One of the inspirational people I met during the Italy trip was a Kathaavachik named Bhai Balbir Singh who does a huge amount of sevaa. Conversations on Gurbani with Bhai Sahib were mind blowing and his knowledge of Gurbani was inspiring.
Bhai Sahib was doing vichaar on people who are continuously challenging Gurmat and show little faith in Gurbani. He said, "Some people ask where is it written in Gurbani that meat and sharaab (alcohol) are forbidden?" Bhai Sahib with so much pyaar and humility started doing vichaar of Bhagat Kabeer Jee's Salok (couplet) on Ang (respected word to refer to 'page') 1377 in Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee.
Below is the vichaar of the following Salok:
ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛੁਲੀ ਸੁਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ ॥
ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥੨੩੩॥
Kabīr bẖāŉg mācẖẖulī surā pān jo jo prānī kẖāŉhi.
Ŧirath baraṯ nėm kīė ṯė sabẖai rasāṯal jāŉhi. ||233||
"O Kabeer! Those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine - no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, it all goes to waste and is of no use. ||233||"
Through the Revealed Word of God, Bhagat Kabeer jee explains to himself to instruct the world about the prohibitions in religious discipline (kurehits). It is false to believe that this salok (hymn) only prohibits the consumption of cannabis, fish and alcohol. One has to look beyond the surface level and dive deeper into Gurbani. Guru Ji cannot make a vast list of drugs, foods and wines that one is forbidden to eat or drink. This would be a waste of time and difficult task to include the continuous new intoxicants or meat and alcohol products for sale around the world. Instead Guru jee categorises drugs, meat/flesh/killed animals and wines/alcohol under three categories which represent all products associated and in the same category.
Meaning of words:
ਭਾਂਗ (bẖaaŉg) = marijuana, cannabis |
The category of 'cannabis' or 'bhung' includes opium, heroine, tobacco, and all drugs whether inhaled, eaten, smoked or injected through needles. Some people argue that "bhung" (marijuana) is part of Sikh tradition and argue that it is part of Nihung Singh Maryada. However, who was given gurgaddi (guruship)? The answer is only Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee. Rehit-namas (ethical codes of conduct), Panth Prakaash granth or any other historical granth (scripture) was not given gurgaddi (guruship). So who do we listen to and obey first? The answer is Gurbani. People make mistakes, traditions can get distorted and adopt new things and writers can be misunderstood but Gurbani is Perfect, Unchanging and the Truth. Therefore, it is clear "bhung" and all intoxicant drugs are forbidden.
ਮਾਛੁਲੀ (maacẖẖulee) = fish |
The category of 'fish' includes all killed animals. Gurbani is not saying "Don't eat fish but you can eat a duck." This category refers to all types of meat whether sea animals (e.g. cod, haddock, crab, whale etc) or land animals (chicken, goat, cow, pig etc.) and all allied products like egg, i.e. all meat and flesh. People argue that one needs meat for strength, but Khalsa ji, the strongest animal on earth is the elephant. The elephant lives on nuts. In the old days when the Khalsa lived in the jungles as fugitives then the Khalsa stayed alive on "sholay" (chick-peas) and berries.
ਸੁਰਾ (suraa) = liquor, alcohol |
ਪਾਨਿ (paan) = one who drinks |
The category of alcohol or wine includes all types of alcohol. This does not mean that someone can argue "I can drink white whine but not drink whisky". Guru jee means all wines and types of alcohol, whether it is beer, whisky, rum, brandy, or any type of wine etc. This is irrespective of the brand name of the alcohol, how it is packaged or whether it is 1% alcohol or 20% alcohol.
ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ (jo jo praanee) = whosoever, everyone |
ਖਾਂਹਿ (kẖaaŉhi) = eat, consume |
Gurbani is not prohibiting drugs, meat and alcohol to only Sikhs. It is clear that Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is addressing everyone, i.e. Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and the whole world.
