To be Born is One Thing but to be Truly Alive Quite Another!

The edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) of the Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is that — unless one is spiritually Awakened — he is not yet alive — he is as dead (Aatmac Maut-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤੇ ਮਰਿਆ)!

  • ਹਰਿ ਬਿਸਰਤ ਸੋ ਮੂਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ : One who forgets ‘Hari’ (Mool, Virtues, Wisdom, Truth…) is dead (death of divine life – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). ||1||Pause|| (sggs 407).
  • ਅਤਿ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਕੁਲੀਨ ਚਤੁਰ ਮੁਖਿ ਙਿਆਨੀ ਧਨਵੰਤ ॥ ਮਿਰਤਕ ਕਹੀਅਹਿ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਹ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਭਗਵੰਤ ॥੧॥ : A person may be very handsome, of high birth, clever, talking wise, and wealthy. (But) O Nanak! That person is called a walking corpse (spiritually dead-Aatmik Maut) if he has no Love within for Bhagvant (divine Virtues, Wisdom, Truth – spiritual Awakening…) ||1|| (sggs 253).

Consider the following verses (and many more alike) in which we are told that anybody who has forsaken the Shabad (Upadesh, Giyan-Wisdom…) or disconnected from his/her Mool (Source, Origin, Jot Saroop…) is as dead in this world!

  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਜਿਨੀ ਨ ਸੇਵਿਓ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕੀਤੋ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਓ ਮਿਰਤਕੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥ : (Those beings) who have not served the ‘Satiguru‘ (through the Shabad-Vichaar), no Wisdom has Awakened within them, (they may appear as alive but they) are as dead in the world (spiritually dead-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). (sggs 88).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪੁਰਖਿ ਜਿ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਭ੍ਰਮਿਆ ਘਰੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਗਇਆ ॥ ਓਸੁ ਪਿਛੈ ਵਜੈ ਫਕੜੀ ਮੁਹੁ ਕਾਲਾ ਆਗੈ ਭਇਆ ॥ : A person who is dead from Satigur ‘s Giyan-Wisdom (i.e. who has no interest in the Spiritual Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) wanders in delusion shaken from his Inner Home (Nij Ghar etc.). He is followed by hooting (of dishonor, shame, discredit, ill-repute, etc.) and leads a disgraced life thereon. (sggs 653).

Clearly, here the Gurbani is talking about the ‘dead’ or ‘alive’ from a Spiritual standpoint or at the level of the mind!

Hence, from a Spiritual standpoint, the Gurbani in SGGS teaches us that to be born is one thing but to be truly alive quite another!

  • ਸੋ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿਸੁ ਮਨਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਸੋਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਜੀਵੈ ਕੋਇ ॥ : (In reality) Only that person is truly alive within whose mind That (i.e. One Hukam: System-Rule-Law of Nature…) abides. O Nanak! No one else (i.e., who denies the Hukam…) is truly alive (sggs 142).
  • ਹਰਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਰਸੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਮੁਆ ਜੀਵਾਇਆ ਫਿਰਿ ਬਾਹੁੜਿ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ : When a person internalizes the Spiritual Life giving Amrit Naam (Giyan-Wisdom / Virtues) of the Guru Shabad, that person (who was spiritually dead before) realizes Spiritual Life and does not (Spiritually) die again in life. (sggs 447).

To be born is to be just biologically here in this world

Birth is the proof of impending death!

Aptly, the Gurbani calls the human body ‘Jajaree-ਜਜਰੀ’ (meaning perishable, frail, weak, ਨਾਸਵੰਤ, etc.). The time eats it away, bit by bit! It dissolves slowly and steadily into the very elements from which it had come!

That being said, to be born is to be just biologically here in this world — the gross body-consciousness, ego-centric personality etc. In the gross body-consciousness, we confound our Jot Sraoop (our True Nature…) with the body-mind-intellect or an egocentric personality.

