Posted by: Tony Carson | 30 July, 2007

The Sikhs decoded (IV) — reincarnation

Our puny little biologically units cannot grok (understand intuitively) Infinity. The Cosmos is too big and we are too wee. So praise the Infinite Mystery when things are good, praise the Infinite Mystery when things are bad. Dualities dance and make pictures on Life’s Movie Screen. — from our contributor Kamalla Rose Kaur

Here is a wonderful story, she continues. A beautiful little baby girl was born to terrific parents. She grew up in wonderful circumstances. Her every relationship was great and her education superior. She had a wonderful career. She had a fabulous life partner, amazingly great children and she lived a very peaceful and happy life. When she died, it was easy and painless.

Notice how wonderful that story is and how it can be written up in one paragraph! The Great Novelist seemingly got bored with perfection? Who can blame Her/Him/It?

Reincarmnation is assumed in the writings of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib but Sikhs don’t think about it much. Whether we awake this morning on a vacation beach or on the battlefield, here on earth or in some other reality, we give Praise to the great Screenwriter and Life-Movie Director. We ask help in turning our role(s) and characters into something useful. We pray to transcend egotism, remain humble, brave, and be used by the Great Good.

Page 19 of the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru/Teacher, the Great Guru Granth:

The body is burnt to ashes;
and by its love of Maya (materialism, worldliness, glamor) the mind is rusted through.
Our demerits become our enemies, and our lies blow the bugle of attack.
Without the Word of the Shabad (True Universal Teachings),
people wander lost in reincarnation.
Through the love of duality, multitudes have been drowned.



  1. Please find the below references from Guru Granth on reincarnation. These are just results of search of one word ‘reincarnation’. One line displayed is part of a complete sabad which can be many verses.
    The first line is Gurmukhi created by Guru Nanak (though you can’t read it has you don’t have the font), the second is transcription and the third is the meaning and tThe last line gives the author and the page reference

    nwnk hukmI Awvhu jwhu ]20]
    naanak hukamee aavahu jaahu ||20||
    O Nanak, by the Hukam of God’s Command, we come and go in reincarnation. ||20||
    Guru Nanak Dev Ji Jap 4 (Page number) from Guru Granth

    inj Gir mhlu pwvhu suK shjy bhuir n hoiego Pyrw ]3]
    nij ghar mehal paavahu sukh sehajae bahur n hoeigo faeraa ||3||
    Within the home of your own inner being, you shall obtain the Mansion of the Lord’s Presence with intuitive ease. You shall not be consigned again to the wheel of reincarnation. ||3||
    Guru Arjan Dev Ji Sohila 13

    Awvxu jwxu n cukeI mir jnmY hoie KuAwru ]3]
    aavan jaan n chukee mar janamai hoe khuaar ||3||
    Their comings and goings in reincarnation do not end; through death and rebirth, they are wasting away. ||3||Guru Nanak Dev Ji Siree Raag 19

    so nru jMmY nw mrY nw AwvY nw jwie ]
    so nar ja(n)mai naa marai naa aavai naa jaae ||
    Then, they are not subject to birth and death; they do not come and go in reincarnation.
    Guru Nanak Dev Ji Siree Raag 19

    ibnu sbdY BrmweIAY duibDw foby pUru ]1]
    bin sabadhai bharamaaeeai dhubidhhaa ddobae poor ||1||
    Without the Word of the Shabad, people wander lost in reincarnation. Through the love of duality, multitudes have been drowned. ||1||Guru Nanak Dev Ji Siree Raag 19

    ijin gurmuiK nwmu n bUiJAw mir jnmY AwvY jwie ]1] rhwau ]
    jin guramukh naam n boojhiaa mar janamai aavai jaae ||1|| rehaao ||
    Those who do not become Gurmukh do not understand the Naam; they die, and continue coming and going in reincarnation. ||1||Pause|| Guru Nanak Dev Ji Siree Raag 19

    sbid n BIjY swkqw durmiq Awvnu jwnu ]
    sabadh n bheejai saakathaa dhuramath aavan jaan ||
    The evil-minded shaaktas, the faithless cynics, are not attuned to the Shabad; they come and go in reincarnation. Guru Nanak Dev Ji Siree Raag 21

    ijin hir hir nwmu n cyiqE su Aauguix AwvY jwie ]
    jin har har naam n chaethiou s aougun aavai jaae ||
    Those who have not contemplated the Name of the Lord, Har, Har, are unworthy; they come and go in reincarnation. Guru Nanak Dev Ji Siree Raag 22

    Koty Kotu kmwvxw Awie gieAw piq Koie ]3]
    khottae khott kamaavanaa aae gaeiaa path khoe ||3||
    Practicing falsehood again and again, people come and go in reincarnation, and forfeit their honor. ||3||
    Guru Nanak Dev Ji Siree Raag 23

    lyKw ieko Awvhu jwhu ]1]
    laekhaa eiko aavahu jaahu ||1||
    According to the account of our actions, we come and go in reincarnation. ||1||
    Guru Nanak Dev Ji Siree Raag 25
    sB dunIAw Awvx jwxIAw ]3]
    sabh dhuneeaa aavan jaaneeaa ||3||
    All the world continues coming and going in reincarnation. ||3||
    Guru Nanak Dev Ji Siree Raag 26
    dUjY Bwie ko nw imlY iPir iPir AwvY jwie ]
    dhoojai bhaae ko naa milai fir fir aavai jaae ||
    No one merges with Him through the love of duality; over and over again, they come and go in reincarnation.
    Guru Amar Daas Ji Siree Raag 27
    lK caurwsIh Pyru pieAw kwmix dUjY Bwie ]
    lakh chouraaseeh faer paeiaa kaaman dhoojai bhaae ||
    The soul-bride in love with duality goes around the wheel of reincarnation, through 8.4 million incarnations.
    Guru Amar Daas Ji Siree Raag 31
    haumY ivic jgu ibnsdw mir jMmY AwvY jwie ]
    houmai vich jag binasadhaa mar ja(n)mai aavai jaae ||
    Engrossed in egotism, the world perishes. It dies and is re-born; it continues coming and going in reincarnation.
    Guru Amar Daas Ji Siree Raag 33
    Brim Bulwxw AMDulw iPir iPir AwvY jwie ]
    bharam bhulaanaa a(n)dhhulaa fir fir aavai jaae ||
    Wandering in doubt, the spiritually blind come and go in reincarnation, over and over again.
    Guru Amar Daas Ji
    Siree Raag 35
    rwm nwmu swlwih qU iPir Awvx jwxu n hoie ]1] rhwau ]
    raam naam saalaahi thoo fir aavan jaan n hoe ||1|| rehaao ||
    Praise the Lord’s Name, and you shall no longer come and go in reincarnation. ||1||Pause||
    Guru Amar Daas Ji
    Siree Raag 36
    Eie iPir iPir join BvweIAih ivic ivstw kir ivkrwl ]
    oue fir fir jon bhavaaeeahi vich visattaa kar vikaraal ||
    They wander in reincarnation over and over again, as the most disgusting maggots in manure.
    Guru Raam Daas Ji
    Siree Raag 40
    Awvx jwxw rih gieAw Awip hoAw imhrvwnu ]
    aavan jaanaa rehi gaeiaa aap hoaa miharavaan ||
    My comings and goings in reincarnation have come to an end; He Himself has bestowed His Mercy.
    Guru Arjan Dev Ji Siree Raag 46

    haumY rogu BRmu ktIAY nw AwvY nw jwgu ]2]
    houmai rog bhram katteeai naa aavai naa jaag ||2||
    The diseases of ego and doubt are cast out; they shall not come and go in reincarnation. ||2||
    Guru Arjan Dev Ji Siree Raag 47
    kir ikrpw pRBu ByitAw mrxu n Awvxu jwau ]1]
    kar kirapaa prabh bhaettiaa maran n aavan jaao ||1||
    Granting His Grace, God meets us, and we no longer die, or come or go in reincarnation. ||1||
    Guru Arjan Dev Ji Siree Raag 48

    jMmxu mrxu n cukeI rMgu lgw dUjY Bwie ]
    ja(n)man maran n chukee ra(n)g lagaa dhoojai bhaae ||
    Their comings and goings in reincarnation do not end; they are imbued with the love of duality.
    Guru Amar Daas Ji
    Salok Vaaraan Thay Vadheek 1414

