The Concept of Greed (Trishna) in Gurbani

'The whole world is burning in the fire of greed'

Tanha (30K)The word greed (iqRSnw jW iqsnw) has occurred in Sri Guru Granth Sahib about 225 times. Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha in his 'Mahan Koshe' has defined it as thirst or acute desire for something. Bhai Vir Singh has written in 'Guru Granth Shabad Koshe that it is a Sanskrit word and means greed. In the Persian language, there is a word' Tisna' which means thirst. What is Greed? Greed is a natural instinct which is found in every living being even in his/ her childhood. Nobody in the world is free from it. It has a hold over everyone. Somebody desires children, while some wants a lot of wealth, while some are after promotion and high rank. Guru Amar Daas has also mentioned this fact in this quote:- iqsnw Agin jlY sMswrw ](SGGS:120) 'The whole world is burning in the fire of greed'

iqRsnw ibrly hI kI buJI hy ](SGGS:213 )
'Thirst of only a rare one is quenched'.

Demerits of Greed

Greed is a disease and everyone is suffering from it. One who is caught in the net of thirst cannot distinguish between good or bad. His disease is incurable and he suffers from it throughout his life. In Gurbani, it is compared with fire which destroys everything. A greedy person is always after fulfilling his desires. Greed destroys peace of mind, comfort and calmness. A greedy person is like a monkey who puts his paw into a small earthen vase full of gram, but cannot take his hand out as his fist is filled with gram and he does not want to leave gram. Consequently, he is caught and made to dance from door to door:-

GreedByScabeater (50K)iqsnw AMdir Agin hY nh iqpqY BuKw iqhwieAw ](SGGS:138)
'The fire of desire is deep within; unsatisfied people remain hungry and thirsty'.

ikAw gBrU ikAw ibriD hY mnmuRK iqRsnw BuK n jwie ](SGGS: 649)
'Whether he is young or old, the self-willed person cannot escape from hunger and thirst'.

iqRsnw jlq n kbhU bUJih jUAY bwjI hwrI ](SGGS:1198 )
'A greedy person's desire is never quenched and he loses his game of life in the gamble'.

shs Kty lK kau auiT DwvY ] iqRpiq n AwvY mwieAw pwCY pwvY ] (SGGS: 279)
'Earning a thousand, a greedy person runs after a hundred thousand. Satisfaction is not achieved by chasing after wealth'

iqRsnw pwsu n CofeI bYrwgIAVy ] mmqw jwilAw ipMfu vxwhMbY ] (SGGS:1104)
'Avarice does not leave one, O ascetic. The body is burning in the fire of worldly love and attachment'. How to Control Greed?

Guru Granth Sahib asks how is one to control this 'trishna'. Naturally the question is followed with the answer, in fact we are taught many methods to control our greed: meditating on God, accepting His Will, remaining contented and company of holy persons are stressed upon:-

iqsnw buJY iqpiq hoie hir kY nwie ipAwir ] (SGGS: 1417)
'The thirst is extinguished and one finds satisfaction through the love of the Name of the Lord'.

nwmu jpq iqRsnw sB buJI hY nwnk iqRpiq AGweI ](SGGS: 673)
'Chanting the Naam, all thirst and desire is satisfied; Nanak is satisfied and fulfilled.'

so suKu mo kau sMq bqwvhu[[iqRsnw bUJY mnu iqRpqwvhu[[
kir ikrpw sMqn scu kihAw ] srb sUK iehu Awnµdu lihAw[[
swDsMig hir kIrqnu gweIAY ] khu nwnk vfBwgI pweIAY[[
'Show me that comfort, O Saints, which will quench my thirst and satisfy my mind.
Worldly comforts, wealth and high ranks cannot satisfy our mind.
In their kindness, the saints have told me the Truth, so I have obtained all comforts and joy.
In the company of the holy persons, I sing the Lord's praises. Nanak says that I have found this due to good fortune'

qyrY BwxY sdw suKu pwieAw guir iqRsnw Agin buJweI ] (SGGS: 1333)
'Accepting Your Will, we have found everlasting peace; the Guru has extinguished the fire of desire'

sIql sWiq sMqoKu hoie sB bUJI iqRsnw[[(SGGS: 811)
'When one is cooled, content, soothed and peaceful, one's greediness (thirst) is quenched'.

sbr mMJ kmwx ey sbru kw nIhxo [[ sbr sMdw bwxu Kwlku Kqw n krI [[ (SGGS: 1384)
'Within yourself, make patience the bow, make patience the bowstring and make patience the arrow, the Creator will not let you miss the target'

Advantages of Controlling Greed

Gurbani teaches us that if we subdue our greed, our mind remains satisfied and our desires subside:-iqRsnw buJI pUrn sB Awsw cUky sog sMqwp[[(SGGS: 1223)
'My thirst (greed) is quenched and my hopes have been fulfilled; my sorrows and sufferings are over'.

iqRsnw bUJI AMqru TMFw[[(SGGS: 1074)
'Thirst and desire are quenched, and one's inner being is cooled and soothed'.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib teaches us to control and not kill our instincts:-

If we kill our desires, progress in the world will stop. It is required that we should meditate on God, adopt good habits, our life should be balanced and we should control our desires so that our greed does not overcome our daily life:-

vsgiq pMc kry nh folY[[(SGGS:877)
'He who subdues his five basic instincts does not wobble'.

min jIqY jgu jIqu[[(SGGS: 6)
'If you conquer your mind you can conquer the whole world'.


Every body is greedy by nature. Greed is a dangerous disease. Gurbani guides us that we can control it by meditation on God, keeping good company, accepting God's Will and leading a contented life. We must not kill it, but control it.

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