The previous post touched upon the use of idioms (ਮੁਹਾਵਰੇ) in the Gurbani.
When the Truth that has not been personally experienced, one can not grasp it directly. However, with the help of idioms, analogies, similes, allegories, metaphors, figurative or mystic representations and illustrations, the Truth becomes relatively easier to grasp. Such methods have extensively been used in the Gurbani (SGGS) with a definite purpose and intention. They should neither be taken literally, nor their significance stretched beyond the Gurbani’s intention.
An another idiom/proverb used in the Gurbani is that of a dog’s tail (“ਸੁਆਨ ਪੂਛ”). The purpose of such illustration is to drive the Gurbani’s Divine Message into the spiritually immature minds.
It is said that one can keep a dog’s tail in a straight tube and hold it there for as long as the dog lives. But it will instantly curl as soon as you take it out of the tube and let it go! At one or other time in our lives, most of us probably heard this expression either from our parents, school teachers, etc. Someone may argue that a dog’s tail can be straighten out by, for example, plastic surgery. But, as previously indicated, these expressions should neither be taken literally, nor their significance stretched beyond the Gurbani’s intention.
This phenomenal world (Mayaic Sansaar) of names-forms-shapes is also liken to a dog’s tail: Its nature is to curve or curl!
The mind attached to this phenomenal world (Maya) also behaves crooked like the curved tail of a dog.
Due to the Spiritual ignorance (Durmat or corrupt intellect, doubts (Bharam), delusion, false ego-sense (Haumai), duality, etc.), the mind acts crooked, stubborn, and fanatic. As such, we take unreal to be real, ephemeral to be eternal, falsehood to be Truth, material consciousness to be Spiritual Consciousness, and so on. Like a dog’s tail, this conditioning of our Mayaic mind keeps us crooked (false “bent”), and does not let us change by engaging in Shabad-Vichaar (Aatam Giaan, Naam, Hukam… ), and living a Divine Life (the Gurmukh Lifestyle).
- ਪੰਡਿਤ ਸੰਗਿ ਵਸਹਿ ਜਨ ਮੂਰਖ ਆਗਮ ਸਾਸ ਸੁਨੇ ॥ ਅਪਨਾ ਆਪੁ ਤੂ ਕਬਹੁ ਨ ਛੋਡਸਿ ਸੁਆਨ ਪੂਛਿ ਜਿਉ ਰੇ ॥੪॥: The foolish people live with the Pandit, the religious scholar, and listen to the Vedas and the Shaastras (but still remains fool, and do not give up their nature of foolishness). [Similarly, O frog (here the hint is towards our ignorant and crooked mind)] You can never escape your own inner tendencies, like the tail of the dog (that always remains crooked). ||4|| (sggs 990).
- ਸੁਆਨ ਪੂਛ ਜਿਉ ਭਇਓ ਨ ਸੂਧਉ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਜਤਨੁ ਮੈ ਕੀਨਉ ॥: Like the dog’s tail, which does not straighten out, (Similarly) despite many efforts on my part (this mind will not straighten out, change, mend itself, and engage in Naam, Shabad…). (sggs 633).
- ਸਾਕਤ ਸੁਆਨ ਕਹੀਅਹਿ ਬਹੁ ਲੋਭੀ ਬਹੁ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਮੈਲੁ ਭਰੀਜੈ ॥: Saakat suaan… (sggs 1326).
To the unwise (Manmukh, Saakat, etc.), the Divine Knowledge (Spiritual Wisdom, Aatam-Giaan) is a burden. If we want to straighten our mind out, then the Gurbani asks us to mend our ways. That is, we need to change our crooked habits and tendencies. Shabad-Vichaar will strike our crookedness (dog’s tail) and drive it out.
- ਸੁਆਨ ਪੂਛ ਜਿਉ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਸੂਧੋ ਕਹਿਓ ਨ ਕਾਨ ਧਰੈ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਜੁ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਨਿਤ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਕਾਜੁ ਸਰੈ ॥੨॥੧॥: Like a dog’s tail, this (mind) does not become straight; it does not attend to (any Advice, Teaching, ਸਿੱਖਿਆ…). Says Nanak, forever meditate on the Lord’s Name and your affairs (the ultimate purpose life, etc.) will get resolved (i.e., ਨਾਮ ਦੀ ਬਰਕਤਿ ਨਾਲ ਤੇਰਾ ਜਨਮ-ਮਨੋਰਥ ਹੱਲ ਹੋ ਜਾਏ) ||2||1|| (sggs 536).
In nutshell, the wheel of Maya can be brought to standstill by the earnest Shabad-Vichaar. With such sincere self-effort, the mind becomes Pure, Peaceful, or stable. When the mind is so stilled (free from Maya’s wanderings – ਟਿਕਿਆ ਮਨ), the Maya’s wheel ceases: the dog’s tail becomes straight, never to curl again!
- ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਬਨਾਵਹੁ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ॥: Through the Gur-Shabad, prepare (reshape, reconstruct, change, mend, ਨਵੇਂ ਸਿਰੇ ਘੜੋ…) this mind (sggs 377).
- ਬਿਨੁ ਸਿਮਰਨ ਕੂਕਰ ਹਰਕਾਇਆ ॥: Bin simran kookar harakaaiaa (sggs 239).
- ਫਰੀਦਾ ਬੇ ਨਿਵਾਜਾ ਕੁਤਿਆ ਏਹ ਨ ਭਲੀ ਰੀਤਿ ॥: Fareedaa bae nivaajaa… (sggs 1381).