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 existence (essence, reality, 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॥ : I make plans to trap others, although I appear as a hermit (ਸਾਧੂ, ਫਕੀਰ). I am a robber (ਠੱਗੀ ਦਾ ਅੱਡਾ)-I rob the country (i.e., the world). As I become more clever (in cheating)-I carry more and more loads (of cheating others). O Creator! I live as a huntsman. ||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)…!!

Filed Under: Gurbani, Sikhi, Sikh, Learner, Understanding, Way, Path, Seeker
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66 Comments Leave a comment

  1. prakash s bagga

    Sir ji the last alphabet is clearly “Bh” not as “B” alone so it has to be pronounced as “Bhoo”.

  2. Singh2000

    “Swaiboo” is another a new pronunciation.

    By reading it sounds like “Saae-bhn” and it is also recommended in Dr. Kulwant Singh’s Nitnem file available at http://www.nyu.edu/clubs/usa/docs/nitnem.pdf
    or at: http://www.gurbanifiles.org/translations/

    But generally all (including scholars) read it as “Saibhang”

    I feel more comfortable by reading “saae-bhn” as per writing. But don’t want pronounce wrong.

    Please give me more thoughts….

    Thanks

  3. prakash s bagga

    As per my understanding the correct is as under
    Oankaar(u) or Onkaar(u)
    Swaibhoo
    Bhul Chuk Maaf

  4. Singh2000

    Need help on Gurbani pronunciation. Which one is correct from following?

    1. Oankar or Oamkar or Ongkar or Onkaar
    2. Saibhang or Saae-bhn

    Thanks!

  5. Kirpal Singh

    Dear Nikki Ji,
    There is a wonderful promise in Gurbani, which is worth trying. The awareness of this verse has done wonders in my life for many years ‘ਬਿਰਥਾ ਕੋਇ ਨ ਜਾਇ ਜਿ ਆਵੈ ਤੁਧੁ ਆਹਿ’ – I consider its understanding as ‘Gurparsad’ to me. Kindly contemplate on Gurbani with total faith in Guru and Waheguru – the doors of wisdom and guidance shall open as to what you need to do in life. However, the first step will give up your own houmai/ego and put Waheguru in the driving seat:-
    ਤਿਥੈ ਤੂ ਸਮਰਥੁ ਜਿਥੈ ਕੋਇ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਓਥੈ ਤੇਰੀ ਰਖ ਅਗਨੀ ਉਦਰ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ ਸੁਣਿ ਕੈ ਜਮ ਕੇ ਦੂਤ ਨਾਇ ਤੇਰੈ ਛਡਿ ਜਾਹਿ ॥ ਭਉਜਲੁ ਬਿਖਮੁ ਅਸਗਾਹੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਪਾਰਿ ਪਾਹਿ ॥ ਜਿਨ ਕਉ ਲਗੀ ਪਿਆਸ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸੇਇ ਖਾਹਿ ॥ ਕਲਿ ਮਹਿ ਏਹੋ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਗੁਣ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਗਾਹਿ ॥ ਸਭਸੈ ਨੋ ਕਿਰਪਾਲੁ ਸਮ੍ਹ੍ਹਾਲੇ ਸਾਹਿ ਸਾਹਿ ॥ ਬਿਰਥਾ ਕੋਇ ਨ ਜਾਇ ਜਿ ਆਵੈ ਤੁਧੁ ਆਹਿ ॥੯॥: Where You are, Waheguru, there is no one else. There, in the fire of the mother’s womb, You protected us.Hearing Your Name, all sort of ignorance runs away. The terrifying, treacherous, impassible world-ocean is crossed over, through the Word of the Guru’s Shabad. Those who feel thirst for You, take in Your Ambrosial Nectar. This is the only act of goodness in this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, to sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord of the Universe. He is Merciful to all; He sustains us with each and every breath.Those who come to You with love and faith are never turned away empty-handed. ||9|| (Raag Raamkali M. 5, GGS. 962-1).
    in addition, a daily Ardas asking for Gurmat (sumatt) and divine guidance helps removes one’s dubidha/bharam with Waheguru’s grace as blessings.

  6. prakash s bagga

    Gurbaanee understanding is a journey with THE WORD GUROO…
    One should make THE WORD GuROO as ones True Teacher and see how one is being guided for the understanding of Gurbaanee.The results are JUST AMAZING to say GuROO as Wah GuROO.

  7. prakash s bagga

    I think it is important to know the correct and true reference for gurbaanee understanding. If our reference of understanding is not correct we may never get the true envisaged meanings og gurbaanee messages.
    In my opinion and observation the true reference of understanding gurbaanee is BRAHM itself. We must know what is BRAHM and how its contemplation is to be proceeded as gurbaanee is all BRAHM VICHAAR only.
    So from within gurbaanee we must undertake of journey of understanding gurbaanee in reference of BRAHM as STARTING POINT.

  8. nikki

    Dear TP Singh Ji,
    Thank you for the post – extremely insightful as always.
    I am struggling with something related to my future. I believe that my purpose us to serve others through medicine. And so I work hard to get accepted into medicine and become a physician. My conscience I believe has been directing me on this path as I never feel the need to give up and keep working toward it. However, I also believe that our conscience is where God lives which also further indicates to me that God also wants me to pursue this path.
    Now I find it struggling to understand that we should be desire less when my intuition constantly echoes at me to pursue this path and serve others. I am wondering how I should understand my intuition in light of the teaching in Gurbani as you have discussed in this insightful post.
    I would really appreciate your cooments – please advise.

    Many thanks

    Regards,
    Nikki

    • Welcome to the Gurbani Blog Nikki Ji.
      Thanking for sharing.

      I believe that my purpose us to serve others through medicine.

      Congratulations!
      Selflessly serving people is a noble cause. Working selflessly for others is working for God. Working selfishly for oneself is bondage (Maya).

      However, I also believe that our conscience is where God lives which also further indicates to me that God also wants me to pursue this path.

      The Gurbani teaches us to LIVE IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF IT!!

      In other words, The Gurbani indicates that the real freedom is inner renunciation. This is the state of truthful living or “Truth in action”, in which one is detached or unselfish. It is self-effacement, wherein one sees the same One Mool (Source, Jot, Reality…) in all. So liberated, one is active outwardly, but within he is peaceful, serene and unattached. Because mentally he feels he is doing nothing. He is in full control of his mind and things he is engaged in. He lives in the midst of all, and yet detached from all. Once so free, there is no more illusion of being finite and empirical. It’s like standing in a fire without getting burnt! Here are a few verses from the Gurbani:
      • ਸਭ ਕੈ ਮਧਿ ਸਗਲ ਤੇ ਉਦਾਸ ॥: Live in the midst of all, and yet detached from all (sggs 296).
      • ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨਿ ਰਹੀਐ ਜੋਗ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਇਵ ਪਾਈਐ ॥: Remaining pure in the midst of the worldly filth — this is the way to attain Yoga (sggs 730).
      • ਵਿਚਹੁ ਆਪੁ ਮੁਆ ਤਿਥੈ ਮੋਹੁ ਨ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: When selfishness and conceit (false “I”) are eradicated from within, then there is no attachment to Maya (sggs 121).

      The following verses (and many more) essentially convey the similar Message.
      • ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤ ਮਹਿ ਸੋਈ ਨਿਰਬਾਨੁ ॥: Grihasat mahi soee nirabaanu (sggs 281).
      • ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥: Hasandiaa khelandiaa painandiaa khaavandiaa viche hovai makati (sggs 522).
      • ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਜਿਨਾ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਤਿਨੀ ਵਿਚੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਪਾਇਆ ॥: Kahai Nanaku gur parasaadee jinaa liv laagee tinee viche Maya paaiaa (sggs 921).
      • ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਕਲਤ੍ਰ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥: Putar kalattar viche gati paaee (sggs 661).

      Bhul Chuk Maaf

      • Nikki

        Thank you for your response – very insightful and I hope to learn much from these words.

        Regards

      • Nikki

        Just another thought I wanted to share.
        It is very difficult for me to remain detached yet completely absorbed in my work. I think the difference is doing our best to achieve something (money, praise) versus doing our best because it is our Karma and remain as detached as possible from any expectation of results, while having genuine faith in God and do our Karma because it is His will – rest we leave up to Him. Sometimes it seems to me that doing our work is one way in which God helps us become detached from desires of achieving something (or fear of not doing well enough; both manifestations of Maya perhaps).

        I apologize if this understanding is incomplete or incorrect as I am only a beginner (and perhaps will always be), please feel free to correct me.

        Once again, I really appreciate your support and selfless service in fact in sharing your reflections – this is a great educational/reflective resource for many of us out there.

        Regards

        • I am only a beginner

          The majority of us, if not all, are beginners.
          I certainly am a beginner, learning along with everybody.
          We all are learners. That’s what the name Sikh essentially means – a learner, a student…

          Our lives are interwoven with the thread of Divine Love. It is this Divine Presence within that brings harmony between souls. As such, the influence of our daily “Soch” (thinking) spreads in ever-widening circles. As our lives are interwoven (“Sabh Gobind Hai Sabh Gobind Hai”), we can each draw the needed strength from this all-pervading Divine Presence within to help each other Spiritually, so that ultimately we all can realize the Truth.

  9. Singh2000

    Great Article, Great Veechar and Thanks for all.

    Veerji everyone has different understanding and it depends on our inner hunger. Ragi’s, Bhai ji (with respect because they do seva of SGGS) all are same like other public we can’t blame any person. In a class teacher gives lecture to all student in same way, but some gets 20%, some gets 50% and some gets 90%. It all depends on at which level our understanding is. Yes, we all need to analyze our day to day life according to gurbani to elevate our-self. If we have something then we can deliver. If we are empty we can’t deliver. e.g. If some have satisfaction, love, guru’s wisdom then he can give to others satisfaction, love and guru’s wisdom. But we didn’t gain pure guru’s wisdom, so when someone try to deliver, he or she add his/her wisdom which is full of ego and unable to deliver guru’s message as is. So the solution is, try to elevate our self first and try to elevate other by attaching with SGGS and do ardaas for other’s to elevate, because everything is by God from God to whom we can blame.

    waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguru ji ki fateh

  10. Bhai Harbans Lal

    As you wrote, the Sikh clergy class is succeeding in their alliances with management to convert Gurdwara programs into Brahamanic practices just like they were prevalent before Guru Nanak. The Gurdwara programs are restricted to only singing and recitations without Vichaar. If there is any vichaar, it is only by illiterate clergy class and not by learned religious scholars. All of this is similar to what was prevalent before Guru Nanak. Guru ji introduced a major change in the religious practices by promoting vichaar to replace all rituals. But, alas, we are reverting back to pre-Gurus’ times.

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