Spiritual Indigestion

When one eats without properly chewing (ਚੱਬਣ) the food, or eats more than one can chew, it results in bad-stomach or indigestion.

Similarly, we get spiritual indigestion when we read and / or listen the Gurbani of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS):

  • Without Vichaar or reflection,
  • Without contemplation or pondering,
  • Without understanding or DIGESTING,
  • Without internalizing the Enlightening spiritual Message embedded in it,
  • Without applying or living it in daily life (ਅਮਲ),
  • Without Awakening of the Divine Wisdom/Virtues,
  • Without Awakening of Bibek Budh (discerning intellect),
  • Without using the Bibek Budh (discerning intellect) of the SGGS for becoming Aware of one’s ignorance,
  • Without Inner Transformation,
  • Without resulting in Gurmukh or Enlightened state of the mind,
  • Without positive change,
  • Without performing spiritual surgery on the mind suffering from psychological ailments,
  • Without attention, focus and concentration on the Message of the Shabad,
  • Without any regard whatsoever for the REAL Sikhi of Guru Nanak or SGGS — worshipping the SGGS as an idol, worshipping factitious (ਨਕਲੀ) photos / pictures / images of the Gurus as worship of idols in Bipar-Vaad (Karamkaand concocted by the self-serving Pujaaree) — a business, (ਧੰਧਾ),
  • Ritual reading of the Bani (ਬਾਣੀ) from more than one Beerh (ਬੀੜ) at the same time (i.e., ਇੱਕ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਧ ਬੀੜਾਂ  ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ਼ ਕਰਕੇ: ਅਖੰਡਪਾਠ, ਕੋਤਰੀ ਪਾਠ, ਸੰਪਟ ਪਾਠ —  a business (ਧੰਧਾ),

Guru Nanak Teaches us:

  • ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਪੜਿਆ ॥ ਤੇਤਾ ਕੜਿਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਤੀਰਥ ਭਵਿਆ ॥ ਤੇਤੋ ਲਵਿਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਭੇਖ ਕੀਆ ਦੇਹੀ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੀਆ ॥ : (Without Vichaar, the more or again and again one) reads the written, the more one boils or burns (in doubtprideegotism, anxiety, pain, thick-headedness…). The more one wanders at Teerath the more one talks uselessly (in ego, he goes around telling others that he has visited this Teerath or that Teerath). The more one wears religious robes, the more pain he causes his body. (sggs 467).

The term ‘Karhiaa’ (‘ਕੜਿਆ’) is pretty significant in the foregoing verses. It signifies how such people — who merely read the Gurbani, without Vichaar (ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਨਿਰਾ ਪਾਠ) — burn or boil within; and how such people end up further inflaming the fire of their pride, false ego-sense (or Haumai), Bikaars; and how they become more and more entangled (ਫਸ ਜਾਣਾਂ) in Mayaic traps and the web of illusion.

Thus, instead of liberating themselves from doubt or the Mayaic entanglements by churning the Gurbani or the Shabad-Vichaar (as recommended by the Gurbani), they become more fettered, trapped or imprisoned in useless ritualism or Karamkaand propagated by the self serving Pujaaree (clergy) — the freeloading Deraa-Vaad Baabaas (ਵੇਹਲੜ), and their trained Parcharaks, Ragis, Dhadees etc.) etc.

The majority of us are not even clear about the real aim of reading or listening to the Gurbani in the first place!

For example, many read or listen the Gurbani to win court cases, improve business and profit, obtain sons (i.e., boys, not girls!), obtain immigration visa, cure chronic bodily disease, pass school or other examinations (regardless if a child has sincerely studied or not!), and so on.

This is not the aim or purpose of reading/listening the Gurbani.

Just listen to any Aradaas (congregational prayer-ਅਰਦਾਸ) in any Gurdwara in the world! You will get the idea! To supplement their income, the self-serving clergy has made people to do Ardaas blindly.That’s not the purpose of reading or listening to the Gurbani!

Since the SGGS is the Giyan-Guru, the Purpose of reading or listening to the Gurbani is for internalizing the Enlightening spiritual Wisdom-Giyan contained in the Guru Shabad by churning the Gurbani and Shabad-Vichaar, and then live it in daily life (ਅਮਲ).

If we don’t, then, as the Gurbani says, our minds are no better than a frog — who in spite of living near the lotus flower — eats ‘Jaal‘ (i.e., filth…).

