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Gurbani and Five Lower Instincts

Gurbani teaches us to conquer the lower nature called five robbers..

The nature of a human being can be described as dual- the higher and the lower. The higher instincts try to lift up and lead us to ethical values while the lower ones tend to pull down and lead us to unethical ones. Gurbani teaches us to conquer the lower nature called five robbers so that a personality with divine qualities and ethical values--purity, contentment, compassion, faith and truthfulness-- may be developed:

iesu dyhI AMdir pMc cor vsih kwmu k®oDu loBu mohu AhMkwrw ]
AMimRqu lUtih mnmuK nhI bUJih koie n suxY pUkwrw ]
‘Within this body dwell the five thieves: sexual desire, anger, greed,
emotional attachment and egotism. They plunder the Nectar, but
the self-willed human being does not realize it; no one hears his complaint.

eyku mMdru pMc cor hih inq krih buirAweIAw ] (SGGS: 1096)
‘In the one temple of the body are the five thieves, who continually misbehave.’

pMc cor imil lwgy ngrIAw rwm nwm Dnu ihirAw ] (SGGS:1178)
‘The five thieves join together and plunder the body-village,
stealing the wealth of the Lord's Name.’

Lower Instincts

As stated in the quotes given above, these lower instincts - - lust, wrath, greed, attachment and ego-- lead us to unethical actions unless we sublimate them. Out of these five, lust, has been mentioned first. Really, it is very dangerous if left uncontrolled:

hy kwmM nrk ibsRwmM bhu jonI BRmwvx]
O lust, you lead the mortals to hell; you make them
wander in reincarnation through countless species

icqhrxM qRY lok gMm´M jp qp sIl ibdwrxh ]
You cheat the consciousness, and pervade the three worlds.
You destroy meditation, penance and virtue.

Alp suK Aivq cMcl aUc nIc smwvxh ]
But you give only shallow pleasure, while you make the
mortals weak and unsteady; you pervade the high and the low.

qv BY ibmuMicq swD sMgm Et nwnk nwrwiexh ] (SGGS:1358).
Your fear is dispelled in the Company of the saints and
through the protection of the Lord, says Nanak.

Wrath has beenmentioned next to lust. It leads human beings astray. It is the main cause of many fights and murders .When it takes control of its victim, he/she forgets mercy and plays in its hands:

hy kil mUl k®oDM kdMc kruxw nauprjqy ]
ibKXMqjIvM vs´M kroiq inrq´M kroiq jQw mrkth ]
Ainkswsn qwVMiq jmdUqh qv sMgy ADmM nrh
] (SGGS:1358)
O anger, you are the root of conflict; compassion never rises up in you.
You take the corrupt, sinful beings in your power, and make them dance like
monkeys. Associating with you, mortals are debased and punished
by the Messenger of Death in so many ways.

Greed has been placedat 3rd place in the category of lower instincts. A greedy personforgets God and ethics, and runs after worldly gains like a mad dog. He cannot differentiate between good and bad:

hy loBw lµpt sMg isrmorh Aink lhrI klolqy ]
DwvMq jIAw bhu pRkwrM Aink BWiqbhu folqy ]
nc imqRM nc iestM nc bwDv ncmwq ipqw qv ljXw ]
AkrxM kroiq AKwid´ Kwd´MAswj´M swij smjXw ]
O greed, you cling to even the great, and they play many pranks under your waves.
You cause them to run around wildly in all directions, wobbling and wavering unsteadily.
You have no respect for friends, ideals, relations, mother or father.
You make them do what they should not do.
You make them eat what they should not eat.
You make them accomplish what they should not accomplish. You do like this.’

Attachment: When it crosses its limit , it causes havoc. Most of us are attached to worldly gains and forget that they are short lived. We commit dishonest deeds for their sake and repent afterwards:

moh TgaulI hau mueI sw vrqY sMswir ] (SGGS:61)
The drug of emotional attachment has destroyed me, as it has destroyed the whole world.

