Love is a basic human trait. It is our nature to love and want to be loved. However, love may be true, based on affection or it may be false with a motivation. The exemplary love in the physical domain is between the mother and her child. She changes her lifestyle from the time she conceives until the child is on its own. As the baby grows and becomes playful, the mother enjoys its antics. This carries on but at some stage, the mother starts thinking of what her child would do for her when it grows up. This leads to attachment. Attachment becomes bondage and the selfless love changes to one with expectations. This is so in most relationships including between siblings, friends and spouses. Everyone has expectations from the other. This is not true love. Gurbani explains:

Selfish Love does not last

ਨਾਨਕ ਗਾਲੀ ਕੂੜੀਆ ਬਾਝੁ ਪਰੀਤਿ ਕਰੇਇ ॥ ਤਿਚਰੁ ਜਾਣੈ ਭਲਾ ਕਰਿ ਜਿਚਰੁ ਲੇਵੈ ਦੇਇ ॥੨॥

Says Nanak: Talk of love without affection is false. One finds the relationship good as long as s/he keeps receiving, the other giving. P 594

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਜਾ ਲਬੁ ਤਾ ਨੇਹੁ ਕਿਆ ਲਬੁ ਤ ਕੂੜਾ ਨੇਹੁ ॥ ਕਿਚਰੁ ਝਤਿ ਲਘਾਈਐ ਛਪਰਿ ਤੁਟੈ ਮੇਹੁ ॥੧੮॥

Says the Sufi saint Farid: What is love if there is selfishness; if there is selfishness then love is false.

How long can one live under a broken roof in rain? (Farid, SGGS, p 1378).

Message: Self-serving love does not last long.

True Love

There is one love however, that remains selfless forever. This is the love the Creator has for IT’s creation and is without any expectation.

ਬਹੁਤਾ ਕਰਮੁ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਵਡਾ ਦਾਤਾ ਤਿਲੁ ਨ ਤਮਾਇ ॥

The abundant benevolence of the Almighty is beyond measure. The great benefactor expects nothing. Japji Paurri 25.

In Arabic language, love is called Ishq and the lover AashiqIshq is of two categories, Ishqe Haqiqi the true love as between God and the devotee; and Ishqe Majaazi the carnal love of flesh as between man and woman, based on desires. The latter love can also become real if the two souls of man and woman unite, with the two souls merging into one. Gurbani takes note of this and says:

ਏਹ ਕਿਨੇਹੀ ਆਸਕੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਗੈ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਆਸਕੁ ਕਾਂਢੀਐ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਰਹੈ ਸਮਾਇ ॥

ਚੰਗੈ ਚੰਗਾ ਕਰਿ ਮੰਨੇ ਮੰਦੈ ਮੰਦਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਆਸਕੁ ਏਹੁ ਨ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿ ਲੇਖੈ ਵਰਤੈ ਸੋਇ ॥੧॥੨੪੭੪

What is love if one looks elsewhere?

A true lover is one who is ever absorbed in love of the beloved.

But one who is happy in good times but unhappy in adversity;

Such a calculating person cannot be called a true lover. P 474

The above is also an allegory for love between the Creator and the human. 

Gurbani puts it thus:

ਆਸਕੁ ਆਸਾ ਬਾਹਰਾ ਮੂ ਮਨਿ ਵਡੀ ਆਸ ॥ ਆਸ ਨਿਰਾਸਾ ਹਿਕੁ ਤੂ ਹਉ ਬਲਿ ਬਲਿ ਬਲਿ ਗਈਆਸ ॥੨॥

A lover is one who has no expectations, but I expect a lot.

O Almighty, You alone are bereft of expectations; I adore You. P 1100

Cardinal Feature of Gurbani

The Sikh scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) teaches truthful living, where spiritual precept and practical life accord. This removes the dichotomy of two separate lives – spiritual and secular - of the same person. Religion then becomes a clean way of life rather than remaining a set of rituals and dogmas. This facilitates to attain the two-fold purpose of life, namely,

  1.  Conduct the self for peace in life and contribute to make this world a better place.
  2. Union of the soul with the Creator at the end of life.

