What comes and goes is not Real

The Gurbani’s edict is what comes and goes is time-bound, thus unreal (“ਸੋ ਕਾਚੋ ਕਾਚਾ”). In other words, that which is Real never ends, and that which ends is not Real.

Anything that is time-bound cannot be Eternal, hence not Real. To be Real means to be free of beginning, middle and end. Whatever comes and goes is bound and limited by beginning, middle and end, therefore unreal — changeable, temporary, fleeting, impermanent, perishable, illusion, or simply “Mithiya“. For example, we witness the natural phenomenon of an infant’s body after birth going through the natural changes of childhood, youth, adulthood, old age and ultimately death. Accordingly, human life has been described metaphorically as a journey from the womb to the tomb. What begins has to end; what ends has to reappear somewhere. Hence change is the constant factor in material life (Mayaic or unenlightened existence). In this way, coming and going is intrinsic to worldly life (a life of Mayaic efforts, Haume or false ego-sense, Manmukhtaa, material consciousness…).

  • ਚਿੰਤਾ ਤਾ ਕੀ ਕੀਜੀਐ ਜੋ ਅਨਹੋਨੀ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਇਹੁ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਕੋ ਨਾਨਕ ਥਿਰੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੋਇ ॥੫੧॥ ਜੋ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਸੋ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਹੈ ਪਰੋ ਆਜੁ ਕੈ ਕਾਲਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਇ ਲੇ ਛਾਡਿ ਸਗਲ ਜੰਜਾਲ ॥੫੨॥ : Worry about something that is unnatural. Nanak, this is the rule (of Nature) in the world that nothing is everlasting. ||51|| Whatever takes birth, will die today or tomorrow. Nanak, shun all worldly temptations with corrupting influences and live life with Godly Virtues. ||52|| (sggs 1429).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਈ ॥: Houmai aavai jaaee: In egotism, people come and go (sggs 1003).

In other words, anything made of the five elements is temporary. Because the time-bound consciousness (ego, instinctive mind or Haume) to arise, it needs a form made of five elements. Once it has arisen, it cannot stand still — it must scurry around like a mouse. And this scurrying around takes place in the domain of Maya’s three qualities: Taamas (ignorance), Raagas (passion), and Saatav (goodness). Upon end of the body, these five elements disappear along with the world-appearance.

  • ਅਪੁ ਤੇਜੁ ਵਾਇ ਪ੍ਰਿਥਮੀ ਆਕਾਸਾ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਮਹਿ ਪੰਚ ਤਤੁ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ॥: Apu tej vaai prithamee aakaasaa. Tin mahi panch tatu ghar vaasaa: Water, fire, air, earth and ether; the Spirit Soul dwells in the body-house made of the five elements (sggs 1031).

Clearly, that which has beginning cannot escape end. Only the Soul, Joti-Svaroopa (Mool-Source…) is free of coming and going (Eternal). Once all the movements or impulses of the false ego-sense are ceased to be, the Mool within is Realized. To a person (the Gurmukh) situated in that state of Spiritual Essence, nothing comes and goes. For him all happenings of the world are mere entertaining show.

  • ਅਸਥਿਰੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਦੇਖੀਐ ਹੋਰੁ ਕੇਤੀ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥: Asthir kartaa daykhee-ai hor kaytee aavai jaai: The Creator alone is seen to be Eternal; all others come and go (sggs54).
  • ਪਿੰਡਿ ਮੂਐ ਜੀਉ ਕਿਹ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਤਾ ॥: Pindi mooai jeeou kih ghari jaataa (sggs 327).
  • ਓਹੁ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥: ohu bairaagee marai n jaai (sggs 390).

When a child is born, everybody can see it. In other words, when a gross body comes, everybody can see it (Drisati-“ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ”, visible) for it has a form. When it ends, or when it goes, the dead body can be seen by all. Later, some burn it, some bury it, some toss it out in the open or water (for animals to eat it), and so on. Nonetheless, the five elements the body is made of go back their respective source.

However, unlike the gross body, the Soul is not made of the five elements. For that reason, it does not end as the gross body does. Then, where does it go? The Soul’s going is invisible (Anadrisati-“ਅਨਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ”). The Gurbani says that the entire Srisati (“ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ”- ਰਚਨਾ, all beings…) acts according to the Parameshar’s Hukam (Aagiakaaree-“ਆਗਿਆਕਾਰੀ”).