ਤੀਰਥ (Ŧeerath) = pilgrimages |
Guru Ji is addressing everyone and not only Sikhs. For Hindus, pilgrimage is bathing at the sixty-eight sacred places revered across India. For Muslims, pilgrimage is going on Hajj, i.e. visiting Mecca. For Christians, pilgrimage is visiting Bethlehem and Jerusalem. For Sikhs, pilgrimage in a physical sense is visiting Sri Harimandir Sahib (also known as the 'Golden Temple') in Amritsar as well as other historical Gurdwaras in India and Pakistan, but in a spiritual sense pilgrimage means travelling from your mind to one's soul through bathing and immersing oneself in Naam.
ਬਰਤ (baraṯ) = fast |
Hindus keep fasts on certain days related to their deities as an act of penance. Muslims observe 'Roza' or a fast during the month of Ramadan. Christians keep a fast or give up certain foods during 'Lent' (before Easter). Sikhs observe the permanent fast of not telling lies, not cheating anyone else or stealing the wealth of others, i.e. living an honest life.
ਨੇਮ (nėm) = (religious) routine, practice |
ਕੀਏ (kee'ė) = perform, follow |
Hindus perform daily rituals (puja) and chant devotional prayers as part of their daily routine. Muslims perform five prayers (namaaz) as part of their daily routine. Christians say the Lord's prayer as part of their daily routine. Sikhs recite Nitnem (daily prayers) at Amrit-vela (the early ambrosial hours), in the evening and before bed. In addition to this Sikhs peform religious practices of holding Akhand Paatths, doing Langar seva and reciting Sukhmani Sahib etc.
ਤੇ ਸਭੈ (ṯė sabẖai) = they will all |
Again, Guru Ji talks about everyone. There are no exceptions.
ਰਸਾਤਲ ਜਾਂਹਿ (rasaaṯal jaaŉhi) = become useless, there is not an iota of benefit, go to hell. |233|
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Pefect True Guru, the Complete Truth, the Word of God, the Universal Truth, instructs us that if anyone (irrespective of faith or background) consumes drugs or intoxicants, eats any fish or meat, or drinks any wine or alcohol then all their pilgrimages, fasts and religious practices and prayers lose their value and become worth nothing. So, irrespective of how many Akhand Paatths one holds at the Gurdwara, how many times one pays for Langar seva, or how many Sukhmani Sahib programmes one holds at their home, they will not reap the the true benefits. That person becomes worthy of hell and reaps no benefit from his religious commitments and efforts. If you collect many 'zeros', it means nothing. However, add '1' to three zeros and you will get 100 or add '1' to six zeroes and you get 1 million. Similarly, those of us who do good acts and pray to Waheguru but still follow our mind are collecting zeros but when we follow the Guru, become the Guru's Sikhs through Amrit and keep Rehit then it is like adding '1' to all those zeros collected.
This salok on ang 1377 is crystal clear that a Sikh is prohibited from eating meat or any flesh. Anyone who accepts and has full faith in Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee as their Satguru will not doubt Gurbani (the Guru's Word). With one Hukam from Gurbani a Sikh accepts and obeys. On the other hand, a Manmukh (one who follows his own mind) would continue to ask for further proof or evidence and remain unsatisfied and unwilling to submit to the instructions of Satguru.
In such simple language Bhai Sahib did Kathaa of this salok. Waheguru. May Waheguru bless such souls to carry on with more seva. This reminded me of an incident I read about in "Se Kineyha" from the lifetime of Baba Harnam Singh jee (Rampur Khera wale). Baba jee came to UK and was invited to a house in Hounslow, West London that was claimed to be haunted or had negative vibrations. I will share this story another time.
ਮਾਸੁ ਖਾਨਿ ਗਲ ਵਢਿ ਕੈ ਹਾਲੁ ਤਿਨਾੜਾ ਕਉਣੁ ਹੋਵਸੀ ॥
maas khaan gal vat kai haal thinaarraa koun hovasee |
I think about the plight of those (like you) who cut the throat of animals and eat their flesh.
(Bhai Gurdaas jee - Vaar 25: Pauri 17)
Dhan Hai Guru, Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee