Godly Contentment

The Unique spirituality of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) teaches its Sikhs (lifelong learners, student) that Virtues (ਗੁਣ) must be imbibed and lived in a Sikh’s Waking life until his/her last breath.

Virtues (ਗੁਣ) are purely experiential. Hence it belongs exclusively to a person who experiences them Within for they cannot be made to an order, given as a mundane gift or transferred by one person to the other.

Contentment (ਸਤ ਸੰਤੋਖ, ਸਬਰ) is one of the Virtues frequently cited in the Gurbani of the SGGS. Guru Nanak in the outset of SGGS tells us that contentment is the offspring of the Virtue of compassion (ਦਇਆ).

  • ਧੌਲੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦਇਆ ਕਾ ਪੂਤੁ ॥ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਥਾਪਿ ਰਖਿਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਸੂਤਿ ॥ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਬੁਝੈ ਹੋਵੈ ਸਚਿਆਰੁ ॥ …: Pure Dharma is the offspring (of the divine Virtue of) Compassion. (The offspring of Compassion is) spiritual contentment that anchors and binds (the senses). One who understands this concept becomes ‘Sachiaar‘ (Enlightened, Truth or God-realized…). (sggs 3).
  • ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਦਇਆ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਏਹ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰ ॥ ਆਪੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਸਭ ਹੋਇ ਰੇਣਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਦੇਇ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੁ ॥੩॥ : Amass truth, contentment, and Accumulate (mercy, kindness). This is the most excellent Way of life. In this Way you one’s base self (selfishness etc.) is effaced  and become humble earning Formless God’s blessings. ||3|| (sggs 51).

There is two types of contentment: (1) the worldly contentment and (2) the Godly Contentment.

Worldly contentment is material based. Since its material based, it breaks down. Hence NOT lasting, and it’s not Anand (Bliss, Joy…) giving.

  • ਹਾ ਹਾ ਕਰਤ ਬਿਹਾਨੀ ਅਵਧਹਿ ਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੨॥ : (My senses and thoughts imbued in Illusions) my life has passed in deeds of selfishness; the result of which I have not realized contentment. ||2|| (sggs 700).

On the other hand, the Godly contentment is the Creator Based — allowing the Creator to come Within Conscience (i.e. Internal Realization). When contentment becomes Godly, it becomes Immortal (‘ਸਤ-Satt‘) — that which ever remains unchanged in the past, present and future.

  • ਵਿਣੁ ਤੁਧੁ ਹੋਰੁ ਜਿ ਮੰਗਣਾ ਸਿਰਿ ਦੁਖਾ ਕੈ ਦੁਖ ॥ ਦੇਹਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੀਆ ਉਤਰੈ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਭੁਖ ॥ : O God, to ask for anything other than Your Naam (Shabad, Giyan-Wisdom, Virtues etc.) is to invite the worst pains and sorrows for ourselves, therefore please Bless me with Your Naam, which may make me Content and the yearning of my mind for the love of worldly pleasures goes away. (sggs 958).
  • ਸੁਣਿਐ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥ : The Internalization of the Shabad brings Godly contentment and Giyan (Enlightenment). (sggs 3).
  • ਸਾਚੇ ਸਾਹਿਬਾ ਕਿਆ ਨਾਹੀ ਘਰਿ ਤੇਰੈ ॥ : O God! I am Content because You have come to Reside Within my mind. (sggs 917).

The spirituality of Baabaa Nanak’s Sikhi is that of Godly contentment and Anand (Bliss, Joy…). The notion of ‘begging, ‘asking’ or persistently reminding God to give this or that trivial stuff is totally contrary to the spirituality of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).

In a nutshell, Godly contentment = Unshakable contentment, Immortal contentment, lasting contentment, supreme Anand etc.

  • ਮਾਤਾ ਮਤਿ ਪਿਤਾ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ॥ : (O my mind) Make Good Intellect your mother, and contentment your father. (sggs 151).
  • ਮਾ ਲਾਲੀ ਪਿਉ ਲਾਲਾ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਉ ਲਾਲੇ ਕਾ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਲਾਲੀ ਨਾਚੈ ਲਾਲਾ ਗਾਵੈ ਭਗਤਿ ਕਰਉ ਤੇਰੀ ਰਾਇਆ ॥੨॥ : (O God) My mother-like intellect, my father-like Virtue of godly content are Your servants and my (spiritual) conduct is born out of godly content. When I engage in Bhagti, I feel as my intellect is dancing in Bliss and my godly content is delightfully singing. ||2|| (sggs 991).

