What is Killing the Mind

The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) tells us that it is the man’s mind that is responsible for his problems or suffering. Also, it is the mind that can liberate him from bondage.

This is why it is said that one’s mind can be his best friend, and the same time it can be one’s worse enemy too! It is the cause of bondage and the resulting sorrows, and it is also the cause of Freedom (Mukti). Clearly, the mind is powerful and wonderful instrument. In other words, if utilized properly the same mind can take one closer to his True Nature as Jot Saroop, and the same mind if utilized improperly can dump one in a mire of worldliness!

The mind is one and the same, it all depends on how we chose to conduct and channel it. The freedom of choice is in our hands. We also have the liberty to chose lots of excuses for not channeling or guiding it in the right direction.

Since the mind can liberate us from bondage and suffering, You don’t want to kill the mind. If you kill the mind, then what is left behind with you? A person cannot live without the mind. The mind will be necessary to achieve understanding (Soojh-Boojh, Wisdom), Gurmukh-Hood, Mool-abidance, becoming living dead, meeting responsibilities and duties, transecting with the world, etc.

Then what is it that need to be killed? When the Gurbani says ‘kill’ the mind, what exactly does the Gurbani mean by it?

In short, the question is not ‘how’ the mind is ‘killed’ or quietened or how it can abide in its Mool or Jot Saroop but ‘what’ is the mind which causes man so many problems. If such an inquiry is conducted properly and thoroughly through Wisdom or Bibek-Budh the mind itself disappears. When the mind itself disappears where is the need to ‘kill’ it?

Two aspects of the mind?

First off, we need to know what the mind is before we can kill it. Without knowing a thing, how can anyone work on it? The Gurbani teaches that one can continuously keep something in his focus (ਧਿਆਨ) only if he has knowledge of it (ਜਾਣ ਕੇ/ਸਮਝ ਕੇ – ‘ਜਾਨਿ ਭਜਹਿ’). In other words, the Gurbani teaches we must know what we are trying to accomplish or contemplate on. Otherwise we are sure to be disappointed in the end!

  • ਜੋ ਜਨ ਜਾਨਿ ਭਜਹਿ ਅਬਿਗਤ ਕਉ ਤਿਨ ਕਾ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਨਾਸਾ ॥: Those ‘Jan’ (Daas, Bhagat, Gurmukh…) who remember the Invisible (Prabhoo) with the Knowledge (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ…) are not ruined at all (i.e., their life is not wasted). (sggs 793).

The mind has two aspects. At present, it is divided, fragmented or split by duality (Doojaa Bhaav, a dual existence, two-ness, ਦੁਚਿੱਤੀ-ਦੋ ਮੱਨ, Dubidhaa…) like two pieces of Daal (ਦਾਲ – split seed of lintel).

  • ਪਰਪੰਚਿ ਵਿਆਪਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਮਨੁ ਦੋਇ ॥: The mind is engrossed in ‘Parpanch’ and duality (sggs 153).
  • ਬੀਉ ਬੀਜਿ ਪਤਿ ਲੈ ਗਏ ਅਬ ਕਿਉ ਉਗਵੈ ਦਾਲਿ ॥: Those who planted the seed (of Hari Naam-ਹਰੀ ਦਾ ਨਾਮ ਬੀਜ) have departed with honor; (but) for now the seed cannot sprout (because of duality, fragmentation-ਦਾਲ ਵਾਂਗ ਦੋ-ਫਾੜ, ਭਾਵ ਦੁਚਿੱਤਾ-ਪਨ…). (sggs 468).

ONE ASPECT that recognizes objects as they are — perceived by the senses, remembers, experiences understands etc. By the restrain of the mind, this aspect of the mind is not killed, destroyed or annihilated. Hence there is no reason to fear the killing or destruction of the mind. This aspect of the mind functions till the objects are perceived and known. This aspect of the mind does not cause any problems to us. In fact it aids our life. In short, this aspect of the mind — untainted by Maya (‘ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਸੇ’) or likes and dislikes etc. — remains stable (‘ਅਡੋਲੁ’), within.