  • ਆਵਨੁ ਜਾਵਨੁ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਅਨਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ॥ ਆਗਿਆਕਾਰੀ ਧਾਰੀ ਸਭ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ॥: Aavanu jaavanu drisati anadrsiati. Aagiakaaree dhaaree sabh srisati: Coming and going is visible and invisible. He has made all Srisati obedient (to His Hukam, Command, Bhaanaa, etc). (281).
  • ਕਾਯਉ ਦੇਵਾ ਕਾਇਅਉ ਦੇਵਲ ਕਾਇਅਉ ਜੰਗਮ ਜਾਤੀ ॥ ਕਾਇਅਉ ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਨਈਬੇਦਾ ਕਾਇਅਉ ਪੂਜਉ ਪਾਤੀ ॥੧॥ ਕਾਇਆ ਬਹੁ ਖੰਡ ਖੋਜਤੇ ਨਵ ਨਿਧਿ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਆਇਬੋ ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਜਾਇਬੋ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਦੁਹਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਜੋ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡੇ ਸੋਈ ਪਿੰਡੇ ਜੋ ਖੋਜੈ ਸੋ ਪਾਵੈ ॥ ਪੀਪਾ ਪ੍ਰਣਵੈ ਪਰਮ ਤਤੁ ਹੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਹੋਇ ਲਖਾਵੈ ॥੨॥੩॥: The body is the temple and God dwells in it; the body is the place of pilgrimage, of which I am a pilgrim (searching for God Within my body). Searching God within the body is like burning incense, lighting of lamps and offering delicious food on leaf plates in Poojaa. ||1|| When I searched my body within, I found the new Treasure (of Naam) which I was searching outside. (Since I have realized within my ownself) the Glory of Raam (now I can say that) nothing comes, and nothing goes (i.e. I don’t go through repeated scuffing in my daily life). ||1||Pause|| (Hukam: Universal System-Rule-Law of Nature-ਕੁਦਰਤੀ ਨਿਯਮ) which is applicable to the entire Universe, the same (Hukam) is applicable to human beings as well. A person who tries searching Within and understands this point, he can understand God residing within. Peepaa prays – If Satguru is met (Wisdom of Truth: ਸੱਚਾ ਗਿਆਨ), then the Greatest Reality (Real Source, Creator, ਅਸਲੀਅਤ, ਤੱਤ, ਸੱਚ) is revealed (Within). ||2||3|| (sggs 695).

In nutshell, coming and going, in the first place, is perceived only so long we have not Realized our Mool within (Origin, Source, Jot, Reality, Raam, ਅਸਲਾ…). But once the mind has linked back to its Mool within (the Gurmukh State), “coming” and “going” cease to be for that person (i.e., the Gurmukh).


  1. Sat sri akal Veerji. Please tell that by obeying gurbani daily like a child obey his parents ,can it help us in becoming a gurmukh?we do not obey gurbani in daily life thats why we are manmukh

  2. Thank you Veer Ji for taking the time respond to this post. Welcome to the Gurbani Blog!

    Baabaa Nanak says:
    • ਝੂਠਾ ਇਹੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਕਿਨਿ ਸਮਝਾਈਐ ॥: This world is false, but only a few understand this (sggs 147).
    • ਅਸਮਾਨੁ ਧਰਤੀ ਚਲਸੀ ਮੁਕਾਮੁ ਓਹੀ ਏਕੁ ॥੭॥ (sggs 64).
    • ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੋ ਚਲਸੀ ਕੂੜਾ ਮੋਹੁ ਨ ਵੇਖੁ ॥ (sggs 61).
    • ਮੈ ਕਿਆ ਮਾਗਉ ਕਿਛੁ ਥਿਰੁ ਨ ਰਹਾਈ ਹਰਿ ਦੀਜੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਿਆਰੀ ਜੀਉ ॥੧॥ (sggs 597).
    • ਕੂੜੁ ਰਾਜਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਪਰਜਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਸਭੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ॥ (sggs 468).

    The message — for those mortals who are emotionally attached to this material world (i.e. Maya) — seems to be that whatever we see is fleeting, temporary, changing, impermanent, perishable, etc., thus “Jhooth, Mithyaa…”. Hence, live in the world, but detached.

    I don’t see any contradiction in the Gurbani.

  3. Thanks for further elaborating the concept of Mithya. But I am still a bit uncomfortable with the interpretation that things that ‘change’ are not real. I mean real things do change in size (vegetable grow), even shape (water turns into ice or steam) and so on.

    But I am fully comfortable with the ‘dream’, and ‘illusion’ approach justifying the ‘unreality’ of mortal beings.

    Thanks again for your insight on Gurbani. Very honestly admitting, I am personally benifitting a lot from your efforts. Regards.