    nwnk ibnu nwvY suKu nhI Awie gey pCuqwih ]24]
    naanak bin naavai sukh nehee aae geae pashhuthaahi ||24||
    O Nanak, without the Name, they find no peace; they come and go in reincarnation with regrets. ||24||
    Guru Amar Daas Ji
    Salok Vaaraan Thay Vadheek 1415

    mnmuKIAw dohwgxI Awvx jwix mueIAwsu ]
    manamukheeaa dhohaaganee aavan jaan mueeaas ||
    The self-willed manmukhs are like discarded brides, ruined by coming and going in the cycle of reincarnation. Guru Amar Daas Ji
    Salok Vaaraan Thay Vadheek 1416

    mn Awvx jwxu n suJeI nw suJY drbwru ]
    man aavan jaan n sujhee naa sujhai dharabaar ||
    The mortal being does not understand the comings and goings of reincarnation; he does not see the Court of the Lord.Guru Amar Daas Ji
    Salok Vaaraan Thay Vadheek 1418

    AMqir joru haumY qin mwieAw kUVI AwvY jwie ]
    a(n)thar jor houmai than maaeiaa koorree aavai jaae ||
    The power of egotism prevails within, and the body is controlled by Maya; the false ones come and go in reincarnation.Guru Raam Daas Ji
    Salok Vaaraan Thay Vadheek 1422

    jMmxu mrxu n cukeI haumY krm kmwie ]
    ja(n)man maran n chukee houmai karam kamaae ||
    Their comings and goings in reincarnation never end; they do their deeds in egotism.
    Guru Raam Daas Ji
    Salok Vaaraan Thay Vadheek 1424
    Satnam Kaur

  2. Hi Tony,

    Heaven and hell are both very harsh and extreme places. Sikhs actually take for granted that heaven and hell zones exist; here and hereafter. They exist everywhere. They particularly exist here on earth.

    Readers here may be going through hell right now. Our hell might look like someone else’s heaven too. People are being tortured, right now.

    I pray that the “waheguru” (this is what we call Creator/Creation when we are speaking one to One – “waheguru” means O-Mind-Boggling-Teacher, or WowGuru!); I pray that the “waheguru” pours soothing relief and healing Love into the hearts and minds and bodies of those walking through Hell.

    Sikhs think the whole notion of eternal damnation is a lie. It is used to promote fear and control people.

    Pain is finite. Love is Infinite.

    Call out to the Source of Infinite Love when you are in pain or walking through hell. We are never stuck forever because all is transient; except the One.

    Harder to remember to do the same intense calling out to the Infinite One when life is Heaven; but blissful.

    Just because life is hard doesn’t mean you are being punished. The child who is beaten black and blue didn’t do anything wrong.

    We all find ourselves in various scenarios and we have “free will” in that we can play our part sanyway we want.

    Or can we? Maybe your addictions run you? How about your greed, your frustrated sexual fantasies, your longing for acceptance, your need to be boss, or your need to be a slave. Your denial, falsehoods, rationaliziaions? How free are “you” of universal human weaknesses?

    Reincarnation assumes that we are here to learn and grow up. Reincarnation suggest that our souls play lots of different charactors in the Divine Play. We have all been villains and bums and rich folk and women and men; or we will be soon enough, soon enough.

    Eventually all the movies kind of seem the same. They are all simply our over-lapping life stories. When praise and blame taste the same, you are “Jivan Mukta” – IN the drama, but then again, not in the drama.

    “The one who dies to this life while yet alive has achieved liberation in her/his lifetime.” – Guru Arjan

    Kamalla Rose Kaur

  3. Satnam your explanations here and elsewhere about where thoughts flow from the Sikh scriptures is wonderfully interesting. It is easy to see the devotion of the Khalsa Knight at work.

    In your explanation of reincarnation the scriptures spoke of ‘duality.’ When you become one with the creator, can there still be a duality? or is this a reference to something else. It’s hard to grasp.

    My perception of reincarnation has alwats been a struggle ever upwards. But the passages you quoted made reincarnation seem more like a lost voyage: “Their comings and goings in reincarnation never end.”

    Can you characterize your interpretation of reincarnation? Is it a kind of Hindu samsara, ‘an endless round of birth and death?’

  4. Dear Tony,

    The line you refer to is from page 1424 of Guru Granth. I will let the Guru explain to you what is just before the line “Their comings and goings in reincarnation never end.” and what came after that.

