds of King and his citizens, then they are all ‘Koorh‘. Attractive mansions and houses are all ‘Koorh‘ if there is NO Realization of the Creator WITHIN the minds of those who live in them. Gold, silver, and those who wear the are ‘Koorh‘ if there is NO Realization of the Creator WITHIN the minds. If there is NO Realization of the Creator WITHIN the mind, then the body, clothes, and the incomparable good looks are all ‘Koorh‘. If there is NO Realization of the Creator WITHIN the mind, then the husband and wife are ‘Koorh‘ and thus they get fed up in life. Thus, in the mind’s state of non-realization of the Creator, ‘Koorh‘ one gets attached to ‘Koorh’ (i.e. without the Realization of the Creator within, it’s all ‘Koorh‘). (sggs 468).

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