Karam and Dharam in Sikhi


‘It is the maryada of the House of Nanak that he who places people on the path of Truth can surely expect to get a beating from the world.’ – Yogi Bhajan

By Bhai Sahib Bhai Harbhajan Singh Ji Khalsa

This is a humble attempt in translating the lecture on Karam and Dharam, posted on MrSikhnet. I do not claim precise translation, but it is only to help those that are not too familiar with Punjabi, so that they may be able to derive benefit from the core message of the lecture.

This morning, we will contemplate on the status of karam (worldly duty) and dharam (religious duty) in Sikhi. The truth is that no matter what we do, it is nothing less than what animals already do. Those that are filled with the pride of having earned themselves (worldly or spiritual) things have in essence all that amounting to nil – for they have only reaped what was due for deeds done in their past lives. No one can earn even a dime for himself in this life. The scientists are solely mistaken in believing that one can change the frequency of his magnetic psyche. Whatever life, and the strength in life, is granted by Akaal Purakh, and we have no right of owning any of it.

The folly of man is that all he seeks is self-praise for all that he has no right over – he grooms himself and compliments himself over how he looks like when he sees his reflection in the mirror; expects his wife and children to regard him as good; yearns to be honoured when he’s at the Gurudwara – what a tragedy, that even at the Door of the Guru, he does not seek to Praise the Guru, but wants his own. Man is so endlessly greedy for respect, honour and love that he forgets the purpose of his life is to make it worthy [in contemplating on God) and get going after the life is over. What’s of worth in this world? Are we going to take the bed covers of this hotel when we check out of it? All you do is pack up what’s your’s and leave – and even when we are to leave this world, pack up your sack of deeds and leave.

We are so concerned about the nitty-gritties of the foundations of the homes we build, we forget that we are to leave them behind to crumble away. We worry over the home and not the one who lives in it. Where we have come from and with whom we are are related to, we give no thought to Him. These days, we all read the five five pauris of Anand Sahib and conclude it with the fourtieth one and then offer an Ardas before the Guru for Anand Sahib! What a farce! It’s like reading the first five pages of Guru Granth Sahib and then jumping all the way to the end to Raag Mala and then offer an Ardas before the Guru for having completed an ‘Akhand Paath’! Then we are the same people who complain that our children speak lies and they do not listen to us and are not interested in the Guru . . . what a great karam of lies!

When a child asks what the hairs (beard) are all about on his father’s face, father doesn’t want to be bothered on explanations and just ignores the innocent questions of his child. When the same child matures, he considers the whole idea of Sikhi nothing more than a meaningless act of life as he got no lessons on what it is all about when he was young. The Guru’s teachings were not implanted within the child, how will the Guru even sit by the child as he grows into an adult?

As a Sikh, one should count himself fortunate that the Guru awaits him as soon he leaves the darkness of the mother’s womb. While the others stumble in life in search of a Guru, a Sikh is blessed to have been born with the Guru already chosen for him. The Sikh’s life is all guided by the Guru – from the naming of the new born to the scriptures, everything for the Sikh is guided by the Word of the Guru. All the affairs and accounts of the Sikh are already determined by the Guru, and we have unfortunately turned the Guru to an act of worldly deed (karam) in the place of a religious one (dharam). Where are we going to find that illusive liberation, peace and merging into the One, when we have switched our religious duty with worldly deeds? How then will we be able to merge into the roop of Nirankar and understand the Shabad of One God? It’s taken me 15 years of teaching in America and have now topped the age of 55 in pondering over what the fate will be of these kind of people.

What a mess you’ve got yourselves into by thinking that all your affairs are well. Your very base is not well – you have no understanding of what Sikhi (dharam). Deeds must be done anyway, because they have been determined by your past life. But man is just full of ego of claiming that his deed of giving is his own and that Sikhi is the Gift of the Great Giver (Dataar), but above all, the biggest of all our lies is we mention of His gifts. The truth is that we do not acknowledge any of His gifts – it’s all a false show of words. Through insipid words, all we do is fill our mindS with the soot of ego, suppress our wisdom and eventually bring an end to the radiant light within the body – and thus, wherever we may say anything, our words will have no value.

Man’s greatest strength is Shabad (the Word) – you are the Sikhs of Shabad Guru and you have great knowledge of Shabad that ‘Shabad is my faith, my guidance’ and by quoting endlessly from Gurbani . . . yet your claims have no weight, no strength, no inner penetration, no effectiveness within and no relation to your consciousness. Otherwise, wouldn’t that happen what a Sikh would proclaim? Wouldn’t the words of a Sikh change the course of fate? Wouldn’t the words of a Sikh change the fate of countries? Wouldn’t the words of a Sikh increase knowledge in the world?

What will you achieve with these pieces of worthless paper called money? Has money ever managed to bring health and earn consciousness and peace? Death is simply going to seize you. Where you are headed after that, you do not have even an iota of a clue.

There was once a wealthy landowner who had great and lavish ways of entertaining and pampering himself. He soon hired himself a manager to overlook his vast empire, and in the joy of it, the manager sought to pay his obeisance at the River Ganga in Haridwar and offer his gratitude to the gods for the good job he has been blessed with. The wealthy landlord granted the request and further requested his manager to take the former’s walking cane with him so that it may help the latter on his way and at the same time, it would touch the blessed waters of the Ganga. He then instructed him to make the cane an offering to any one moorakh who had taken a dip in the Ganga.

So the servant of the landlord embarked on his journey, used the cane as a support, took and dip in the Ganga, along-with the cane. Remembering the instruction of his master to offer the cane to any one pilgrim at the Ganga, he approached many, but they all declined the offer as none felt any use for it. He finally returned home with the cane. His master offered his respects to his servant for the pilgrim had returned from the revered Ganga and installed him as an in-charge of his vast properties.

One day, as the master lay on his death bed, the manager offered him his very own cane as he would now need it more than anyone else. The master questioned him why he had not given away the cane to any worthless moorakh as he had instructed him to. In response, the servant remarked that he couldn’t find any moorakh who needed it, and he had found no other greater one than his own master to offer it to. The master asked why he was seen as a moorakh. The servant replied that all his life, he had employed dozens of servants to make all the arrangements wherever he was headed to, but at this moment (at the death bed), not knowing where he is headed, he failed to see any arrangements made. ‘Wherever it is you are headed to’, asked the manager, ‘please tell me what sort of place it is so that I can make the necessary arrangements – how far is the place, what supplies would you need for the journey, who will you summon for help, how many servants would you need at your disposal and what clothing would you need?’ The dying man replied that he had never thought of all those factors. ‘Then take this walking cane along with you’, instructed his servant, ‘this cane has had a dip in the Ganga, it would be a use to you.’

And here we are, endlessly grooming ourselves – trimming our eyebrows, facial hairs, making hairstyles . . . and then we claim to be Sikhs of the Guru! If I tell you right here right now that none of you here is a Sikh of the Guru, you will make sure I don’t stand here a moment longer. That’s why I have not called you Sadh Sangat because you are not, why should I lie and say that you are? You come to the Guru’s Darbar, that’s fine because the Guru is ever forgiving , and if He accepts you as His own, you were destined to. But when we do not connect with the Guru, what use is any of our worldly deeds we deem to qualify us to be Sikh?

You have no defence mechanism to protect yourself as you have neither horns nor a trunk – you simply have no power. Your power you possess is to discover your intuition as you have been blessed with intelligence and conscience to determine the consequences of his own deeds. When one chooses to serve the Panth, he can expect to be jolted. It is the maryada of the House of Nanak, that he who places people on the path of Truth, he can be sure of getting a lashing from the world. This is proved by Guru Arjan Dev Ji when he had to go through torture in defence of Righteousness. The first sign of virtue within you is the day people will begin to slander you when you become righteous.

You think (the body that you pamper) is of any worth? The day you exit it, it will be either snuffed out on a pyre or thrown into a dark pit. All these titles you boast around with – Sardar, Singh, Chairman, President, etc – are equal to nothing more than ash . . . God has no use of these titles you own. God has nothing to do with the world of mortal deeds (karam), but does have an interest in the world of spiritual deeds (dharam). Those that have taken the unfortunate birth in Sikh Dharam and have turned dharam into karam, their hell is yet to come to form, as the land (for hell) is still being acquired. Is it any wonder why the world is getting over-populated? That’s because there is no space left in hell! You think that the world’s population growth is a sign of progress – you couldn’t have been more mistaken – hell is being expanded. You have no place else to go but there, you’ll keep revolving in the cycle of birth and death and still come back to this hell on earth. You want your departed loved ones to find a resting place in heaven when their spirits are still roaming around on this earth. Only your mortal body gets dissolved in the elements, but your soul has no such permission and is left on this earth after your death as it is stuck back, nailed down due to karams (deeds). First the soul was nailed down by the house of body, woman (or spouse), children, black money, sinful thoughts – with all these nails, where is the soul going to go but stay back on earth? By getting engrossed in worldly affairs and not listening to the instructions of the Guru, and then to go ahead and claim ourselves as the Sikhs of the Guru, what other great lie can there be? We desire to be referred to as Sikh and GurSikh when we have not sought the Guru’s wisdom, listened and contemplated on His teachings and not lived in Gurmat . . . please do not play this joke with Sikhi, let go off that game now.

There is no need to claim oneself as a Sikh if you have not developed love for the Guru. There are 22 religions in the world, 8 of which are the major ones and within those 8, Sikh Dharam is one of them. But Sikh Dharam is the only unique one of all religions – there is no hypocrisy in Sikhi as it is the religion of humility when we supplicate the Lord is saying, ‘Preserve me in any way You can. After all, I belong to You.’ In Sikhi, this prayer is not just up to saying it, but seeing it through to fruit. It is only in Sikhi that one beseeches the True Guru (God) to awaken him at Amritvela and make him meditate on Him. The lazy ones claim they cannot take a cold shower in the morning, but without that, the body will fall ill as the mind will not be alert. The only way to help open up the blood capillaries and make the blood in your body to flow in your body is to awaken them with a cold shower every morning. All these diseases you suffer from all your life are all due to the fact that you don’t take cold showers. You fool yourself that you have the comfort of water heaters to shower with in the mornings, but all you have managed to do is install a death machine.

The family your leave behind following the departure of your mortal body will have to bear the weights of the karams you leave behind. The vast wealth you leave back for your family will show its true colours when that money will be used in corrupt deeds. And just because someone possesses a lot of knowledge, does not qualify him to be a Brahamgyani, after all even a computer knows everything – all you do is push a few keys and you get all the answers you need. How can one be termed a Brahamgyani when he does not have control over his own health? It is the Grace of the Guru upon you that because of the fragrance of the Word of the Guru’s Shabad that one comes to ask you a few questions – otherwise the stench of your sweat would have burned the noses of even animals. Did you know that dogs do not normally sit next to just about anyone? They only sit next to those they consider their master. Special trainings have to be conferred on the dog to help him identify his master through smell, else its nose wouldn’t be able to stand the stench of an ordinary person. That’s how stinky a human is. A dog, that is so loyal and humble, sacrifices its own life in defence of its master. That’s why police dogs are trained to withstand the stench of its masters, otherwise the dogs would not even stand by them. The dogs are trained hard to accept the stench of their masters. Why would we not stink when we feed our bodies and souls with all kind of garbage? You have the strength of the Word of the Guru, use it to kill your mind . . . what can the hundreds of chicken say that you kill to satisfy your tastes? The dead chicken can only be thankful that you liberated it from its worldly existence, while you munch on its bones and flesh. What you just liberated will not save you from the deed of killing. Let alone the world to come you think you will go to, the very world you call your own is a big fat lie.

The world that was meant to be the home of God, you have turned it into a mountain of garbage. Each one of us stinks of this garbage as the smoke of ego is billowing from that rotting garbage. But if we are to claim ourselves as good because our SatGuru is good, then your ego would be spared. That is the very purpose of Guru – that we may find some way to the Divine (heaven) as the Guru is the Light and the Light illuminates the path. Respecting and worshipping even 500 mahapurakhs (holy men) will get you nowhere until the day you don’t reach that level yourself. There are people who question what they will do if they go to the Gurudwara. What else should one do in the House of the Guru than to speak of the Guru. Even the Guru Himself spoke of the Guru! Come and sit at the feet of Guru Granth Sahib Ji and most of the Gurbani tuks (verses) you will hear will speak of the Guru.

The reason why we need to follow the instructions of the Guru today is because the circumstances, times and people are still the same as they were during the times of the Guru when they laid out the maryada of the Sikh. Those people that claim to be prayerful Sikhs even when they have done away with their Sikh roop have actually died from the outside while the inner death is yet to dawn on them. These people have died in their karams and their dharam is yet to die off too.