  • ਸਭ ਕੈ ਮਧਿ ਸਗਲ ਤੇ ਉਦਾਸ ॥: Remain in the midst of all, and yet detached from all (sggs 296).
  • ਆਪਿ ਅਡੋਲੁ ਨ ਕਬਹੂ ਡੋਲੈ ॥: Aapi adolu n kabahoo dolai (sggs 294).

The SECOND ASPECT broods over the perceived objects, creating feelings of likes, dislikes, desires (Trishanaa), etc. For example, once a desire arises, man finds no peace till it is fulfilled. All this because man feels that he gains happiness from objects. Therefore, the gain and loss of objects become a source of joy and sorrow. In short, this aspect of the mind — attached to delusive Maya, likes and dislikes, etc. — remains ‘without’ or ‘outside’ (‘ਬਾਹਰਿ’ – delusion, duality or ‘Dubidhaa’…), disturbed and restless, agitated, wandering, etc. (‘ਲਹਰੀ ਵਿਚਿ’). It is this aspect of the mind that needs to be ‘killed’.

  • ਭੂਲਿਓ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਉਰਝਾਇਓ ॥: The mind that has forgotten (right way of life) remains entangled in the attachment of Maya (sggs 702).
  • ਜਿਚਰੁ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਲਹਰੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਹੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ॥: As long as this mind is tossing around in waves (of Maya), so long there is a lot of ego and pride. (sggs 1247).

The Gurbani refers to the real nature of our Mool (Source, Jot…) as immortal and as the essence of Consciousness-Knowledge-Bliss. The Haumai mind that dwells ‘without’ (‘ਬਾਹਰਿ’ – delusion, duality or ‘Dubiadhaa’…) in Maya has rebelled against its Mool or its True Nature as Jot Saroop.

It’s the mind’s brooding aspect that gets annihilated

Thus, in nutshell, the external mind is nothing but Mayaic thoughts-stuff (imaginations, fancies, bloated egotism, Trishanaa, ਫੁਰਨੇ, ਬਾਹਰਲਾ ਧਿਆਨ…).

Baabaa Nanak time and again reminds this rebellious mind to go within and realize its Jot Saroop — its real Substratum.

An illusion cannot exist without a substratum (Aadhaar: Support). An experience of the mind is only due to the non-apprehension of its real Substratum would remove the illusion called the mind.

Simply put, to kill the mind is to remove delusion, duality or ‘Dubidhaa’ by understanding the Truth by churning the Gurbani through Shabad-Vichaar; it’s to make the mind shed its coloring of Maya-nature and dye it in the color of Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, etc.), etc.

  • ਸੋ ਮੁਨਿ ਜਿ ਮਨ ਕੀ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਮਾਰੇ ॥: He alone is the silent sage, who kills his mind’s duality (or ‘Dubidhaa’…). (sggs 1128).
  • ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਮਨਹਿ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥੧॥: The divine Naam (Wisdom…) is the Support of the mind. ||1|| (sggs 394).

Yet, to put it in simple Punjabi: ਮੰਨ ਮਾਰਨਾ => ਮੰਨ ਨੂੰ ਸੁਧਾਰਨਾ; ਹਉਮੈ ਵਾਲੀ ਸੁਰਤ ਜਾ ਹੰਕਾਰ ਵਾਲੀ ਸੁਰਤ ਜੋ ਮਨ ਵਿਚ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਹੈ ਉਸ ਨੂੰ ਮਾਰਨਾ; ਮੰਨ ਨਾਲ ਲੜਾਈ, ਮੰਨ ਨੂੰ ਸਮਝਾਣਾਂ ਜਾ ਬੁਧੀ ਦਾ ਕਾਲੇ ਮੰਨ ਨੂੰ ਸਾਧਣਾਂ, ਜਿਹੜਾ ਅੱਧਾ ਅਸਾਧ ਮੰਨ ਬਾਹਰ ਹੈ ਇਸ ਦਾ ਸੋਝੀ ਜਾ ਗਿਆਨ ਨਾਲ ‘ਊਜਲ’ ਹੋਣਾਂ (ਅਰਥਾਤ ਮੰਨ ਨੂੰ ਸਮਝਣਾਂ ਹੀ ਇਸ ਨੂੰ ਸਾਧਣਾਂ ਹੈ)…

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਸਵਟੀ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਝਗੜਾ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਸਥ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਮੰਝਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥: Applying the Touchstone of the Shabad, by becoming the Gurmukh, the Gurmukh conquers his mind (prevents it from falling in love with Maya, etc.). He fights with his mind (its evil inclinations: ਬਿਕਾਰ-ਬਿਰਤੀ), he settles with his mind (make his mind understand), and he becomes immersed (in the auspicious nature of: ਸ਼ੁਭ-ਬਿਰਤੀ) his mind (sggs 87).

