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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh

 

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Gurmat Recommends a Householder’s life

Sawan Singh

Gurmat teaches us to lead the life of a householder and not to shun worldly life in order to live in forests, in caves or at holy places. According to Gurbani, a householder’s life is the best way of living. In Hinduism, life has been divided into four stages and the stage last of life is to be lived as an ascetic. But Gurbani and Gurmat advise us to spend the whole of life with the family as a social being and never to renounce the world. Bhai Gurdas, whose compositions are considered. The ‘key to Gurbani,’ also writes:

ਸਕਲ ਧਰਮ ਮੈ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਸਤੁ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਹੈ ॥
Living the life of a Householder is the Best Way of Living.’   – Vaar Bhai Gurdas, 42

Gurmat Imposes some Restrictions on a Householder
A householder is required to live a social and truthful life controlling his desires. He must not increase his wealth by hook or by crook. Gurbani advises a householder:

ਮਨ ਰੇ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਹੀ ਮਾਹਿ ਉਦਾਸੁ॥
ਸਚੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਕਰਣੀ ਸੋ ਕਰੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਇ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥
O mind, remain detached in the midst of your household. Practicing truth, self-discipline and good deeds, the Gurmukh(God-oriented person) is enlightened.’– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 26

ਵਿਚੇ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਸਦਾ ਰਹੈ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਜਿਉ ਕਮਲੁ ਰਹੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਪਾਣੀ ਹੇ ॥
He (God- oriented person) remains in his household unattached like the lotus flower in the water’. – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1070

Gurmat and Householder
Gurmat teaches us to remember God, earn our living with honest means and share our wealth with the needy. A householder is required to control his desires and passions and live according to the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Equal treatment for women is stressed upon in Gurmat. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the only holy scripture which has forcefully raised voice in favor of women. A married couple should live as if they have one soul in two bodies:

ਧਨ ਪਿਰੁ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਇਕਠੇ ਹੋਇ॥
ਏਕ ਜੋਤਿ ਦੁਇ ਮੂਰਤੀ ਧਨ ਪਿਰੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਇ ॥
They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. They alone are called husband and wife, who have one light in two bodies.‘ – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 788
ਇਕਿ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਸੇਵਕ ਸਾਧਿਕਾ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਲਾਗੇ ॥
ਨਾਮੁ ਦਾਨੁ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜੁ ਹਰਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਸੁ ਜਾਗੇ ॥
Some are householders, seekers who render service and are attached to the Guru’s Teachings. They hold fast to the Naam, to charity, to cleansing and purification; they remain awake in devotion to the Lord.’   – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 419
ਸੋ ਕਿਉ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਜੰਮਹਿ ਰਾਜਾਨ ॥
Why call her inferior who gives birth to kings? – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 473
ਇਸੁ ਭੇਖੈ ਥਾਵਹੁ ਗਿਰਹੋ ਭਲਾ ਜਿਥਹੁ ਕੋ ਵਰਸਾਇ ॥
‘Instead of wearing these beggar’s robes, it is better to be a householder, who share with others’ – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 587
ਸੋ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਜੋ ਨਿਗ੍ਰਹੁ ਕਰੈ ॥ ਜਪੁ ਤਪੁ ਸੰਜਮੁ ਭੀਖਿਆ ਕਰੈ ॥ 
ਪੁੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਕਾ ਕਰੇ ਸਰੀਰੁ ॥ ਸੋ ਗਿਰਹੀ ਗੰਗਾ ਕਾ ਨੀਰੁ ॥                                         
‘He alone is a householder, who restrains his passions and begs for meditation, austerity and self-discipline. He is an embodiment of charity. Such a householder is as pure as the water of the Ganges.’ – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 952

Asceticism is not Necessary for Meeting God
Some leave their families, become ascetics and live on hill tops or in forests in search of God. We can see thousands of them at holy places.  Gurmat disapproves this way of living and teaches us that God is within us and there is no need of giving up the life of a householder for meeting God:
ਜੈ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਤਟਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਜਾਹੀ ॥ਰਤਨ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਘਟ ਹੀ ਮਾਹੀ ॥
‘(O man ) the invaluable jewel (God), in whose search you go to the banks of the holy streams, lies in your heart’. – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 152
ਬਾਹਰੁ ਭਾਲੇ ਸੁ ਕਿਆ ਲਹੈ ਵਥੁ ਘਰੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਭਾਈ ॥
Searching outwardly, what can anyone find? The commodity is deep within the home of the self, O Siblings of Destiny.’ – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 425
ਕਾਹੇ ਰੇ ਬਨ ਖੋਜਨ ਜਾਈ ॥ਸਰਬ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ਸਦਾ ਅਲੇਪਾ ਤੋਹੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਮਾਈ ॥
Why do you go looking for Him in the forest? Although He is Unattached, He dwells everywhere. He is always with you as your companion.’ – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 684
ਫਰੀਦਾ ਜੰਗਲੁ ਜੰਗਲੁ ਕਿਆ ਭਵਹਿ ਵਣਿ ਕੰਡਾ ਮੋੜੇਹਿ ॥ 
ਵਸੀ ਰਬੁ ਹਿਆਲੀਐ ਜੰਗਲੁ ਕਿਆ ਢੂਢੇਹਿ ॥
'O Farid , why wander through the woods crushing weeds and thorns ( under your feet)? The Lord abides within your heart. Why do you seek Him in the forests?’ – Guru Granth Sahib. p. 1378

