Stubborn Mindedness – Religious Robes

In the entire Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), there is not even a single gesture that describes the greatness/necessity/importance of the religious symbols and religious robes. Although Shabad rejecting and critiquing them can to be found throughout the SGGS, but no argument in their favor or support can be found anywhere in the Gurbani of the SGGS.

To the contrary, the Gurbani of the SGGS rejects decorating, embellishing or loading the ephemeral body-frame with religious paraphernalia (religious symbols, dress, ਧਾਰਮਕ ਚਿਨ, ਭੇਖ etc.).

Since the God is not a physical body, God does not wear any religious BHEKH – religious robes and religious symbols etc.! This is the reason the Gurbani of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) time and again points out that the Creator can NOT be realized through any religious BHEKH!

  • ਭੇਖੀ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਨ ਲਭਈ ਵਿਣੁ ਸਚੀ ਸਿਖੰ ॥ : God is not realized by wearing religious robes (BHEKH); God is NOT realized without the true teachings of the Guru. (sggs 1099).
    ਹਠਿ ਨ ਪਤੀਜੈ ਨਾ ਬਹੁ ਭੇਖੈ ॥ : God is not pleased by stubborn-mindedness, nor by various religious robes (sggs 686).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਭੁਖ ਗਈ ਭੇਖੀ ਭੁਖ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ : Accepting the Satgur one’s hunger (for Maya) departs, whereas by wearing the religious robes this hunger does not vanish. (sggs 586).

Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) teaches us that our material body is born with two subtle robes: lust and anger.

  • ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਕਾ ਚੋਲੜਾ ਸਭ ਗਲਿ ਆਏ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਉਪਜਹਿ ਇਕਿ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ਹੁਕਮੇ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜੰਮਣੁ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਚੁਕਈ ਰੰਗੁ ਲਗਾ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥ ਬੰਧਨਿ ਬੰਧਿ ਭਵਾਈਅਨੁ ਕਰਣਾ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥17॥ : After coming into this world, (the mind of) all humans wear a robe of lust and anger (i.e. Bikaars). Those whose mind wear this robe of Bikaars are  ruined; and those who do not Spiritually Grow according to the divine Hukam (law of consequences, Universal system-rule-law of Nature, ਕੁਦਰਤੀ ਨਿਯਮ). As long as the mind is attached to duality or Maya, this process of mind’s Spiritual birth and death doesn’t come to an end (behavioral forms of the mind). Trapped in these ‘Bandhan‘ (i.e. Bikaars, mental filth), man’s mind wanders (in this cycle of Spiritual birth and death), any amount of external attempts done at the level of the physical body (Pakhand, Bhekh, Karamkaand etc.) can NOT end it. ||17|| (sggs 1414).

The human life’s ultimate aim is to rid the body of this inner ‘garbage‘ (i.e. all Bikaars or vices…). However, instead of liberating the mind from this internal filth, majority of us have further adorned the outer body-frame with external blemishes consisting of various religious paraphernalia. Gurbani in SGGS reveals to us this bitter truth:

  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਕੰਨਿ ਮੁਸਲਾ ਸੂਫੁ ਗਲਿ ਦਿਲਿ ਕਾਤੀ ਗੁੜੁ ਵਾਤਿ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਦਿਸੈ ਚਾਨਣਾ ਦਿਲਿ ਅੰਧਿਆਰੀ ਰਾਤਿ ॥੫੦॥ : O Farid! on your shoulder is the prayer mat, around your neck is the black scarf (Sufi robe), candy in your mouth (i.e. deceptively sweet words), but a dagger in your heart (you have disguised yourself as a pious person, you speak sweet words but your heart is deceitful). outwardly you appear as spiritually wise but in your heart is pitch darkness of spiritual ignorance. ||50|| (sggs 1380).
  • ਜਤਨ ਕਰੈ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਡਹਕਾਵੈ ਓਹੁ ਅੰਤਰਜਾਮੀ ਜਾਨੈ ॥ ਪਾਪ ਕਰੇ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਕਰਿ ਪਾਵੈ ਭੇਖ ਕਰੈ ਨਿਰਬਾਨੈ ॥੧॥ : One makes several efforts to deceive others, but God, the knower within, knows everything. He wears religious garb of a renouncer, commits sins and then deny them. ||1|| (sggs 680).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵਣੇ ਜਿਉ ਦੋਹਾਗਣਿ ਤਨਿ ਸੀਗਾਰੁ ॥ : The Manmukh’s (Unenlightened being) religious rituals (or deeds) are like the ‘Duhaagan‘ (i.e. unwanted or deserted) bride adoring her body. (sggs 31).

