When Reading the Word, no Need to Shout so Loud

The following verse of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) assets that there is no need to shout so loud (ਕੂਕਾਂ ਮਾਰਕੇ) while reading holy books.

  • ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਣ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹੰਤਾ ॥ ਪੂਕਾਰੰਤਾ ਅਜਾਣੰਤਾ ॥ ਜਾਂ ਬੂਝੈ ਤਾਂ ਸੂਝੈ ਸੋਈ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਕੂਕ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੧॥ : As long as a person keeps merely reading Shaastras, Vedas and Puraanas (or any other scriptures for that matter) without understanding. Till then he loudly recite them out of ignorance or without understanding their essence. It is only when one understand the essence, then one is able to realize the Omnipresent God. Nanak, only then one’s  loud shouts (‘ਕੂਕ’ – ਉੱਚੀ ਉੱਚੀ ਬੋਲਣਾ) end. ||1|| (sggs 1242).
  • ਬਿਨੁ ਬੂਝੇ ਪਸੂ ਭਏ ਬੇਤਾਲੇ ॥੬॥ : Without Understanding, people become beasts and demons (nature-ਸੁਭਾਵ). ||6|| (sggs 224).

The question one may ask is why not read scriptures aloud? The explanation of the Gurbani in SGGS is that when one reads loud (‘ਕੂਕ’ ਮਾਰਕੇ), it is indicative of one’s mere reading. Put plainly, it is indicative of one not understanding what he/she is reading. Therefore – according to Gurbani – so long one does not understand what he is being read, until than one reads loud for only others to hear (ਉੱਚੀ ਬੋਲਕੇ ਹੋਰਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਸੁਣਾਉਂਦਾ ਹੈ) that he is reading Gurbani (or any other scripture for that matter). But he himself remains ignorant of what is being read by him!

However, Gurbani stresses when one understands what he is reading or when one is able to grasp (realize, internalize etc.) the gist of the Word he is reading (ਜਦੋਂ ਉਪਦੇਸ਼ ਦਾ ਭੇਤ ਪਾ ਲੈਂਦਾ ਹੈ ਤਦੋਂ ), then he begins to see God in everything and everywhere. As a result, his need to shout so loud comes to an end.

Gurbani’s Enlightening Message is that there is no need of shouting loud when we read or do prayers for God is neither deaf nor far away. Further, mere listening or memorizing of scriptures is not enough either.

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮੁਲਾਂ ਮੁਨਾਰੇ ਕਿਆ ਚਢਹਿ ਸਾਂਈ ਨ ਬਹਰਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਜਾ ਕਾਰਨਿ ਤੂੰ ਬਾਂਗ ਦੇਹਿ ਦਿਲ ਹੀ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਜੋਇ ॥੧੮੪॥ : Kabeer says: O Mullah, why do you climb to the top of the minaret (to make loud calls)? God is not deaf. God for whose sake you shout (Baang-ਬਾਂਗ: call of Muslim priest for worship) so loudly, look for Him within your own mind. ||184|| (sggs 1374).
  • ਮੈ ਅਵਰੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਪੂਜਾ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਵਸਿ ਰਹੇ ॥ ਭੇਖੁ ਭਵਨੀ ਹਠੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਾ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਸਚੁ ਗਹਿ ਰਹੇ ॥੧॥: Divine Naam is dwelling in (my) mind; (equivalent to this divine Naam) I don’t think of any religious discussion, any meditation and any Poojaa. I know nothing about religious robes, pilgrimages or stubbornness; O Nanak, I only hold tight to the Truth ||1|| (sggs 843).
  • ਹਰਿ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਅਤਿ ਊਜਲਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਪਾਇਆ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਪਾਠੁ ਪੜੈ ਨਾ ਬੂਝਈ ਭੇਖੀ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇ ॥: ‘Hari’ is Pure and Luminous; without the Gur (the Gur-Giaan, Aatm-Giaan, Wisdom, etc.), He cannot be Realized. (Those who merely) read (scriptures – ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਪੁਸਤਕਾਂ ਦਾ ਨਿਰਾ ਪਾਠ) cannot understand (this secret); the ‘Bhekhee‘ (those who thus merely read disguised in religious garbs, deceitful pretenders, sham, false, impersonator, etc.) become more deluded by doubts.  (sggs 66).

