Oily Rag and the Human Mind

Four things are common in animals and a sense-blind human beings with an empty mind: (1) eating, (2) sleeping, (3) mating, and (4) defending.

Mind infatuated with vices or Bikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride; and their countless variations) is not only restless, it also behaves and lives like animals while alive (ਪਸੂ ਵਿਰਤੀ-animal nature) — functions primarily on animal instincts, not much reasoning or discernment (Bibek Budh).

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) Guides seekers:

  • ਜਨਮ ਜਨਮ ਕੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਕਾਲਾ ਹੋਆ ਸਿਆਹੁ ॥ ਖੰਨਲੀ ਧੋਤੀ ਉਜਲੀ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜੇ ਸਉ ਧੋਵਣਿ ਪਾਹੁ ॥ : This mind of ours is soiled with the mental filth of vices or Bikaar of repeatedly living (in this present life as a fly, a dog, a pig, a jackass, a crow, a snake etc.) it has been soiled so much with the dirt of vices as if it has become black (like a crow). (sggs 651). The oily rag cannot be made clean even it is washed hundreds of times — similarly the filthy mind cannot be made clean by numerous ritual ablutions. (sggs 651).

Why cannot the external bathing remove the inner ‘filth‘ that sticks to our mind? Because this ‘filth’ that stains the mind is subtle and stubborn like the ‘oily rag’. Also, as indicated in the Gurbani, since the mind is accumulating this ‘filth’ for time immemorial, the mind has become ‘pitch black’. Such subtle and stubborn ‘filth’ cannot be removed by just ritual bathing of the body in waters of wells, ponds, rivers etc. This is the Gurbani’s edict.

The SGGS logically asks if salvation can be obtained by bathing in water, then what about the frog, which is always bathing in water? As is the frog, so is that mortal.

  • ਜਨਮ ਜਨਮ ਕੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਕਾਲਾ ਹੋਆ ਸਿਆਹ ॥ : The scum (i.e., impurity) of so many births is attached to this mind and it has become pitch black (sggs 651).

The SGGS reminds us that, in addition to bathing the body in the morning, our mind also needs a morning bath, before we start our day. This internal washing can only be attained through Gurmat meditation (bathing in the pool of the Amrit-Naam within) and other spiritual practices (such as keeping the Company of seekers, becoming Enlightened (Gurmukh Mindset) and so on. Because until the mind is so bathed and cleansed daily, mere bathing of the body-frame will not do the trick.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਚੁਕਾਵਣਿਆ ॥: Says Nanak, let the Naam abides deep within the minds; by becoming the Gurmukhs, cleanse your filth (sggs 121).

The Gurbani tells us that without cleansing the mind (eradication, annihilation, killing or destruction of the Haumai-mind), it’s not possible to link with one’s Original Nature (Jot Saroop) within.

The SGGS reveals to us as to exactly how one can go about bathing and cleansing the mind. The Gurbani says that when our body or clothes become dirty, they can be cleansed with soap and water, but when the mind becomes dirty, it can be cleansed with the Love of the Divine Naam.

  • ਭਰੀਐ ਹਥੁ ਪੈਰੁ ਤਨੁ ਦੇਹ ॥ ਪਾਣੀ ਧੋਤੈ ਉਤਰਸੁ ਖੇਹ ॥ ਮੂਤ ਪਲੀਤੀ ਕਪੜੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਦੇ ਸਾਬੂਣੁ ਲਈਐ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਇ ॥ ਭਰੀਐ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਪਾ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਧੋਪੈ ਨਾਵੈ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ॥: Water cleanses my stained physical self (external body). Soap cleanses my stained garments. (Beyond the stained physical self or the garments) my intellect is stained by vices. The cleansing of which (i.e. intellect) is by imbuing in Naam (Wisdom / Virtues). (sggs 4).

1 comment

  1. Thanks for yet another insightful piece.

    “ਖੰਨਲੀ ਧੋਤੀ ਉਜਲੀ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜੇ ਸਉ ਧੋਵਣਿ ਪਾਹੁ”

    “ਜਨਮ ਜਨਮ ਕੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਕਉ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਕਾਲਾ ਹੋਆ ਸਿਆਹ”

    So Gurbani clearly shows us the path to cleansing not only our ‘oily rags’ but also the rags that have accumulated filth sinces ages. An opportunity, a recipe, a process that is so explicitly presented to us and yet most of us never consider even reflecting on it.

    Thanks Veer T Singh Ji for constantly attempting to awaken us.

    Deep Regards

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