Now perhaps it’s more clear as to when the mind is killed, what is it that gets killed or what is it that needs to be killed.

Also, now perhaps it’s more clear as to when we hear expressions like ‘control the mind’, ‘annihilate the mind’, or ‘destroy the mind’, etc., what is it that needs to be, conquered, controlled, annihilated, destroyed or quieted.

The Gurbani further simplifies it for us:

  • ਬੁਝੁ ਰੇ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਮੂਆ ਹੈ ਕਉਣੁ ॥ ਮੂਈ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਬਾਦੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਨ ਮੂਆ ਜੋ ਦੇਖਣਹਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: Understand (inquire…), O wise-man, who has died. Memory of (Maya), conflict and egotism dies. (But the Witness Conscious within – Mool… ) That Seer does not die. ||2|| (sggs 152).

Thus when the conditioned consciousness (lower state or deluded consciousness) dies, the Unconditioned Consciousness (Higher State or Consciousness) within Awakens!

  • ਅਰਧਹ ਛਾਡਿ ਉਰਧ ਜਉ ਆਵਾ ॥ ਤਉ ਅਰਧਹਿ ਉਰਧ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸੁਖ ਪਾਵਾ ॥੨੫॥: When a being leaves the lower state or consciousness (i.e, attachment to Maya) and reaches the Higher State or Consciousness, then the mortal unites (with his Mool), and obtains Happiness. (sggs 341).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਗਇਆ ਦੁਖੁ ਲਾਥਾ ਆਪੁ ਆਪੈ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਖਾਧਾ ॥: Through the Gurmat (Wisdom of the SGGS), the sickness of my egotism (Haumai) has been dispelled, and my pain (of egotism) is over and done; (the Wisdom or Giaan) of my (True) Identity has consumed my identical identity (i.e., false identity or ਆਪਾ-ਭਾਵ). (sggs 78).

Remove mind with mind

The idea behind killing the mind is to merge the tainted consciousness with the Untainted Consciousness of the Mool (Source, Jot...) within. Simply put: It’s the self mending the self!

In essence the Gurbani is urging us to remove the mind with the mind. Sounds like a paradox. But it’s not.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਨਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥: O Nanak, through the (Higher) Mind, the (lower) mind is satisfied, and then, nothing comes or goes (sggs 514).
  • ਮਾਣਕੁ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਸੀ ਸਚਿ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ਕਤੁ ॥: The Divine Jewel (of Wisdom) within the (Higher) Mind annihilates the (lower) mind; thus attached to the Truth, it does not wander deluded again (sggs 992).

Why do we need to kill the deluded aspect of the mind that happens to us? The Gurbani tells us that without killing the duality stricken mind (Dubidhaa), it is NOT POSSIBLE to realize: (1) Bhagti (understanding of Gurmat), (2) Transcending Maya’s attachment or bondage, and (3) Hari (becoming One with Rabb, abidance in Mool-Jot Saroop-True Nature-divine Virtues- Wisdom, becoming Ik Mann Ik Chitt-Whole-Total-Undivided-ਸਾਬਤ…).

  • ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਮੂਏ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Without subduing the mind, Bhagti cannot be practiced (sggs 1277).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਮਨ ਮੂਏ ਕੈਸੇ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇ ॥: Without annihilating (conquering) the mind, how can ‘Hari’ (Mool, Source…) be realized? (sggs 665).
  • ਨਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਰੈ ॥: Maya can not be conquered without annihilation of the mind (sggs 1342).
  • ਨਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਕਾਰਜੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਵਸਿ ਦੂਤਾ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਦੋਇ ॥: As long as the mind is under the control of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride…), evil intent, and duality, till then (the purpose of life of becoming One with Rabb or Mool-abidance…) is not accomplished. (sggs 222).

