Pride is one of the powerful Bikaars (negative tendencies, passions…). As long as we have pride, it will impede the Divine Grace. While modesty and humility are traits to be cultivated, yielding to Bikaars is vehemently cautioned against in the Gurbani.
For example, Kabeer Sahib reminds us that the body is nothing more than a bundle of “bones wrapped in skin” (ਹੱਡੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਮੁੱਠ). Therefore, Kabeer Sahib tells us not to be proud of the body and its beauty. Because – any day or any moment – we will leave it behind, just as the snake sheds its skin. History is witness to all those – who were so proud of their bodies – at the end, they all mingled with dirt.
- ਕਬੀਰ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਚਾਮ ਲਪੇਟੇ ਹਾਡ ॥ ਹੈਵਰ ਊਪਰਿ ਛਤ੍ਰ ਤਰ ਤੇ ਫੁਨਿ ਧਰਨੀ ਗਾਡ ॥੩੭॥: ||37||: Kabeer, do not be so proud of your (body, after all it just a bundle of) bones wrapped up in skin. (Proud of their bodies) Those who were on their horses and under their canopies (ਜੋ ਵਧੀਆ ਘੋੜਿਆਂ ਉੱਤੇ ਸਵਾਰ ਹੁੰਦੇ ਸਨ ਤੇ ਜੋ ਝੁਲਦੇ ਛਤਰਾਂ ਹੇਠ ਬੈਠਦੇ ਸਨ), were eventually buried under the ground. ||37|| (sggs 1366).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਦੇਹੀ ਦੇਖਿ ਸੁਰੰਗ ॥ ਆਜੁ ਕਾਲ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਤਜਿ ਜਾਹੁਗੇ ਜਿਉ ਕਾਂਚੁਰੀ ਭੁਯੰਗ ॥੪੦॥: ||40||: Kabeer, do not be so proud, looking at your beautiful body. Today or tomorrow, you will have to leave it behind, like the snake shedding its skin. ||40|| (sggs 1366).
Furthermore, Kabeer Sahib urges us not to be proud of our material possessions either. Because, “Today or tomorrow, you will lie beneath the ground, and the grass will grow above you”, reminds us Kabeer Sahib.
When a man’s status improves even slightly in life, he becomes arrogant, and keeps those who are lower in status at arm’s length. If one is wealthy, Kabeer Sahib asks him not to be proud of himself, and laugh at those who are materially poor and destitute. As the material wealth comes and goes, who knows what will happen tomorrow – a rich person may become poor and a poor person may become rich! That is, it really does take too long for a wealthy person to become a pauper and vice versa (ਇਹ ਧਨ-ਪਦਾਰਥ ਹੱਥੋਂ ਜਾਂਦਿਆਂ ਚਿਰ ਨਹੀਂ ਲੱਗਦਾ).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਊਚਾ ਦੇਖਿ ਅਵਾਸੁ ॥ ਆਜੁ ਕਾਲ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਭੁਇ ਲੇਟਣਾ ਊਪਰਿ ਜਾਮੈ ਘਾਸੁ ॥੩੮॥: O Kabeer! Seeing one’s high palace one should not be arrogant (this is also a game of four days only: temporary). Today or tomorrow (leaving this palace when death comes), we will leave them behind) and our body will mingle with dust and grass will grow on top (of our body). ||38|| (sggs 1366).
- ਕਬੀਰ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਰੰਕੁ ਨ ਹਸੀਐ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਅਜਹੁ ਸੁ ਨਾਉ ਸਮੁੰਦ੍ਰ ਮਹਿ ਕਿਆ ਜਾਨਉ ਕਿਆ ਹੋਇ ॥੩੯॥: ||39||: Kabeer, do not be so proud (material wealth – ਧਨ-ਪਦਾਰਥ – etc.), and do not laugh at the poor. Your (own life-) boat is still out at sea; who knows what will happen? (ਇਹ ਧਨ-ਪਦਾਰਥ ਹੱਥੋਂ ਜਾਂਦਿਆਂ ਚਿਰ ਨਹੀਂ ਲੱਗਦਾ) ||39|| (sggs 1366).
Here Kabeer Sahib is trying to make us aware of our pride. For the greatest pitfall for human beings is to become conceited and haughty – arrogance and Haumai (egotism) become the cause of evil in self-important and worldly minded people when it makes us blind to Divine Virtue, and righteousness or goodness.
In nutshell, pride corrupts. It makes us lose our sense of discrimination (Viveka-Budhi) and perception of Truth.
In other words, pride causes one’s downfall. As repeatedly pointed out in the Gurbani, Jeeva (individual beings) who become bloated with pride will eventually fritter away his life in pursuits that will only distance him from Reality.