True Wine

Intoxicants means any substance that is known to have or does have intoxicating effects, and includes alcohol, marijuana, or any other controlled substances.

Origin of the word ‘Alcohol’, ‘Sharab‘, and ‘Spirit’

When we understand the origin of words like ‘Alcohol’ or ‘Sharab‘, then we can really appreciate why the Gurmat counsels us against their consumption.

Today the term ‘alcohol’ is widely believed to have been derived from the common Arabic word ‘al-kuhul’ or ‘al-kohl‘. In its Arabic translation ‘Al-Kuhl‘ means ‘Body-Eating Spirit’. According some some also translate it to mean ‘monster’ that seizes and consumes the Spirit.

This is why the strongest of alcoholic beverages are called ‘spirits’.

When a person consumes high amounts of alcohol he/she in effect is extracting the soul/mind essence out of his/her body.

Since drinking alcohol has the same effect of drawing out the human spirit, distilled alcohol beverages are also called ‘spirits’.

In ‘Farsi’ language, alcohol is called ‘Sha-rab‘ meaning ‘Satanic water’. When people consume excessive amounts of alcohol they often black out, unable to remember what happened. During this period, the soul/mind is possessed by dark negative forces which
numbs the body and makes the mind unable to see sense.

In addition to ‘Sha-rab’, in Farsi or Persian alcohol is also called ‘Daru‘ meaning medicine, drug, medication, remedy, cure, gunpowder etc. The reason could be the fact that alcohols, in various forms, are used within medicine as an antiseptic, disinfectant, and antidote.

False Wine

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) alerts us against addiction to all sorts of intoxicants alcoholic intoxicants, psychic intoxicants etc.

  • ਜਿਤੁ ਪੀਤੈ ਮਤਿ ਦੂਰਿ ਹੋਇ ਬਰਲੁ ਪਵੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਆਇ ॥ ਆਪਣਾ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਨ ਪਛਾਣਈ ਖਸਮਹੁ ਧਕੇ ਖਾਇ ॥: But (alcohol) whose drinking intellect goes away and the confusion (madness, restlessness, delusion, uncertainty, etc.) enters in (mind) and is buffeted by the ‘Khasam(Sach-ਸਚ). (sggs 554).

Many of us have had run-ins with drunk individuals at one point or another in our lives. Thus we have all witnessed the evil work of the alcohol. For example, turning beings into something they are not, turning people into their own worst nightmare and enemies, turning loving people or families into hated adversaries, and leaving people with ruined lives and health.

Psychic intoxicants

In addition to alcohol (liquor, substance abuse or addiction etc.), the unique and new Message of the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS tells us that people are also intoxicated with Haumai (false ego-sense), beauty, youth, Maya, vices or Bikaar ( i.e. lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride), worldly possessions and wealth, corrupt or wicked intellect, and so on.

  • ਮਨੁ ਮੈ ਮਤੁ ਮੈਗਲ ਮਿਕਦਾਰਾ ॥: The mind is like an elephant, drunk with the wine (of false ego-sense – ਹਉਮੈ) (sggs 159).
  • ਬਿਆਪਤ ਰੂਪ ਜੋਬਨ ਮਦ ਮਸਤਾ ॥੨॥: Someone is intoxicated with the intoxication of beauty and youth in some form or another – in these many ways (Maya) is asserting itself. ||2|| (sggs 182).
  • ਸੋਇ ਰਹੇ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦ ਮਾਤੇ ॥: The mortals are asleep, intoxicated with the wine of Maya (sggs 388).
  • ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਮਦੁ ਜੋ ਪੀਵਤੇ ਬਿਖਲੀ ਪਤਿ ਕਮਲੀ ॥: Wrong wisdom is (like) alcohol. Who start drinking this alcohol (of wrong wisdom) become immoral and insane (in Bikaar). (sggs 399).
  • ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਲੋਭ ਮਦ ਮਾਤਾ ॥ ਕਉਡੀ ਬਦਲੈ ਜਨਮੁ ਗਵਾਤਾ ॥: (O foolish and ignorant man!) You are intoxicated with lust, anger, greed (etc. Bikaar). And, in this way, losing his (precious human) birth in exchange for a shell. (sggs 1004).

Hence, the Gurbani concludes:

  • ਸਭ ਮਦ ਮਾਤੇ ਕੋਊ ਨ ਜਾਗ ॥ ਸੰਗ ਹੀ ਚੋਰ ਘਰੁ ਮੁਸਨ ਲਾਗ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: All beings (in some or the other disorder or Bikaar) are intoxicated, no one is awake and aware. And, the thieves (i.e., Bikaar), who are with them, plunder their Inner Home (mind or Heart). (sggs 1193).

