Step onto my Path with Your Head in Hand

The Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) focuses on our minds. For it’s the mind that needs to become Sikh, hence it’s the mind that needs to bathe in the pool Wisdom of the SGGS.

The lasting Virtuous life, Blissful life, or the Gurmukh Lifestyle cannot be realized without first annihilating doubts or the doubt-ridden mind, arrogance and false ego-sense (Haumai). Stilling of the false ego-sense is also considered becoming living dead or living liberated (Jeevan Mukt) — as if one has died to the world while still alive. Such person becomes unaffected by the likes and dislikes (i.e. duality).

  • ਜਉ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ ਗਲੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਆਉ ॥ ਇਤੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪੈਰੁ ਧਰੀਜੈ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਕਾਣਿ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥੨੦॥: If you desire to play this game of Divine Love with Me, then step onto My Way putting your head on palm. When you place your foot on this Way, give up your head (false ego-sense), do not be afraid or shrink ||20||. (sggs 1412).
  • ਗਗਨ ਦਮਾਮਾ ਬਾਜਿਓ ਪਰਿਓ ਨੀਸਾਨੈ ਘਾਉ ॥ ਖੇਤੁ ਜੁ ਮਾਂਡਿਓ ਸੂਰਮਾ ਅਬ ਜੂਝਨ ਕੋ ਦਾਉ ॥੧॥ ਸੂਰਾ ਸੋ ਪਹਿਚਾਨੀਐ ਜੁ ਲਰੈ ਦੀਨ ਕੇ ਹੇਤ ॥ ਪੁਰਜਾ ਪੁਰਜਾ ਕਟਿ ਮਰੈ ਕਬਹੂ ਨ ਛਾਡੈ ਖੇਤੁ ॥੨॥੨॥: When the divine Wisdom Enlightened the mind like a battle-drum resounds in the sky, aim is taken and the target (mind) is struck. The brave warrior (mind) jumps into the battlefield of life to fight against vices or Bikaar. ||1|| He alone is known as a spiritual hero, who fights (with vices or Bikaar…) for the sake of Dharma (i.e. righteousness, Virtues…). He may be cut into pieces (harmed in every way), but never deserts the battlefield (of his life — never gives up fighting against his own vices or Bikaar, and never gives up fighting against social evils such as injustice etc.). ||2||2|| (sggs 1105).
  • ਦਾਗੇ ਹੋਹਿ ਸੁ ਰਨ ਮਹਿ ਜੂਝਹਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਦਾਗੇ ਭਗਿ ਜਾਈ ॥: These who have burned (with Virtues or Wisdom their Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, etc.) fight bravely (with Bikaar...) in the battle (of life), and those who have not run away (i.e., lose the battle of life). (sggs 970).

The term ‘ਦਾਗੇ-Daagae)’ is pretty significant in the foregoing verse. ‘Daaganaa‘ is dehorning process of removing the horns of livestock when their horn buds are burned or cut out, never to comeback. The Gurbani urges us to burn (‘Daaganaa‘) our Bikaar so they don’t ever reappear.

What does it mean ‘step onto My Way putting your head on palm’? Does it mean that you have to commit suicide?

In reality, the Guru does not want us to literally chop the head off and place it on the palm! In nutshell, in spiritual parlance, dying or death or “with your head in hand” essentially indicates:

  • Killing, eradication or death of one’s false ego-sense or Haumai. Killing the ego (Haumai) simply means killing that consciousness of “I, me, mine” which is the very center of our existence. Ego makes a man selfish, angry, greedy, overly attached to Maya, arrogant, and so on — the root of all trouble in the world.
  • Eradication of pride, arrogance, conceit, or Ahankaar and becoming truly humble (“dust of the feet of all”).
  • Annihilation of the mind — complete surrender of one’s head (egotism).
  • Death of doubts.
  • Unburdening onself of the old ideas about spirituality propagated by the crafty Pujaaee system — death of thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that are not congruent with the Wisdom of the SGGS.
  • Forgetting old ideas and theories about spirituality that are not in harmony with the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS.
  • Total submission to the true Wisdom of the SGGS in daily life.
  • Eradication of one’s self-centeredness while still alive.
  • Removing fear of death out of the way while still alive: becoming living liberated or living dead — the real death!
  • Giving up attachment to Maya, body, material possessions, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed etc.).
  • Dying in the Shabad.

