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 the spiritual indigestion when we read and read the Gurbani (or any other scripture for that matter) without Vichaar — without reflection, without understanding, without contemplation, without Awakening of the Divine Wisdom or Virtues, without Inner Transformation or change, without living it in daily life, without resulting in Gurmukh Lifestyle, without spiritual surgery on the mind diseased with the psychological ailments, etc. Baabaa Nanak says:

  • 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 doubt, pride, egotism, 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 verse. It signifies how such people (who merely read the Gurbani, without Vichaar – ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਨਿਰਾ ਪਾਠ) burn, or boil within; or how such people end up further inflaming the fire of their pride or Haumai (egotism, Bikaars…); or how they become more and more entangled (ਫਸ ਜਾਣਾਂ) in the worldly bondage and the web of illusion (Maya, ਭਰਮ-ਜਾਲ…). Thus, instead of liberating themselves from doubt or the Mayaic entanglements through the Shabad-Vichaar (as recommended by the Gurbani), they become more fettered, shackled, bound, or imprisoned in them.

Why read the Gurbani in the first place? The majority of us are not even clear about it! For example, many read Gurbani to win court cases, improve business and profit, obtain sons (i.e., boys, not girls!), pass examinations with better grade (regardless if a child has sincerely studied or not!), obtain immigration visa, cure chronic bodily disease (not diseases the mind!), and so on. Just listen to any Aradaas (congregational prayer) in any Gurdwara in the world!

That’s not the purpose of reading the Gurbani!

Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is the Giaan-Guru. Hence, the Purpose of reading Gurbani is to obtain Giaan through Shabad-Vichaar, and then live it in daily life. If we don’t, then the our minds are no better than a frog who — in spite of living near the lotus flower (i.e., Giaan or spiritual knowledge) — eats “Jaal” of Bikaar (negative thoughts, bad thinking, lust, anger, greed, etc.). 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-Giaan…). (sggs 24).
  • 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-Giaan), but you do not appreciate it.
    (Instead) you eat the slimy scum (of Bikaar in that clean water of the Amrit-Giaan). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 990).

For example, consider the people involved day in and day out in the reading of the so called Akhand Paaths (page to page, continuous reading of the SGGS), not one but several at a time (ਲੜੀਵਾਰ); or 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.

  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: Not by reading (books), but through Understanding, is the Mystery Realized. (sggs 148).
  • ਬਾਣੀ ਬਿਰਲਉ ਬੀਚਾਰਸੀ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: By becoming a Gurmukh (spiritual being, True Being, etc.), a rare one contemplates (ਵਿਚਾਰ, Refletion, spiritual Inquiry, etc.) the Bani (sggs 935).

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!

  • ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਗਡੀ ਲਦੀਅਹਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭਰੀਅਹਿ ਸਾਥ ॥…: Parhi parhi gaddee laddeeahi… (sggs 467).
  • 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).

Those suffering from the chronic ailment of the spiritual indigestion have no understanding of what they are reading. Either they are doing it just for the sake of the money (“ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ”), business (ਧੰਧਾ), fan their Haumai (egotism, foolishness, stubborn mindedness …), or to exhibit ostentatiously how religious they are (i.e., show off), and so on. According to the Gurbani, this is all ignorance or animal-consciousness; hence repudiated 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-Giaan, 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 care less for they don’t know any better (e.g., the Pujaaree system and Deraavaad). Gurdawaras don’t care either because it brings in huge amount of money (Golak!). But the problem is that they jointly corrupt and fraud the Gurmat (Wisdom, Upadesh or Way of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS), 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 ॥: The Lord is Pure and Luminous; without the Gur (the Gur-Giaan, Aatm-Giaan, 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!!

In nutshell, the Gurbani is not meant to be merely 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 (i.e., live it-ਅਮਲ). Otherwise, such exercise is empty (ਖਾਲੀ) akin to “ladles” (ਕੜਛੀਆ)! 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-Giaan, 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).


  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. The title is somewhat ambiguous?

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

  4. 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 ॥…

  5. 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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