We pay our Granthis the most pathetic of all pay checks and yet expect them to enjoin the Sangat to Gurmat. How can one who is so demoralised with a low pay and forced to leave his family back home, run the home of the Guru? Let alone improve his standard of living, the poor Granthis can barely keep his family well fed and taken care of. And the custodians of the Gurudwaras warm themselves up with the finest of suits and rut around proudly and then claim to be ‘humble servants of the Guru’! It’s no wonder that Sikhi in your country will diminish and eventually dissolve into nothing. Those who will bring you and your children closer to the Guru and help make your life fruitful, you have chosen to ignore, sideline and overlook their well-being. How can we call that structure a Gurudwara where we spend millions to build it and pay miserly to those that are entrusted to help make Sikhi blossom? All week we laze around and then we feel proud of hosting a full diwan on Sunday. More often than not, the Gurudwara has just one Granthi Singh reciting the Guru Granth Sahib in the morning and doing the chaur himself too, and not a single person seated in Sangat. And then the same man is expected to do other chores for which he has been employed for. How can that poor Granthi perform an Ardas when he lives on the bare minimums?

These days we claim that Christianity has dominated the world – and why wouldn’t they? That faith, which has no comparison to the wealth of Sikhi, has managed to plant their priests (Fathers) all over the world and take good care of them. Why wouldn’t their faith prosper in numbers? The Christian world offer their greatest respects to their priests by addressing them as ‘Father’, ‘Padre’ or ‘Most Reverend’ and we find a pinch in calling our Gyanis and Granthis with the title of ‘Bhai Ji’, just because they have been employed as mere servants to perform the service of the recitations, Ardas, chaur, degh etc. The same Granthi offers Ardas for you, for the well-being of you families, business, health . . . and the same poorly paid Granthi is expected to perform the Antim Ardas for you, and yet all your life, you have not given attention to his needs and comforts.

Your only heaven is to leave karam as karam, and dharam as dharam. The power of God is bestowed in Prayer. Get up at Amritvela and not only will you and your family benefit from doing so, but the Panth will also continue to be blessed.In conclusion, all I have said in soft words is to awaken the slumbering so that you can also begin speaking of the Guru. You are fortunate that I have spared you the harsher words which I have reserved for the Western world. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa. WaheguruJi Ki Fateh.



  1. MrSikhNet said,

    August 1, 2006 at 6:04 pm

    […] Update: My Thanks to Lakhvir Singh who did an English translation of the Lecture and posted on his blog. […]

  2. dre said,

    August 2, 2006 at 12:05 am

    that was amazing..thank u

  3. gmustuk said,

    August 2, 2006 at 12:33 am

    Awesome Lecture! I’m glad I was able to read it thanks to your translation Lakhvir. Thank you so much!

  4. Siri Simran said,

    August 2, 2006 at 1:19 am

    Thank you for the translation, the lecture is very thought provoking.

  5. Deva Kaur (Orlando) said,

    August 2, 2006 at 6:19 am

    Beautiful lecture– so touching! Thanks for the Seva of translating it Lakhvir Singh Ji and of course to our Bro. Guru Mustuk Singh Ji!

  6. Jasvinder Singh said,

    August 3, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    Veer Ji,

    You did a great job in translating this lecture, yesterday only I heard it directly in Punjabi. You are almost 100% on the dot.

    Keep up the good work(SEWA)

    Warm regards,
    Jasvinder Singh

  7. p.Singh said,

    August 8, 2006 at 2:54 pm

    thank you sir for your patience and time in performing this translation.

  8. sikhproblems said,

    August 9, 2006 at 3:51 am

    http://sikhproblems.wordpress.com/ check it

  9. August 13, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    please do check our blogs out 🙂


  10. Davinderpal Singh said,

    August 21, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa. Waheguru ji ki Fateh.

    Excelent transalation paji you really know your way around words in both English and Punjabi. If possible please forward the lecture to me in Punjabi.

    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa. Waheguru ji ki Fateh.

  11. mandeepk04 said,

    May 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    tht was a very inspirational speech…thankyou for sharing it..it compleltely changes ur perception towards our dharam or the spiritual deeds one should do in one’s life…..awesome…
    waheguruji ka khalsa waheguruji ki fateh!!!

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