If it means killing your own false ego-sense (Haumai), why should you do it? What do you gain by it? And how do you kill your false ego-sense (Haumai) if that is what it means? The SGGS puts it in very simple terms:

  • ਜਗੁ ਬਿਨਸਤ ਹਮ ਦੇਖਿਆ ਲੋਭੇ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥: I have seen the world being destroyed by greed (i.e., Bikaar) and egotism. (sggs 228).
  • ਮਾਨ ਮੁਨੀ ਮੁਨਿਵਰ ਗਲ ਮਾਨੁ ਸਭੈ ਕਉ ਖਾਇ ॥: Even the Munis (pious persons…) and the best of Munis were destroyed by pride, the pride eats up all. (sggs 1372).

In fact, the whole purpose of religion is to kill the false ego-sense, the individual self. We are asked to listen/read, understand and live in daily life the Wisdom given in the SGGS so that we can live a purpose-driven life, so that we can live with humility and steer away from worldly temptations and pitfalls. But it takes courage to do this. It is like chewing steel balls or jumping into a fire without getting burnt! Not impossible, but difficult indeed!

  • ਕੰਚਨ ਸਿਉ ਪਾਈਐ ਨਹੀ ਤੋਲਿ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਦੇ ਰਾਮੁ ਲੀਆ ਹੈ ਮੋਲਿ ॥੧॥: (Raam – Mool) cannot be obtained by giving gold equal to (one’s) weight. (But, say Kabeer, I) have bought (i.e., Realized, Experienced, etc.) Raam by giving my mind (Haumai, ego, etc.) to Him ||1|| (sggs 327).

Those ‘rare’ spiritual heroes who do it, they reach their Mool or Source, within.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਸੋਈ ਆਖੀਐ ਜੋ ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰੇ ਉਤਾਰਿ ॥: O Nanak! he alone is called a Sevak (Daas, Bhagat, Gurmukh…) who cuts off his head (i.e., false ego-sense, pride…). (sggs 1247).

So the Gurbani challenges us: ‘step onto My Way putting your head on palm’!

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਗਾਖੜੀ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ॥: It is very difficult to serve the Satigur (Shabad-Vichaar); (it’s difficult because to do so one must) surrender head (ego, self-conceit…) – give up ownself or selfhood (ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ ਦੂਰ ਕਰ ਕੇ). (sggs 649).
  • ਪਹਿਲਾ ਮਰਣੁ ਕਬੂਲਿ ਜੀਵਣ ਕੀ ਛਡਿ ਆਸ ॥ ਹੋਹੁ ਸਭਨਾ ਕੀ ਰੇਣੁਕਾ ਤਉ ਆਉ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੧॥: (Message from God) O Mortal, first accept death (of your false ego-sense) and give up longing for worldly desires (selfishness etc.), become humble like the dust of the feet of all, only then come to Me. ||1|| (sggs 1102).
  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰਹੁ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੀਵਹੁ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਤਾ ਫਿਰਿ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥: If you die through the Shabad, then you will live forever, you will not spiritually die again. (sggs 604).

There are two types of diseases — physical or external diseases (i.e., cancer, etc.), and mental or internal diseases (i.e., Haumai or false ego sense, Bikaar etc.).

The medicine (Daaroo) to cure the physical or external diseases is also outside — if the disease is outside, the medicine to cure it is also outside.

However, the medicine (Daaroo) needed to cure the internal or mental diseases is within — if the disease is inside, the medicine to cure it is also inside.

  • ਦੁਖ ਮਹੁਰਾ ਮਾਰਣ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ॥ ਸਿਲਾ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਪੀਸਣੁ ਹਥਿ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਿਤ ਨਿਤ ਲੇਹੁ ਨ ਛੀਜੈ ਦੇਹ ॥ ਅੰਤ ਕਾਲਿ ਜਮੁ ਮਾਰੈ ਠੇਹ ॥੧॥ ਐਸਾ ਦਾਰੂ ਖਾਹਿ ਗਵਾਰ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤੇਰੇ ਜਾਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Sufferings that have become poison due to Vikaar (i.e. lust, anger, greed etc.), the divine Naam (Giaan or Wsdom) is the antidote. Grind it up in the mortar of contentment, make the Daan (i.e. giving of Giaan or Wisdom etc. to help others or needy) a grindstone in your hand. Take this (medicine) everyday, and your body will not pine and waste away (i.e. diminute). Otherwise you will have to bear the brunt of Vikaar. ||1|| O foolish (mind)! Take such medicine, by which (the bad impact of) Vikaar leave you alone (i.e. stay at bay). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 1257).

