A copyist (ਰੀਸਲ) relies on imitation (ਰੀਸ). As ‘sheep follow sheep’, the Gurbani tells us that the majority of us imitate or copy what we see others do (ਭੇਡ-ਚਾਲ).
It is not a bad thing to be influenced by the personality of a superior or great human being and try to be like him / her. But an imitator (ਰੀਸ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲਾ ਇਨਸਾਨ) tries to be like a particular person only by dressing or talking like that particular person instead of having the same qualities to be like that person. It is for this reason that the action taken by an imitator is condemned.
It is an act of folly to imitate someone falsely, knowing that one has no merit or ability (‘Dekhaa Dekhee-ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ’, ਰੀਸਾ ਰੀਸੀ, ਨਕਲ, ਦਿਖਾਵਾ, ਕਿਸੇ ਨੂੰ ਦੇਖਕੇ ਉਸ ਤੁੱਲ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਨ ਦੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਯਾ, ਬਰਾਬਰੀ ਦੀ ਅਭਿਲਾਖਾ…).
Perhaps we are all familiar with saying ‘Monkey see, monkey do’.
For many years, neuroscientists have been investigating whether this popular saying has a real basis in human behavior. Neuroscience research has discovered special brain cells (called mirror neurons) in monkeys. These cells appeared to be activated both when the monkey did something itself and when the monkey simply watched another monkey do the same thing.
Among researchers, the function of such mirror neurons in humans has since become a hot topic. Many distinguished researchers debate whether the mirror neuron system is involved in such diverse processes as understanding other people’s actions, speech, etc.
But the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) already revealed to us several centuries ago that Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree people imitate or copy other people do something — people see, people do; sheep follow sheep…!
- ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਸਭ ਕਰੇ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝ ਨ ਪਾਇ ॥: Manmukhs (Unenlightened persons) do everything seeing other people do to make a show (Pakhand, ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ, ਨਕਲ, ਦਿਖਾਵਾ…), but they themselves have no understanding of the true way of living. (sggs 28).
- ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਸ੍ਵਾਂਗੁ ਧਰਿ ਭੂਲੇ ਭਟਕਾ ਖਾਹਿ ॥੧੩੫॥: (ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ, ਨਕਲ ਕਰ ਕੇ, ਹੋਰਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਦੇਖ ਕੇ, ਦਿਖਾਵੇ ਦੀ ਖਾਤਰ…, people ) look at one another and disguise (in religious robe, impersonation, ਸਾਂਗ ਬਣਾ ਲੈਣਾਂ…), but they are deluded and lost (from the true Way of life-ਸਹੀ ਰਾਹ ਤੋਂ ਖੁੰਝੇ ਹੋਏ ਇਹ ਲੋਕ ਭਟਕਦੇ ਹਨ). ||135|| (sggs 1371).
- ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ ਮਨਹਠਿ ਜਲਿ ਜਾਈਐ ॥: Imitating (to do something seeing other people do it, ਦੇਖਾ ਦੇਖੀ…) what (the Satee-ਸਤੀ) sees (other people do), in stubborn mindedness, she gets burned (she jumps into the burning pyre of her husband). (sggs 185).
The Gurbani here simply indicates that people who imitate what they see other people do are:
- Confused, deluded and brainwashed by the illiterate and crafty paid clergy.
- Without real understanding (ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ) of the Gurmat of Baabaa Nanak or SGGS.
- Without commonsense, discerning intellect, etc.
- Mentally deluded, or strayed-minded (‘ਭੂਲੇ ਭਟਕਾ’), envious, jealous, rival, imitator, etc.
- Copyists who just want to imitate others without using their own brain, logic (Bibek Budh, ਤਰਕ), etc. As a result, their mind remains deluded and undeveloped, and they end up following the path of Pakhand.
- Stubborn minded (‘ਮਨਹਠਿ’): The Gurbani repeatedly equates stubborn mindedness with Maya, duality, foolishness, ignorance, Manmukh-hood, falsehood, disgrace, living in the wilderness, weariness, delusion, ruin, Bikaar (lust,etc.), absence of Naam, separation from Mool, Haumai (egotism), rituals or Karamkaand, etc.
Simply put: The majority of us do things with either limited or no Knowledge and thus with limited or no concern of the consequences, and then keep repeating them (ਬਹੁਰਿ ਕਮਾਵਹਿ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਸੰਕ ॥ sggs 1348). Consequently, we end up wasting precious life!