That said, the Gurmat Wisdom of SGGS urges Sikhs (learners or seekers) to center lives on the Godly contentment.

  • ਸਤ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਕਾ ਧਰਹੁ ਧਿਆਨ ॥ ਕਥਨੀ ਕਥੀਐ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨ ॥੧੫॥ : Fix (your) attention on Godly contentment. Talk about the Divine Giyan-Wisdom. ॥15॥ (sggs 344).
  • ਸਬਰੁ ਏਹੁ ਸੁਆਉ ਜੇ ਤੂੰ ਬੰਦਾ ਦਿੜੁ ਕਰਹਿ ॥ ਵਧਿ ਥੀਵਹਿ ਦਰੀਆਉ ਟੁਟਿ ਨ ਥੀਵਹਿ ਵਾਹੜਾ ॥੧੧੭॥ : (O mortal) contentment is the real Goal of life. If you can implant it in your mind, then you would prosper like a great river and would not shrink to a tiny stream. ||117|| (sggs 1384).
  • ਜਤੁ ਸਤੁ ਚਾਵਲ ਦਇਆ ਕਣਕ ਕਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਾਪਤਿ ਪਾਤੀ ਧਾਨੁ ॥ ਦੂਧੁ ਕਰਮੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਘੀਉ ਕਰਿ ਐਸਾ ਮਾਂਗਉ ਦਾਨੁ ॥੩॥ : (O God) instead of rice bless me with the wealth of ‘Jat‘ (control of senses), truth and in compassion; and bless me with the Wealth of Your Naam. Bless me with milk of good deeds, and ‘Ghee‘ of contentment, such is the charity which I beg. ||3|| (sggs 1329).

Although the Gurbani teaches us contentment is the offspring of the Virtue of compassion, but, compassion for who? Gurbani asks to first have compassion for one’s own self and Awaken one’s own mind which has been tortured and mauled by the lions and wolves of the senses and vices/Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride and their countless variations).

  • ਸਚੁ ਤਾ ਪਰੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਜਾ ਸਿਖ ਸਚੀ ਲੇਇ ॥ ਦਇਆ ਜਾਣੈ ਜੀਅ ਕੀ ਕਿਛੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਕਰੇਇ ॥ : The Creator is Realized when the authentic Counsel (spiritual Wisdom-Giyan, Advice, Direction etc.) is received by the mind. Realize Compassion for one’s Self, provide for the needs of the Conscience. (mind, self). (sggs 468).
  • ਪ੍ਰਥਮੇ ਮਨੁ ਪਰਬੋਧੈ ਅਪਨਾ ਪਾਛੈ ਅਵਰ ਰੀਝਾਵੈ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਜਪੁ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਜਾਪੈ ਮੁਖ ਤੇ ਸਗਲ ਸੁਨਾਵੈ ॥੨॥ : First teach your own mind, only then try motivating other. One can do so by understanding and internalizing the Divine Naam (Wisdom / Virtues) in his/her mind and then reciting to others. ॥2॥ (sggs 381).

One does not become contented by mere talks

Gurbani counsels us that mere words or talks (without efforts or action) will not cut it:

  • ਸਿਦਕੁ ਸਬੂਰੀ ਸਾਦਿਕਾ ਸਬਰੁ ਤੋਸਾ ਮਲਾਇਕਾਂ ॥ ਦੀਦਾਰੁ ਪੂਰੇ ਪਾਇਸਾ ਥਾਉ ਨਾਹੀ ਖਾਇਕਾ ॥੨॥ : Faith, contentment and tolerance are the provisions of the angels (as resource/guide for life). They will realize God, but those who only talk have no place to go. ||2|| (sggs 83).
  • ਰਹਤ ਅਵਰ ਕਛੁ ਅਵਰ ਕਮਾਵਤ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਮੁਖਹੁ ਗੰਢ ਲਾਵਤ ॥ ਜਾਨਨਹਾਰ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਪਰਬੀਨ ॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੇਖ ਨ ਕਾਹੂ ਭੀਨ ॥ : The outward signs of religion are different and practical life is different; (i.e., Gurbani’s Rahat is quite different than what’s being practiced; the outward display of Dharma is quite different than living actual spiritual life; the man professes one thing and practices quite another, etc.). There is no divine love in (his) mind, but with his mouth he talks big. The Inner Knower (Rabb) is Wise. (Rabb is never) impressed (pleased) with anyone’s outward appearance. (sggs 269).

