Way Of The Gurbani Is The Way Of Understanding

The Gurbani is BRAHM VICHAAR. Hence, Baabaa Nanak proclaims: We must UNDERSTAND it if we want to realize the Truth or our Mool, within. If we don’t understand it, then there is no question of living it!

  • ਬਾਣੀ ਬੂਝੈ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਵੈ ॥: (One who) understands the Bani, gets absorbed in the Truth (sggs 412).
  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੇ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥: Jan Nanak utters the Brahm Vichaar (Divine Wisdom…). (sggs 370).

Baabaa Nanak further reminds us that without UNDERSTANDING, we all become perplexed. A perplexed person cannot live a Divine or Gurmukh Lifestyle.

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਸਭ ਹੋਇ ਖੁਆਰ ॥: Without understanding, ALL are troubled (afflicted, distressed, perplexed…). (sggs 791).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਕੋ ਥਾਇ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥: Without understanding, (one) cannot obtained the Realm (of Truth). (sggs 412).

Hence, unequivocally, the Way of the Gurbani (or Gurmat, Wisdom of the SGGS) is the Way of UNDERSTANDING. The Gurbani further confirms it as follows:

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥:Without understanding, people become beast (-nature) and demon ||6|| (sggs 224).
  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: Not by reading (books), but through Understanding, is the Mystery Realized. (sggs 148).

Since the Gurbani is BRAHM VICHAAR, and the Way of the Gurbani is the Way of UNDERSTANDING (Soojh Boojh: ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ), it has no room for dogma, or Karamkaand (rituals), or Pakhand, superficial religiosity, show off spirituality, trickery, counting beads (ਮਾਲਾ ਫੇਰਨੀ), or PilgrimagesTeerath Yaatraa, or Bhekh (ਭੇਖ-religious robes), or pretending, or …

The Way of the Gurbani is so pure that not only worldly desires or cravings, but even the desire for liberation (Mukti) is given up!

  • ਰਾਜੁ ਨ ਚਾਹਉ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਚਾਹਉ ਮਨਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲਾਰੇ ॥: (O Prabhoo, I) neither desire for empire (Bhugati or materiality) nor liberation (Mukti); (my) mind longs for the love of your lotus feet (Virtues, Wisdom, Naam, Hukam…). (sggs 534).
  • ਮੁਕਤਿ ਬਪੁੜੀ ਭੀ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਤਿਆਗੇ ॥: A spiritually Wise forsakes even liberation (sggs 1078).

As we know it, Baabaa Nanak did not have any embodied being as his Guru.

However, during his life, apparently he came across many who called self-appointed teachers, Sant, Yogi, ascetics, scholars, clergymen, etc.

However, Baabaa Nanak found them to be worldly people, fraud, greedy, or simply ignorant. Although, on the outside, they did not look as such.

However, Baabaa Nanak poked into their minds, he found them to be more worldly than the so-called worldly people. He found them to be more materialistic (Mayadhaaree) than the so-called materialists. He could not see Dharma blossoming out of them. Instead, he found them full of Bikaar, and desires (hope to attain paradise, heaven, eternal gratification in the afterlife, to get desires fulfilled here and in the other world…), and so on.

In other words, Baabaa Nanak found their perplexed lifestyle perfumed with the flavor of spiritualism. Thus, he found their outer religious garbs and spiritualism to be a deception and fraud.

It is as if one has anointed a dog with sandalwood. The dog remains a dog; fragrance of sandalwood can only deceive fools!

  • ਕੁਤੇ ਚੰਦਨੁ ਲਾਈਐ ਭੀ ਸੋ ਕੁਤੀ ਧਾਤੁ ॥: (You) may apply sandalwood to a dog, but its real nature will still be of a dog! (sggs 143).

Or, it is as if one has anointed a donkey with sandalwood. The donkey remains a donkey; fragrance of sandalwood can only deceive fools!

  • ਚੰਦਨ ਲੇਪ ਹੋਤ ਦੇਹ ਕਉ ਸੁਖੁ ਗਰਧਭ ਭਸਮ ਸੰਗੀਤਿ ॥: (A donkey’s) body may be anointed with sandalwood, but the donkey still loves to roll in the ash (sggs 673).

Or, it is as if on a cow dung heap one has sprayed some perfume. The cow dung (“ਗੋਬਰੁ”) remains cow dung; perfume can only deceive fools!

  • ਗੋਬਰੁ ਜੂਠਾ ਚਉਕਾ ਜੂਠਾ ਜੂਠੀ ਦੀਨੀ ਕਾਰਾ ॥: gobaru joothaa… (sggs 1195).

Baabaa Nanak was not fooled by any of these “Thugs of Baanaaras” (“ਬਾਨਾਰਸਿ ਕੇ ਠਗ”). He could see through and through. He boldly said if Bikaar (desire, etc.) is there than you are a materialist and you are worldly (i.e., Manmukh, Saakat, Mayadhaaree…)!

  • ਫਾਹੀ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਮਲੂਕੀ ਵੇਸੁ ॥ ਹਉ ਠਗਵਾੜਾ ਠਗੀ ਦੇਸੁ ॥ ਖਰਾ ਸਿਆਣਾ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਭਾਰੁ ॥ ਧਾਣਕ ਰੂਪਿ ਰਹਾ ਕਰਤਾਰ ॥੩॥ : Although I appear as a holy (with religious robes, symbols…), but My focus is on defrauding or trapping people. I have become a den of deceit or Thuggy (ਠੱਗੀ ਦਾ ਅੱਡਾ), I am deceiving the country (i.e., the world). As I become more clever (in cheating),  I carry more and more load of sins (on my head). O Creator! I am living as a dreadful huntsman (ਭਿਆਨਕ ਸ਼ਿਕਾਰੀ). ||3|| (sggs 24).

