Search Ownself – Know Yourself

The Way of Sikhi to becoming living liberated necessitates individual ethical, Spiritual development, and Self-discovery. The first step to becoming living liberated constitutes the cleaning of the self of vices/Bikaar and the imbibing of divine Virtues. The process is near culmination with a person becoming indistinguishable from the ONE God.

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) Directs us to REALIZE God within. But we humans are afraid to go within because the inner recesses of our mind are very dark (crooked, darkness of ignorance). So we are afraid of looking within.

As a result we search for the One Creator or God outside at places and using methods that logically have been critiqued, rejected, debunked and negated by the Gurbani.


  • ਕਾਹੇ ਰੇ ਬਨ ਖੋਜਨ ਜਾਈ ॥ ਸਰਬ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ਸਦਾ ਅਲੇਪਾ ਤੋਹੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਮਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਪੁਹਪ ਮਧਿ ਜਿਉ ਬਾਸੁ ਬਸਤੁ ਹੈ ਮੁਕਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਜੈਸੇ ਛਾਈ ॥ ਤੈਸੇ ਹੀ ਹਰਿ ਬਸੇ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਖੋਜਹੁ ਭਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਏਕੋ ਜਾਨਹੁ ਇਹੁ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਬਤਾਈ ॥ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥ : (O mind!) Why search the Creator outside in the forest? (The Creator) who is omnipresent but always detached (from the influence of Maya), is always Within you. ||1||Pause|| Just as fragrance resides in a flower and reflection in the mirror, similarly the Creator resides within all; O brothers, search Him Within. ||1|| The Guru has imparted this understanding — realize the presence of the same One Creator both within you and outside in everything. ‘Jan’ Nanak says, without KNOWING one’s ownself, the moss of doubt from the mind does not go away. ||2||1|| (sggs 684).

One’s mind is his/her own best friend or worse enemy.

Scientists have discovered that the average person has more than 6,000 thoughts every day!

Hence, until one knows ownself, he/she cannot hope for others to know him/her. In a bid to know ownself, we constantly seek answers from outside of ourselves. But the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS tells us answers can emerge only from within ourselves.

We humans are born with an innate urge to know something Higher. People call that something ‘Higher’ by many names — Rabb, Creator, Universal Energy, God, Truth, Allah, Kudrat, Hukam or System-Rule-Law of Nature, Akaal, Gobind, Hari, Raam, Permeshar etc.

To understand or experience that something ‘Higher’ within, the Gurmat Giaan-Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) urges us to become the searcher (ਖੋਜੀ) of ownself — knowing yourself, or knowing ownself.

  • ਇਉ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਰੂਪੁ ਹੈ ਅਪਣਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥੫॥ : This is what Nanak says: O my mind, you are the ‘Jot Saroop’ or embodiment of Light (God)! Recognize your Mool (ORIGIN, Source…) ||5|| (sggs 441).

Thus the Gurbani teaches practical spirituality with emphasis on self-efforts (no middleman), self-Transcendence, knowing ownself, improving ownself, persuading ownself, changing ownself, explaining ownself, advising ownself etc. — instructing own mind.

Why? Because, we cannot change others but ourselves. Fittingly, the Gurbani’s edict (ਫੈਸਲਾ) is:

  • ਆਪੁ ਸਵਾਰਹਿ ਮੈ ਮਿਲਹਿ ਮੈ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਫਰੀਦਾ ਜੇ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਹੋਇ ਰਹਹਿ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੯੫॥: If you REFORM yourself then you will Realize Me (i.e. God), and when you Realize Me (i.e. God), you will rejoice in Spiritual Bliss. O Farid, (reforming yourself) if you become Mine then the entire world would become yours. ||95|| (sggs 1382).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਲੋਕੁ ਸਮਝਾਈਐ ਕਦਹੁ ਸਮਝਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਰਲਾਇਆ ਨਾ ਰਲੈ ਪਇਐ ਕਿਰਤਿ ਫਿਰਾਇ ॥ ਲਿਵ ਧਾਤੁ ਦੁਇ ਰਾਹ ਹੈ ਹੁਕਮੀ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਰਿਆ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਸਵਟੀ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਝਗੜਾ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਸਥ ਮਨ ਹੀ ਮੰਝਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਜੋ ਇਛੇ ਸੋ ਲਹੈ ਸਚੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਦ ਭੁੰਚੀਐ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਇ ॥ ਵਿਣੁ ਮਨੈ ਜਿ ਹੋਰੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਲੁਝਣਾ ਜਾਸੀ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਇ ॥ : One may try to counsel a Manmukh but that person can never be made to understand. Even if a Manmukh is mixed (among the Gurmukhs), still (by nature) he does not mix with them and wanders under the influence of his actions. There are only two paths (in the world) contemplation (i.e. focus on Naam) and wandering (i.e. mind’s attachment to Maya); one acts on by the Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature or ਨਿਯਮ). By becoming the Gurmukh, applying the Touchstone of the Shabad (Wisdom, Naam, Upadesh…), the Gurmukh kills his mind (conquers his mind by annihilating false ego-sense, its attachment to Maya etc.). He fights with his own mind (to give up its evil inclinations or Bikaar and when they are given up), he settles with his mind (on how to lead life by Naam and then) remains absorbed in the mind itself (i.e. keeps other ideas away and leads life by Naam). When the mind naturally complies with the True Shabad, it gets whatever it wishes (i.e., it achieves the aim of human life through living by Naam, Shabad, Hukam). Ever drink in Amrit Naam by carrying out actions as Gurmukhs. Those who struggle with something other than their own mind, will depart having wasted their lives. (sggs 87).