  4. Thak Bhai Sahib Jeeou for sharing your Vichaar.
    The Gurbani calls this material world or Maya as “Jhooth” (false or fake…), “Mithyaa or Bharam” (illusion…), and ” Sapnaa” (dream…).
    Calling this world “Jhooth”, “Mithyaa or Bharam”, and ” Sapnaa” does not mean this world is non-existent. If this world was nonexistent then it would not have been experienced by us. Then is it real? According to the Gurbani, no, it is not real. It can not be called real because it is subject to change every moment, like our mind. Thus, this material world is neither real nor unreal.
    Anything that can not be described as real or unreal is called “Mithyaa” in the Indian scriptures. When we call this world illusion, it simply means that “what we deem it to be, it is not like that” (ਮਾਧਵੇ ਕਿਆ ਕਹੀਐ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਐਸਾ ॥ ਜੈਸਾ ਮਾਨੀਐ ਹੋਇ ਨ ਤੈਸਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥, sggs 657) — we think it to be permanent, it is not; we think it to be nonperishable, it is not; we think it to be changeless, it is not; we think it to be eternal, it is not; we think it to be forever, it is not; we think it to be never-ending, it is not; we think it to be unlimited or infinite, it is not; we think it to be Reality, it is not. If a person mistakes a rope for a snake (or a pole for a ghost) in the darkness, then would the snake or ghost vision be real? No. Therefore, if Jeeva does not consider this world as Mithyaa (also spelt Mithya), then it will become the cause of his attachment and bondage, followed by the “greatest pain”.
    •ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਿਉ ਝੂਠੋ ਇਹੁ ਜਗ ਦੇਖਿ ਤਾਸਿ ਉਠਿ ਧਾਵੈ ॥੧॥: Mrig trisnaa jiou jhootho ihu jag dekhi taasi uthi dhavai ||1|| (sggs 219).

  5. Thanks Harvinder Ji for you inputs, and although the usage of the words objective and subjective does not appear to be accurate here, but I definitely see the point you are trying to bring home. Again I fully endorse what Gurbani deeply professes but the Gurbani quotes in the article mostly pointed to the transitory (and not unreal) nature of our tenure here in this mortal world (going by the accepted meanings of the words used here).

    In fact, Gurbani is replete with verses that do emphasize the illusary state that we allegedly perceive as real – and in fact one of those veses has been very appropriately quoted by Bhai T singh ji in his rejoinder – ਨਾਨਕ ਕਹਤ ਜਗਤ ਸਭ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਰੈਨਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥: Nanak kahat jagat sabh mithiaa jiou supanaa rainaaee (sggs 1231). Several other verses in our vast Gurbani equate our life to just a dream – and that approach surely can be interpreted to label our being here as unreal (mithya); just like dreams are not real; likewise our life.

    Bhul Chuk Maaf.

  6. So, to sum it up, we can say that.
    “Our objectively Real body is not Subjectively Real”.

  7. 2 approaches.
    Objective and Subjective.
    Objectively, yes, we are real, made up of 5 elements that we can see, touch and feel. So YES….Real…….objectively.

    But Gurbani goes way beyond and deeper than that.
    Since our objective real body does not last for ever, it borns, grows and then eventually dies, Therefore the word “UNREAL”

  8. thanks Bhai Sahib Ji for taking time to comment on this post.

    ਕਚੀ ਕੰਧ ਕਚਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਰਾਜੁ ॥: Kachee kandh kachaa vichi raaju (sggs 25).
    • ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੋ ਉਪਜੈ ਬਿਨਸੈ ॥: jo deesai so oupaajai binasai (sggs 1231).
    • ਨਾਨਕ ਕਹਤ ਜਗਤ ਸਭ ਮਿਥਿਆ ਜਿਉ ਸੁਪਨਾ ਰੈਨਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥: Nanak kahat jagat sabh mithiaa jiou supanaa rainaaee (sggs 1231).

  9. Well written thoughts – as always. But this time allow me to seek a little clarification.

    What comes and departs is temporary alright but as long as it lives, existed it ‘is’ real. Isn’t it? Unless we play with its meaning, or interpret it differently, we are real; we are temporary, our bodies are mortal (unlike our soul) but we exist for real. Not eternal but real.

    I know we can ‘compare’ our entire life as a dream but comparison is just that – a comparison. Our Gurus existence was real, their stay was temporary but they were real. Weren’t they? Perhaps short-lived, transient, temporary, mortal, perishable are all the apt descriptions but ‘unreal’ seems just that – unreal. Just a thought.

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