Religious rituals (Karamkaand, formalities, Pramparaa, dogmas etc.) are actually impositions on an innocent humanity by the Pujaaree-Vaad and Pujaaree systems, so called religious scholars (ਵਿਦਵਾਨ) etc. that have vested interests.

Sikh‘ means the ‘learner, student or seeker – ਸਿਖਿਆਰਥੀ’. A seeker is not bound by ideology or Karamkaand (i.e., rituals).

Taking advantage of people’s spiritual ignorance, the crafty Pujaaree groups entangle them in performing and practicing rituals (Karamkaand). By doing so we think we have become religious!

  • ਲਖ ਸੀਗਾਰ ਬਣਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਜਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਕੇਤੁ ॥ : (Soul-ਜੀਵ-ਇਸਤ੍ਰੀ) may form Lakhs of Karamkaand (ਕਰਮਕਾਂਡ-ਰੂਪ ਸ਼ਿੰਗਾਰ), but they are of no use at all. (sggs 134).
  • ਪੂਜਾ ਵਰਤ ਤਿਲਕ ਇਸਨਾਨਾ ਪੁੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਬਹੁ ਦੈਨ ॥ ਕਹੂੰ ਨ ਭੀਜੈ ਸੰਜਮ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਬੋਲਹਿ ਮੀਠੇ ਬੈਨ ॥: (Rituals or Karamkaand such as) worship, fasting, ceremonial marks on one’s forehead, ablution, generous donations to charities, or speaking sweet words, with none of these the Divine is pleased (sggs 674).
  • ਜਾਪ ਤਾਪ ਕੋਟਿ ਲਖ ਪੂਜਾ ਹਰਿ ਸਿਮਰਣ ਤੁਲਿ ਨ ਲਾਇਣ ॥: Hundreds of thousands and millions of recitations, austerities and worships are not equal to remembering (i.e., living by the Divine Virtues or Wisdom). (sggs 979).
  • ਵਰਤੁ ਤਪਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਮਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਭੀਜੈ ॥: The mind is not affected (ਅਸਰ) by fasting or austerities (sggs 905).

The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) challenges us to ask ourselves: How can the external performance of some ceremonial or otherwise practices free our mind of inner garbage (lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride…) and connect it with its Mool within (Source, Jot, True Nature as Jot Saroop…)?

The Gurbani asserts that, with this mental circus, we cannot develop spiritually (Aatam-Giaan) and have balanced mind. As a result, we will continue doing what we have been doing — continue living daily life of corrupt thinking (Soch), habits and actions.

In the same vein, we may perform ritualistic reading of the Gurbani, we may wear religious robes and symbols and consider ourselves to be pure, holy, clever, etc. However, the conditioned mind continues to wander around.

  • ਫਾਹੀ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਮਲੂਕੀ ਵੇਸੁ ॥ ਹਉ ਠਗਵਾੜਾ ਠਗੀ ਦੇਸੁ ॥ ਖਰਾ ਸਿਆਣਾ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਭਾਰੁ ॥ ਧਾਣਕ ਰੂਪਿ ਰਹਾ ਕਰਤਾਰ ॥੩॥ : The people sitting in the shrines are dressed as angles/ascetics (i.e. dressed in religious robes, symbols etc.). But their deceitful mind’s focus is on defrauding or trapping people. These big thugs are looting the people. They pretend to be wise. But they carry too much load of sins on their heads. Such righteous looking people are very cruel. ||3|| (sggs 24).

Simply put: Rituals hide the Truth and bind us in egotism (Haumai).

Understandably, the Gurbani strongly repudiates Karamkaand (rituals…)!

  • ਕਰਮ ਕਾਂਡ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਨ ਕਾਜੈ ਕੁਸਲ ਸੇਤੀ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: O Pandit! The religious ceremonies and self-conceit are of no avail, and (with these you cannot) happily go Home within (i.e., Mool). ||1||Pause||  (sggs 891).

Karamkaand (rituals, formalities…) are utilitarian in nature and therefore do not provide ultimate Anand or Joy (Sukh or Happiness…). Furthermore, Karamkaand can never afford understanding and realization of one’s Mool (Source, Jot Saroop…), thus worthless (‘Fokat’).