Hence to find ownself is to know, understand or recognize one’s own Original Self — one’s own Mool or one’s own True Nature as Jot Saroop

  • ਕਾਇ ਪਟੋਲਾ ਪਾੜਤੀ ਕੰਬਲੜੀ ਪਹਿਰੇਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਘਰ ਹੀ ਬੈਠਿਆ ਸਹੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਜੇ ਨੀਅਤਿ ਰਾਸਿ ਕਰੇਇ ॥੧੦੪॥ : There is no need to tear the expensive silk garments and wear an ugly blanket to find/realize God. Nanak, God is found/realized being at home itself, if one makes mind (Soch-thinking) correct (Spiritual Message: There is no need for any special dress to realize God. But the way to realize God is to adopt divine Virtues in life). (sggs 1383).

In short, ultimately, Mool-abidance is the end of searching ownself because to unite with ownself is to unite with the Omnipresent Universal Energy (‘ਸਭੁ ਗੋਬਿੰਦੁ ਹੈ-Sabh Gobind) Hai‘)!

However our arrogance does not allow us to accept that we all are of the same divinity (‘Raam Kee Ans-ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਅੰਸੁ’, Jot Saroop). As a result, we seek it elsewhere, outside of ourselves.

We rarely, if ever, look within ourselves wherein our Jot is the same as that which encompasses the entire Universe. The Gurbani also tells us that treasures such as Bliss (Anand), Amrit, Naam, Grace, Virtues, Wisdom etc. are also within the human conscience!

Hence, the Gurbani asks us to search ownself.

  • 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|| The elements that make up the physical body are exactly the same elements that make up the Universe. If you contemplate on this, then you will realize the Reality of it. 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).

The next question is: What does it mean ‘search ownself’?

In short, it’s a study of one’s ownself (ਅਪਣੇ ਆਪ ਦਾ ਅਧਿਅਨ ਕਰਨਾ: ਅਧਿਆਤਮਵਾਦੀ ਹੋਣਾਂ), self-examination, self-review, self-observation of one’s mistakes and shortcomings, and so on.

Simply put: Searching ownself is the search of one’s own mind or Mool (Source, Jot Saroop, Reality…) within — to find or explore or understand one’s own True Nature, to know ‘who am I?‘ ਅਪਣੇ ਯਥਾਰਥ ਸਰੂਪ ਦੀ ਜਾਣ, ਪਰਖ, ਪੜਚੋਲ), and so on.

  • ਆਪੁ ਖੋਜਿ ਖੋਜਿ ਮਿਲੇ ਕਬੀਰਾ ॥੪॥੭॥: O Kabeer! Those who have realized the Divine (Nature, Wisdom, Virtues…) have done so by searching and searching their ownself or self-discovery (NOT realized with the help of Karamkaand of the Pujaaree-Vaad). ||4||7|| (sggs 1155).
  • ਢਢਾ ਢੂਢਤ ਕਹ ਫਿਰਹੁ ਢੂਢਨੁ ਇਆ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ ॥: DHADHA: Where do (you) wander about searching? (Instead) search is to be made in (your own) mind. (sggs 256).

We are taught by the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS that Naam (Wisdom, Virtues…) or Amrit is realized within through the inner search — inner exploration!.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਪਛਾਣੀਐ ਹਰਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪ੍ਰਚੰਡੁ ਬਲਾਇਆ ਅਗਿਆਨੁ ਅੰਧੇਰਾ ਜਾਇ ॥੨॥: By becoming the Gurmukh Shabad is realized; (and who realizes becomes) immersed in the Amrit-Naam. (Whosoever within) has lit the bright (Light or Lamp of) Gur-Giaan or Spiritual Wisdom, (from within him) the darkness of ignorance gets dispelled ||2|| (sggs 29).

Thus, the Gurbani is the subject of searching (ਖੋਜ) and understanding! Search leads to Soojh-Boojh (ਸੂਝ-ਬੂਝ: understanding, comprehension, Bibek-Budh…).

