Rituals Bind Us in Egotism

The Gurbani thunders from the top of its voice that rituals (Karamkaand) bind people in more and more false ego-sense (Haumai). Why? Because the chronic disease of this false ego-sense makes us do useless acts, devoid of any spiritual benefit (Lahaa).

In short, the negative impact of Haumai (false ego-sense) kills our Original Nature (i.e. Jot Saroop). Hence, this is the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ).

  • ਕਰਮ ਕਰਤ ਬਧੇ ਅਹੰਮੇਵ ॥: Ritual practices bind people in egotism (sggs 324).
  • ਹਉ ਹਉ ਕਰਤੇ ਕਰਮ ਰਤ ਤਾ ਕੋ ਭਾਰੁ ਅਫਾਰ ॥: Acting in egotism, people carry the unbearable load (sggs 252).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਬੰਧਨ ਬੰਧਿ ਭਵਾਵੈ ॥ : Haumai (false ego-sense) binds (living beings) in bondage and causes them to wander around. (sggs 227).
  • ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਕਰਤੇ ਬਹੁ ਸੰਜਮ ਅਹੰਬੁਧਿ ਮਨੁ ਜਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ॥੧॥ : Those who practice religious rituals and ‘Sanjam‘ (self-discipline, self-restraint, Yogic discipline etc.) – their Haumai (false-ego-sense) burns their minds. ||1|| (sggs 335).
  • ਬੰਧਨ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਹਉ ਕੀਆ ॥: (Without Wisdom) religious rituals become bonds, (man is proud that all this) ‘I have done, I have done’. (sggs 416).
  • ਰਾਜੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ਹਉ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਬਾਧਿਓ ਨਲਿਨੀ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਸੂਆ ॥੨॥ : (Forgetting Naam, the man who calls himself king (also), and perform actions that fan his Haumai (false ego-sense, he) remains caught in doubt like the parrot in a trap. (sggs 407).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਪੈਖੜੁ ਤੇਰੇ ਮਨੈ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: (O fool) your mind is tied with the rope of ‘ego’ (ਪੈਖੜੁ-ਢੰਗਾ: A rope tied to the rear legs of an animal, which does not let the animal run or walk freely!) (sggs 1189).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਣੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਗੈ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਨਾ ਇਹ ਮਾਰੀ ਨ ਮਰੈ ਨਾ ਇਹ ਹਟਿ ਵਿਕਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਪਰਜਾਲੀਐ ਤਾ ਇਹ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਜਾਇ ॥ : Haumai Maya entraps people in the love of duality. It cannot be killed, nor does it die by itself, nor can it be sold away in a store. When it is burnt down thoroughly through internalizing the Enlightening Message of the Guru’s Shabad, only then does it end from within a person. (sggs 853).

One’s instinctive mind (Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree consciousness) bloated with the false ego-sense may disagree or overrule what the Gurbani is saying here, but that does not change the Gurbani’s Truth.

In this context, consider a few verses from the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS):

  • ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸਭਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਫੈਲੁ ॥: Religious rituals are all just egotistical displays. (sggs 890).
  • ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਅੰਧਾ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਮ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਏ ॥ ਮਨਹਠਿ ਕਰਮ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੋਨੀ ਪਾਏ ॥ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਲਬੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਕਮਾਵਹਿ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਕਾ ਦੋਰਾਹਾ ਹੇ ॥੯॥: The ignorant (of spiritual life – ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਤੋਂ) and blind (in love of Maya – ਮਾਇਆ ਦੇ ਮੋਹ ਵਿਚ) cling to all sorts of rituals. They stubborn-mindedly perform these rituals, and are consigned to repeated suffering for the sake of poison (Maya), they act in greed and possessiveness; and duality of evil-mindedness. ||9|| (sggs 1055).
  • ਮਾਇਆ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਹਜੁ ਨ ਊਪਜੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵਣੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਜਲੈ ਜਲਾਇ ॥: (In love of) Maya, the Sahaj Avasthaa (natural state of being, in which everyone longs to be centered) is not realized. Maya leads to the love of duality. By engaging in Manmukh activities, (one) only burns in Haumai (egotism) (sggs 68).
  • ਬਹੁ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਪਾਏ ॥: By performing all sorts of rituals (religious or ਮਿਥੇ ਹੋਏ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ), (one) does not obtain liberation (ਮੁਕਤਿ) through them (sggs 123).
  • ਕਰਮ ਕਾਂਡ ਬਹੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਅਚਾਰ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰ ॥੩॥: (Those who) perform all sorts of (religious) rituals and formalities, (but remain) devoid of the Naam, (such Karamkaand or rituals only give rise to) egotism (in them and their lives just remain) disdainful. ||3|| (sggs 162).
  • ਕਾਹੂ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਕਿਤੈ ਨ ਪਾਈਐ ਧਰਮਿ ॥: (Naam) cannot be obtained by any devices (cleverness, contrivance, ਹੋਰ ਕਿਸੇ ਢੰਗ ਨਾਲ, etc.), and any religious rituals (ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਰਸਮ ਰਿਵਾਜ, etc.) (sggs 274).
  • ਕਰਮ ਕਰਤ ਜੀਅ ਕਉ ਜੰਜਾਰ ॥੩॥: Performing religious rituals, the soul is entangled. ||3|| (sggs 385).
  • ਕੋਟਿ ਕਰਮ ਕਰਿ ਦੇਹ ਨ ਸੋਧਾ ॥ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਹਿ ਮਨੁ ਪਰਬੋਧਾ ॥੨॥: The body is not purified by millions of Karamkaand. The mind is awakened and enlightened only in the Company of the Saadh-Guru (Wisdom, Giaan). ||2|| (sggs 1298).

The Gurbani concludes that above all religious rituals or Karamkaand is the Naam (‘ਮਹਾ ਰਸੁ’).

  • ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਬਹੁ ਕਾਇ ਕਰੀਜੈ ॥ ਸਰਬਸੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਮਹਾ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਜੈ ॥੪॥੫॥: O Kabir! Why should (we) perform so many ceremonies (religious rituals, ਅਨੇਕਾਂ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਰਸਮਾਂ)? Forsake all others and quaff only the supreme Naam Nectar. (sggs 324).

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