Hence, according to Gurbani, one does not become contented by just saying ‘I am contented’!

  • ਇਕਿ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਘਨੇਰੇ ਕਰਹਿ ਗਲਾ ਗਲੀ ਕਿਨੈ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ Plenty of people wander around talking and babbling on and on (but ignore practicing Virtues and Hukam). Nobody has ever realized God by mere talking. (sggs 919).
  • ਆਪਣਾ ਮਨੁ ਪਰਬੋਧਹੁ ਬੂਝਹੁ ਸੋਈ ॥ ਲੋਕ ਸਮਝਾਵਹੁ ਸੁਣੇ ਨ ਕੋਈ ॥ : That is, teach your mind first and understand what you say. No one listens to the teaching that you explain to people without actually doing it yourself. (sggs 230)
  • ਆਪਿ ਕਮਾਉ ਅਵਰਾ ਉਪਦੇਸ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਪਰਵੇਸ ॥੩॥ : First convince yourself then instruct others. Internalize the Divine Naam (Wisdom / Virtues) within your mind. ॥3॥ (sggs 185).

Prayer is meaningless without Godly contentment

Gurbani in SGGS further teaches us that we can not even offer a true prayer or Aradaas (ਅਰਦਾਸ, ਬੇਨਤੀ) without Godly contentment! Here is Gurbani’s edict in this context:

  • ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥ ਤਾ ਸੁਣਿ ਸਦਿ ਬਹਾਲੇ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੧॥ : When a person acquires Godly (Virtue of) contentment, and offers his prayer (Ardaas) to God; then God listens to his prayer (Ardaas), and the person feels His Presence Within. ॥1॥ (sggs 878).

In other words, a Mayaic Aradaas (ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀਆਂ ਅਰਦਾਸਾਂ — involving success in business deals, victory in court-cases, success in school exams, freedom from physical diseases, passing driving test, buying new cars, wanting sons (ਮੁੰਡੇ) only etc. — is not the subject of Gurbani or the Ardaas. Because, as time and again we are instructed by Gurbani (SGGS), living with such Mayaic mind will not help one linking with divine Presence Within.

However, the self-serving Pujaaree (clergy) takes advantage of our ignorance of the true Message of the Guru Shabad and makes us pray for Maya or trivial stuff. Because the majority of us do not self-read and understanding the Gurbani.

  • ਵਿਣੁ ਬੋਲਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਜਾਣਦਾ ਕਿਸੁ ਆਗੈ ਕੀਚੈ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਏਕੋ ਵਰਤਦਾ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਰੇ ਪਰਗਾਸ ॥੫੮॥ : (Since God is Within, God) knows everything without saying; therefore to whom else should we offer our prayers (besides Him)? Nanak, God is the only One who pervades each and everyone’s Conscience, and He spiritually Enlightens everyone through the spirituality / Message of the Guru’s Shabad. ||58|| (sggs 1420).

In a nutshell, the Godly contentment is complete cessation of our hunger or love of Maya. According to Gurbani, a huge part of the Gurmukh Mindset is — abidance in spirituality or Message of the Shabad (Enlightenment).