Gurbani affirms that an Honest Householder can obtain salvationThose who give up the life of a householder to seek salvation are told that salvation can be obtained by living in this world with our family:
ਨਾਨਕ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਭੇਟਿਐ ਪੂਰੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਜੁਗਤਿ ॥ 
ਹਸੰਦਿਆ ਖੇਲੰਦਿਆ ਪੈਨੰਦਿਆ ਖਾਵੰਦਿਆ ਵਿਚੇ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੁਕਤਿ ॥
O Nanak, meeting the True Guru, one comes to know the perfect way. While laughing, dressing and eating, he becomes blessed.’   – Guru Granth Sahib. p. 522
ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਐਸੀ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥ ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਕਲਤ੍ਰ ਵਿਚੇ ਗਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥
‘Such is the Glory of the True Guru; in the midst of children and spouses, they attain emancipation.’                                                                                                        
ਹੋਇ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਤਜਿ ਚਲਿਓ ਛੁਟਕੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਠਾ ॥
One becomes an Udaasi, a renunciate; he abandons his home and walks out of his family, but his wandering impulses do not leave him. ‘ – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1003

Gurbani Approves Genuine Renunciation in our Daily Life
Mere external forms and symbols of renunciation have been condemned in Gurbani and we have been advised to live as a householder. Genuine renunciation of worldliness is recommended by all the Gurus. Only a regulated detachment is needed. We should subjugate our desires and check our minds from wandering astray. Gurbani repeatedly advises us to control our lower instincts and not to renounce the world:-

ਆਸ ਨਿਰਾਸੀ ਤਉ ਸੰਨਿਆਸੀ॥
‘He who controls desires is a real ascetic.– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 356
ਵਸਗਤਿ ਪੰਚ ਕਰੇ ਨਹ ਡੋਲੈ॥
’One who subdues the five passions does not waver. – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 877

ਪਰਹਰਿ ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਝੂਠੁ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਤਜਿ ਮਾਇਆ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਚੁਕਾਵੈ ॥
ਤਜਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਕਾਮਿਨੀ ਮੋਹੁ ਤਜੈ ਤਾ ਅੰਜਨ ਮਾਹਿਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਪਾਵੈ॥
Renounce sexual desire, anger, falsehood and slander; forsake Maya and eliminate egotistical pride. Renounce sexual desire and promiscuity, and give up emotional attachment. Only then shall you obtain the Immaculate Lord amidst the darkness of the world.’ – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 141

ਤਿਆਗਨਾ ਤਿਆਗਨੁ ਨੀਕਾ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਤਿਆਗਨਾ ॥
'The real detachment is detachment from sexual desires, anger and greed’.– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1018

ਸਾਧੋ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਮਾਨੁ ਤਿਆਗਉ ॥ 
ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਦੁਰਜਨ ਕੀ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਭਾਗਉ ॥
‘Holy Sadhus: forsake the pride of your mind. Run away day and night from sexual desire, anger and the company of evil people. – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 219

The Sikh Gurus were Householders
They led married lives and participated in society. They practiced ideal renunciation. They renounced evil and worldliness, but not the world. In the Siddha Gosti, Guru Nanak Dev, tells the yogis who practiced extreme renunciation, tells them about ideal renunciation in these words:-
ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਮੁਰਗਾਈ ਨੈਸਾਣੇ ॥ 
Ideal renunciation is like the lotus flower floats untouched upon the surface of the water, and the duck swims through the stream (but keeps its feathers dry. – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 938

Guru Arjan Dev has narrated his own experience in the following quote:-
ਪ੍ਰਥਮੇ ਤਿਆਗੀ ਹਉਮੈ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ॥ ਦੁਤੀਆ ਤਿਆਗੀ ਲੋਗਾ ਰੀਤਿ ॥ 
ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਦੁਰਜਨ ਮੀਤ ਸਮਾਨੇ ॥ ਤੁਰੀਆ ਗੁਣੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਸਾਧ ਪਛਾਨੇ॥
‘First, I renounced my egotistical love of myself. Second, I gave up the way of the world. Third, I look alike upon friend and enemy. Then, the fourth state of the bliss was revealed to me by the Holy One’.  – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 370

Concluson
According to Gurmat, asceticism is rejected and life of a householder is considered as the best path, provided a householder lives life as directed by Gurbani. Those who give up house holder’s life in search of God or salvation are mistaken. Gurmat advises us to stay in family, remember God and live an ethical and disciplined life. It brings responsibilities and duties which we should shoulder happily. Gurbani advocates social life. We should not yield to worldly attachments and temptations:

ਪਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਨਿਰਵਿਰਤਿ ਹਾਠਾ ਦੋਵੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਧਰਮੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਰੈਬਾਰਿਆ॥
‘Attachment and detachment are the two sides of it; Dharma, true religion is the guide between the two.’ – Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1280)
     

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