The first is a prerequisite for the second. Like pure love is selfless, the true devotee’s relationship with God is without wish. This is the cardinal feature of the Sikh religion.

The content of SGGS is also called Gurbani, meaning the guru’s word. Gurbani says

ਜਿਉ ਜਨਨੀ ਗਰਭੁ ਪਾਲਤੀ ਸੁਤ ਕੀ ਕਰਿ ਆਸਾ ॥ ਵਡਾ ਹੋਇ ਧਨੁ ਖਾਟਿ ਦੇਇ ਕਰਿ ਭੋਗ ਬਿਲਾਸਾ ॥

ਤਿਉ ਹਰਿ ਜਨ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਖਦਾ ਦੇ ਆਪਿ ਹਥਾਸਾ ॥੧॥

Like the expectant mother looks after the fetus expecting a child. Who would earn and be a source of livelihood and happiness when s/he grows up.

However, God looks after and supports the devotees – but expects nothing. P 165


ਜਿਉ ਜਨਨੀ ਸੁਤੁ ਜਣਿ ਪਾਲਤੀ ਰਾਖੈ ਨਦਰਿ ਮਝਾਰਿ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਦੇ ਗਿਰਾਸੁ ਖਿਨੁ ਖਿਨੁ ਪੋਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਤਿਉ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਰਾਖਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥੧॥ 

Like the mother gives birth and brings up the child always keeping it in sight. Feeds and pampers it. 

Similarly, the Almighty looks after the creatures with love. P 168 

The biological parents and God both look after. The child starts loving the parents because it can see what all they do for it. Similarly, God looks after all, but being unseen, is not acknowledged. The Guru helps to remove this ignorance:

ਮੇਰੇ ਰਾਮ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੇ ਹੈ ਇਆਣੇ ॥ ਧੰਨੁ ਧੰਨੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਧਾ ਜਿਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਦੇ ਕੀਏ ਸਿਆਣੇ ॥੧॥ 

O Almighty, we Your children, are ignorant of Your benevolence.

Glory be to the Guru, my teacher who made me conscious of You, by his guidance. P 168

Then one acknowledges the Creator.

ਤੂੰ ਮੇਰਾ ਪਿਤਾਤੂੰਹੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਾਤਾ ॥ ਤੂੰ ਮੇਰਾ ਬੰਧਪੁ ਤੂੰ ਮੇਰਾ ਭ੍ਰਾਤਾ ॥ ਤੂੰ ਮੇਰਾ ਰਾਖਾ ਸਭਨੀ ਥਾਈ ਤਾ ਭਉ ਕੇਹਾ ਕਾੜਾ ਜੀਉ॥੧॥

You are my father and mother; my relative and sibling;

You protect me everywhere so I have no worries. P 103.

God and parents both guide.

ਜੈਸਾ ਬਾਲਕੁ ਭਾਇ ਸੁਭਾਈ ਲਖ ਅਪਰਾਧ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਝਿੜਕੇ ਬਹੁ ਭਾਤੀ ਬਹੁੜਿ ਪਿਤਾ ਗਲਿ ਲਾਵੈ ॥ ਪਿਛਲੇ ਅਉਗੁਣ ਬਖਸਿ ਲਏ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਆਗੈ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪਾਵੈ ॥੨॥ 

Like a child commits numerous wrongs by its nature. The father admonishes it in many ways, but again embraces it lovingly.

Similarly, the Almighty forgives past transgressions of the creatures and puts them on the right path. P 624

The God-creature love is such that we may have expectations from God but IT does not. However, wishes are fulfilled when deserved, by dedication. 

ਹਰਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਪਿਆਰੁ ਹੈ ਜੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਰੇ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥

ਪਾਖੰਡਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਬੋਲੁ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥੩੨੮

Devotion to God is to love God; one does this by contemplating on the guru’s teachings.

Pretense is not devotion; duality ultimately results in frustration. P 28

ਰੈਣਿ ਦਿਨਸੁ ਰਹੈ ਇਕ ਰੰਗਾ ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕਉ ਜਾਣੈ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਸੰਗਾ ॥ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਨਾਮੁ ਕੀਓ ਉਨਿ ਵਰਤਨਿ ॥ 

ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਿ ਅਘਾਵਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਕੈ ਦਰਸਨਿ ॥੧॥ ਹਰਿ ਸੰਗਿ ਰਾਤੇ ਮਨ ਤਨ ਹਰੇ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪੂਰੇ ਕੀ ਸਰਨੀ ਪਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ 

The devotees are intuitively in love, perceiving God with them day and night.