Now, the question is: Then why do the  Pujaaree-Vaad, Gurdwaras, Deraa-Vaad, etc., carry on Karamkaand?

The Gurbani’s answer is: It’s because people are not interested in the Divine Knowledge (Giaan), and, consequently, don’t know the true Nature of Rabb! If they knew, then they would ‘definitely know that all rituals are of no value’.

  • 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).
  • ਤੇ ਨਰ ਵਿਰਲੇ ਜਾਣੀਅਹਿ ਜਿਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਮੁਰਾਰਿ ॥੪॥: Those who have the Divine Knowledge within, are known to be very rare. ||4|| (sggs 1331).

Due this ignorance of the Nature of the Spiritual Essence, the Gurbani says people just grope in the darkness of ignorance and carry on useless Karamkaand — empty rituals, Pakhand (pretending, hypocrisy)…

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਹੀਣੰ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਅੰਧ ਵਰਤਾਵਾ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ॥: Bereft of Spiritual Wisdom, (people) worship or adore ignorance. In the love of duality (in love of Maya, their) conduct or behavior (keeps them mentally blind or ignorant. (sggs 1412).
  • ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਮਹਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਰਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਬਿਸਥਾਰਾ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਤਨਿ ਚਕ੍ਰ ਬਣਾਏ ॥ ਅੰਤਰ ਕੀ ਮਲੁ ਕਬ ਹੀ ਨ ਜਾਏ ॥੧॥: (If) the mind is filled with anger and massive self-conceit (i.e., Bikaar), (but) performs Poojaa all sort of ways with great ostentation; (even if ritual) bath is taken (at so called sacred shrines) marks are applied to the body; (however, this way) the filth within (the mind) never departs. ||1|| (sggs 1348).
  • ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਤਾ ਕਿਆ ਕਰੇ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਗੁਮਾਨੁ ॥: Of what use is bathing at locations of pilgrimage if the mind is filled with the filth of false ego-sense (Haumai). (sggs 61).

Now, the next question is: What is it that usher the mind into the darkness of spiritual ignorance?

Again, here is the authoritative answer from the Gurbani — it’s the mind’s hunger for Maya that leads to the darkness of ignorance!

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਗੁਬਾਰੁ ॥: Attachment to Maya (worldliness or illusion) leads to the darkness of ignorance (sggs 1262).

This leads to the next question: How can the deluded mind realize Truth?

Again, here is the authoritative answer from the Gurbani — by bringing about a storm of Spiritual Wisdom  or Divine Knowledge by churning the Gurbani through the Shabad-Vichaar

  • ਸਚੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥: True Bhagati consists of love for the Gur-Shabad (i.e., life of the Shabad-Giaan, Wisdom, Upadesh, Virtues…). (sggs 158).
  • ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਸਿਖ ਸਚੀ ਲੇਇ ॥ ਦਇਆ ਜਾਣੈ ਜੀਅ ਕੀ ਕਿਛੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਕਰੇਇ ॥ : The Creator is Realized when the authentic Counsel (spiritual Wisdom-Giaan, Advice, Direction etc) is received by the mind. Realize Compassion for one’s self, provide for the needs of the Conscience. (mind, self). (sggs 468).

In nutshell, the Gurbani demands constant abidance in the Naam (Shabad, Hukam or System-Rule-Law of Nature, Wisdom, Virtues…).

According to the Gurbani, as indicated in the following verse, such individual who constantly abide in the Naam is very ‘rare’, rest is mere mundane business (‘ਬਿਉਹਾਰੀ-Biouhaaree’: traders, Maya’s traders, worshipers of Mammon, Karamkaandee, Pakhandee…).

  • ਕੋਟਿ ਮਧੇ ਕੋ ਵਿਰਲਾ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਸਗਲੇ ਬਿਉਹਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Out of millions, hardly anyone is (Your attendant) ‘Sewak’. All others are mere traders (selfish, i.e., their religiosity is only for show off or business). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 495).