To be truly alive is the spiritual dimension: pure Awareness

However, on the other hand, to be truly alive is a totally different dimension — the dimension of Spirituality, the dimension of Gurmukh Lifestyle (Enlightenment), the dimension of Awakened State, the dimension of being established in Brahm-Giyan; the dimension of knowing the ownself; the dimension of the True Nature (Jot Saroop); the dimension of Mool-Abidance (Source, Jot …) etc.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪੈ ਸੋ ਜੀਵੈ ॥ : O Nanak! That person alone lives who understands the Naam (Shabad, Hukam, Brahm Giaan, the Divine Wisdom…). (sggs 200).
  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਸਦ ਜੀਵੈ ਨਹੀ ਮਰਤਾ ॥ : Brahm Giaanee ever lives and never dies (sggs 273).
  • ਜੀਵਨੋ ਮੈ ਜੀਵਨੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਭਾਏ ਰਾਮ ॥ : Jeevano mai jeevanu paaiaa… (sggs 442).

To be truly alive is Gurmukh-hood

Gurmukh-hood means Enlightened, Guru-Oriented, an intuitively balanced life. When the mind Awakens to the sharp Bibek of the Gurbani (Parchand Giyan or the sharp Wisdom of the Gurbani), then there is a great change, an innerr transformation. That’s what being truly alive or Aware is all about (Aatmak Jeevan – ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ). The Gurbani Teaches:

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਇ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਨਹੀ ਮਰਨਾ ॥੪॥੬॥੯॥ : Become the Gurmukh, and you shall never have to die again (spiritual death –  ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). ||4||6||9|| (sggs 872).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਾਰਿ ਜੀਵਾਲੈ ॥ : The Satguru (true Giyan-Wisdom) Awakens one to Spiritual Life by killing him/her from the love of Maya. (sggs ).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਗੂੰਗਾ ਹੂਆ ਬਾਵਰਾ ਬਹਰਾ ਹੂਆ ਕਾਨ ॥ ਪਾਵਹੁ ਤੇ ਪਿੰਗੁਲ ਭਇਆ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬਾਨ ॥ 193॥ ਕਬੀਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੂਰਮੇ ਬਾਹਿਆ ਬਾਨੁ ਜੁ ਏਕੁ ॥ ਲਾਗਤ ਹੀ ਭੁਇ ਗਿਰਿ ਪਰਿਆ ਪਰਾ ਕਰੇਜੇ ਛੇਕੁ ॥੧੯੪॥: Kabeer, the Satigur has pierced my mind with the Arrow of his (Shabad: Upadesh, Giyan-Wisdom) rendering it dumb (i.e. do not utter bad word now), mad (i.e. remain linked with the Guru’s Giyan-Wisdom now), deaf (i.e. do not hear slander now), and crippled (i.e. do not walk on the path of transgression…). ||193|| Kabeer, the Soorma Satigur has shout an Arrow (of the Wisdom) at me. As soon as it struck (my mind), I fell to the ground (become humble, egoless…) and a hole was made in the Heart (i.e. my mind got pierced with the Guru’s Wisdom). ||194|| (sggs 1374).

A person is already decaying and dying if he/she lacks Giyan-Wisdom

Thus, to be truly alive, the Gurbani urges us to move from the biological dimension to the Spiritual dimension (realm of Truth, Gurmukh-hood…). If one keeps living at just biologically level, he/she only appears to live, but living unsuccessfully, purposelessly, fruitlessly.

However, to move from the biological realm to the Spiritual realm is difficult and arduous task— an uphill climb! It is like racing along the razor’s edge or chewing the steel balls with the teeth of wax…

  • 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).
  • ਮਾਨ ਮੋਹ ਮੇਰ ਤੇਰ ਬਿਬਰਜਿਤ ਏਹੁ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਖੰਡੇ ਧਾਰ ॥ : To forsake pride, attachment, and the sense of ‘mine and yours’ (ego-sense), is the path of the double-edged sword (sggs 534).
  • 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).