Ego: Is another destructive instinct which isthe cause of many evil practices. Most of us suffer from this malady of self-conceit and hate our fellow beings. It is the root cause of many problems in the world;

hy jnm mrx mUlµ AhMkwrM pwpwqmw ]
imqRM qjMiq sqRM idRVMiq AinkmwXw ibsœIrnh ]
O egotism, yo are the root of birth and death. You are the very soul of sin.
You forsake friends, and hold tight to enemies. You spread out countless illusions.

Gurbani's Warning and Advice

Many sacred hymns warn us against unethical activitiesand advise to adopt ethical behavior. Gurbani lays great stress on ethical values, character and truthful living:

schu ErY sBu ko aupir scu Awcwr ] (SGGS:62)
'Truth is higher than everything; but higher still is truthful living.'

Gurbani warns us not to fall a prey to lust lest we regret when it controls us and leads us to many unethical activities:

inmK kwm suAwd kwrix koit idns duKu pwvih ] (SGGS:403)
For a moment of sexual pleasure, you shall suffer in pain for millions of days.

Gurbani teaches us that the Lord punishes those who cannot control their anger:

grIbw aupir ij iKMjY dwVI ]pwrbRhim sw Agin mihswVI ] (SGGS: 199)
'The bearded (tyrant) who expresses his anger on the poor,
is burnt in the fire by the Supreme Lord.'

Greed is the main cause of most of our immoral and unethical actions. Gurbani advises us not to be greedy and not to snatch anything that belongs to others:

hku prwieAw nwnkw ausu sUAr ausu gwie ]
guru pIru hwmw qw Bry jw murdwru n Kwie ]
'To take what rightfully belongs to another, is like a Muslim eating pork,
or a Hindu eating beef. Our Guru, our Spiritual Guide, stands by us,
if we do not eat those carcasses (usurp others rights.)'

Gurbani condemns emotional attachment as emotionally attached persons never succeed. When everything is to pass away, it is of no use to be emotionally attached to any thing:

pMkju moh pgu nhI cwlY hm dyKw qh fUbIAly] (SGGS:12)
'In the swamp of emotional attachment, their feet cannot move.
I have seen them drowning there.'

jo dIsY so clsI kUVw mohu n vyKu ] (SGGS:61)
'Whatever is seen shall pass away. So do not be attached to this false show.'

Arrogance is severely condemned by the Sikh Gurus. Gurbani advocates humility:

grbu n kIjY ryx hovIjY qw giq jIAry qyrI ] (SGGS:779)
'O soul, don't be so arrogant - become the dust of all (humble),
and you shall be saved.'


Solution to this problem lies in controlling and sublimating these instincts and not killing them as ascetics do by running away from worldly responsibilities and living alone in forest or caves. If everyone follows them, civilization will stop. Guru Nanak advised an ascetic in these words:-

suixmwiCMdRw nwnku bolY ] vsgiq pMc kry nh folY ] ( SGGS:877)
'Listen Machhindra, to what Nanak says. One who subdues the five passions does not waver.”

pMc mjmI jo pMcn rwKY ] (SGGS: 1151)
'One who harbors the five (wicked instincts), becomes the embodiment of these five.’

duAwdsI pMc vsgiq kir rwKY qau nwnk mnu mwnY ] (SGGS:1245)
'On the twelfth day, the five thieves are subdued, and then,
O Nanak, the mind is pleased and appeased.'

Sacred hymns of SGGS teach us ethical values, but we are drifting away from its teachings. Vanishing ethical values can be restored by acting upon the teachings of SGGS. Thus we can enter ethical civilization. Gurbani visualizes a society where there is no discrimination or ill-will towards anyone. Gurbani trains us to overcome evils and to pursue the five virtues ---purity, contentment, compassion faith and truthfulness.

kwm k®oD mwieAw md mqsr ey Kylq siB jUAY hwry ]
squ sMqoKu dieAw Drmu scu ieh ApunY igRhBIqir vwry ]
'Lust, anger, intoxication with Maya and jealousy - I have lost all of these in the game of gamble.
Purity, contentment, compassion, faith and truthfulness - I have ushered these into my home.'

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