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. They 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.
For example, consider one of Bhagat Kabeer Jee’s Shabads on page 1194 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), in which he has used some fantastic idioms:
- ਜੋਇ ਖਸਮੁ ਹੈ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਪੂਤਿ ਬਾਪੁ ਖੇਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਸ੍ਰਵਣਾ ਖੀਰੁ ਪਿਲਾਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਲੋਗਾ ਕਲਿ ਕੋ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਸੁਤਿ ਮੁਕਲਾਈ ਅਪਨੀ ਮਾਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਪਗਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਹੁਰੀਆ ਮਾਰਤਾ ॥ ਬਦਨੈ ਬਿਨੁ ਖਿਰ ਖਿਰ ਹਾਸਤਾ ॥ ਨਿਦ੍ਰਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਰੁ ਪੈ ਸੋਵੈ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਾਸਨ ਖੀਰੁ ਬਿਲੋਵੈ ॥੨॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਅਸਥਨ ਗਊ ਲਵੇਰੀ ॥ ਪੈਡੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਾਟ ਘਨੇਰੀ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬਾਟ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਸਮਝਾਈ ॥੩॥੩॥: The wife gives birth to her husband. The son leads his father in play. Without breasts, the mother nurses her baby. ||1|| Behold, people! This is how it is in the Dark Age of Kali Yuga. The son marries his mother. ||1||Pause|| Without feet, the mortal jumps. Without a mouth, he bursts into laughter. Without feeling sleepy, he lays down and sleeps. Without a churn, the milk is churned. ||2|| Without udders, the cow gives milk. Without traveling, a long journey is made. Without the True Guru, the path is not found. Says Kabeer, see this, and understand. ||3||3|| (sggs 1194).
Off course, the above is just literal meaning of the Shabad taken from a prevailing Teekaa on the internet.
Unfortunately, the Teekaas of the SGGS available in the market or the internet are full of such literal (mis-) translations of the Gurbani (SGGS) — distortion of the Gurmat. As a result, these distorted interpretations are becoming the sources of our confusion and misunderstanding of the Gurbani (SGGS). The outcome is that the Sikhi of Baabaa Nanak has been taken back to the belief systems that existed prior to the birth of Baabaa Nanak in 1469 – beliefs that were rejected by Baabaa Nanak.
This is a great dis-service to the Unique, Revolutionary, Timeless and Universal Messages of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) !
Alike many other Shabads throughout the SGGS, the foregoing Shabad of Bhagat Kabeer Jee also contains provoking statements, loaded with spiritual suggestions. For example:
- The wife gives birth to her husband.
- The son leads his father in play.
- Without breasts, the mother nurses her baby.
- The son marries his mother.
- Without feet, the mortal jumps.
- Without a mouth, he bursts into laughter. Without feeling. sleepy, he lays down and sleeps.
- Without a churn, the milk is churned.
- Without udders, the cow gives milk. Without traveling, a long journey is made.
First, allow to hit upon as to why Bhagat Kabeer Jee has used seemingly odds or unusual statements in his Bani.
From ancient time, Bhagats (i.e. Gurmukhs…) in India have been using such statements as a teaching tool to help seekers of Truth (ਸਚ) break free from the chains of fear, ignorance, doubts (ਭਰਮ), Bikaar (lust, anger, greed…) etc., and thus Enlighten seekers in the process.
In addition to this kind of teaching, in some traditions they speak to seekers in outwardly paradoxical instructions or in questions with no right answer. The idea behind all these different traditions of teaching is to make or trick the student into surrendering his conditioned and narrow intellect and making his contact with his Unconditioned Consciousness within (Mool, True Nature or Jot Saroop of his mind…).
In nutshell, in this entire Shabad, Bhagat Kabeer Jee is describing the sorry plight of the conditioned or deluded MIND caught in the grip of Kal Yug (‘ਕਲਿ ਕੋ ਭਾਉ’) — corrupt state of the mind.
