17. What is religion?

Sat Sat Satnaam sada Satnaam


Koorh firai parDhaan vay laalo [Falsehood controls/runs around like a leader, O Lalo]


What is religion?

"Religion: A general term used… to designate all concepts concerning the belief in god(s) and goddess(es) as well as other spiritual beings or transcendental ultimate concerns."

—Penguin Dictionary of Religions (1997).

"Religion: Relation of human beings to God or the gods or to whatever they consider sacred or, in some cases, merely supernatural."

—Britannica Concise Encyclopedia (online, 2006)

"Religion is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble."

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Religion itself is nothing else but Love to God and Man. He that lives in Love lives in God, says the Beloved Disciple: And to be sure a Man can live no where better."

—William Penn

Let us see how religion is defined in "SGGS"


mannai mag na chalai panth.

mannai Dharam saytee san-banDh. page 3

The believers/faithful do not follow empty religious rituals.The believers have a relationship to the religion.


taj sabh bharam bhaji-o paarbarahm.

kaho naanak atal ih Dharam. page 196

Renounce all your doubts, and recite the Supreme Lord’s Naam

Says Nanak, this is the eternal and unchanging path of religion.

khojat khojat khoji-aa naamai bin koor. p.811

Searched and searched- without the Naam, everything is false.

tisai sarayvhu paraaneeho jis dai naa-o palai.

aithai rahhu suhayli-aa agai naal chalai.

ghar banDhhu sach Dharam kaa gad thamm ahlai.p.320

Serve Him, O human beings, who has the Lord’s Name in His lap. You shall dwell in peace and ease in this world; it goes with you to the world hereafter. So build your home of true faith/religion, with the unshakable pillars.

saram Dharam du-ay naankaa jay Dhan palai paa-ay.p.1287

Modesty/humility and religion both, O Nanak, are qualities of those who are blessed with true wealth(Naam).

sant kirpaa tay mitay moh bharam.

saaDh rayn majan sabh Dharam.page 183

By the kind Mercy of the Saints, emotional attachment and doubts are removed.

Taking a bath in the dust of the feet of the Holy/Saint – this is true religion.


is jug kaa Dharam parhahu tum bhaa-ee.

aithai agai har naam sakhaa-ee.page 230

Learn the Dharma of this age, O Siblings of Destiny;

Here and hereafter, the Lord’s Name is our Companion.

karam Dharam baho sankh asaNkh.

bin bhai bhagtee janam biranth.page 413

There are so many rituals and religious faiths, their number is innumerable.

Without the love of God, and devotional worship, one’s life is in vain.

jap tap sanjam Dharam na kamaa-i-aa.

sayvaa saaDh na jaani-aa har raa-i-aa. page 12

I have not practiced Naam meditation, exercised inner self-discipline/self-restraint or righteousliving. I have not served the Saintly/Holy people; I have not gained any knowledge about the Lord. I have not practiced the religion.

Dharam saytee vaapaar na keeto karam na keeto mit.

You have not traded in religion; if you have not made good deeds my friends.p.75

gi-aan Dhi-aan gun sanjam naahee janam marhugay jhoothay.

tirath varat such sanjam naahee karam Dharam nahee poojaa.p. 75

Without divine wisdom, Naam meditation, self-discipline; the liars(people who follow falsehood) will remain caught in the cycle of birth and death. Pilgrimages, fasts, purification based on external cleanliness are not deeds of religion nor it is worship of the Lord.

sat santokh da-i-aa Dharam sach ih apunai garih bheetar vaaray.page 379

Truthfulness, contentment, compassion, one should embrace these qualities of religion into the home of one self.

a-ugan chhodahu gun karahu aisay tat paraavahu.

Dharam bhoom sat beej kar aisee kiras kamaavahu.p.418

Abandon your vices, and practice virtue/good deeds, and you shall obtain the essence of reality.

Plant the seed of Truth in the soil of religion/faith, and practice such farming.

sant kaa dokhee Dharam tay rahat.

sant kaa dokhee sad mithi-aa kahat. page280

The slanderer of the Saint is devoid of religion. The slanderer of the Saint always talks about wordly/materialistic things.