Taking a quantum leap

Thus, to move from the biological realm to the spiritual realm is a quantum leap from the body-consciousness to the Shabad-consciousness, from the visible to the Invisible, from the form to the Formless, from the perishable to the Imperishable, from the material to the Immaterial, from the mortal to the Immortal, from the time to the Timelessness, from Bikaar (lust, anger, greed etc.) to the Divine Virtues, from the Mamukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree lifestyle to the Gurmukh Lifestyle, from out to in…

  • ਹਮ ਸਬਦਿ ਮੁਏ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਾਰਿ ਜੀਵਾਲੇ ਭਾਈ ਸਬਦੇ ਹੀ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਸਬਦੇ ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਹੋਆ ਹਰਿ ਵਸਿਆ ਮਨਿ ਆਈ ॥ : We (mortals) can die (from vices/Bikaar) through the Guru Shabad, by killing (from the vices/Bikaar) through the Shabad, (the Guru) instills Spiritual Life, (thus) only by joining in the Guru Shabad can we be freed from vices/Bikaar. It is through the Guru Shabad the mind is purified, and God is realized within the mind. (sggs 601).
  • ਮਿਰਤਕ ਕਉ ਪਾਇਓ ਤਨਿ ਸਾਸਾ ਬਿਛੁਰਤ ਆਨਿ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਪਸੂ ਪਰੇਤ ਮੁਗਧ ਭਏ ਸ੍ਰੋਤੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ਮੁਖਿ ਗਾਇਆ ॥੧॥ : (The Guru’s Spiritual GiyanWisdom) instills Spiritual Life (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ) into the body of a Spiritually dead person, and Unites the separated one back with the Creator within. Human beings of the animal (-nature, ਬਿਰਤੀ), the Pret (ghosts-nature) and the stupid become listeners of the Naam (Giyan-Wisdom / Virtues) and then practice it in life by internalizing the Naam. ॥1॥ (sggs 614).

However, Truth can only be Realized when deceit, dissimulation, falsehood, mind’s crookedness, Bikaar etc., are all defeated and thus one’s total energy is available and focused on the ONE. Only then one will be truly Alive, Awake and Aware (ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ)!

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋਈ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਇਕੁ ਪਛਾਤਾ ॥੬॥ : O Nanak! That person alone lives who recognizes (or realizes) the One (Mool, Prabh…). ||6|| (sggs 319).
  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸਦਾ ਅਰਾਧਿ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਜਾਂਹਿ ਮਰਿ ॥੧੭॥ : O Nanak! Always adore the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), you will not die ever (spiritual death-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). ||17|| (sggs 1363).
  • ਮਨੁ ਮੈ ਮਤੁ ਮੈਗਲ ਮਿਕਦਾਰਾ ॥ ਗੁਰੁ ਅੰਕਸੁ ਮਾਰਿ ਜੀਵਾਲਣਹਾਰਾ ॥ : The mind is like an elephant, drunk with the wine (of false ego-sense – ਹਉਮੈ). The Guru alone is capable of giving Spiritual Life (again) to this Spiritually dead mind. (sggs 159).
  • ਗੁਰਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਹਰਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਚੋਇਆ ਮੇਰੀ ਜਿੰਦੁੜੀਏ ਫਿਰਿ ਮਰਦਾ ਬਹੁੜਿ ਜੀਵਾਇਆ ਰਾਮ ॥ : Oh my mind! A (Spiritually) dead person comes (Spiritually) Alive by internalizing the Spiritual Message – Amrit Naam (Giyan-Wisdom / Virtues) – of the Guru Shabad. (sggs 539).
  • ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਓ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਮ ਮੁਏ ਜੀਵੇ ਹਰਿ ਜਪਿ ਭਾ ॥ : We go through a cycle of Spiritual birth and death in life. When the Enlightening Spiritual Message of the Guru Shabad is internalized, then by Realizing the Divine Naam (Giyan-Wisdom / Virtues) we become Spiritually Alive. (sggs 1337).