Now what is Kal Yug per the Gurbani? In one of his Shabads, Baabaa Nanak calls it ‘chariot of fire’, whose charioteer is none other than falsehood (‘ਕਲਜੁਗਿ ਰਥੁ ਅਗਨਿ ਕਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਅਗੈ ਰਥਵਾਹੁ’)!
Seen thusly, Kal Yug is a corrupt state of the mind (thinking – Soch), characterized by the mind’s hunger for Maya, imaginations (fancy, ਫੁਰਨੇ, ‘ਕਾਲ ਕਲਪਨਾ’), falsehood (‘ਕੂੜੁ‘, ‘ਝੂਠ’), vices or Bikaar, quarrel and conflicts (ਕਲੇਸ), disagreement, cheating, deceit, ignorance, cynicism, hypocrisy (Pakhand), duplicity, corrupt alliances, misinformation, mind’s wanderings, fall in moral fiber and Dharma, bad deeds, Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree mentality (ਭੈੜੀ ਮੱਤ), forgetfulness of mind’s own Original Nature or Mool etc.
Having said that, by keeping the central theme of this Shabad in mind, it would become relatively easier to appreciate its spiritual suggestions or inner message. Now let’s attempt to reflect on each verse of this Shabad shown in red as follows:
ਜੋਇ ਖਸਮੁ ਹੈ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਪੂਤਿ ਬਾਪੁ ਖੇਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਸ੍ਰਵਣਾ ਖੀਰੁ ਪਿਲਾਇਆ ॥੧॥: Joi khasamu hai jaaiaa…: The wife gives birth to her husband. The son leads his father in play. Without breasts, the mother nurses her baby. ||1||
The reason the mind is called ‘husband’ is that, even though Maya gives birth to the mind, but it’s the mind that turns around and enjoys Maya! This is the wife’s giving birth to her husband.
Caught in the vertex of Maya (duality or relativist consciousness), the mind (‘Poot’ = the son) cradles or leads his father (‘Baap’ = the Jeevaa – individual being) in the worldly play.
Under the influence of Maya, the mind nurses the defiled senses. This is the woman’s nursing of her baby without breast.
- ਇਸੁ ਮਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਬਿਨਾਸੁ ॥: This mind is ruined by its attachment to Maya (sggs 1344).
Now, let’s see how the foregoing relates to the current world situation on a gross material level. Traditionally, the man’s role was to be the breadwinner of his family and the woman’s role was to manage the house. But due to the ‘industrialization’, ‘globalization’, ever-increasing flow of desires, greed, envy, pride, ‘rat-race’, etc., these traditional roles are reversed. Also, traditionally son (or children) used to listen to and obey parents. Nowadays, children are seen quarreling with their parents. Furthermore, in old days, mothers used to breast-feed their infants. This ancient practice is not very popular any more. Consequently, these days babies are fed on the “formula” milk sold in the food stores — they are being nursed without the mother’s breast!
ਦੇਖਹੁ ਲੋਗਾ ਕਲਿ ਕੋ ਭਾਉ ॥ ਸੁਤਿ ਮੁਕਲਾਈ ਅਪਨੀ ਮਾਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Dekhahu logaa kali ko bhaaou…: Behold, people! This is how it is in the Dark Age of Kali Yuga. The son marries his mother. ||1||Pause|
As mentioned earlier, in this entire Shabad, Bhagat Kabeer Jee is describing the plight of the Jeeva (individual beings) living under the influence of ‘Kali‘ (‘ਕਲਿ’) — the corrupt state of the mind. Thus caught in the vertex of Maya (or Bhav Saagar), the Mayaic mind behaves as Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree.
This central theme of the Shabad or the intent of Bhagat Kabeer Jee is indicated in this ‘Rahaaou’ verse.
Here Bhagat Kabeer Jee makes an another seemingly odd statement: ‘The son marries his mother’. This statement essentially indicates as to how the Mayaic mind (influenced by Maya’s three qualities) is wedded to his mother Maya, delusion, falsehood etc. Here Maya is indicated to be the mother of the mind, because, essentially, mind is the outgrowth of Maya. Thus, it’s said that ‘The son marries his mother.’