With what weapon can we kill the instinctive mind? It is the sword of the Wisdom of the Guru which is capable of changing the nature of the external mind (i.e., killing it).

  • ਗਿਆਨ ਖੜਗੁ ਲੈ ਮਨ ਸਿਉ ਲੂਝੈ ਮਨਸਾ ਮਨਹਿ ਸਮਾਈ ਹੇ ॥੩॥: Taking up the Sword of the Spiritual Wisdom, struggle with the mind, and (all Mayaic desires, thoughts, ਫੁਰਨੇ, ਖੋਟੀ ਮਨਸਾ, etc., ) born of the mind are nipped within the mind (ਮਨ ਦੇ ਵਿਚ ਹੀ ਮੁੱਕ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ). ||3|| (sggs 1022).
  • ਸਬਦੁ ਸੂਝੈ ਤਾ ਮਨ ਸਿਉ ਲੂਝੈ ਮਨਸਾ ਮਾਰਿ ਮਾਵਣਿਆ ॥:When someone understands the Shabad, then he wrestles with his own mind; annihilating his desires, he merges (in Mool). (sggs 113).

Hence, in nutshell, the mind reconciles the mind!

  • ਮਨ ਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ਚੂਕੀ ਅਹੰ ਭ੍ਰਮਣੀ ॥: The (lower) mind is reconciliated with the (Higher) Mind, and the ego’s wandering ways come to an end (sggs 227).
  • ਮਨ ਹੀ ਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਮੰਨੁ ਸਮਾਇਆ ॥: From the mind, the mind merges into its Mool (Suaamee), thus the mind gets absorbed into the Mind, within (sggs 1259).
  • ਹਉਮੈ ਦੀਰਘ ਰੋਗੁ ਹੈ ਦਾਰੂ ਭੀ ਇਸੁ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: Ego is a chronic disease, but it contains its own cure as well (sggs 466).

Therefore, the Gurbani says, by becoming the Gurmukh (the Gurbani’s Sooraa), Awaken the Wisdom or Bibek Budh (discerning intellect) within, search ownself and look into the mind within!

  • ਮਨ ਸਮਝਾਵਨ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਕਛੂਅਕ ਪੜੀਐ ਗਿਆਨ ॥੫॥: To instruct the mind one ought to study Knowledge to some extent. ||5|| (sggs 340).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧਿ ਹੋਇ ॥: The Gurmukh is blessed with spiritual wisdom and discerning intellect (sggs 317).
  • ਭਾਂਡਾ ਹਛਾ ਸੋਇ ਜੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵਸੀ ॥ ਭਾਂਡਾ ਅਤਿ ਮਲੀਣੁ ਧੋਤਾ ਹਛਾ ਨ ਹੋਇਸੀ ॥ ਗੁਰੂ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਹੋਇ ਸੋਝੀ ਪਾਇਸੀ ॥ ਏਤੁ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਧੋਇ ਹਛਾ ਹੋਇਸੀ ॥: That Bhaandaa (i.e., mind-intellect, heart, etc.) alone is Good (Pure, ਪਵਿੱਤ੍ਰ…) which is pleasing to Rabb. Very filthy Bhaandaa (i.e, the mind that is filthy with Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, etc.) does not become Good simply by being washed (e.g., bathing at the so called sacred Srovar, rivers, etc.). Through the Guru’s Door (Gurmat, Shabad-Giaan or Wisdom, etc.), one obtains Understanding. (The mind) becomes Pure ONLY by being washed through this Door (i.e., Gurmat or Wisdom…). (sggs 730).

In short, ‘killing’ of the mind is essentially annihilation of its false ego-sense (Haumai). I ‘killed’ mind is like a mirror which (1) denies or refuses nothing (it reflects everything in its view); it grasps nothing (once you move away from a mirror, your reflection in it also moves away; (3) Thus it receives but does not keep or retain anything (be in the world but not of the world — detached affectionately)!!