- ਹੰਸਾ ਦੇਖਿ ਤਰੰਦਿਆ ਬਗਾ ਆਇਆ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਡੁਬਿ ਮੁਏ ਬਗ ਬਪੁੜੇ ਸਿਰੁ ਤਲਿ ਉਪਰਿ ਪਾਉ ॥੧੨੨॥ ਮੈ ਜਾਣਿਆ ਵਡ ਹੰਸੁ ਹੈ ਤਾਂ ਮੈ ਕੀਤਾ ਸੰਗੁ ॥ ਜੇ ਜਾਣਾ ਬਗੁ ਬਪੁੜਾ ਜਨਮਿ ਨ ਭੇੜੀ ਅੰਗੁ ॥੧੨੩॥ : Seeing the swans swimming, the cranes became excited (i.e., decided to copy swans!). (But, by doing so) wretched cranes were drowned to death, with their heads below the water and their feet sticking out above. ||122|| I thought it was a big swan, that’s why I made this association. But if I only knew it was a just wretched heron (i.e. fake or bad company), I would never in my life have gotten close to (or never have associated with this fake or bad company). ||123|| (sggs 1384).
Here are a few examples from the Gurbani:
- ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਵਣ ਜਾਉ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ॥ ਤੀਰਥੁ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹੈ ॥: I (too) go to bathe at the Teerath (place of pilgrimage); but for me Naam (Giaan, Wisdom, Virtues…) is the Teerath. To Reflect on the Shabad (Shabad Vichaar…) is the Teerath, (because of this) Wisdom Awakens within (sggs 687).
We count beads (ਮਾਲਾ ਫੇਰਨੀ) by seeing other people do it even though the Gurbani tells us otherwise – the Gurbani tells us the Divine and the true Bhagti is beyond calculations, and asks us to enshrine the rosary of the Naam within the Heart.
On account of greed and our calculated relationship with the Guru / Rabb, by seeing other people do it, we also pray for worldly things (Mayaic stuff: just listen to Aradaas (prayer) in any Gurdwara in the world!), even though the Gurbani rejects this circus of our deluded mind.
- ਮਾਇਆ ਮਨਹੁ ਨ ਵੀਸਰੈ ਮਾਂਗੈ ਦੰਮਾ ਦੰਮ ॥ ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਚਿਤਿ ਨ ਆਵਈ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਹੀ ਕਰੰਮ ॥੧॥ : O Nanak! That person whose mind does not forget Maya and who (instead of Naam: Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) keeps asking for Maya with each and every breath, who does not remember God, (know that) he is unfortunate (not Blessed). ||1|| (sggs 1093).
Furthermore, seeing other people do it, we also copy and bow down at numerous spots, places, or objects (ਥਾਂ ਥਾਂ ਮੱਥੇ ਟੇਕਣੇ).
- ਸੀਸਿ ਨਿਵਾਇਐ ਕਿਆ ਥੀਐ ਜਾ ਰਿਦੈ ਕੁਸੁਧੇ ਜਾਹਿ ॥੧॥: What can be achieved by merely bowing the head, when the heart remains resorted to falsehood (i.e., nothing is achieved!)? ||1|| (sggs 470).
In spite of being strongly rejected in the SGGS, we do all sorts of religious Karamkaand related to veneration of one’s dead ancestors — Karamkaand at cremations ceremonies and death anniversaries, Karamkaand of making all sorts of offerings in the name of the dead (give elaborate feasts, clothes, Daan, etc., ‘Siraadh-ਸਿਰਾਧ’), and so on.
- ਜੀਵਤ ਪਿਤਰ ਨ ਮਾਨੈ ਕੋਊ ਮੂਏਂ ਸਿਰਾਧ ਕਰਾਹੀ ॥ ਪਿਤਰ ਭੀ ਬਪੁਰੇ ਕਹੁ ਕਿਉ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਕਊਆ ਕੂਕਰ ਖਾਹੀ ॥੧॥ ਮੋ ਕਉ ਕੁਸਲੁ ਬਤਾਵਹੁ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਕੁਸਲੁ ਕੁਸਲੁ ਕਰਤੇ ਜਗੁ ਬਿਨਸੈ ਕੁਸਲੁ ਭੀ ਕੈਸੇ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : (People) do not honor their ancestors (mother, father, etc.) while they are alive. (But) once dead we send them all sorts of goods (food, cloths etc.) through the ritual of Shraadh. Tell me, how can poor ancestors receive that goods? The food is eaten up by Crows and dogs (i.e. nothing reaches anywhere other than crows and dogs). ||1|| (Bhagat Kabeer asks) someone tell me what well-being comes of this ritual. The whole world of ancestor worship claims the ancestor (Pitar) will ensure our well-being and happiness but how could one get such from a ritual? ||1||Pause|| (sggs 332).
The Gurbani says people also imitate (‘ਰੀਸਾ ਕਰਿਹ’) those Bhagat or Gurmukhs who are Mool-realized.
Not that we earnestly want to become like them, but we just want to imitate them for some ulterior motives.