  • ਸਹਸ ਖਟੇ ਲਖ ਕਉ ਉਠਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਛੈ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਅਨਿਕ ਭੋਗ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਕੇ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਨਹ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਾਵੈ ਖਪਿ ਖਪਿ ਮਰੈ ॥ ਬਿਨਾ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਊ ਰਾਜੈ ॥ : After earning thousands, (a arrogant, egoistic person) runs after millions. He keeps on amassing wealth, but is never satiated. He enjoys many pleasures of Maya. He still does not feel satisfied, and consequently becomes miserable. Without contentment (inner contentment, Godly contentment, ਜੇ ਅੰਦਰ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਨਾ ਹੋਵੈ…), no one is satiated (ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤ, ਰੱਜ). (sggs 278-279).
  • ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸਭੁ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਵਿਤਾ ॥ ਅੰਦਰਹੁ ਕਪਟੁ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ਗਇਆ ਮਨੁ ਸਹਜੇ ਜਿਤਾ ॥ ਤਹ ਜੋਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੁ ਅਨੰਦ ਰਸੁ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਗਵਿਤਾ ॥ : The follower of the spirituality of the Guru’s Shabad (Gurmukh-Hood Mindset) is totally in Godly contentment and of immaculate character. Deception and wickedness departs from within, and he easily conquers his mind. There (In such a state of mind), the Enlightenment and the essence of Bliss are manifest, and ignorance is eliminated. (sggs 512).

Worldly desires (hunger or love of Maya) bind us to the material plane or body-consciousness by drawing us to the objects of the senses.

In a nutshell, the Godly contentment is essentially abandoning slavery to sense-gratifications and rejoicing in every situation or adversity. To put it otherwise, the Godly contentment in life comes from simple acceptance of the Creator’s Hukam (System-Rule-Law-Order of Nature) in one’s life.

  • ਸਚਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜਾਣਿਆ ॥ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਸਚੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ॥ : Your Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature, ਨਿਯਮ…) is Permanently in Existence (i.e. Hukam cannot be changed or violated); this is the Guru’s Realization. The Recognition or Realization (that the Creator / Hukam is Permanently in Existence) comes through the Gurmat (Giyan or Wisdom of the SGGG) removing Haumai (false ego-sense, ਖ਼ੁਦੀ). (sggs 144).
  • ਚਾਲਹਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ॥ : Challahi Gurmukhi Hukami Rajaaee. (sggs 227).

It is the satisfaction with what comes unsought, without being elated or depressed. With the rise of the Godly contentment Within the purity of one’s Heart blooms. A Godly Contented person who may not own anything, but he is the real king for he has transcended slavery of Maya or conquered the material world.

  • ਸੰਜਮੁ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸੀਲ ਸੰਨਾਹੁ ਮਫੁਟੈ ॥ : (Guru Ramdas Ji’s) armor of self-restraint, Godly contentment and humility can not be penetrated. (sggs 1397).
  • ਘਰਿ ਤ ਤੇਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਹੈ ਜਿਸੁ ਦੇਹਿ ਸੁ ਪਾਵਏ ॥ : When my mind becomes yours (i.e. when I understand or acknowledge You are within me – You are me and I’am You), then I find everything within me (no need to ask for anything — no hunger for Maya). (sggs 7).
  • ਜਬ ਹਮ ਹੋਤੇ ਤਬ ਤੂ ਨਾਹੀ ਅਬ ਤੂਹੀ ਮੈ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ : As long as false ego-sense remains inside us beings, then You (within us) do not appear, but when you appear then our ‘I’ (Haumai or false egotism) disappears. (sggs 657).

The Gurbani tells us that when the Guru’s GiyanWisdom enters in the deep recesses of the mind, its a proof of the State (ਅਵਸਤਾ) of Godly contentment within that person.

  • ਗੁਰ ਗਮਿ ਪ੍ਰਮਾਣੁ ਤੈ ਪਾਇਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਗ੍ਰਾਹਜਿ ਲਯੌ ॥ : (O Guru Angad!) You have attained the State (ਅਵਸਤਾ) of Guru (Nanak Dev Ji), and has attained Godly contentment. (sggs 1392).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਿ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਸੀਲੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸਭੁ ਤਾਹਾ ਹੇ ॥੫॥ : By following the Satguru teachings, one always attains inner Happiness; righteous conduct and contentment; all (these) comes from the Satguru’s teachings. ||5|| (sggs 1057).
  • ਦੇਹਿ ਦਾਨੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੀਆ ਸਚਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥੧੯॥ : (O God!) please bless me with the Daan of Your Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…) which may be the only support of my life, and because of which I may become Contented. ||19|| (sggs 1286).

