Stubborn Mindedness – Ritual Bathing

First, the Gurbani does not ask us not being hygienic. Second, the Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) does not promote or support ‘Frog-Philosophy’ either.

At the time of Baabaa Nanak’s Journey on this earth, useless rituals (Karamkaand) including ritual bathing in stubborn mindedness were on the rampant in the society.

In order to impart the Truth (ਸਚ) and awaken our mind slumbering in this foolishness, all 35 contributors of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) have used terms that were already within the use and within the psyche of people of their time.

Since the Gurbani is NOT meant to regurgitate outdated, irrelevant, illogical, fictitious, stone-age thinking, concocted stories (ਗੱਪ- ਕਹਾਣੀਆਂ), rituals or other imaginary nonsense, all 35 hit hard on them!

Terms such as ‘Ishnaan’ (bathing) etc. have been used in the SGGS as examples (ਹਵਾਲਾ), but explicitly with new meanings and understanding to fit the new spiritual paradigms of Sikhi or Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS.

Fittingly, right in the onset of the SGGS, Baabaa Nanak declares:

  • ਸੁਣਿਆ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਕੀਤਾ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਗਤਿ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਮਲਿ ਨਾਉ ॥: (A person who by connecting his consciousness to Naam) listens to it, believes it, and loves it in his mind, his intellect or mind develops within (i.e. expansion-development-progress-blooming of intellect or Budhi) and know that he is thoroughly bathing in the Teerath within (i.e., he constantly cleanses his mind by linking his thinking with the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom). (sggs 4).

Although rituals or Karamkaand (‘Kufakarhe‘) are totally rejected in the SGGS, however if we carefully read or listen to the Sikh Ardaas (prayer composed and added by the Pujaaree-groups),  we will find that the ritual of bathing has also made its way into it! For example, a portion of the Ardaas reads as follows: ‘…Sri Amritsar ji de Ishnaan….’!

Since the SGGS rejects making pilgrimages and ablutions, this appears to be in direct contradiction with the Teaching of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS)!

The truth is the visiting the so called Teerath (ਤੀਰਥ), making pilgrimages, and performing ritual bathing at these places is the way of the crafty Pujaaree and freeloading Yogis. 

  • ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਈਐ ਸੁਖੁ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ਕਾਈ ॥ ਗੋਰਖ ਪੂਤੁ ਲੋਹਾਰੀਪਾ ਬੋਲੈ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਾਈ ॥੭॥: (Yogi Lohaareepaa tells Baabaa Nanak that we Yogis) bathe at the shrine; the fruit of this is ‘Sukh’, and no filth sticks (to the mind). Lohaareepaa, the disciple of Gorakh Nath Yogi, said that this is the technique of yoga, the method of yoga. (sggs 939).

Clearly, this way of the crafty Pujaaree and freeloading Yogis is strongly rejected by the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS.

Frog-mind

The Gurbani asserts that those who believe in such foolish stubborn-mindedness are no better than a ‘frog’ for a ‘frog’ always remains in water!

  • ਜਲ ਕੈ ਮਜਨਿ ਜੇ ਗਤਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਮੇਂਡੁਕ ਨਾਵਹਿ ॥: If salvation can be obtained by bathing in water, then what about the frog, which is always bathing (always remain in water)? (sggs 484).

However, still the emphasis of a ‘frog mind’ is on going to all sorts of so called Teerath or shrines and (ritually) bathing the body-frame there!

  • ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਲੋਭ ਬਹੁ ਝੂਠੇ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਨਾਵਹੁ ਕਾਹੀ ਜੀਉ ॥: (O man) within (you) is the filth of greed and tremendous falsehood; so what for (you) wash your body on the outside? (sggs 598).