It is only with the Search and Understanding comes Mool-abidance, Liberation from delusion, Haumai (and all its faults or Bikaar), doubt, Mayaic or conditioned consciousness, and so on.

  • ਖੋਜ ਬੂਝਿ ਜਉ ਕਰੈ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ॥ ਤਉ ਭਵਜਲ ਤਰਤ ਨ ਲਾਵੈ ਬਾਰਾ ॥੪੦॥: When someone understand by Searching (‘Khoj‘), and engages in Vichaar (Reflection on the Divine Virtues, Wisdom…), then (he) crosses over the ‘Bhavjal’ (Bhav Saagar or dreadful ocean of Maya, etc.) in no time. ||40|| (sggs 342).

Clearly, the Gurbani is NOT a subject of mechanical or ritualistic recitation of it, or worshiping it like an idol. Also, the Gurbani is neither a subject of mere reading nor mere singing with musical instruments for the sake of ‘bread’ (‘ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ’), show off religiosity, formalities or Karamkaand, etc.

  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥ ਖਟੁ ਦਰਸਨ ਕੈ ਭੇਖਿ ਕਿਸੈ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਵਣਾ ॥ ਸਚਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਅਲਖੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਸੁਹਾਵਣਾ ॥ : Not by just reading (scriptures), but it is through spiritual Wisdom one Understands this fact (that God is infinite). No one can merge in the eternal God by merely adopting the garbs mentioned in the six Shastras (the Hindu holy books). The eternal God is unfathomable, but revealed through the Guru’s Shabad, He (i.e. Creation, Hukam) looks beautiful. (sggs 148).
  • ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਵਿਦਿਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪਾਵੈ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਆਪਾ ਮਧੇ ਆਪੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਿਆ ਪਾਇਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਨਾਮੁ ॥੧॥ : Through the Grace of the Giaan-Guru, a person who reflects again and again on ‘Vidiaa‘ (Giaan, Wisdom…) obtains honor in the society. He/she realize own true self Within and you get blessed with the Amrit Naam (Wisdom / Virtues). ||1||  (sggs 1329).
  • ਗਾਵਹਿ ਗੀਤ ਨ ਚੀਨਹਿ ਆਪੁ ॥: You sing the songs, but you do not understand your ownself (i.e., your Mool). (sggs 903).

Aptly, the Gurbani alerts us that without knowing oneself, the moss of doubt will not leave you.

  • ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਨੁ ਆਪਾ ਚੀਨੈ ਮਿਟੈ ਨ ਭ੍ਰਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਈ ॥: O Daas Nanak! Without Realizing one’s ownself (Mool, Original, or True Nature, etc. – ਆਪਣਾ ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਪਰਖਣ ਤੋਂ ਬਿਨਾ, etc.), the moss of doubt (ignorance of one’s True Nature, etc.) is not eradicated (from the mind) ||2||1|| (sggs 684).

Mool-abidance cannot be made to an order, or given out as a mundane gift, or blow into one’s mouth or ear! Accordingly, the Gurbani asks us to become the Gurmukh by searching one’s own inner ‘Home’ (Mool…).

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਖੋਜਿ ਲਹੈ ਘਰੁ ਆਪੇ ॥੧॥: Who becomes the Gurmukh seeks and realize (his Mool within) himself. (sggs 415).

However, according to the Gurbani, individuals with Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree mentality have no interest in inner search or exploration.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਦਰੁ ਨ ਭਾਲਨੀ ਮੁਠੇ ਅਹੰਮਤੇ ॥ ਚਾਰੇ ਕੁੰਡਾਂ ਭਵਿ ਥਕੇ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਤਿਖ ਤਤੇ ॥: Deluded (cheated, etc.) by self-conceit, the Manmukhs do not search within their ownselves. Burnt by desire (of Maya…) within, they grow weary wandering in the four directions (sggs 1093).

In nutshell, to make us understand the Truth, many examples are repeatedly cited in the Gurbani. For example:

  • If a wave can know or find itself, then it will realize that it is not separate from the ocean!
  • If a ray can know or find itself, then it will realize that it is not separate from the sun!
  • If a bracelet can know or find itself, then it will realize that it is not separate from the gold!
  • If an earthen pot can know or find itself, then it will realize that it is not separate from the clay!

Similarly, if one can know or find his True Self, then he will realize that he is not separate from ‘Kaadar’ (Universal Energy, Rabb, Raam, Hari, Gobind, Jot, Allah, Darbar, Sukh Saagar, Kudarat, Hukam or System-Rule-Law of Nature…)!

  • ਤੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਮੋਹੀ ਤੋਹੀ ਅੰਤਰੁ ਕੈਸਾ ॥ ਕਨਕ ਕਟਿਕ ਜਲ ਤਰੰਗ ਜੈਸਾ ॥੧॥: You are me, and I am You—what is the difference between us? We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves ||1|| (sggs 93).