The implication is that, when the Light of the Guru’s Giyan-Wisdom enters the dark recesses of the mind, then the illusion or allure of Maya cannot do anything to that person. Because, the Godly contentment makes him unshakable. However Gurbani asserts very ‘rare‘ person understands this:

  • ਆਪਣਾ ਕਾਰਜੁ ਆਪਿ ਸਵਾਰੇ ਹੋਰਨਿ ਕਾਰਜੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਕਾਰਜਿ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਦਇਆ ਧਰਮੁ ਹੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਕੋਈ ॥੩॥ : (One) resolves his own affair himself (i.e. the ultimate Purpose of life of God Realization); anyone else cannot do this work (for him). Only a rare Guru’s follower (Gurmukh-Hood Mindset) understands that his Realization of God requires the virtues like Godly contentment, Compassion and Dharma. ||3|| (sggs 351).

Unique style of Baabaa Nanak’s teaching

When speaking to a farmer Baabaa Nanak used the language of farmers. When in discussion with Brahmin/Pandit, Yogi etcetera he used their spiritual language of the time. This way it was easy for the people to relate and understand his Unique spiritual Message. But, the message is applicable to all, including Sikhs (Saanjhaa-ਸਾਂਝਾ)! Here are some verses on ‘CONTENTMENT‘ from SGGS in this context:

  • To Brahmin/Pandit, Baabaa Nanak teaches in their language:
    ਦਇਆ ਕਪਾਹ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸੂਤੁ ਜਤੁ ਗੰਢੀ ਸਤੁ ਵਟੁ ॥ ਏਹੁ ਜਨੇਊ ਜੀਅ ਕਾ ਹਈ ਤ ਪਾਡੇ ਘਤੁ ॥ : Make compassion the cotton, CONTENTMENT the yarn, continence the knot and Truth (godliness, ਸਚਿਆਰਤਾ) the twist. O Pandit (Pujaaree), a thread of this type Awakens the inner-self (conscience). If you have such a Janaeu (‘ਜਨੇਊ’-religious thread), then put it on me (i.e. this is the thread of the mind or conscience which both male and female can wear). (sggs 471).
  • To Yogi, Baabaa Nanak teaches in Yogi language:
    ਮੁੰਦਾ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸਰਮੁ ਪਤੁ ਝੋਲੀ ਧਿਆਨ ਕੀ ਕਰਹਿ ਬਿਭੂਤਿ ॥ : (O Yogi) make Godly CONTENTMENT your earrings, hard work your begging bowl, and contemplation (on Naam: Wisdom/Virtues) ashes that cover your body. (sggs 6).
  • To farmer, Baabaa Nanak teaches in farmer’s language:
    ਮਨੁ ਹਾਲੀ ਕਿਰਸਾਣੀ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਰਮੁ ਪਾਣੀ ਤਨੁ ਖੇਤੁ ॥ ਨਾਮੁ ਬੀਜੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸੁਹਾਗਾ ਰਖੁ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਵੇਸੁ ॥ : Make your mind the hard working farmer, your good deeds the farmer, your body the farm and your hard work the water for your crops. Let divine Naam be the seed, CONTENTMENT the leveler (Suhaagaa) and your humility the protective fence. (sggs 595).

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  1. This is a marvelous article. Much scholarship, thought, and wisdom has gone into its making. It is illuminating and everything T Singh says is true. Thank you for consolidating the quotes from the SGGS on contentment. Their breath and scope are a convincing argument for practicing contentment. Thank You

  2. May kindly explain the difference between ਸੰਤੋਖੁ and ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ as appearing in ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ at Ang 1429 of SGGS

  3. WJKK-WJKF. In Salok Mahalla 9 SGGSJ states ‘Naam reheyo, saadhu reheyo, reheyo gur gobind.’ In this world only 3 items will remain at the very end….so we need to understand that we (as ghar ghristy) should not get attached to worldly items, or indeed people (Moh pyar)….go about your daily routines and duties…and strive for improvement at all times, make it your mission to help others to follow the path to the God. True satisfaction is being happy with what Guru Ji has given you, because HE has the power to take it from you too.

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