True Wine

The advice of the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS is to switch from these false (fleeting, ਝੂਠੀ, ਖੋਟੀ, ਹੋਸ਼ੀ…) intoxicants to the true Wine of Truth (Sach-ਸਚ, the ONE Creator).

But, how can one go about fermenting this wine of Truth?

Since the Wine of Truth (Sach-ਸਚ) is Subtle, the ingredients (molasses-ਗੁੜ, etc.) needed to ferment it must also be subtle!

That subtle ingredient, according to the Gurbani, is Naam (Giaan, Wisdom…).

In other words, Naam is that Molasses which ferments this Wine of Truth whose intoxication is forever (ਸਦਾ ਦੀ ਮਸਤੀ). Baabaa Nanak says:

  • ਸਚੁ ਸਰਾ ਗੁੜ ਬਾਹਰਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਚਾ ਨਾਉ ॥: The Wine of Truth is not fermented from molasses — it is prepared with Naam. (sggs 15).
  • ਕਰਣੀ ਲਾਹਣਿ ਸਤੁ ਗੁੜੁ ਸਚੁ ਸਰਾ ਕਰਿ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: So let good deeds be your distillery, and let Truth be the molasses you ferment; (thus) make the most excellent wine of Truth. (sggs 553).

The Gurbani asserts it’s the lack or absence of Naam (Wisdom) that hooks us to the worldly or Mayaic intoxicants.

  • ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦੁ ਪੀਆ ॥ ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਭਗਤਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਸੁਖੁ ਥੀਆ ॥੪॥ : Forgetting the Naam, (one) drinks the wine of (the love of) Maya. Without the ‘Gur’ (-Giaan or Wisdom) there can be no Bhagti, and without Bhagti there is no Happiness. (sggs 832).
  • ਲਲਾ ਲਪਟਿ ਬਿਖੈ ਰਸ ਰਾਤੇ ॥ ਅਹੰਬੁਧਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦ ਮਾਤੇ ॥ ਇਆ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਹਿ ਜਨਮਹਿ ਮਰਨਾ ॥: LALLA (a letter of Gurmukhi alphabet): Those who are entangled in the love of corrupt pleasures, they remain intoxicated with (love of) Maya and their intellect or wisdom remain covered by the veil of false ego-sense (Haumai). In this Maya, they are born and die (i.e., by clinging to corrupt pleasures, they suffer repeatedly throughout their life). (sggs 252).
  • ਕਾਇਆ ਲਾਹਣਿ ਆਪੁ ਮਦੁ ਮਜਲਸ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਧਾਤੁ ॥ ਮਨਸਾ ਕਟੋਰੀ ਕੂੜਿ ਭਰੀ ਪੀਲਾਏ ਜਮਕਾਲੁ ॥ ਇਤੁ ਮਦਿ ਪੀਤੈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਬਹੁਤੇ ਖਟੀਅਹਿ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਗੁੜੁ ਸਾਲਾਹ ਮੰਡੇ ਭਉ ਮਾਸੁ ਆਹਾਰੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: The body is the bottle, self-conceit is the wine and desire is the company of drinking buddies. The glass of the mind’s (Mayaic) longing is filled to overflowing with falsehood; ‘Jammkaal‘ (Bikaar) is the bartender. O Nanak! Drinking in this wine one earn many more Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.). Make Wisdom your molasses, and the divine Praise (living a divine life of Virtues and Wisdom) your food; let the fear (respect of Hukam, etc.) the dish of meat. O Nanak! Then this food is true, because only the true Naam (Wisdom) can be the support (of life). || 2 || (sggs 553).

Now, what is this Naam Molasses?

Naam is NOT ritualistic recitation of Bani (e.g., Nitnem, etc.) or chanting some Mantra with rosary (Maalaa), and so on. That’s all Bharam-Jaal (illusion) spread out by the crafty and illiterate Pujaaree-Vaad.

In nutshell, the entire Gurbani is Naam. In other words, Naam is Bhagti — churning of the Gurbani through Shabad-Vichaar for extracting the ‘butter’ of the Gurmat Wisdom or Amrit Giaan.

  • ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਭਗਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (The Satguru) has fixed (ਪੱਕਾ) the divine Naam Bhagti. (sggs 230).
  • ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਦਧਿ ਮਥੀਐ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਿਧਾਨਾ ॥: If we churn yoghurt then butter is found (in the same way) if we take Gurmat then the Treasure of Amrit of Naam (Wisdom) is obtained. (sggs 1009).
  • ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਕਾ ਵਾਪਾਰੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਕਿਆ ਮਦਿ ਛੂਛੈ ਭਾਉ ਧਰੇ ॥੨॥: One who trades in Amrit – how could he ever love the wine of the world (ਫੋਕੀ)? ||2|| (sggs 360).