Hence, to love or to live the Gur-Shabad is to love the Truth (Sach)…!

Karamkaand makes the mind extrovert — connects it to Maya

According to the Gurbani, Karamkaand only enhances ignorance, thickens Haumai (egotism), increases Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.) and worldly entanglements, etc. Such deluded consciousness makes us do useless acts, devoid of any spiritual vibrations. Therefore if one thinks that merely by performing Karamkaand (rituals, formalities, etc.) he can mend his mind, he could not be any more lost!

  • ਕਰਮ ਕਰਤ ਬਧੇ ਅਹੰਮੇਵ ॥: Ritual practices bind people in egotism (sggs 324).
  • ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਸਭਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਫੈਲੁ ॥: Religious rituals are all just egotistical displays. (sggs 890).
  • 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 makes the mind introvert — connects it to its Mool (Source, Jot…)

The Gurbani concludes that above all Karamkaand (rituals) is the Naam. In fact, the Gurbani mandates not to even come near those whose minds are oblivious of the Naam and are attached to duality (in love with Maya…)!

  • 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).
  • ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਨਾਮ ਬਿਨਾ ਜੋ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਾਗੇ ਤੇ ਸਾਕਤ ਨਰ ਜਮਿ ਘੁਟੀਐ ॥: O my mind! Those who are without the Naam and attached to duality, those Saakat are strangled by Bikaar (lust, anger, greed…). (sggs 170).

In nutshell, those who don’t test their Wisdom with the touchstone of the Gurbani, regard rituals as the final proof. Consequently, such people cannot really get at the Gurbani’s understanding and Truth!

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਕਸਉਟੀ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਝੂਠਾ ਟਿਕੈ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥: Kabeer, no false person can stand a chance when tested on the Touchstone of ‘Raam. (sggs 1366).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਸਵਟੀ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਝਗੜਾ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਸਥ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਮੰਝਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ : By becoming the Gurmukh, applying the Touchstone of the Shabad (Wisdom, Naam, Upadesh…), the Gurmukh kills his mind (conquers his mind by annihilating false ego-sense, its attachment to Maya etc.). He fights with his own mind (to give up its evil inclinations or Bikaar and when they are given up), he settles with his mind (on how to lead life by Naam and then) remains absorbed in the mind itself (i.e. keeps other ideas away and leads life by Naam). (sggs 87).

Last, but not least, consider this Gur-Shabad:

  • ਇਕਿ ਵਣ ਖੰਡਿ ਬੈਸਹਿ ਜਾਇ ਸਦੁ ਨ ਦੇਵਹੀ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਪਾਲਾ ਕਕਰੁ ਭੰਨਿ ਸੀਤਲੁ ਜਲੁ ਹੇਂਵਹੀ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਭਸਮ ਚੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਵਹਿ ਅੰਗਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਧੋਵਹੀ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਜਟਾ ਬਿਕਟ ਬਿਕਰਾਲ ਕੁਲੁ ਘਰੁ ਖੋਵਹੀ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਨਗਨ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਦਿਨੁ ਰਾਤਿ ਨੀਦ ਨ ਸੋਵਹੀ ॥ ਇਕਿ ਅਗਨਿ ਜਲਾਵਹਿ ਅੰਗੁ ਆਪੁ ਵਿਗੋਵਹੀ ॥ ਵਿਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਤਨੁ ਛਾਰੁ ਕਿਆ ਕਹਿ ਰੋਵਹੀ ॥: Some go and sit in the forest region, and do not answer any calls (i.e., observe silence). Some, in the dead of winter, break the ice and immerse themselves in freezing water (endure cold water). Some rub ashes on their bodies, and never wash body-limbs off dirt. Some wear unshorn matted locks and look hideous. They thus bring dishonor to their family and ancestry. Some wander naked day and night and never sleep. Some burn their body-limbs in fire (performing penance in midst of fire-ਧੂਣੀਆਂ ਤਪਾਕੇ ); thus  damage (their bodies). Without the Naam (i.e., spiritual Knowledge, Giaan…), the human body is reduced to ashes (i.e., goes waste); what good is it to speak and cry  (when its too late!)? (sggs 1285).