Gurbani stresses that to make real Spiritual Progress, we must struggle with our own mind to apply every Word we read in our daily life. But, before we can properly apply it to our daily life, we need to understand what we read!

  • ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਤਿਨਾ ਕਾ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਵੇਚਹਿ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਖੇਤੀ ਜਿਨ ਕੀ ਉਜੜੈ ਖਲਵਾੜੇ ਕਿਆ ਥਾਉ ॥ ਸਚੈ ਸਰਮੈ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਅਗੈ ਲਹਹਿ ਨ ਦਾਦਿ ॥ ਅਕਲਿ ਏਹ ਨ ਆਖੀਐ ਅਕਲਿ ਗਵਾਈਐ ਬਾਦਿ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥੧॥ : Accursed is the life who (on account of their selfishness and greed) read and reflect on Naam to sell it in the form of Mantras or magic. They are like those whose crop is continuously destroyed, (as a result) they have nothing to thrash! Without proper self-effort (to know ownself etc.) their future life is wasted. Intellect is not which is wasted in futile arguments. Use intellect in the service of God; the right use of intellect brings respect. Learn by intelligent reading and use intelligence in practice of charity (to help the needy). Says Nanak, this is the right way of life while other things (failure to apply discerning intellect) lead to wickedness. ||1|| (sggs 1245).
  • 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).

If a person eats without properly chewing (ਚੱਬਣ) the food or eats more than one can chew, it then results in indigestion! Similarly, we get spiritual indigestion when we read and / or listen the Gurbani:

  • Without Vichaar or reflection,
  • Without contemplation or pondering,
  • without understanding or DIGESTING,
  • Without applying or living it in daily life (ਅਮਲ),
  • Without Awakening of the Divine Wisdom or Virtues,
  • Without Inner Transformation or positive change,
  • Without resulting in Gurmukh mindset or Enlightenment,
  • Without performing spiritual surgery on the mind suffering from psychological ailments,
  • Without attention, focus and concentration on the Message of the Shabad — reading of the Bani (ਬਾਣੀ) from more than one Beerh (ਬੀੜ) at the same time (i.e., ਇੱਕ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਧ ਬੀੜਾਂ  ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ਼ ਕਰਕੇ: ਅਖੰਡਪਾਠ, ਕੋਤਰੀ ਪਾਠ, ਸੰਪਟ ਪਾਠ —  a business (ਧੰਧਾ),
  • Without any regard whatsoever for the Sikhi principles…

Baabaa Nanak counsels us:

  • ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਪੜਿਆ ॥ ਤੇਤਾ ਕੜਿਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਤੀਰਥ ਭਵਿਆ ॥ ਤੇਤੋ ਲਵਿਆ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਭੇਖ ਕੀਆ ਦੇਹੀ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੀਆ ॥: (Without Vichaar, the more or again and again one) reads the written, the more one boils or burns (in doubtprideegotism, anxiety, pain, thick-headedness…). The more one wanders at Teerath the more one talks uselessly (in false ego-sense, he goes around telling others that he has visited this Teerath or that Teerath). The more one wears religious robes, the more pain he causes his body. (sggs 467).

The term ‘Karhiaa’ (‘ਕੜਿਆ’) is pretty significant in the foregoing verses. It signifies how such people — who merely read the Gurbani, without Shabad Vichaar (ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਦਾ ਨਿਰਾ ਪਾਠ) — burn or boil within; and how such people end up further inflaming the fire of their pride, false ego-sense (or Haumai), vices/Bikaars; and so on.

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