To say it otherwise, Naam (Simran) is to constantly (‘ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ’) keeping the Wisdom and Virtues in the mind and live by them in daily life.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਏ ॥੩॥: By becoming he Gurmukh, remain absorbed in Naam Bhagti (sggs 160).

This is the Gurmukh Lifestyle mentioned in the Gurbani. Rest is all Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree lifestyle or Bharam-Giaan (doubt ridden mind). Baabaa Nanak says:

  • ਗੁੜੁ ਕਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਧਾਵੈ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਣੀ ਕਸੁ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਭਾਠੀ ਭਵਨੁ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਕਾ ਪੋਚਾ ਇਤੁ ਰਸਿ ਅਮਿਉ ਚੁਆਈਐ ॥੧॥ ਬਾਬਾ ਮਨੁ ਮਤਵਾਰੋ ਨਾਮ ਰਸੁ ਪੀਵੈ ਸਹਜ ਰੰਗ ਰਚਿ ਰਹਿਆ ॥ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਬਨੀ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਸਬਦੁ ਅਨਾਹਦ ਗਹਿਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Make Giaan (Wisdom) your Molasses, and meditation (Consciousness or Surati attuned to the Naam) your flowers (of Mahooaa or Basia-latifolia tree, which are used to ferment wine); let high conduct (good deeds, etc.) be the fermenting bark. Make this body the furnace (to make wine – ਭੱਠੀ), and your love the plaster (ਠੰਡਾ ਪੋਚਾ ਜੋ ਅਰਕ ਵਾਲੀ ਨਾਲੀ ਉਤੇ ਫੇਰਨਾ ਹੈ). In this way the the sweet nectar of life is distilled (which bestows divine life– ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ). ||1|| O Baabaa! The mind remains intoxicated (a kind of Joy, Bliss) drinking in the nectar of Naam (Giaan or Wisdom), and remains absorbed in Sahaj (Natural State of Being, Giaan-Avasthaa or the state of Wisdom). By fixing attention on the divine Love day and night, (that mind) constantly abides in the Shabad. ||1||Pause||. (sggs 360).

In other words, as flowers of the Mahooaa tree are used to produce molasses to ferment the wine, similarly, the Gurbani urges us to produce the Molasses of Giaan (Wisdom) from the tree of the Dhiaan of the Gur-Shabad (Shabad-Vichaar). [ਗੁੜੁ ਕਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਕਰਿ ਮਹੂਆ ਭਉ ਭਾਠੀ ਮਨ ਧਾਰਾ ॥ (sggs 969)].

  • ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਰੰਗੇ ਰਾਤਾ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਪੀਆ ਸਾਚੇ ਮਾਤਾ ॥: By the grace of Gur-Giaan (i.e., Wisdom), a person becomes imbued with the love (of Naam, Wisdom…). Drinking in (Naam-) Amrit, he is remains intoxicated with Truth. (sggs 945).
  • ਰਾਮ ਰਸਾਇਣਿ ਜੋ ਰਤੇ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਚ ਅਮਲੀ ॥੪॥੧੨॥੧੧੪॥: O Nanak! Those human beings who are intoxicated with the sublime juice of Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) become addicted (ਅਮਲੀ) with Truth. (sggs 399).

This true Wine of Truth bestows upon us the Real ‘Khumaaree’ (Perpetual Intoxication or Naam-Khumaaree) which never changes or fluctuates it’s lasting and steady. The Gurbani guides us:

  • ਉਬਟ ਚਲੰਤੇ ਇਹੁ ਮਦੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਜੈਸੇ ਖੋਂਦ ਖੁਮਾਰੀ ॥੪॥੩॥: Turning away (from the world or Maya, turning within, etc., which is like hiking a difficult and treacherous cliff – uphill climb) I have obtained This Wine, and am inebriated as if with the grape wine. ||4||3|| (sggs 1123).

Babba Nanak tells us in the outset of the SGGS:

  • ਕਿਵ ਸਚਿਆਰਾ ਹੋਈਐ ਕਿਵ ਕੂੜੈ ਤੁਟੈ ਪਾਲਿ ॥ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੧॥: How then can you become God-Realized being within (‘Sachiaaraa‘)? How can I remove the obstacle of  my non-realized state within? O Nanak! (The way to realize Creator within is to) remain within the confines of His Hukam (the System or Law of Nature…) and abide in Sahaj, as (Creator and His Hukam) is contained with us. ||1|| (sggs 1).


  1. Really very nice article. I heard this Shahad sing by some Raagi was ever looking for it. Thanks a Lot.

  2. Very good article.
    Have you written any article on divine laws? I am very interested to read about it.

  3. very good exposition of the psychic vines that Guru alerts us against. Thank you for your research.

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