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Gurmukh & Manmukh

Jan 7, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

The Gurmukh understands his own Self. God’s Name comes to dwell
within his mind. Imbued with devotion to God's Name, night and day,
he merges in peace (sggs 162). The Gurmukh obtains Spiritual Wisdom,
meditation and mind's satisfaction. The Gurmukh realizes the Realm of
God’s Presence: Self. The Gurmukh is attuned to the Shabad-Surti, as his
Insignia. Such is his loving Devotion of God’s contemplation. The Gurmukh
realizes the True Name, the Destroyer of ego (sggs 414). Bitter melon,
swallow-wort, thorn-apple and Nimm fruit — these bitter poisons lodge in
the minds and mouths of Manmukhs who do not remember God (sggs 147).

The Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) divides all human beings in two categories Gurmukhs or the Spiritual Beings, and Manmukhs or the materialistics. For this reason, these two names appear again and again in the Gurbani. Like many other terms that appear in the Gurbani, these two names also have been widely misunderstood. Many define them based on their own foolishness or fool-o-sophy, rather than the Gurbani. Consequently, both of these names appear to have a general meaning as understood by the deluded or ritualistic minds of the people, and also a very special and specific meaning as indicated by the Divine Knowledge of the Gurbani (Gurmat).
With the help of the Divine Guide of the Gurbani, this Reflection will attempt to briefly reflect on as to how a Gurmukh and a Manmukh is defined in the SGGS. Any other definition of these terms from sources other SGGS holds no validity or significance to a true Sikh (seeker of the Truth). The reason being is that, out of curiosity, although a Sikh may compare other scriptures or Granths or writings with the SGGS, however, he will consider it absolutely unnecessary to compare the infallible Divine Knowledge of the SGGS with them.


A Gurmukhs is a virtuous type of person whom the Gurbani calls Divine. He is Spiritually positioned, naturally. Throughout the SGGS, the Gurbani defines Gurmukhs as Spiritual Beings who possess the following Divine Qualities: Self-realization (Chautha Pada, Turiya Avasthaa or Tenth Gate); Sahaj Avasthaa (natural state of Being); Spiritual Silence (Sunn Samaadhi); Undivided Love for the All-pervading Self, Divine Knowledge (Aatm Giyan); Nirvaana; liberated from worldly existence; humility; contentment; mercy and forgiveness; nonviolence; unshakable faith in God; Naam or Shabad-Consciousness; Spiritual Beauty and power; equanimity; self-discipline; righteousness; discriminating intellect; endurance; contentment; intuitive poise; patience; detachment; humility; physical-control; intense yearning for the Divine; truthfulness; selfless service (Sevaa); bliss; mental control, inner purity; compassion; mercy; forgiveness; unbroken communion in the Self; freedom from duality; high moral character; seeing God in everything and every where; faith, truthful living; in-tune with God's Hukam or Will; true inside as well as outside; Pure Bhagti or devotion; God-centered activities; saintly nature even though they may deal with countless unsaintly people; and so on.

Based on these qualities as inidicated in the Gurbani, a Gurmukh is a person situated at the platform of Transcendental Consciousness. Hence, he is a Divine Soul, established in his Pure Being within. Internally he has surrendered his false ego to to his Pure Self with one hundred percent involvement of his body, mind and intellect. He has all the Divine virtues which are found in a godly person.
  • Aap pachhaanahi Shabad marahi manahu taj paye vikaar: The Gurmukh realizes his own Self, and dies in the Shabad; he banishes corruption from his mind (sggs 430).
  • Gurmukh apnaa man maariyaa Shabad kasvatee laaye. Manhee naal jhagraa man hee naal sath manhee manjh samaaye: The Gurmukh has conquered his own mind, by applying the Touchstone of the Shabad. He fights with his mind, he settles with his mind, and he is at peace with his mind. (sggs 87).
  • Gurmukh antar sahaj hai man chariaa dasvai aakaas...: Within the Gurmukh is intuitive peace and poise; his mind ascends to the Tenth Plane of the Akaashic Ethers. No one is sleepy or hungry there; they dwell in the peace of God's Amrit Name. O Nanak, pain and pleasure do not afflict anyone, where God's Light, the Supreme Soul, illuminates (sggs 1414).
  • Giaanee tatu gurmukh beechaaree: The true people of spiritual wisdom are wo have become Gurmukhs, who contemplate the essence of Reality (sggs 251).
  • Gurmukh naam daan isanaan: Becoming a spiritual being, be blessed with Divine Name, charity and inner purification (sggs 942).
Thus, a Gurmukh is Self-realized person: God-realized, Shabad-realized or Naam-realized. Call him a Spiritual Being, Wise Man, a householder, a Holy person, or any other name you like. He may externally appear to be irreligious, not well cultured, or not learned. However, he is one hundred percent established in his True Self within. As indicated in the Gurbani, such Pure Beings with unalloyed Love are very rare — one out of millions.
  • Sukh dukh dono sam kari jaanai aour maanu apamaanaa. Harakh sog te rahai ateetaa tini jagi tatu pashaanaa. Usatat nindaa do-oo tiaagai khojai padu nirabaanaa. Jan Nanak ihu khel kathan hai kinahoon gurmukhi jaanaa: One who knows that pain and pleasure are both the same, and honor and dishonor as well; who remains detached from joy and sorrow, realizes the true essence in the world. Renounce both praise and blame; seek instead the state of Nirvaanaa. O servant Nanak, this is such a difficult game; only a few Gurmukhs (who have become Spiritual beings) understand it! (sggs 218).
  • Gurmukh Shabad rangaavale ahinis Hari ras bhog: The Gurmukhs are imbued with God's Name; day and night, they enjoy Lord's elixir (sggs 63).
  • Ihu manu aarasee koee gurmukh vekhai: This mind is a mirror (of Truth); how rare are those who, as Gurmukh, see themselves in it (sggs115).
  • Kotan mai Nanak kou narain jih cheet: Rare is the one amongst millions, who enshrines Divine in his mind, O Nanak (sggs 1427).
  • Jan Nanak kotan mai kou bhajan ram ko pave: O servant Nanak, amongst millions there is hardly any mortal, who attains Divine meditation (sggs 219).
The Gurmukhs lead Spiritual Life (also called Divine or Eternal Life) of non-attachment and purity and contentment; for they know that only by knowing one's True Nature ("Joti Svaroop") one can overcome material afflictions, and become eternally blissful. Hence, the Gurmukhs with Spiritual outlook spend their time and energy on the Spiritual path (Aatm-Maarag) eradicating "I-am-ness", practicing dispassion, resorting to acquisition of Self-knowledge (Aatm-Gian), practicing love and devotion, doing selfless service, meditating on the Divine Name, and associating with Sat (Truth) within and outside; without however sacrificing the household duties and responsibilities.
  • Houmai baadhaa garmukhi shootaa: Egotism is bondage; by becoming a Gurmukh, one is emancipated (sggs 131).
  • Bandhan baadhiaa in bidh shootai gurmukhi sevai narhara: Bound in bondage, man is released only by this method: by becoming a Gurmukh, serve God (sggs 1112).
  • Santahu gurmukhi mukti gati paaee: O (so-called) saints, by becoming Gurmukhs, attain the state of liberation (sggs 911).
  • Gurmukh mukataa gurmukh jugataa: The Gurmukh is liberated, and the Gurmukh is linked (sggs 131).
A person with such divine qualities is free from doubts, superstitions, material bondage, falsehood, corruption, evil-mindedness, demoniac actions, jealousy and enviousness, false ego, passions, demerits, sinful reactions, lamentation and hankering for material objects, desire and fear, hatred, conflicts, fanaticism, differences, and so on. In essence, he is a living-liberated (Jeevan Mukta). Such pure devotee helps recover other conditioned Jeeva (individual beings) from their delusion as well. Accordingly, the Gurbani declares that there is no difference in God and a Gurmukh.
  • Gurmukh bani Brahm hai Shabad milaavaa hoe: The Word of the Gurmukh is God Himself. Through the Shabad, we merge in Him (sggs 39).
  • Gumukh jotee joti milaaee: By becoming Gurmukh blend your light with the Divine Light (sggs 362).
  • Trai gun maya moh hai Gurmukh chauthaa pad paaye: The three qualities of Maya hold people in worldly attachment. The Gurmukh attains the Fourth State of: Self-realization (sggs 30).
  • Nanak gurmukhi mukati duaar: O Nanak, by becoming Gurmukh, find the door of liberation (sggs 941).
  • Gurmukhi ihu manu laiaa savaari: By becoming Gurmukh, he has purified his mind (sggs 665).
  • Gurmukh jaagai need na sovai: The Gurmukh remains awake and aware; he does not fall sleep to Maya (sggs 944).
  • Sumati paaye naam dhiyaae gurmukhi hoye melaa jeeu: I have obtained this sublime understanding, and I meditate on the Divine Name; becoming a Gurmukh, I have met God (sggs 102).
Hence, according to the Gurbani, a Gurmukh is not a question of heredity, family of birth, ancestry, race, region, social status, caste, creed, education, titles, religion, or any peculiar external appearance of a person; it is a question of Self-realization!