When Baabaa Nanak said that these so-called religious people are all worldly, materialists, or Bikaaree (full of desires, etc.), of course the Pandits, Brahmins, Yogis, Qazis, Mullahs, etc., were angry. So angry that they turned against him and tried to discredit him.

  • ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਸਦਾਇਦੇ ਮਨਹੁ ਮੂਰਖ ਗਾਵਾਰ ॥: Outwardly, (Manmukh) call themselves Pandit, but mentally they are foolish and ignorant (sggs 1091).
  • ਨਾ ਓਇ ਜੋਗੀ ਨਾ ਓਇ ਜੰਗਮ ਨਾ ਓਇ ਕਾਜੀ ਮੁੰਲਾ ॥ ਦਯਿ ਵਿਗੋਏ ਫਿਰਹਿ ਵਿਗੁਤੇ ਫਿਟਾ ਵਤੈ ਗਲਾ ॥: They are not Yogis, and they are not Jangams, and they are not Qazis or Mullahs. Lost (separated…) from the Merciful (Lord), they wander around in sad plight, and their entire band is disdainful (sggs 149-150).

Simply put: A dog is dog even if pasted with sandalwood! Or a donkey is just a donkey whether loaded with gold, anointed with sandalwood, or loaded with Granth!

Similarly, without understanding the Way of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), everything else is useless. This is the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ).

  • ਮਾਨੁਖੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਆਇਆ ॥: Without understanding, man’s coming (into the world) is useless (sggs 712).
  • ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਨ ਪੜੇ ਕਾ ਕਿਆ ਗੁਨੁ ਖਰ ਚੰਦਨ ਜਸ ਭਾਰਾ ॥: (O pandit!) What is the use of reading the Vedas and the Puraanas? It is like loading a donkey with sandalwood (If Mool is not understood…). (sggs 1102).

It should be noted that understanding the Way of the Gurbani is inclusive of living it in daily life (implementation, practice, application, Gurmukh Lifestyle, ਅਮਲ). Because, without living it in daily life, understanding remains deficient.

  • ਜਹ ਕਰਣੀ ਤਹ ਪੂਰੀ ਮਤਿ ॥ ਕਰਣੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਘਟੇ ਘਟਿ ॥੩॥: When one’s “Karanee” (doing, performance, practice…) is right (i.e., according to the Gurbani, which would indicate) there is perfect understanding (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ, ਅਕਲ). Without “Karanee”, (Understanding) remains deficient. ||3|| (sggs 25).

Now, let’s turn our attention to the present-day state in Gurdwaras. For example, just listen to Ardaas (prayer) being performed by the present-day band of crafty Pujaaree-Group (ਪੁਜਾਰੀ ਲਾਣਾ, Bhais, Ragis, Deraavaad Sant, Kathaakaars, Parchaaraks, etc.) in any Gurdwara around the world — you can’t help noticing that it is full of greed, selfishness, material demands and desires for sense-gratifications; totally contrary to the Way of the Gurbani, which reminds us:

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਕੈ ਘਰਿ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮੁ ॥੪॥੪॥: There is only Naam in Nanak’s Home (inner Home, Heart) ||4||4|| (sggs 1136).

If Baabaa Nanak were to come into this world today, what would he say after seeing what’s going on in Gurdwaras in his name and in the name of the SGGS and religion; and how the present-day band of Pujaaree-Group in alliance with the Gurdwara committees knowingly mislead people into the way of Maya (ਗੋਲਕ, ਚੌਧਰ, Golak, power, privilege, name fame, Karamkaand or rituals, Bharam or doubt, turning the Gurbani and SGGS into idol worshiping instead of UNDERSTANDING it (and living it, ਅਮਲ)…!!


  1. It is interesting to see that in Gurbani we clearly come across these words
    2..ਗੁਰੁ and
    These are three distinct Noun words. We are required to understand the true n correct reference meanings of these three words then only we can move ahead.
    Further what is the significance of these words ,there seems to be some important inter relationship between these three words that we should find out.This inter relation ship is well clarified in Gurbani but we have to recognize,understand n accept this.

  2. Thanks a lot CS ji ,
    I appreciate your such an understanding about Gurbani.

  3. Thank jio- I agree we should write Gurmukhi and roman; interestingly, Guru Bani – enshrines and illuminates as Bani Guru (ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ) , not as Guru Bani – [ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ] Reference is ਗੁਰੁ ਬਾਣੀ or ਗੁਰ ਬਾਣੀ probably no where illuminates as ਗੁਰੂ ਬਾਣੀ. I further agree with you about “how we understand the word Guru” is very very important.

  4. CS ji ,
    I may bring to your kind notice that Guru Bani word is very much there within SGGS ji .The point is how we understand the word Guru .( This word Guru is with matra of Aukad under its last letter R not with Matra of Dulakad as we generally understand)

    In fact we should wriye important Gurbany words in Gurmukhi script also along with Roman Script for more clear understanding.
    This is my suggestion only.

  5. We are fortunate and thankful to the Guru, for bringing us together and guiding us to continue learning and reflecting on Gurbani with each others’ participation jio. Thank you so much Puninder Singh Bhatia jio for your insights and luv for the Gurbani.

  6. Vir jio – Im sorry that was a typing error “Gurubani with Gurbani” I could not edit /fix the post immediately. It is the same as you and Vir T Singh ji understanding – learning Gurbani from Gurbani, understanding Gurbani by reflecting, researching from Gurbani only. Thanks for picking it -;). Appreciated.

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