But our ‘frog-mind‘ always thinks in terms of the gross body-frame — focus on cleansing the body but not the deluded mind. We are told by the Gurbani that if the MIND is filthy then everything is filthy…

  • ਮਨਿ ਮੈਲੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਮੈਲਾ ਤਨਿ ਧੋਤੈ ਮਨੁ ਹਛਾ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: When the mind is filthy, everything is filthy; by washing the body, the mind is not cleaned (sggs 558).
  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਧੋਵੈ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਜੂਠਿ ਨ ਜਾਏ ॥: Outwardly, he (hypocrite) washes off the filth, but the impurity of his mind does not go away (sggs 88).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਸਭ ਬਾਤ ਜਾਨਤ ਹੀ ਅਉਗਨੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਕਾਹੇ ਕੀ ਕੁਸਲਾਤ ਹਾਥਿ ਦੀਪੁ ਕੂਏ ਪਰੈ ॥੨੧੬॥: O Kabir! The mind knows everything and knowingly it commits demerits. What use is it to have a Lamp (i.e., the Light of Aatam Giaan, Divine Knowledge, Spiritual Wisdom…) in his hand, if the man still falls into a well (of ignorance, Maya, Bikaar, ਅਉਗਨ / ਬਿਕਾਰਾਂ ਦੇ ਖੂਹ ਵਿਚ…)? (sggs 1376).

The Gurbani is all about developing understanding and then living by that understanding (Giaan or Wisdom, Bibek-Budh, ਸਮਝ, ਅਕਲ…).

However on account of ignorance and stubborn mindedness (Mann Hatha-ਮਨ ਹਠ), many, for example, preach that if you do not take cold bath in the early morning, then you cannot find god!

  • ਕਾਇਆ ਕੂੜਿ ਵਿਗਾੜਿ ਕਾਹੇ ਨਾਈਐ ॥ ਨਾਤਾ ਸੋ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ਸਚੁ ਕਮਾਈਐ ॥: (First you) defile the body with falsehood and Bikaar (i.e., lust anger, greed, attachment, pride…). Then (you) took a bath and washed it (yourself) from outside and got the illusion of being pure! The real bath is live life guided by the righteous path of Truth (Sach). (sggs 565).

Furthermore, under the spell of duality (Maya) and corruption they preach that if you do not visit the places of pilgrimage and take ritual bath in their waters, then you will not attain salvation.

However, the Gurbani rejects such foolish stubborn-mindedness, and declares such stubborn-minded people (Hathee) to be Manmukhs-Saakat-Mayadhaaree etc.

  • ਇਸੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਕਉ ਬਹੁ ਸਾਧਨਾ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਮਨ ਤੇ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਟਰੈ ॥ ਜਲਿ ਧੋਵੈ ਬਹੁ ਦੇਹ ਅਨੀਤਿ ॥ ਸੁਧ ਕਹਾ ਹੋਇ ਕਾਚੀ ਭੀਤਿ ॥: (You) may subject body to all sorts of ‘Saadhanaa’ (practices, disciplines etc.), but the mind will never be rid of its ‘Bikhiaa’ (Maya). (One) may wash this perishable body with plenty of water, (still) this wall of mud (i.e. gross body) cannot be washed clean. (sggs 265).

Gurmat rejects foolishness of ritual bathing

As revealed in the Gurbani, stubborn belief in ritual bathing is nothing but ignorance and foolishness.

  • ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਤਾ ਕਿਆ ਕਰੇ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਗੁਮਾਨੁ ॥: What is the use of bathing at sacred shrines of pilgrimage, when the filth of stubborn pride is within the mind? (sggs 61).

The Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS asks bathing the mind in the Pool of the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Hukam…).

To the contrary, foolish and stubborn ritualists focus it on external cleansing. In the process, the Gurbani asserts such ‘idiotic Manmukhs‘ end up accumulating more mental filth!

  • ਬਾਹਰੁ ਉਦਕਿ ਪਖਾਰੀਐ ਘਟ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਬਿਬਿਧਿ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥ ਸੁਧ ਕਵਨ ਪਰ ਹੋਇਬੋ ਸੁਚ ਕੁੰਚਰ ਬਿਧਿ ਬਿਉਹਾਰ ॥੪॥ : (One can) externally wash (outer side of his body) with water, but all sorts of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.) remain within the Heart or mind. So how can he become pure (with this pilgrimage)? This practice of purification is like that of an elephant-bath (i.e., this process of purification is the conduct of the egoistic people). ||4|| (sggs 346).
  • ਸੂਚੇ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਹਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਜਿ ਪਿੰਡਾ ਧੋਇ ॥ ਸੂਚੇ ਸੇਈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਨ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥: Such people are NOT called or considered pure who only cleanse or wash their body from outside. O Nanak! Only they are truly pure whose minds abide in Rabb (Hukam: System-Rule-Law of Nature, Truth…) — their mind and conduct become pure (i.e. free of Bikaar: lust, anger, greed etc.). (sggs 472).