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).


  1. Thank you brother, Harprit Singh Ji, for posting comment. Welcome to the Gurbani Blog!

    why we do nitnem in amritvela?

    Let’s not put horses before the cart!
    First off, it’s important know what the Gurbani calls ‘Amrit’.
    Once we understand the Gurbani’s definition of ‘Amrit’, then ‘Amritvela’ will automatically be understood!
    Here are related posts here here at our site you may be interested in:
    ਨਾਨਕ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਏਕੁ ਹੈ – O Nanak! There is Only One Amrit
    Gurbani Says Well Filled With Amrit Is Within Your Body
    Naam Padaarath and Giaan Padaarath
    Entire Gurbani is Naam

    What should i consider nitnem as?

    Live by the Wisdom (Giaan) of the SGGS in daily life. Live a Gurmukh lifestyle of Virtues (‘Saas Saas’) — Truth (ਸਤ), honesty (ਇਮਾਨਦਾਰੀ), contentment (ਸੰਤੋਖ), mercy (ਦਯਾ), patience (ਧੀਰਜ), Sahaj (ਸਹਜ-Natural State of Being), Wisdom (ਗਿਆਨ), humility (ਮਨ ਨਿਮਾਣਾ, ਬੁਧਿ ਗਰੀਬੀ), sweet speech (ਮਿਠ ਬੋਲੜਾ)….

    I mean, does it have an importance to do five baanias everyday or we can take any shabad in SGGS jio, learning santhya of that Shabad and It’s vyakhea?

    Important thing is to churn the Gurbani to thoroughly understand it, and then live that understanding in daily life.

    I have linked several related posts in this reply. There are many more here. Please read them if interested.

  2. Sat Kartar jio,
    Dear Bhai Sahib, why we do nitnem in amritvela? What should i consider nitnem as? I mean, does it have an importance to do five baanias everyday or we can take any shabad in SGGS jio, learning santhya of that Shabad and It’s vyakhea?

  3. It has been my experience that ritual is ego’s playground.

    Well Said! Thank you, SamaraAbzu Jio. And welcome to the Gurbani Blog.

  4. Every one is wandering as the the knowledge of true and right spiritual path is not imparted right from the childhood from the parents themselves as they themselves have never acquired the same. So the market of falsehood is growing with increase in population .
    Only a few like Samara Abzu are fortunate to come out of the web of rituals and get on the right path of naad .This is the grace of Satiguru as predestined

  5. It has been my experience that ritual is ego’s playground. I previously participated in such events, orchestrated by what later was revealed as self appointed ‘shamans’ and ‘healers’ — charlatans, all. I have seen many (including myself) fall spiritually, emotionally and financially. While it was our karmic path to be exposed to such lessons, very few of us woke up to see it for what it was. I was fortunate — the Sikh mantras saved my life and are the bedrock of my daily walk.
    While I do not regret the labyrinthian ritual path I was on (as I learned so much about myself and how ego masks and traps wounded people), I conclude that it was all necessarily unnecessary.
    I rest now in the naad.

  6. Well put! Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio for sharing the Gurbani Vichaar.
    In this context, here is wonderful verse from the Gurbani:
    • ਇਕਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਇਕੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਇਕੋ ਸਬਦੁ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: (sggs 646)

  7. In my understanding all refereces in Gurbaanee are for ONE and ONLY ONE ENTITY and that ONLY ONE ENTITY is “EKANKAARu”
    as Gurjoti (PrabhuAbinaasee)

  8. please put me in contact with a person I can share some conversation on the basis of GURBANI

    Bhia Sahib Jio, please share your Gurbani Vichaar right here at this blog.
    There is no special referral. Sorry! Thank you Bhai Sahib Jio for taking the time.

  9. dear bhai sahib I have a question on sukhmani sahib and other similar questions arise time to time please put me in contact with a person I can share some conversation on the basis of GURBANI
    Q aad ,jugad,satgur and shri gurdev neme’
    to whom this refer to
    who are last two ,our guru Arjin ji giving the regards to ie neme’
    sat sri akal
    please accept my humble appreciation for you time in replying

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