The above is self explanatory, however, it is clear that practising true religion means the following:


-an devotional/unshakeable faith in the existence of Lord/God and living by His will

-unconditional love for the Lord, no doubts/duality/grudges/demands

-is blessed with Naam (by a Saintly/Holy person) and constantly recites the Naam (real meditation) until he sees his presence everywhere/ in everybody i.e. it goes into every bit of one’s body and is reflected in actions/behaviour/way of living

-serves the holy person/Guru (who has wealth of sacred Naam) with body, mind & whatever one’s possessions

-is content with whatever is given, exercises inner discipline, abandons the bad deeds and practices good deeds towards everyone

-deals with truth: love/humility & kindness/compassion are one’s qualities

-does not engage in empty rituals

and so on

So from the above it is clear that religion applies to you as a individual for changing yourself, not to impose your will over others, live with the truth, work for the betterment of others i.e. put yourself at service of others, treat them with dignity/equality and so on. If you are not willing to change then do not try to fool others by wearing religious robes/symbols, going to places of worship/on pilgrimages, by talking about religion. Your actions/deeds speaks volumes about your religion.

Sure pampered ceremonies, hymns sung to melodious tunes/music, delicious meals, shining places of congregation feels good/ looks nice. Are they promoting religion or they are conducted to organize masses, to exercise control over you by performing empty rituals/ by pushing you to adhere to certain things/ defined way of life. Actually organized religion is acting as a devil’s agent by promoting materialism by way of prayers (tempering into your greed), by telling that your religion/god/saviour/prophet/guru is better than others (feeding your ego), promoting segregation rather than oneness, by giving false impressions that your sins/bad deeds are forgiven by going to place of worship. If your congregation does not include your wife/in-laws, your family and neighbours, the poor/shunned/needy, the black/brown/yellow and so on, then you are not doing religion.

Religion is about living in/by the truth in the present/at the moment by surrendering yourself to the Lord. For it is His body. it is the real temple where He lives. By abusing/torturing/slandering others you are decimating it and denying His existence. Throwing mud at others is not going to clean you because the other may be living by His command. What you think is wrong may not be so. Do not try to be a judge and prosecutor. Point that finger at yourself and see what your actions are doing to others. Are you hurting someone, cheating others. Do not forget that what you think is Other is actually Him. Whatever you seed you have to reap one day. Whatever was done in the past can not be undone. It is being reaped today.

You can influence your future by seeding truth/love/compassion/humility/by giving what you can. Merely listening to the stories of past/holy verses, singing hymns is not going to change you because the action is missing and record is based on your actions/thought of actions. Be like a tree who gives shade/flowers/fruits/aroma to everyone (even to those who through stones) regardless of the colour/race/religion/sex/culture/dress. Become a walking temple/a saintly person. Stuck in the past, worrying about the future you are burning your present. Avail the moment, recite/live with the Lord and enjoy it whatever it brings; for once it is gone it is not coming back. Reciting mechanically/by mouth is not good enough, your actions are your real earnings.

The preachers/leaders distort the truth to exercise control over you, to benefit themselves in the name of religion. They do not practice real religion, because they are hungry for attention, power, influence, money etc. They are not in there for your benefit/betterment, they are interested in their own agenda/goals of materialistic gains.

aap na bujhaa lok bujhaa-ee aisaa aagoo hovaaN.

naanak anDhaa ho-ay kai dasay raahai sabhas muhaa-ay saathai.p 140

I do not understand myself, and yet I try to teach others. Such is the guide I am!

O Nanak, the one who is blind shows others the way, and misleads all his companions.


saram Dharam du-ay chhap khalo-ay koorh firai parDhaan vay laalo.

kaajee-aa baamnaa kee gal thakee agad parhai saitaan vay laalo.p. 722

Modesty and religion, both have taken a back stage/vanished, and falsehood runs/struts around like a leader, O Lalo. The Qazis and the Brahmins have lost their roles, and Satan now conducts the religious/marriage rites, O Lalo.

Our aim is not to hurt anybody, but bring out the truth as the Truth will set you free, it is your salvation. Guru is not the body to which you bow it is the light which communicates through the body. Only Naam, not the knowledge, will help you to change yourself.

We are not good, no one is bad. This head bows to you all, for you are Him.