Inner Ishnaan (or bath)

Whenever there is a mention of Ishanaan (bathing) in the Gurbani, it is only pointed toward the INNER Ishanaan; bathing the mind in the Inner Pool (‘Sarovar‘) of the Naam (Shabad-Vichaar, Aatam-Giaan, Wisdom, Upadesh…) located within the body.

  • ਏਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਸਰਵਰੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਤਹੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥੧੩॥: O sants (good human beings, Bhagats, Gurmukhs, Guru’s Satsangi Jan etc.), this human body is a pool (i.e. Srovar); that person who keeps his consciousness paired with (his Mool within), he is, as it were, bathing in this pool. ||13|| (sggs 909).
  • ਸਾਧ ਭਲੇ ਅਣਨਾਤਿਆ ਚੋਰ ਸਿ ਚੋਰਾ ਚੋਰ ॥੨॥: Saadh (good human beings, Bhagats, Gurmukhs, Guru’s Satsangi Jan etc.) are good without bathing (at shrines or pilgrim places), and thieves (even after bathing at the shrines) are only thieves. ||2|| (sggs 789).
  • ਸਹਸੈ ਜੀਉ ਮਲੀਣੁ ਹੈ ਕਿਤੁ ਸੰਜਮਿ ਧੋਤਾ ਜਾਏ ॥ ਮੰਨੁ ਧੋਵਹੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਲਾਗਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਉ ਰਹਹੁ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ: So long the mind is in the grip of ਸਹਿਮ (doubt, worry, skepticism, etc., born of from our love for Maya), it is rendered filthy. By no ਸੰਜਮਿ (Jugati – external tact, skill, device, knack, etc.) this filth of the mind can be cleansed. Attach yourself to the Shabad (Gur-Giaan…), continue to fix your consciousness on Hari (-Naam: Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), and  (like this) wash your mind (sggs 919).
  • ਮਨੁ ਮੰਦਰੁ ਤਨੁ ਵੇਸ ਕਲੰਦਰੁ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਾ ॥ ਏਕੁ ਸਬਦੁ ਮੇਰੈ ਪ੍ਰਾਨਿ ਬਸਤੁ ਹੈ ਬਾਹੁੜਿ ਜਨਮਿ ਨ ਆਵਾ ॥੧॥ : (Now that the one divine Shabad – Giaan or Wisdom – has become the support of my life>) my mind has become the temple, my body (meaning, every one of my senses) has become mendicant (meaning, my senses that were wandering outside have returned within), now I BATHE at the (mind-) Teerath only. The one divine Shabad has become the support of my life (for this I’m convinced that I) will not go astray in life again. (sggs 795).
  • ਹਰਿ ਧੂੜੀ ਨਾਈਐ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਬਾਹੁੜਿ ਜੋਨਿ ਨ ਆਈਐ ॥: (By meeting the Guru = Giaan or Wisdom) one may BATHE in the Wisdom or Giaan (‘Hari Dhoorhee-ਹਰਿ ਧੂੜੀ’ = divine Wisdom or Giaan), one may remember Prabhoo and (that person with an understanding of Guru’s Sidhaant) does may not go astray in life again. (sggs 780).

Here the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS makes it very clear that the true Ishanaan only consists of bathing the mind in the cleansing water of the Shabad or Naam. Stubborn insistence on any other Ishanaan will only indicate bewilderment of the mind, ignorance, absurdity of the intellect indulged in the worldly traps or duality and no regards for the Message of the SGGS whatsoever.

  • ਮਤਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਰਤਨ ਜਵਾਹਰ ਮਾਣਿਕ ਜੇ ਇਕ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸਿਖ ਸੁਣੀ ॥: If one hears the Gur-Sikhiaa (Giaan or Wisdom), then the gems, jewels and rubies (i.e., Virtues, Giaan or Wisdom…) awaken within the mind. (sggs 2).
  • ਹਜ ਹਮਾਰੀ ਗੋਮਤੀ ਤੀਰ ॥ ਜਹਾ ਬਸਹਿ ਪੀਤੰਬਰ ਪੀਰ ॥੧॥ ਵਾਹੁ ਵਾਹੁ ਕਿਆ ਖੂਬੁ ਗਾਵਤਾ ਹੈ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਮੇਰੈ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਵਤਾ ਹੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : My Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca…) and my (BATHING at the river) Gomti’s shore (is all in my mind), where abide the divine (Giaan or Wisdom, Virtues, Hukam…). ||1|| Wow Wow! How beautifully (my mind) is living (by the divine Wisdom, Virtues, Hukam…). (As) the divine Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Hukam…) seems dear in my mind (this is the reason this mind is my bathing at the shore of Gomti, and this mind is my Hajj). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 478).

In short, if WE ARE WILLING TO TAKE and PRACTICE, the SGGS provides us Wisdom (Giaan), which:

The following Shabad of Baabaa Nanak will challenge (ਲਲਕਾਰ) our mind forever:

  • ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਰਾਗੀ ਨਾਦੀ ਬੇਦਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਸੁਰਤੀ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਜੋਗਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਸੋਗੀ ਕੀਤੈ ਰੋਜਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਰੂਪੀ ਮਾਲੀ ਰੰਗਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਭਵਿਐ ਨੰਗਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਦਾਤੀ ਕੀਤੈ ਪੁੰਨਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਬੈਠਿਆ ਸੁੰਨਿ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਭੇੜਿ ਮਰਹਿ ਭਿੜਿ ਸੂਰ ॥ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਕੇਤੇ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਧੂੜ ॥ ਲੇਖਾ ਲਿਖੀਐ ਮਨ ਕੈ ਭਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਭੀਜੈ ਸਾਚੈ ਨਾਇ ॥੨॥ (God) is NOT won over (i.e. pleased, made happy etc.) with singing ragas, playing Naad or reading Vedas (i.e. religious books). (God) is NOT won over by meditation, debating knowledge or doing any means of Yoga. (God) can’t be won over even if you just sit there crying. (God) is NOT won over (on you) even when engaged in beauty, riches and pleasures. (God) is NOT won over by ritual bathing at Teerath (shrines) or wandering naked (in jungles, mountaintops etc.). (God) is NOT won over with giving alms (Daan). (God) is NOT won over by fighting and dying as a warrior in battle (i.e., by becoming a martyr or Shaheed). (God) is not won over even if you are mixed with dust. The test (of good and bad of people) is done according to what’s in the mind. O Nanak! (God) is pleased only through the True Naam (Wisdom or Giaan). (sggs 1237).

2 comments

  1. Thanks Punit.

    The “frog-philosophy” => Body-consciousness (Mayaic-consciousness)

    Hence, a “frog-mind” cannot appreciate the Gurbani. For the Gurbani’s Subject is Absolute Truth, Aatam-Giaan…. A True Sikh is in search of This Truth, Aatam-Giaan….

    The Gurbani is not against being hygienic. But it urges us to constantly bathe the mind in the Water (Pool, Sarovar…) of the Naam (Giaan, Shabad…). A “frog-mind” cannot accept this.

    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 ॥: Bhareeai hath pair tanu deh. Paanee dhotai outaras khaeh. Moot paleetee kaparr hoi. Dae saaboon layeeai ouhu dhoi. Bhareeai Mati paapaa kai sangi. Ohu dhopai naavai kai rangi (sggs 4).

  2. Excellent!
    The “frog-mind” always thinks in terms of the external body.

    The Gurbani wants us bathe our mind in the Shabad-Vichar (Gur-Giyan).

    Wow!

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