- ਗਲੀ ਅਸੀ ਚੰਗੀਆ ਆਚਾਰੀ ਬੁਰੀਆਹ ॥ ਮਨਹੁ ਕੁਸੁਧਾ ਕਾਲੀਆ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਚਿਟਵੀਆਹ ॥ ਰੀਸਾ ਕਰਿਹ ਤਿਨਾੜੀਆ ਜੋ ਸੇਵਹਿ ਦਰੁ ਖੜੀਆਹ ॥ ਨਾਲਿ ਖਸਮੈ ਰਤੀਆ ਮਾਣਹਿ ਸੁਖਿ ਰਲੀਆਹ ॥ ਹੋਦੈ ਤਾਣਿ ਨਿਤਾਣੀਆ ਰਹਹਿ ਨਿਮਾਨਣੀਆਹ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਨਮੁ ਸਕਾਰਥਾ ਜੇ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਮਿਲਾਹ ॥੨॥: We are good at talking, but our conduct is bad (ਮਾੜਾ ਚਾਲ-ਚਲਣ ਜਾਂ ਆਚਰਨ…). Mentally, we are impure and filthy, but outwardly, we appear pure and clean. (Yet) we imitate (ਰੀਸ) those (Bhagat, Gurmukh…) who are established in divine consciousness (i.e. serve or live the Truth with full attention – ਸਾਵਧਾਨ ਹੋ ਕੇ). They are soaked in the love of Khasm (Truth), and rejoice in Bliss. They remain powerless (ਤਾਣਹੀਣ) even while they are powerful; they remain humble. O Nanak! (Our) birth can be successful (fruitful, ਸਫਲ, ਲਾਹੇਵੰਦ) if we stay in their Company (Sangat). ||2|| (sggs 85).
However, the Gurbani’s edict is that the path of Karamkaand will never free anybody from Bikaar (lust, anger, greed etc.), doubts (ਭਰਮ), Maya, wrong resolutions, fears, stubborn-mindedness, Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree lifestyle, duality, ignorance, foolishness, etc.
Therefore — while transacting in this world of things and beings — instead of imitating others as ‘Monkey see Monkey do’ or acting in stubborn mindedness, the Gurbani asks us to utilize ‘Akal‘ (keen understanding, Wisdom, discerning intellect, ਅਕਲ, ਬਿਬੇਕ-ਬੁੱਧੀ…).
The Gurbani asserts that this is the True Way of life; for other things lead to Satanic life:
- ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਤਿਨਾ ਕਾ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਵੇਚਹਿ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਖੇਤੀ ਜਿਨ ਕੀ ਉਜੜੈ ਖਲਵਾੜੇ ਕਿਆ ਥਾਉ ॥ ਸਚੈ ਸਰਮੈ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਅਗੈ ਲਹਹਿ ਨ ਦਾਦਿ ॥ ਅਕਲਿ ਏਹ ਨ ਆਖੀਐ ਅਕਲਿ ਗਵਾਈਐ ਬਾਦਿ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥: Accursed is the life who (on account of their selfishness and greed) read and reflect on Naam to sell it in the form of Mantras or magic. They are like those whose crop is continuously destroyed, (as a result) they have nothing to thrash! Without proper self-effort (to know ownself etc.) their future life is wasted. Intellect is not which is wasted in futile arguments. Use intellect in the service of God; the right use of intellect brings respect. Learn by intelligent reading and use intelligence in practice of charity (to help the needy). Says Nanak, this is the right way of life while other things (failure to apply discerning intellect) lead to wickedness. ||1|| (sggs 1245).
However, the illiterate and crafty paid clergy or the Pujaaree system wants people to remain ignorant, confused, ritualistic, fearful, etc. But, the Universal, Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS protects all from deception, Pakhand and fraud.
- ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਬੋਲੁ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥: Pakhand (hypocrisy) is not Bhagti — speaking words of duality leads only to misery (sggs 28).
- ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਪਾਏ ॥: Paarbrahm cannot be obtained through Pakhand (hypocrisy…). (sggs 88).
- ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਕੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥: Practicing Pakhand (hypocrisy), no one finds liberation ||2|| (sggs 839).
Last, but not least, consider this example from the Gurbani in which Pakhand and deception of the corrupt and crafty Brahman Pujaaree is exposed. He offers all sorts of feasts to lifeless idols. But the Pujaaree is the ONLY one who eats them. Because, nothing goes in the mouth of idol for a lifeless image or object cannot eat!
Imitating the Brahmin Pujaaree, now the crafty and illiterates Sikh Pujaaree also make similar offers to Siri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) knowing well that SGGS cannot eat or drink anything! Again, it is the ONLY Pujaaree who eats them! Blinded by greed selfishness, the illiterate paid Pujaaree does not care that the Message of the following Shabad also applies to him and all other Sikhs! TOTALLY ANTI-GURMAT KARAMKAAND.
- ਭਾਤੁ ਪਹਿਤਿ ਅਰੁ ਲਾਪਸੀ ਕਰਕਰਾ ਕਾਸਾਰੁ ॥ ਭੋਗਨਹਾਰੇ ਭੋਗਿਆ ਇਸੁ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਕੇ ਮੁਖ ਛਾਰੁ ॥੪॥: Rice, pulse, semi liquid sweets, pancakes, pudding — the (priest) enjoys these, nothing goes in the mouth of idol (because a lifeless image or object cannot eat!). ||4|| (sggs 475).