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Gur Panth Parkash

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



Concept of Gareebee in Sikhi

Sadhu Singh

Gareebee can be translated in English as poverty which means an insufficiency of material necessities of life. Gareebee generally denotes poverty in lack of money, lack of resources, living in direness, unfulfilment of needs for a decent and dignified living. Let us examine how the major world religions react to poverty. According to Budhism, poverty is bad because it involves dukh (pain). To a Great extent Budhism is responsible for Asian poverty. Now there is an attempt in Budhism to bring in value dimension to even such concept as to wealth and poverty. Islam views poverty as a curse to be eradicated through productive efforts. Islam has been trying to provide the solution to the problem of poverty. Hinduism in itself is a source of poverty. The religious preachers say that wealth is bad but they are rich while their adherents are in poverty. In Christianity wealth and poverty are mostly embodied notions. It is common place now that the problem of poverty is inseparable from the human community. Efforts are being made to eradicate poverty according to the Biblical principle of the tithe.

It goes to the credit of Sikh Guru Sahiban for giving a new interpretation to the word gareebee. According to Guru Nanak Dev Ji the cursed word gareebee portrays humility, absence of pride and profound faith in the nobility and divine nature of man. It is a negation of ego. The successor Guru Sahiban enhanced the meaning of Gareebee and used it as a source for the uplift of mankind.

Some people think that Gareebee has been glorified in Sikhi. They think that it is a regressive philosophy and it does not encourage us to progress in life. This is a very wrong thinking. In Sikhi Gareebee has been encouraged in a very purposeful way. Gareebee has been described as the most potent force to change the life style of the followers of Sikhi. It is gateway to Suchkhand. Anyone who wishes to become Jeevan mukat must adhere to Gareebee. It is evident from the following couplet.

ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਜਿਸਕੈ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਬਸਾਵੈ||
ਨਾਨਕ ਈਹਾ ਮੁਕਤ ਆਗੈ ਸੁਖ ਪਾਵੈ|| ਮ: 5, p. 379

Once a person becomes a devotee of gareebee then he/ she will overcome all the problems caused by anger, greed, lust, attachment and pride. Gareebee is a catalyst for subduing the five most potent forces (the above mentioned five) of life. Our life is controlled by these. Whenever these five are under control then life becomes sublime. So, it is obvious that Gareebee is not a negative force but a positive one which enhances the meaning of life and results in happiness all around. In a way, it elevates the devotee.

Guru Sahiban and the Bhagats understood the inner human psychology of the people and in a way the human nature. They popularized the new thinking about Gareebee and thus had a sweeping hold on the populace irrespective of their caste, creed and other credentials. The new concept of Gareebee (humility) gave the oppressed people a new lease of life. They got self confidence as human beings and acquired a new vision of this life. Thus, gareebee, in Sikhi, has played a vital role in the progress of the society and humanity at large.

ਗਰੀਬੀ ਗਦਾ ਹਮਾਰੀ || ਖੰਨਾ ਸਗਲ ਰੇਨੁ ਛਾਰੀ|| 
ਇਸ ਆਸੈ ਕੋ ਨੋਟਿਕੈ ਵਿਕਾਰੀ || ਗੁਰ ਪੂਰੇ ਇਹ ਗਲ ਸਾਰੀ|| ਸੋਰਿਠ ਮ: 5, p. 638
ਗਰੀਬਾ ਅਨਾਥਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਮਾਣਾ- ਮਾਝ ਮ 5, SGGS-98
ਗਰੀਬ ਨਿਵਾਜ ਗੁਸਈਆ - ਮਾਰੂ ਰਵੀਦਾਸ SGGS-1106

Guru Nanak’s philosophy of Gareebee is a wonderful blend of Eastern and Western spiritual thinking. This philosophy of Guru Sahib about Gareebee gives the devotees a breath taking and awe- inspiring vision of Divinity and ourselves. This gives us a very deep understanding of who we are and our role in the society and world at large. In a way it awakens the conscience of humanity. The new concept of Gareebee as propounded and popularized by Guru Sahiban, is a marvelous advance beyond the morbid, oppressive, godless interpretation of materialistic notions of greebee. In a way greebee according to Sikhi, is forward looking, joyful fulfillment of life, creative force, and a perennial source of enlightenment. Gareebe offers a glimpse of the suffering humanity and ways to ameliorate the suffering. Gareebee makes Sikhi a thoroughly modern and progressive religion for all times to come. No wonder, the Sikh psyche endorses and promotes the time-spirit which has a great civilizing effect. Hence, Gareebee (humility) has given to Sikhi its sterling and unique character.

ਹਉ ਤਿਸੁ ਘੋਲਿ ਘੁਮਾਇਆ ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਰਿਦੈ ਗਰੀਬੀ ਆਵੈ|| (ਭਾਈ ਗੁਰਦਾਸ)


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