Gurbani (SGGS) teaches us that all religious BHEKH — external religious body robes, symbols, and other paraphernalia — are nothing but a pompous show (‘Adammbar‘) of man’s unripe false ego-sense (Haumai). Hence rejected by the Gurbani (SGGS).

  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ਮਨੂਆ ਦਹ ਦਿਸਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥ : (Devoid of the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom, one) outwardly wears religious robes and (acts as he is) very clever, but (his) mind wanders in the ten directions (sggs 732).
  • ਹਠੁ ਕਰਿ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਲੇਖੈ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਵੇਸ ਕਰੈ ਬਹੁ ਭਸਮ ਲਗਾਵੈ ॥ : It is of no avail to dye in stubbornness (Yogic rituals or Karamkaand). (One may) wear religious robes and smear his body with ashes (These are also useless) (sggs 226).

The self-serving Pujaree‘s (clergy) interpretation of Sikhi is outwardly. Hence, the Pujaaree’s (clergy) interpretation of garbs and symbols is concoction and highly hypocritical. Aptly, at many places in Gurbani, those who fool gullible people by labeling BHEKH as religion have been critiqued, debunked and rejected in no uncertain terms.

For example, Bhagat Kabeer Ji counsels us saying that there is no difference between having a long hair or having a short hair or shaven head, if there is no good thought (Soch-ਸੋਚ) in the mind and good Virtues in behavior. The following verses of Bhagat Kabeer refer to worldly hypocrisy and worldly appeasement:

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਇਕ ਸਿਉ ਕੀਏ ਆਨ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਭਾਵੈ ਲਾਂਬੇ ਕੇਸ ਕਰੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਘਰਰਿ ਮੁਡਾਇ ॥੨੫॥ : Kabeer, when you love single-mindedly to the ONE Creator then all your doubts flee, irrespective of whatever pleases the world: unshorn hair or shaven head (i.e. it makes no difference to the Creator. ||25|| (sggs 1365).

Although the religious robes and religious symbols have repeatedly been rejected in the Gurbani, still the self-serving Pujaaree (clergy) of all man-made religions want people decorate their ephemeral body-frame with them. Why? Gurbani provides us with the authoritative answers as well as explanations. According to Gurbani, many put on religious Bhekh to:

  • cover up their wickedness and craftiness;
  • make believe that they know God;
  • establish their religious authority;
  • show they are spiritual scholars;
  • show they are better than those who do not wear them;
  • hide the fire of worldly desires and fear;
  • hide the filth of Maya within;
  • show that they know the true teachings of Gurbani;
  • hide their falsehood, corruption, stubbornness, fanaticism, fraud, mental delusions, spiritual ignorance; and so on.

Gurbani in SGGS confirms all of this as follows:

  • ਅਧਿਕ ਤਿਆਸ ਭੇਖ ਬਹੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ : Excessive thirst for Maya makes people wear all sorts of religious garbs (sggs 352).
  • ਭੇਖ ਅਨੇਕ ਅਗਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਬੁਝੈ ॥ ਕੋਟਿ ਉਪਾਵ ਦਰਗਹ ਨਹੀ ਸਿਝੈ ॥ : Wearing various religious robes, the fire (of desire) is not extinguished; even making millions of (such) efforts, one will not be accepted in the Court of the Lord (sggs 266).
  • ਭੇਖ ਦਿਖਾਵੈ ਸਚੁ ਨ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥ : (To show off, the stubborn fool) ostensibly wears religious robes, but does not practice Truth (sggs 738).
  • ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਕਰਹਿ ਘਨੇਰੇ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਉਤਰੀ ਘੇਰੇ ॥ : Outwardly (to look pious and to impress others they), wear various religious robes, but within, they are enveloped by poison (of Maya). (sggs 372).
  • ਮਾਥੇ ਤਿਲਕੁ ਹਥਿ ਮਾਲਾ ਬਾਨਾਂ ॥ ਲੋਗਨ ਰਾਮੁ ਖਿਲਉਨਾ ਜਾਨਾਂ ॥੧॥ : (People think they become Dharmic or Bhagat if they simply) apply (1) ceremonial marks to their foreheads, (2) hold Maalaa or rosary in their hands, and (3) wear religious dress. People think that Rabb (Universal Energy, System or Law of Nature…) is a toy or a play-thing (i.e., they think Rabb can be pleased or fooled by religious paraphernalia or symbols). ||1|| (sggs 1158)!
  • ਕਿਨਹੀ ਸਿਧ ਬਹੁ ਚੇਟਕ ਲਾਏ ॥ ਕਿਨਹੀ ਭੇਖ ਬਹੁ ਥਾਟ ਬਨਾਏ ॥ ਕਿਨਹੀ ਤੰਤ ਮੰਤ ਬਹੁ ਖੇਵਾ ॥ ਮੋਹਿ ਦੀਨ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਆਧਾਰਾ ॥੪॥ : Some work spells using the miraculous spiritual powers of the Siddhas. Some wear various religious robes and establish their authority. Some perform Tantric spells, and chant various mantras. (But) I meek have support of the Lord’s Name (i.e., I only do His Bhagti)||4|| (sggs 913).
  • ਜੋਗੀ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੀ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਭੇਖਧਾਰੀ ॥ ਏ ਸੂਤੇ ਅਪਣੈ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦਿ ਮਾਤਾ ਰਹਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਜਾਗਤੁ ਰਹੈ ਨ ਮੂਸੈ ਕੋਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : The Yogis, the householders, the Pandits, the religious scholars, and the sectarians in religious robes — they are all asleep in egotism. They are asleep, intoxicated with the wine of Maya (being constantly robbed by lust, anger, greed, etc.). Only those who remain awake and aware (with Naam-Simran…) are not robbed. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1128).

Hence, Gurbani repeatedly alerts us that God cannot be realized by outwardly wearing any religious robes and religious symbols.

  • ਕਰਤੂਤਿ ਪਸੂ ਕੀ ਮਾਨਸ ਜਾਤਿ ॥ ਲੋਕ ਪਚਾਰਾ ਕਰੈ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤਿ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਮਲੁ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਛਪਸਿ ਨਾਹਿ ਕਛੁ ਕਰੈ ਛਪਾਇਆ ॥ : Although; human in name or creed, but actions are that of animalistic nature. But day and night he exhibits or shows off to people (that he is a human – ਬੰਦਾ)! Outside (on his body) he wears religious dress but in his mind is the filth of Maya. However he cannot conceal the filth of his mind with (outwardly wearing religious robes, cunningness, pleasing people etc.). (sggs 267).

For example, hunger of a beggar will never depart just by wearing begging robes! Similarly, we are warned that mind’s crookedness or false ego-sense (Haumai) can not be seized by any external show or display of religiosity.

  • ਜੇ ਜਾਣਸਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰ ਕਰਮੰ ॥ ਸਭਿ ਫੋਕਟ ਨਿਸਚਉ ਕਰਮੰ ॥ : If (you) know the Way of the Brahm, (then you would) definitely know that all rituals are of no value. (sggs 470).
  • ਅਨਿਕ ਭੇਖ ਅਰੁ ਙਿਆਨ ਧਿਆਨ ਮਨਹਠਿ ਮਿਲਿਅਉ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ : No one can realize (divine Union) by all sorts of religious robes, religious-debates (ਧਰਮ-ਚਰਚਾ) and meditation with stubborn mindedly. (sggs 251).

In this context, here are more verses from Gurbani (SGGS), which are very clear and self-explanatory. They tell us exactly what we ought to wear.