Now, let’s see how the foregoing relates to the current world situation on a gross material plane. Because of the unnatural lifestyle of ‘rat-race’, decline in moral values and the principles of Dharma, the family fabric is deteriorating throughout the world (increase in divorce rate, lude and immoral behavior, etc.). In such chaotic social environment, it’s not always possible to know upfront about the person one is going out with. As a result, there have been reports (especially in the west) of people getting involved with their own blood-relations, including even own mothers, sisters, daughters, etc.! There are known cases of people marrying their own sisters and daughters in order to illegally migrate theme to other countries! To avoid these sorts of problems as much as possible, many governments require blood test prior to issuing a marriage license to couples wanting to wed.
ਪਗਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਹੁਰੀਆ ਮਾਰਤਾ ॥ ਬਦਨੈ ਬਿਨੁ ਖਿਰ ਖਿਰ ਹਾਸਤਾ ॥ ਨਿਦ੍ਰਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਨਰੁ ਪੈ ਸੋਵੈ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਾਸਨ ਖੀਰੁ ਬਿਲੋਵੈ ॥੨॥: Pagaa binu hureeaa maarataa…: Without feet, the mortal jumps. Without a mouth, he bursts into laughter. Without feeling sleepy, he lays down and sleeps. Without a churn, the milk is churned. ||2||
Here we have four more interesting statements! The mind has no legs, but still it jumps (from one thought – ਫੁਰਨਾ – to the other) and thus wanders around! The mind has no mouth, but still it laughs around!
Fascinated by Maya, the mind is asleep. Although in it’s Original Nature (i.e. ‘Jot Saroop‘), the mind was not to fall asleep to Maya’s fascination, but on account of Maya’s spell, the mind has forgotten it’s Mool (Source, Origin, Jot…) and has fallen to an endless sleep of delusional state.
- ਹਰਿਚੰਦਉਰੀ ਦੇਖਿ ਭੂਲਾ ਕਹਾ ਅਸਥਿਤਿ ਪਾਈਐ ॥: (Man) goes astray when (he) sees (the world) like a phantom city (in the sky); but nowhere (he) can find eternal stability (in Phantom). (sggs 548).
Now, let’s see how the foregoing relates to the current world situation on a gross material level. Even if someone for some reason has lost his legs, nowadays he can still walk using the artificial legs. Also, other limbs of the body can be replaced as well. Those who have lost their natural voice, can communicate using many innovative devices available in the market. People can fall a sleep using sleeping-pills. In dairy farms, the milk is being churned without traditional milk-churning apparatus (traditional Madhaanee and Dadhoonee).
ਬਿਨੁ ਅਸਥਨ ਗਊ ਲਵੇਰੀ ॥ ਪੈਡੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਾਟ ਘਨੇਰੀ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬਾਟ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਸਮਝਾਈ ॥੩॥੩॥: Binu asathhan gaoo lavaeree…: Without udders, the cow gives milk. Without traveling, a long journey is made. Without the True Guru, the path is not found. Says Kabeer, see this, and understand. ||3||3||
However, Maya lures the mind into the milk of enchanting objects of the mirage-like world. The long journey mentioned is the vicious cycle of repeated suffering of this deluded mind. Bhagat Kabeer Jee says that without the Satigur (i.e. True Wisdom – ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ), the True Way of life is not recognized.
Now, let’s see how the foregoing relates to the current world situation on a gross material plane. Many of us, particularly those who live in the big cities, probably never see a cow in life but consume her milk the entire life. The homogenized milk sold in containers in the food stores has long shelf-life (because of preservatives…), and can last several days in the kitchen refrigerator. The dry milk (or the powder milk) has even longer shelf-life. No need to keep cow at home — the milk is available without touching the cow or her udders! Also, in dairy farms, cows are milked using new innovative technologies consisting of automatic milking systems. People travel thousands of miles between continents and into the space, without moving from the seats of an aircraft or a space-shuttle.
The Foregoing Shabad provides all of us a Timeless Message for our deluded minds!
It’s remarkable as to how this Shabad written several centuries ago also relates to the current time we live in with a pinpoint accuracy!
Indeed, the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS is for all, for all situations, for all occasions, and for all locations, for all times — UNIVERSAL!