Conformance to God’s commands is their way of life; God’s presence gives them satisfaction.

Thus imbued, their mind and body blossom with the guru’s guidance. P 181

God loves IT’s devotees:

ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੋ ਭਗਤਿ ਵਛਲੁ ਬਿਰਦਾਇਓ ॥ ਕਰੇ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਲ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਕੀ ਨਿਆਈ ਜਨ ਕਉ ਲਾਡ ਲਡਾਇਓ ॥੧॥ 

It is God’s nature to love IT’s devotees. IT rears and pampers them like children: P 498

Love between Spouses

In terms of closeness, the mother-child relationship is followed by that between the spouses. This is generally described only in terms of body relationship. For example, the Bible says:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

Similarly in Hindu parlance the wife is called ardhangni i.e. half the body. ‘Ang’ means a limb of the body. It is worth noting that in both cases it is the body relationship with importance given to the male body.

According to Gurmat, meaning the guru’s counsel, loving husband and wife are two bodies but one soul - two souls that identify with each other to become one:

ਧਨ ਪਿਰੁ ਏਹਿ ਨ ਆਖੀਅਨਿ ਬਹਨਿ ਇਕਠੇ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਏਕ ਜੋਤਿ ਦੁਇ ਮੂਰਤੀ ਧਨ ਪਿਰੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੋਇ ॥੩॥

Wife and husband are not those who live together.

Only when their two bodies have one in spirit, they are called husband and wife. P 788

True love between spouses is therefore spiritual; union of two spirits, and their merging to become one. This is the real meaning of love, i.e. two bodies and one soul.

Gurbani uses this close relationship as a metaphor for that between the soul and God or the Supreme Soul. This is how. God resides in all creatures; IT gives soul to provide life to the body. The way husband and wife live in one house; God and soul are in the same body. Here again therefore there are two entities and one spirit.

Ego impedes Love

When two entities live together, there can be clashes of egos. This causes differences between them. They are then so near and still so far. This applies to both relationships, i.e. of spouses and the God-soul. However, there is a difference. God is the Supreme Spirit, not a person and hence beyond this proclivity and it applies only to the soul. Human ego is well known. Gurbani elucidates.

ਧਨ ਪਿਰ ਕਾ ਇਕ ਹੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਵਾਸਾ ਵਿਚਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਭੀਤਿ ਕਰਾਰੀ ॥ ਗੁਰਿ ਪੂਰੈ ਹਉਮੈ ਭੀਤਿ ਤੋਰੀ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਮਿਲੇ ਬਨਵਾਰੀ ॥੪॥

The wife and husband reside together but a strong wall of ego develops between them.

The Guru breaks the wall of ego and the soul-wife unites with the Almighty-husband. P 1263

Spiritual love is not experienced when one’s mind is in grip of desires. 

ਮੈ ਪ੍ਰੇਮੁ ਨ ਚਾਖਿਆ ਮੇਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਭਾਉ ਕਰੇ ॥ ਮਨਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਨ ਬੁਝੀ ਮੇਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਨਿਤ ਆਸ ਕਰੇ ॥ 

I have not tasted Your love because of lack of affection, my beloved; because

My mind’s craving for other pleasures is never satiated; it ever expects more of them. P 451

The soul contemplates and realizes that physical pleasures are transitory and connected with the body, which is perishable. It therefore needs to be alert to effect of desires:

How to repair broken Love

ਜਾਗ ਲੇਹੁ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ਜਾਗ ਲੇਹੁ ਕਹਾ ਗਾਫਲ ਸੋਇਆ ॥ ਜੋ ਤਨੁ ਉਪਜਿਆ ਸੰਗ ਹੀ ਸੋ ਭੀ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਹੋਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Awake my mind, why are you idling carelessly?