  • ਦਾਦਰ ਤੂ ਕਬਹਿ ਨ ਜਾਨਸਿ ਰੇ ॥ ਭਖਸਿ ਸਿਬਾਲੁ ਬਸਸਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਜਲ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਨ ਲਖਸਿ ਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : O frog (-mind)! You can never understand. (O fog like mind!) While you dwell in the clean water (pure spiritual knowledge or Amrit-Giyan), but you do not appreciate it. (Instead) you eat the slimy scum (of Bikaar in that clean water of the Amrit-Giyan). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 990).

Similarly, although we read or listen to the Gurbani that’s full of Wisdom, but our ‘frog’ mind eats only ‘Jaal’ of vices/Bikaar. The Gurbani confirms as follows:

  • ਐਬ ਤਨਿ ਚਿਕੜੋ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਮੀਡਕੋ ਕਮਲ ਕੀ ਸਾਰ ਨਹੀ ਮੂਲਿ ਪਾਈ ॥ : There is the mud (of Bikaars: lust, anger, greed, etc.) in the body, and this mind is the frog-mind (dwells in that mud of Bikaar), (such frog-) mind cannot appreciate the lotus at all (i.e., the Divine Naam: Wisdom, Amrit-Giyan…). (sggs 24).

For example, consider people involved day in and day out in robotic or mechanical reading of the so called Akhand Paaths (page to page, continuous reading of the SGGS). NOT just one Akhand Paath but several at a time (ਲੜੀਵਾਰ ਆਖੰਡਪਾਠ, ਕੋਤਰੀ ਪਾਠ, ਸੰਪਟ ਪਾਠ)! Similar to the fraud of Bippar-Vaad, they have put price tag on each type of Paath!

Also, consider those reading calculated daily readings (i.e., Nit-Nem) in stubborn-mindedness, without any Vichaar on what’s being read whatsoever!

All such people suffer from spiritual indigestion — including Ragi, Bhai, Granthi, Giyani, Kathaakaar, Deraa-Vaad, Baabaa-Vaad, Sant-Vaad, Jathedaar-Vaad, Takhat-Vaad, foolish and dishonest so called scholars, etc.

In Sikhi of Guru Nanak, these fake and freeloaders (vagrants) have regurgitated Brahmani-Karamkaand — a business (ਇੱਕ ਧੰਧਾ). Let alone understanding the Gurbani, they don’t even read it with their mouth. Instead, they just roll their eyes over a page, then next page, then next page, and so on! They called ‘Naetar-Paath: ਨੇਤਰ ਪਾਠ, meaning doing Paath by eyes (Naetar = eyes ). What a fraud!

  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥ ਖਟੁ ਦਰਸਨ ਕੈ ਭੇਖਿ ਕਿਸੈ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਵਣਾ ॥ ਸਚਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਅਲਖੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਸੁਹਾਵਣਾ ॥ : Not by just reading (scriptures), but it is through spiritual Wisdom one Understands this fact (that God is infinite). No one can merge in the eternal God by merely adopting the garbs mentioned in the six Shastras (the Hindu holy books). The eternal God is unfathomable, but revealed through the Guru’s Shabad, He (i.e. Creation, Hukam) looks beautiful. (sggs 148).
  • ਬਾਣੀ ਬਿਰਲਉ ਬੀਚਾਰਸੀ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਇਹ ਬਾਣੀ ਮਹਾ ਪੁਰਖ ਕੀ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੪੦॥ : Only a RARE Gurmukh (Enlighted State of the Mind) Reflects on Gurbani. This Bani is of the Satguru and through it, one abides in his own True Self within. ||40|| (sggs 935).

Paid clergy (Pujaaree-Vaad) has cheated and misguided people with Un-Gurmat rituals (Karamkaand), hypocrisy or Pakhand (ਵਹਿਮਾ ਭਰਮਾ ਦਾ ਪਖੰਡ), creating fear and greed etc. Accordingly, the Gurbani time and again reminds us even if we were to read loads of books (Granths, etc.), it would be a ‘useless’ exercise!

  • ਮੂਰਖ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਪੜ੍ਹਹਿ ਮੂਲੁ ਨ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥ : Fools read in duality, (as a result, they) do not recognize their Mool (Jot…); (thus, they) waste their lives uselessly. (sggs 1133).
  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਗਡੀ ਲਦੀਅਹਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭਰੀਅਹਿ ਸਾਥ ॥ …: Parhi parhi gaddee laddeeahi… (sggs 467).