That medicine (Daaroo) which cures the inner diseases is the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad — the true understanding of the Gur-Shabad through self-efforts (i.e. Shabad-Vichaar), and then sincere implementation or practice of that Wisdom in daily life. The SGGS confirms it as follows:

  • ਹਉਮੈ ਦੀਰਘ ਰੋਗੁ ਹੈ ਦਾਰੂ ਭੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਕਰੇ ਜੇ ਆਪਣੀ ਤਾ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਹਿ ॥: Ego is a chronic disease, but it contains its own cure as well. (This disease of one’s egotism will get cured within only) if (one) favors (himself) — if one practices ‘Gur Kaa Shabad in daily life or if one lives daily life according to the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad. (sggs 466).

Complete surrender destroys false ego-sense (Haumai). The ultimate surrender is when the mind stands conquered — lives daily life in total harmony with the Wisdom of the SGGS.

The Gur-Shabad is like a flowing River. Surrendering or giving head is like jumping into this River of Existence, which is free of the bad impact of egotism (Haumai). Instead, It is a Pure Consciousness that destroys the it and helps us abide in our Jot Saroop.

We can take plunge now or just wait standing at the shore of This River. It is our choice. The River is always there, ready and willing to accept us and cleanse us, and take us to the Ocean (of Pure Consciousness within). The SGGS asserts nobody else can do it for us.

Our false ego-sense is like a mountain of ice floating in the Ocean. When it melts, it loses its individual identity (separateness, two-ness, division, fragmentation, etc.) and becomes One with the Ocean within, the Source (Mool).

  • ਇਹੁ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਏ ॥: Offer head (to the Guru) by shedding self-conceit (ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ ਦੂਰ ਕਰ ਕੇ). (sggs 424).

To put it otherwise, the Gurbani challenges us not to yield to the bad impact of egotism (Haumai). Instead, we are urged to yield to the Wisdom of the SGGS (Gurmukh Lifestyle).

  • ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਹਿ ਵੇਚਿਆ ਮਨੁ ਦੀਆ ਸਿਰੁ ਨਾਲਿ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਢੰਢੋਲਿਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਖੋਜਿ ਨਿਹਾਲਿ ॥: (One who has) sold his body and mind to the Guru, and (along with his) mind has given his head as well, by becoming the Gurmukh he has found God (within) to whom he was seeking throughout the three worlds (sggs 20).

Before milk is poured into a vessel (ਭਾਂਡਾ-Bhaandaa), we wash it clean and dry it out. After making sure the vessel is thoroughly clean and dry, then we pour milk in it. Similarly, before we can pour the milk of the Wisdom of the SGGS (Gur-Giaan) into our mind, it must be thoroughly cleansed of inner garbage — thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, ideas, negativity, etc., that are not congruent with the Wisdom of the SGGS. The SGGS asserts that nobody else can do it for anybody else.

  • ਭਾਂਡਾ ਧੋਇ ਬੈਸਿ ਧੂਪੁ ਦੇਵਹੁ ਤਉ ਦੂਧੈ ਕਉ ਜਾਵਹੁ ॥ ਦੂਧੁ ਕਰਮ ਫੁਨਿ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਮਾਇਣੁ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਰਾਸ ਜਮਾਵਹੁ ॥੧॥: (To obtain butter, first) you wash the vessel, let it sit in the sun (so it can dry out), then you go out and get the milk (in that vessel and then curdle it). (Similarly, to obtain the butter of Naam or Wisdom, pour) the milk of good Karma (in the clean vessel of the mind), add the rennet of clear consciousness to the milk of good Karma, and then, free of desires, let it curdle. ||1|| (sggs 728).


  1. Yes, as suggested by the Gurbani, understanding of Hukam implies surrendering of Ego:
    ਹੁਕਮੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹੁਕਮ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੈ ਜੇ ਬੁਝੈ ਤ ਹਉਮੈ ਕਹੈ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥

    Thank you LY Ji for taking the time to reply. Appreciate it very much

  2. Along with giving up ego, i think giving your head to Guru means surrendering to Hukam… entering the stream… and offering up this life. Setting aside chasing Maya and letting Truth guide you and direct your decisions/actions. Be God’s eyes and hands in this world. Or act from love… from the highest best part of who you are… recognize God in yourself and others… including all of life and the planet. Operating from a mind that is connected to that greater good. Willing to do what is right true and just regardless of personal consequences.

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