In nutshell, to find ownself, or to get linked to ownself within (ਅਪਣੇ ਆਪ ਨਾਲ ਜੁੜਨਾਂ), or to Awaken divine Virtues within (ਗੁਣ ਪਰਗਟ ਕਰਨੇ), is to link with Rabb. Because, the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS tells us Rabb is within!

  • ਵਿਚਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਨਗਰ ਲਧਾ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਲੀ ॥: (With the help of the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom, I have) found Rabb searching within (my own) body-village. (sggs 1134).

In short, we spend lifetime searching outside for WHAT WE ALREDY ARE (i.e., Jot Saroop)! But – without searching ownself – we remain unaware or clueless about it! 

That said, the Gurbani wants us to hold on to this Reality – WHAT WE ALREDY ARE (i.e., Jot Saroop). We are THAT!

Searching ownself is the inner search

Bande Khoj Dil’ or ‘Mann Khoj Maarag’ is the journey within  — a revolution within! Realization of one’s own True self is the end of all searching. The Gurbani not only shows us ‘everything’ is within (‘ਸਭ ਕਿਛੁ ਘਰ ਮਹਿ’), but also shows us the Way to realize the state of ‘everything’, within.

  • ਮਿਟਿ ਗਈ ਭਾਲ ਮਨੁ ਸਹਜਿ ਸਮਾਨਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਪਾਇਆ ਨਾਮ ਖਜਾਨਾ ॥੪॥੨੭॥੭੮॥: O Nanak! (Since I) have obtained the treasure of the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, etc., my) search is ended and mind is absorbed in ‘Sahaj’ (i.e., Natural state of Being, state of Wisdom or Giaan-Avasthaa…). ||4||27||78|| (389).

In short, it is self-control — a person of self-control does not allow Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.) to dominate him. Hence, a person with self-control is his ‘Raja’ (King)! He Rules himself. He has conquered his ownself or mind!

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਚੀਨੈ ਆਪ ਕਉ ਸੋ ਅਪਰ ਅਪਾਰਾ ॥੮॥: O Nanak! Who recognizes his ownself becomes Great or Blessed (ਮਹਾਨ, ਧੰਨਤਾਯੋਗ). (sggs 229).

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  1. Thank you Angad Ji for taking the time to reply. Welcome to the Gurbani Blog!

    The Gurbani says one who recognizes oneself (become established in Virtues, Purity, Truth, Divine Wisdom…), the mind of that person becomes Pure or full of Virtues (free of Bikaar, negativity…).
    • ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਸੋ ਸਭਿ ਗੁਣ ਜਾਣੈ ॥: Aapu pachhaanai… (sggs 1056).
    • ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣੈ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਇ ॥: Aapu pachhanai… (sggs 161).
    • ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੁ ਪਛਾਣਿਆ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਸਚਿ ਸਮਾਇਆ ॥: Apnaa aapu pachaaniaa… (sggs 1290).

    Effacing self-conceit, once the mind is established in Virtues or Purity, it sees Brahm everywhere — within and without.
    • ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਆਪੁ ਮਿਟਾਇਆ ॥ ਸਭੁ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਨਦਰੀ ਆਇਆ ॥੨॥੧੬॥੮੦॥: Kahu Nanak aapu mitaaiaa… (sggs 628).

  2. SSA .Very nice articles I would request you please clarify my doubt , I defined “knowing yourself” as understanding right values to all things and right values comes from self knowledge and Gurbani guides us in it .Is this correct way of interpretating it?

  3. Karamjeet Singh Ji…Thank you Bhai Sahib Ji for your elaboration.
    • ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਇਕੁ ਇਕੁ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਾਇਆ ॥:Sahibu sewaku iku drisataaiaa (sggs 524).
    • ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰਤ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਆ ॥:Oudamu karat manu nirmalu hoaa (sggs 99).
    • ਖੋਜਤ ਖੋਜਤ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਪੀਆ ॥: Khojat Khojat amrit peeaa (sggs 932).

  4. Very educative piece indeed.

    Here’re my two cents in an attempt to elaborate.

    Interpreting on just one line (a common mistake most of us make while quoting Gurbani), could be misleading (and that’s why I admire this column of Gurbani reflections, that invariably substantiates the thoughts by quoting multiple verses sharing the same theme).
    The game of searching for oneself, comes with its own rules perhaps. The Parmeshar will reveal HIMSELF, only if we make our own share of sincere efforts. As Gurbani attests – we take one ‘painda’, HE will advance million ‘paindaas’ to help us in our endeavor and make us feel that we have succeded in our ‘Khoj’ where as the real ‘Khoji’ is none other than the Parmeshar Himself.

    Bhul Chuk Maaf.

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