The Gurus and Bhagats were not only God-Connected Within, they were also excellent communicators, poets, writers, and presenters. They effectively used idioms / metaphors to explain very complex spiritual Messages. Hence, impregnated with spiritual Wisdom or suggestions, numerous idioms can be found in SGGS.
Since the entirety of the Gurbani is for the Mind, idioms / metaphors etc. express the subtlety of the spiritual experiences of the Gurus and Bhagats, draw the reader’s attention, awaken senses, amplify the Message, capture subtle nuances of spirituality, they create imagery in the mind and make the reader see things in a new way, improve understanding, and so on.
Out of ten physical senses, the five sense-organs are of knowledge or perception (Giaan Indriyas — eyes, years, nose, tongue and skin), and the five sense-organs of action (Karam Indriyas — the genital, anus, mouth, hands and legs). Man engages in the world of gross objects with his sensory faculties and the pleasures they afford only make him desire for more and more. But it’s not possible to satisfy desires. Accordingly, we are repeatedly asked by the Gurbani to learn to control them.
The Gurbani asks us to make these ten senses widow.
- ਦਸ ਨਾਰੀ ਮੈ ਕਰੀ ਦੁਹਾਗਨਿ ॥ ਗੁਰਿ ਕਹਿਆ ਏਹ ਰਸਹਿ ਬਿਖਾਗਨਿ ॥ ਇਨ ਸਨਬੰਧੀ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਹਮ ਗੁਰਿ ਰਾਖੇ ਹਰਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥੫॥: Das naaree mai karee duhaagani …: I have made widows of the ten sensory organs (I don’t engage in sense-gratification anymore). The Guru has told (i.e., the Gurbani’s Giaan has revealed to me) that pleasures (sense-gratifications) are the poison-fire (that brings death to the spiritual life: ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). Those who associate with them fall into lower region (of consciousness, degradation or downfall of Spiritual Life – spiritual death, ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ, ਅਧੋਗਤਿ…). By attuning me to the Lord, the Guru (i.e, the Gur-Giaan) has saved me (from the sense pleasrues) ||5|| (sggs 1347).
But how can one go about making these ten senses widow?
Mind is the “husband” and the ten senses are its “wives”. The mind is the center of all activities of the senses. Thus, when the senses become attracted toward their respective sense-objects, the mind becomes the source of all ideas of about sense-gratification. Thus, the mind and the senses become the repositories of desires (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁੱਖ-ਪਿਆਸ).
To make all senses “widow”, the mind must be “killed” (or “conquered”)! This is why the Gurbani urges Spiritual aspirants to “struggle” with their own mind, and keep it engaged in Shabad-Vichaar so that the mind develops a taste for Spiritual life. If this advice of the Gurbani is followed with unshakable determination and sincerity, in course of time the mind will lose interest in hedonistic pursuits of the senses and become oriented to the Goal of Mool-realization. The mind stands “conquered” (killed or liberated) when it sees the Truth (ਸਚ).
- ਮਨਿ ਜੀਤੈ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤੁ ॥: Manni jeetai jag jeet: If you conquer the mind, you conquer the material world (sggs 3).
- ਮਨੁ ਜੀਤੇ ਜਗੁ ਜੀਤਿਆ ਜਾਂ ਤੇ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਤੇ ਹੋਇ ਉਦਾਸੁ ॥੨॥: Manu jeete jagu jeetiaa jaan te bikhiaa te hoi oudaasu (sggs 1103).
- ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਜੀਤਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਲੈ ਲਾਹਾ ॥: Manu tanu jeeti sabadu lai laahaa (sggs 699).
Death of the Haumai is the death of the mind. So, the Gurbani asks us to become the Gurmukh and conquer the mind by killing the Haumai.
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਨੁ ਜੀਤਾ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ॥: Gurmukhi manu jeetaa haoumai maari (sggs 946).
When, by becoming the Gurmukh, one makes his senses widows, he sees without eyes; he hears without ears; he walks without feet; he works without hands; he speaks without tongue…!
- ਅਖੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਵੇਖਣਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਕੰਨਾ ਸੁਨਣਾ ॥ ਪੈਰਾ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਚਲਣਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਹਥਾ ਕਰਣਾ ॥ ਜੀਭੈ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਬੋਲਣਾ ਇਉ ਜੀਵਤ ਮਰਣਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਪਛਾਣਿ ਕੈ ਤਉ ਖਸਮੈ ਮਿਲਣਾ ॥੧॥: See without eyes (i.e. if we look at the world by removing lust from the eyes etc.), hear without ears (i.e. if we keep the ears from the habit of hearing slander etc.); walk without feet (i.e. if we keep our feet from running in the wrong direction etc.), work without hands (i.e. if we use our hands without doing harm to others etc.); speak without the tongue (i.e. if we remove the habit of slandering others from the tongue etc.); this is how one dies alive. O Nanak! When one understands/recognizes Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature), then one realizes Truth (‘Khasam’-Master etc.). (sggs 139).
Seeing without eyes! Hearing without years! Walking without feet! Working without hands! Speaking without a tongue! This is the state of a “Jeevan-Mukta” — living liberated or living dead. Also called the Gurmukhs in the Gurbani, this is the state of those Mool-realized beings who have conquered their instinctive mind – who have become “Ik Mann Ik Chit”. Simply put, it’s the state that rises within upon getting rid of the burden of false ego-sense (Haumai).
- ਜਿਨ ਜਪਿਆ ਇਕ ਮਨਿ ਇਕ ਚਿਤਿ ਤਿਨ ਲਥਾ ਹਉਮੈ ਭਾਰੁ ॥: Jin japiaa ik mani ik chiti tin lathaa haoumai bhaaru (sggs 302).
Not easy: It’s like swimming upstream; chewing steel balls with the teeth of wax; racing along the razor’s edge…
- ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਮੁਰਗਾਈ ਨੈ ਸਾਣੇ ॥ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੇ ॥: The way to successful spirituality is to be detached from the world WHILE LIVING IN IT; just like the detachment of the Lotus from the stagnant water and the swan from the river water. O Nanak! The Journey of spirituality (i.e. to go across Bhav Saagar) is thus transversed in detachment by keeping the Message of the Shabad within our Consciousness in order to Realize / live the Virtues of God. (sggs 938).
- ਮੈਣ ਕੇ ਦੰਤ ਕਿਉ ਖਾਈਐ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: How does one undertake Genuine spirituality without Enlightenment? (Idiomatically / Metaphorically speaking: its akin to chewing iron with teeth of wax!). (sggs 943).
- ਖੰਨਿਅਹੁ ਤਿਖੀ ਵਾਲਹੁ ਨਿਕੀ ਏਤੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਜਾਣਾ ॥: Khanniahu tkhee vaalahu nikee etu maaragi jaanaa (sggs 918).
The Gurbani assures us that it’s all possible through the Gur-Giaan, Gur-Upadesh, or Gur-Teaching!
- ਮੈਨਦੰਤ ਨਿਕਸੇ ਗੁਰ ਬਚਨੀ ਸਾਰੁ ਚਬਿ ਚਬਿ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਜੈ ॥੩॥: Maindant nikase gur bachanee saaru chabi chabi hari rasu peejai (sggs 1324).