Those suffering from the chronic ailment of the spiritual indigestion have no understanding of what they are reading or listening. Either they are doing it just for the sake of money (‘ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ’, business-ਧੰਧਾ), further inflate their fat Haumai (egotism, foolishness, stubborn mindedness …), out of fear or greed, show off, to maintain a lifestyle of freeloading (ਐਸ਼-ਪਰਸਤੀ), Pakhand, and so on.

  • 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 Paakhand (hypocrisy…). (sggs 88).
  • ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਕੀਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥੨॥ : Practicing Pakhand (hypocrisy), no one finds liberation ||2|| (sggs 839).

According to the Gurbani, this is all ignorance or animal-consciousness; hence strongly rejected in the Gurbani.

  • ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਪੜੈ ਨਹੀ ਬੂਝੈ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਬਿਧਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਲੂਝੈ ॥ : One who reads (scriptures), while attached to duality, does not understand (what he reads). (While reading scriptures, inside) He longs for the threefold Maya (sggs 127).
  • ਆਵਨ ਆਏ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਮਹਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੁ ਢੋਰ ॥ : (Those who have) come into the world just for the sake of coming (i.e., they have not used this human birth for the purpose it was given to them); without Understanding (of their Mool, Aatm-Giyan, Essence, etc.), they are like animals and beasts. (sggs 251).

Nonetheless, to put it mildly, the spiritual indigestion stagnates the Spiritual Progress or the Inner Unfoldment (ਆਤਮਿਕ ਤਰੱਕੀ).

However, many who have their mind enslaved by the Pujaaree clique (clergy), care less for they don’t know any better. Gurdwaras don’t care either because it brings in huge amount of revenue (money-Golak!). But the problem is that they jointly corrupt the Gurmat (Way of the SGGS and thus misguide Sikhi and promote Bipparvaad in the process.

  • ਹਰਿ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਅਤਿ ਊਜਲਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਾਇਆ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਪਾਠੁ ਪੜੈ ਨਾ ਬੂਝਈ ਭੇਖੀ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇ ॥ : ‘Hari’ is Pure and Luminous; without the Gur (the Gur-Giyan, Aatm-Giyan, Wisdom, etc.), He cannot be Realized. (Those who merely) read (scriptures – ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਪੁਸਤਕਾਂ ਦਾ ਨਿਰਾ ਪਾਠ) cannot understand (this secret); the ‘Bhekhee‘ (those who thus merely read disguised in religious garbs, deceitful pretenders, sham, false, impersonator, etc.) become more deluded by doubts.  (sggs 66).

One of the examples used in the Gurbani is that of ‘ladles‘ (ਕੜਛੀਆ). Although ladles (ਕੜਛੀਆ) cruise through all sorts of food, but they do not know the relish of food – they just remain empty of it!!

Ending note

To avoid spiritual indigestion, the SGGS asks us to digest the Gurbani — Reflect on the Gurbani, thoroughly Understand it, Internalize the Message embedded in it, and then live it. Otherwise painful spiritual indigestion is certain to occur.

In short, the Gurbani is meant to be Internalized — understood and applied to daily life! The Gubani Guides us as follows:

  • ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਖਾਵੈ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਭੁੰਚੈ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੋਇ ਉਧਾਰੋ ॥ ਏਹ ਵਸਤੁ ਤਜੀ ਨਹ ਜਾਈ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਰਖੁ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰੋ ॥ ਤਮ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਚਰਨ ਲਗਿ ਤਰੀਐ ਸਭੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪਸਾਰੋ ॥੧॥ : (Plate or container of) the human Conscious or mind that has internalized three realizations; (1) the Creator, (2) contentment and (3) thoughtful reflection (into spiritual Life); is the one that realizes spiritual life through the realization of the Amrit Naam (Wisdom/Virtues…) that is the basis of All of spirituality. The mind which consumes or adopts and internalizes Naam is the one that attains its spiritual Goal. This Thing (i.e. spirituality of realization) requires that the divine Naam (Wisdom/Virtues…) be never discarded, therefore be kept permanently inculcated within. Nanak, life within a vices-filled world is traversed by submitting to the Creator who pervades the entire Cosmos. ॥1॥ (sggs 1429).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਭਲੀ ਸਿਵ ਨੀਕੀ ਆਨਿ ਪਾਨੀ ਸਕਤਿ ਭਰੀਜੈ ॥ ਮੈਨਦੰਤ ਨਿਕਸੇ ਗੁਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਸਾਰੁ ਚਬਿ ਚਬਿ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਜੈ ॥੩॥ : By becoming the Gurmukh (i.e. Enlightened Mind by Internalizing the Message of the Guru’s Shabad), with the sublime Divine Light, then the Maya starts serving him. By following the Guru’s Shabad, (he can so control his vices or Bikaar), as if he can chew steel with teeth of wax, and drink the sublime elixir of Divine Naam. ||3|| (sggs 1324).

Hence, the Gurbani is not meant to be ritually or robotically read, listened or memorized.

After reading, listening, or memorizing it is meant to be Understood through the diligent Shabad-Vichaar, and ultimately its Wisdom applied to the daily life (living it-ਅਮਲ). Otherwise, such exercise is empty (ਖਾਲੀ) akin to ‘ladles’ (ਕੜਛੀਆ) who do not know the taste of food they cruise in! Again, listen to what the Gurbani has to say in this context:

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਸਭ ਹੋਇ ਖੁਆਰ ॥ : Without understanding, ALL are troubled (afflicted, distressed, perplexed…). (sggs 791).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਕੋ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥ : Without understanding, (one) cannot obtained the Realm (of Truth). (sggs 412).
  • ਪੜਿਐ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਪੂਛਹੁ ਗਿਆਨੀਆ ਜਾਇ ॥੧॥ : The filth is not removed by reading. Go ahead, and ask the Wise ones ||1||. (sggs 39).
  • ਚਿਤੁ ਜਿਨ ਕਾ ਹਿਰਿ ਲਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਬੋਲਨਿ ਪਏ ਰਵਾਣੀ ॥ : Those whose consciousness has been lured by Maya keep reciting mechanically (ਫਰ ਫਰ, ਉਪਰੋਂ ਉਪਰੋਂ, ਤੇਜੀ ਨਾਲ…). (sggs 920).
  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥ : Listening to the Gurmat (Shabad-Giyan, Teaching of the Gurbani, etc.), (if) no Spiritual Wisdom (understanding of the Spiritual Life…) wells up within; (then it would be) like a beast (routinely) filling its belly (sggs 685).

Some Related Posts:


  1. As always, Sardar T. Singh jee exposes the religiosity increasingly creeping in our religious places. Usually, they are promoted by poorly paid granthies and sevadars to supplement their meager salaries by promoting akhand paaths, etc. The managements go along as the payments made by the Sangat members for those services complement the inadequate salaries of the granthis/sevadars. One of the solutions is to adjust the salaries of the granthis so that they can afford to take a stand against the empty rituals.
    A Hindu friend once told me that Hindus were grateful to the Sikh community for keeping the Brahmanic rituals alive as their own children once educated were discarding them. Hindus are concerned that they would lose their traditional rituals, but, as is evident, Sikhs can save them.

  2. in group settings have often felt spiritual indigestion when others are just reading gurbani as paath or doing ‘kirtan’; one shabad after another..more and more… so uncomfortable.
    Rather let’s just be honest with ourselves of understanding what gurbani is really telling us and where are we at in comparison; slowly the message will become digested on spiritual level in next few days.
    If we keep reading paath, doing ‘kirtan’ then we are fooling ourselves into thinking we have done something spiritual, when clearly gurbani says these efforts do not achieve anything.
    being honest with ourselves is necessary for spiritual digestion otherwise we keep adding more and fooling ourselves rather than truly unlearning (digest).

  3. Thank you brother Kirpal Singh Ji for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    it should be “Ritual Indigestion”.

    Excellent suggestion! A future post is planned under that title.

  4. The title is somewhat ambiguous?

    I am sorry to say that Instead of “Spiritual Indigestion” – it should be “Ritual Indigestion”.

  5. Dear H.S. Matharu Ji,
    Thank you for your taking the time to comment at our Gurbani Blog site.
    The Shabad you asked can be found at page 41, line 5 of the SGGS.
    ਸਿਰੀਰਾਗੁ ਮਹਲਾ ੪ ॥ ਹਉ ਪੰਥੁ ਦਸਾਈ ਨਿਤ ਖੜੀ ਕੋਈ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਦਸੇ ਤਿਨਿ ਜਾਉ ॥…

  6. Beautiful shabads on the importance of gurbani vichaar…..a shabad that comes to mind now (thanks to my dad) is ‘satgur noo sabh koh dekhda jetha jagat sansaar…ditthian mukat naa hoovaeei jichar shabad naa kareh vichaar’….Veer Ji please could you site this shabad in DSGGSJ.

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