Even the body that you were born with will not go with you. P 726

Some people think they can win love with gifts or sycophancy. Similarly, people believe making offerings or prayer obtain love of God. Japji Paurri 4 asks.

ਫੇਰਿ ਕਿ ਅਗੈ ਰਖੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਦਿਸੈ ਦਰਬਾਰੁ ॥ ਮੁਹੌ ਕਿ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਬੋਲੀਐ ਜਿਤੁ ਸੁਣਿ ਧਰੇ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ 

Question: Then what offering should we make to have a vision of the Almighty? What words should we say, hearing which, God loves us?

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਵੇਲਾ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਉ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥

Answer: In the ambrosial hours of the morning, i.e. when the mind is free of other thoughts, contemplate on Divine commands – and conform to them day and night. Japji Pauuri 4, P 2

Gurbani teaches how to heal a ruptured relationship, both spiritual and worldly.

ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਅਖਰੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਗੁਣੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਮਣੀਆ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਵੇਸੋ ਹਉ ਕਰੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਵਸਿ ਆਵੈ ਕੰਤੁ ॥੧੨੬॥ 

Question: A soul-bride asks a question: What conduct, what qualities and what mantra/formula I should adopt.

What apparel/makeup I should wear, so that my spouse comes under my control, i.e. win love of the beloved. P 126\

ਨਿਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਅਖਰੁ ਖਵਣੁ ਗੁਣੁ ਜਿਹਬਾ ਮਣੀਆ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਏ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਭੈਣੇ ਵੇਸ ਕਰਿ ਤਾਂ ਵਸਿ ਆਵੀ ਕੰਤੁ ॥੧੨੭॥ 

Answer: Humility in dealings, virtue of forgiveness/tolerance and gem/sweetness of words as the mantra.

Adopt this apparel/adornment, then the spouse will be under your control, i.e. shall do anything you like. 127. P 1384

Gurbani emphasizes humility by overcoming ego. 

ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਈਐ ਤਾ ਸਹੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਅਉਰੁ ਕੈਸੀ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ ॥ ਸਹੁ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਦੇਖੈ ਸੋ ਦਿਨੁ ਲੇਖੈ ਕਾਮਣਿ ਨਉ ਨਿਧਿ ਪਾਈ ॥੧੭੨੨

There is no better wisdom and smartness than to shed ego to win the beloved.

That day is fruitful when the Master casts the eye of grace

The bride feels blessed as if getting all the treasures. P 722

Gurbani emphasizes Faithfulness in Marriage.

ਜੈਸਾ ਸੰਗੁ ਬਿਸੀਅਰ ਸਿਉ ਹੈ ਰੇ ਤੈਸੋ ਹੀ ਇਹੁ ਪਰ ਗ੍ਰਿਹੁ॥੨॥  

As is company of the serpent, so is indulgence with another’s spouse – it is poisonous. P 103


ਢੂਢੇਦੀਏ ਸੁਹਾਗ ਕੂ ਤਉ ਤਨਿ ਕਾਈ ਕੋਰ ॥ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਨਾਉ ਸੁਹਾਗਣੀ ਤਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਝਾਕ ਨ ਹੋਰ ॥੧੧੪॥ 

O married woman, if you are searching for happiness, there is something wrong with you.

One who is married does not look for happiness elsewhere. 114. P 1384

Message: God is within everyone; do not search elsewhere – conform to divine commands.

Love for the Beloved Cause

ਜਿਸੁ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਸਿਉ ਨੇਹੁ ਤਿਸੁ ਆਗੈ ਮਰਿ ਚਲੀਐ ॥ ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਜੀਵਣੁ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ਤਾ ਕੈ ਪਾਛੈ ਜੀਵਣਾ ॥੨॥ P 83

One should be ready to die for the cause one loves. It is shameful to live if the cause is lost. P 83

ਜਉ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ ਗਲੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਆਉ ॥ ਇਤੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪੈਰੁ ਧਰੀਜੈ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਕਾਣਿ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥੨੦॥ 

If you wish to play the game of love, then come my way with your head on the palm, i.e. be ready to die for the cause. And when you take a step on this path, do not hesitate to give your life if the need arises. 20. Page 1410

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