  • ਜੋ ਇਸੁ ਮਾਰੇ ਸੋਈ ਸੂਰਾ ॥: One who kills this (i.e., duality) is a Sooraa — Spiritual Hero (sggs 238).


  1. So very grateful to have found your blog and website, T. Singh ji. Your extremely insightful articles truly help me to receive the wisdom and guidance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in life-altering new ways.

  2. thanks bhaji…
    ਸਭ ਬੁਧੀ ਜਾਲੀਅਹਿ ਇਕੁ ਰਹੈ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥੪॥
    Let all wisdom be burnt away, except for the essence of spiritual wisdom. ||4||
    I understand that, essence is the nirgun aspect where in the 5 elements, where these are present in its subtlest, unmanifested form…like ether as the Dhun Atmic..sound principle…air as breath melting and remaining steady in central channel of sushmana….FIRE as glowing turiya…..WATER as tasteless sliva….EARTH as matter lost out to spirit..likewise in sargun mode, where the elements take fully manifested form,,,,like ether as varan atmic bani….AIR as breath moving toward the external objects…fire as googling for destinations..WATER as performing the titration test,,and EARTH as the populating island…
    ਈਘੈ ਨਿਰਗੁਨ ਊਘੈ ਸਰਗੁਨ ਕੇਲ ਕਰਤ ਬਿਚਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਮੇਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ
    Bhaji your site has inspired me to info graph some of the SGGS rhymes and your explanations were bang on, could i put you as a reference on my info graphic booklet.
    Deep Regards.

  3. Nicely put it in simple terms Prince Ji! Thank you so much for taking the time to share.
    The Gurbani indicates Maya and the Brahm (Primal Energy…) are blended with everything.
    • ਮਾਇਆ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਰਮੈ ਸਭ ਸੰਗ ॥ (sggs 343).

    Thus, liberation from Maya dose not constitute disappearance of material energy or world.
    If liberation from Maya dose not constitute disappearance of material energy, then what is it? In nutshell, it is the change in one’s vision (“ਬੁਧਿ ਬਦਲੀ”-Budhi Badalee). To put it otherwise, it is the ceasing of the conditioned mind’s imagining (ਫੁਰਨੇ, desires…) or fascination for Maya. Thus, transcending Maya simply means living in the material world but not of it. It is complete liberation from doubts (Bharam), from Haumai (false ego-sense), from duality (two-ness, ਦੁਚਿੱਤੀ), from ignorance of the Mool (Source, Reality, Jot…), from all Mayaic intellect (“ਸਭ ਬੁਧੀ ਜਾਲੀਅਹਿ”)…
    • ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਬੁਧਿ ਹਰਿ ਲਈ ਮੇਰੀ ਬੁਧਿ ਬਦਲੀ ਸਿਧਿ ਪਾਈ ॥੨॥੨੧॥੭੨॥: Kahi Kabeer budhi hari laee meree budhi badalee sidhi paaee (sggs 339).
    • ਸਭ ਬੁਧੀ ਜਾਲੀਅਹਿ ਇਕੁ ਰਹੈ ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ॥੪॥: Sabh budhee jaaleeahi iku rahai tatu giaan (sggs 1413).

    In other words, to Realize our Mool (Source, Jot…), as you put it: “one has to understand both, then stay with the most subtle.”

    Shabad-Vichaar is the Work Of the Inner on the outer………………

  4. thanks bhaji,
    Trikut is the format by which we express externally, by the aid of cognitive and action senses,,for internal viewing we adhere to turiya..can we consider them antonyms, like nirgun and sargun, aren’t they both part and parcel of self,,to realize self one has to understand both, then stay with the most subtle. Deep regards..

  5. what is TRIKUT….,,
    the out going mind,,,that is the awake body,,sathoola sarira..which is in trikut mode operating in satv,,rajs,,tamas…trigun/trikut.
    my Q is…..being in [[awake ,drem, d sleep sequence]] a trikut…we are talking about which TRIKUT,
    this awake,dream and sleep….the first one….or
    rajs, tamas and satv mode of jiva in awake state….
    thanks for clearing.

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