  1. ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਏਕੋ ਹੈ ॥
    ਏਕੋ ਹੈ ਭਾਈ ਏਕੋ ਹੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
    ਏਕੋ ਏਕੁ ਏਕੁ ਪਛਾਨੈ ॥
    ਇਤ ਉਤ ਕੀ ਓਹੁ ਸੋਝੀ ਜਾਨੈ ॥
    Thanks jio – it makes sense. Greatly appreciated your help.

  2. Along with above quotes it would be interesting to see the true reference of the word EKO.
    1 SAHIB MERA EKO HAI……………….

    2. EKO EKu EKu PACHAANE……….Sukhmani Sahib ji.
    One can see that EKO is to be known as EKu EKu a pair (DUAL NUMBER word.
    If one considers quotes given by your goodself and these quotes together I think one should have more clarity about the references.

  3. Thanks jio – Please allow me to take an example ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਏਕੁ ਹੈ ਅਵਰੁ ਨਹੀ ਭਾਈ ॥
    Would it mean My Sahib (with aukud – is one , ANY ONE out of MANY ONE ) is One, there is no other (ਅਵਰੁ ( one only, no other).
    and / or
    ਏਕੋ ਏਕੁ ਆਪਿ ਇਕੁ ਏਕੈ ਏਕੈ ਹੈ ਸਗਲਾ ਪਾਸਾਰੇ ॥ this is the pankti from where I earlier drew my understanding about ਏਕੋ and ਏਕੁ as manifests through ਇਕੁ ( that Always remains) that holds several ਏਕੈ ( Dual- a combination of ਏਕੋ and ਏਕੁ ) everywhere spread when ever ਇਕੁ manifests through ( ਏਕੋ ਏਕੁ)

  4. CS Jio,
    In my understanding these two words refereto as
    ਇਕੁ …………..THE ONLY ONE
    ਏਕੁ …………..ANY ONE out of MANY ONE
    With matra of AUKAD as above these words are SINGLE NUMBER and without AUKAD these are Many Number and with matra of A or O these are DUAL NUMBER so we would find these words as
    IKu/IK/IKA or IKO and
    EK/EKu/EKA or EKO..

  5. Many thanks jio for further clarifications and suggestions. I find it interesting not boring though will follow your advise and go slow. Could you please also share some more on the difference between – ਇਕੁ and ਏਕੁ from Karta/karam karak

  6. CS ji,
    It is important to understand the difference in reference meanings of the words ਇਕੁ and ਏਕੁ Both are for mumerical number ONE but with great difference in their respective reference as KARTA/KARAM KARAK.

  7. CS ji,
    In my opinion it would be quite worth to first fully understand the ROLE of KARAKS in understanding the application of various gurmukhi matras used in gurbaanee. There are eight type of KARAKS
    and for each KARAK there are particular matras for the words.

    Therefore It is important to get the understanding of these matras as per KARAK and this should be done one by one . First one should confine to initial KARTA ,KARAM and KARAM KARAK .

    Grammar is a very complex subject and boring too so one should go as slow as possible for getting clarity in mind for application of different matras used in gurbaanee words.
    This is my personal suggestion only.

  8. Many thanks for a great blissful reading and reflections.
    ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਇਕੁ ਏਕੰਕਾਰ ॥
    How appropriate it is to understand ਇਕੁ – as a core of ਏਕੈ that has ਏਕੋ+ਏਕੁ manifested?

  9. From within gurbaanee one can see that this .ਇਕੁ is very well clarified as ishould be clear from a quote from Sukhmani sahib as
    very clear the reference for ਇਕੁ is EKANKAAR… But we hardly accept this.

  10. The cocluding verse of the blog is extremely important as
    •ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋਈ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਇਕੁ ਪਛਾਤਾ
    Now what is this.ਇਕੁ as per gurbaanee ? One should look for this .

  11. Thanks T Singh Ji, this is profoundly true. All truths in Gurbani can be experienced to further validate them. In fact with introspection one can feel how alive you get when you focus on the Naam and how ‘dead’ you feel at other times.

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