  • ਬਹੁ ਭੇਖ ਕੀਆ ਦੇਹੀ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੀਆ ॥ : The more one wears religious robes, the more pain he causes his body (sggs 467).
  • ਤਰਕਸ ਤੀਰ ਕਮਾਣ ਸਾਂਗ ਤੇਗਬੰਦ ਗੁਣ ਧਾਤੁ ॥ : The pursuit of Virtues (Divine Qualities) is (my) quiver, arrow, bow, spear, and scabbard of sword (sggs 16).
  • ਕਮਰਬੰਦੁ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਕਾ ਧਨੁ ਜੋਬਨੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਮੁ ॥੨॥ : I have made Contentment my waist-band (Camarbandh), and Your Naam is my wealth and youth. ||2|| (sggs 16). ||2|| (sggs 16).
  • ਪੰਚ ਮਜਮੀ ਜੋ ਪੰਚਨ ਰਾਖੈ ॥ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਰਸਨਾ ਨਿਤ ਉਠਿ ਭਾਖੈ ॥ ਚਕ੍ਰ ਬਣਾਇ ਕਰੈ ਪਾਖੰਡ ॥ ਝੁਰਿ ਝੁਰਿ ਪਚੈ ਜੈਸੇ ਤ੍ਰਿਅ ਰੰਡ ॥੧॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨਾ ਸਭ ਝੂਠੁ ॥ : One who harbors the five vices/Bikaar is like the worshipper of these FIVE (lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride; and their countless variations). Such person always tells lies. Such person makes false show of holiness (Pakhand) by making religious marks on his body. He wastes (life) away in sadness and pain as a lonely widow. ||1|| Except God’s Naam (living a life of Wisdom/Virtues), all religious rituals are false and of NO USE. (sggs 1151).
  • ਕਾਇਆ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਮਨੁ ਹੈ ਧੋਤੀ ॥ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਜਨੇਊ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਕੁਸਪਾਤੀ ॥ : (Baabaa Nanak says, O Pandit, for me) a body and mind (devoid of vices/Bikaar) is the Brahmin and my ‘Dhoti‘ (i.e. the cloth around legs). Let Wisdom be the Janaeu’ (thread, ‘ਜਨੇਊ’), and self-communication (concentration, reflection etc.) the ceremonial ring. (sggs 355).
  • ਹਰਿ ਮਾਲਾ ਉਰ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਧਾਰੈ ॥ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਣ ਕਾ ਦੂਖੁ ਨਿਵਾਰੈ ॥੨॥ : One who enshrine this rosary of God’s Naam within his mind, gets rid of the fear and pain of the cycle of birth and death. ||2|| (sggs 388).
  • ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਹਿਤ ਗੰਗਾ ॥ ਜਲੁ ਹੇਵਤ ਭੂਖ ਅਰੁ ਨੰਗਾ ॥ ਪੂਜਾਚਾਰ ਕਰਤ ਮੇਲੰਗਾ ॥ ਚਕ੍ਰ ਕਰਮ ਤਿਲਕ ਖਾਟੰਗਾ ॥ ਦਰਸਨੁ ਭੇਟੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਸੰਗਾ ॥੧॥ ਹਠਿ ਨਿਗ੍ਰਹਿ ਅਤਿ ਰਹਤ ਬਿਟੰਗਾ ॥ ਹਉ ਰੋਗੁ ਬਿਆਪੈ ਚੁਕੈ ਨ ਭੰਗਾ ॥ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਅਤਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨ ਜਰੰਗਾ ॥ ਸੋ ਮੁਕਤੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਿਸੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਚੰਗਾ ॥੨॥੩॥੩੬॥ : Barat nem teerath sahit gangaa … (sggs 1305).

Several centuries ago, in order to impress his point of view on the minds of Yogis, Baabaa Nanak renounced their Yogic garbs and adopted worldly clothes.

  • ਭੇਖੁ ਉਤਾਰਿ ਉਦਾਸਿ ਦਾ ਵਤਿ ਕਿਉ ਸੰਸਾਰੀ ਰੀਤਿ ਚਲਾਈ । ਨਾਨਕ ਆਖੇ ਭੰਗਰ ਨਾਥ ਤੇਰੀ ਮਾਉ ਕੁਚਜੀ ਆਹੀ । : (Yogi Bhangar Nath asks Baabaa Nanak) how have you put off yogic garb and attired yourself in a household way. Said Nanak, O Bhangar Nath, your mother (i.e. intellect, Budh-ਮੱਤ) is unmannerly. (Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 1, Paori 40).

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