    Just a little back ground: The Guru is comparing two types of lives – those who are self centered (Manmukhs) and those who listen and follow the teacher (Gurmukhs, they keep their faces towards the Guru like a sunflower).

    Page 1424
    Within the self-willed manmukhs is the fire of desire; their hunger does not depart.

    Emotional attachments to relatives are totally false; they remain engrossed in falsehood.

    Night and day, they are troubled by anxiety; bound to anxiety, they depart.

    Their comings and goings in reincarnation never end; they do their deeds in egotism.

    But in the Guru’s Sanctuary, they are saved, O Nanak, and set free.

    The True Guru meditates on the Creator, the Primal Being. The Sat Sangat, the True Congregation, loves the True Guru.

    Those who join the Sat Sangat, and serve the True Guru – the Guru unites them to the Creator.

    This world, this universe, is a terrifying ocean. On the Boat of the Naam, the Name of the Creator, the Guru carries us across.

    The Sikhs of the Guru accept and obey the Creator’s Will; the Perfect Guru carries them across.

    O Creator, please bless me with the dust of the feet of the Guru’s Sikhs. I am a sinner – please save me.

    Those who have such pre-ordained destiny written upon their foreheads by the God, come to meet Guru Nanak.

    The Messenger of Death is beaten and driven away; we are saved in the Court of the Creator.

    Blessed and celebrated are the Sikhs of the Guru; in His Pleasure, the Creator unites them in His Union.

    The Perfect Guru has implanted the Creator’s Name within me; it has dispelled my doubts from within.

    Singing the Kirtan of the Praises of the Creator’s Name, the Creator’s path is illuminated and shown to His Sikhs.

    Conquering my egotism, I remain lovingly attuned to the One Creator; the Naam, the Name of the Creator, dwells within me.

    I follow the Guru’s Teachings, and so the Messenger of Death cannot even see me; I am immersed in the True Name.

    The Creator Himself is All-pervading; as He pleases, He links us to His Name.

    Servant Nanak lives, chanting the Name. Without the Name, he dies in an instant.

    Though I was born in a Sikh family I did not know about Guru Nanak till I was 13 and Guru Granth till I was 18. Many parents don’t have the time to share Sikhi with their children. It was a visit to my grandfather that brought me close to Guru Nanak – Guru Nanak found me. It is with great luck that you find the true Guru.

    Thank you for this opportunity to talk about the True Guru – this is part of good sangat.

    Satnam Kaur

  5. When a drop of water falls in the ocean can you ever get that drop out again or see it?

    When a ray of light goes into the sun and joins the light- can we see that ray light.

    Meeting the Creator – you become the Creator. When the Philosophers’ stone touches iron it becomes gold. When the True Guru touches the soul it become the True Guru. It has to be during the human form. It may not be this lifetime – it may take few hundred lifetimes. For me I stand a better chance with Guru Granth and the Khalsa Knighthood.

    Satnam Kaur

  6. SIKH :The word “Sikh” mean student.

    MANMUKH: Manmukh means “talking head” or those who talk from their heads (without heart, egotists, those out to promote nothing but themselves).

    GURMUKH: Gurmukh means “those who speak with wisdom”, those who speak with the wisdom of the Great Universal Teachers (like Jesus, or Buddha). but for Sikhs the True Guru is the very scripture we are reading.

    NAAM: Naam means Creator/Creation’s Name. or Identity.

    The “gift of the Naam” is “constant awareness of the Infinite One”, this is received by Grace. Ask and it shall be given.

    REINCARNATION: I believe all Eastern religions teach that we seek eventually to get off the wheel of Samsara, to escape the endless, and yes, tedious, rounds of births and deaths.

    We will graduate from this school of hard knocks. There is no rush. And it is great to be alive. There may be experiences we still wish to experience, or that we are required to experience for our soul’s growth.

    Still, soon as you start to notice the Great Screenwriter at work, and the more you ask Her/His help and get it, the more you and the Creator become One. The more you do Love’s work, the more you ARE Love. It is a humbling experience, not a ego boost. Lots of people have been saved down through huimanity – many of them were women and most of them didn’t seek fame – quite the opposite.

    Kamalla Rose Kaur

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