A Manmukh is the opposite of a Gurmukh. Hence, a Manmukh is a material being (egoistic or unenlightened person) as opposed to a Spiritual Being, who does not have natural inclination for Spirituality. The people with materialistic outlook — referred to as Manmukhs in the Gurbani — assert that everlasting happiness is attainable only in acquisition of sense-objects. In other words, a Manmukh is ruled by his conditioned and corrupt sense-blind mind instead of Soul Consciousness. Simply stated, a Manmukh is an ego-being with the following faults: lust, anger, greed, material attachment, self-conceit, envy and stubborn mindedness, with their numerous variations. As a result, he has no understanding of the Naam, Shabad, Hukam (Will), Self, God, Spirit or the Sat Guru. Consequently, he has no understanding of the ultimate purpose of life, his relationship with God, and the Way of God (Gurmat). In this madness and illusion and "I-am-ness", he cultivates the life of a faithless cynic called Saakat — an unwise and an untrue being.
  • Se manmukh jo Shabad na pachhaanahi: They alone are Manmukh who do not realize the Shabad (sggs 1054).
  • Te saakat chor jina Naam visaariyaa ...: Such Saakat, who have forgotten God's Name, are thieves ...(sggs 170).
  • Chrankaal paayee durlabh deh. Naam bihoonee hoyee kheh. Pasoo pret mugdh te buree. Tisahi na boojhai jin ih siree: After a very long time, one obtains this precious human body, so difficult to obtain. Without the Naam, it is reduced to dust. Worse than a beast, a demon or an idiot, is that one who does not understand who created him (sggs 890).
  • Manmukhee duhaagan naahi bhaeo: The Manmukhs, suffering in separation, do not understand God's mystery (sggs 1170).
  • Manmukh rogee hai sansaaraa: The Manmukh are sick and diseased in the world (sggs 118).
Thus, according to the Gurbani, anyone who has not realized the Self within (God, Truth, Shabad or Naam, etc.) alone is a Manmukh. Opposite to a Manmukh is a Gurmukh who has realized the Shabad. Here Gurbani provides us with a very clear definition as to what constitutes a Manmukh and a Gurmukh. Those in the Shabad, Naam or God Consciousness are true Gurmukh, whilst the rest of us (over 99.9 percent) are just hypocrite, faithless cynics or Manmukhs engrossed in unenlightened existence of worldly attachments, evil passions, hatred, selfishness, falsehood, meaningless rituals, corruption, frauds, deception, greed, lip worship and varieties of other superficial religious or reactionary spirituality.
  • Naam na chetahi Shabad na veechaarahi ih Manmukh kaa beechaar: He does not remember God's Name and he does not reflect on the Shabad; this is the kind of perverse thinking Manmukh has cultivated for himself (sggs 852).
  • Chakkar bannaye karai paakhand. Jhur jhur pachai jaise triya rand: He (Manmukh) applies ceremonial religious marks to his body, but practices hypocrisy. He wastes away in sadness and pain, like a lonely widow (sggs 1152).
  • Mann antar houmai rog hai bhram bhoole manmukh durajanaa: The disease of egotism is deep within the mind; the Manmukhs, the evil beings, are deluded by doubt (sggs 1317).
  • Manmukh andhaa doojai bhaae laagai: The blind Manmukh are attached to the love of duality (sggs 113).
  • Manmukh andhe firahi betaalae: The blind Manmukh wander around like demons (sggs 117).
  • Manmukh andhe sudh na kaaee: The blind Manmukh have no understanding at all (sggs 118).
In this world, everyone is either a servant of Maya or a servant of the Self. Those who serve Maya are called Manmukhs or demons, and those who serve the Truth (Self or God) within are called Gurmukhs or Divine. Thus, a Manmukh regardless of how advanced he may be in material qualifications by education and culture, lacks in Divine qualities; consequently, does not know the essence of the Cosmic Reality that is contained within himself. Such individuals fail to attain Spiritual Perfection or Intuitive Understanding of the Shabad, Naam, God, Spirit, Truth, Self or the Satguru; for their intellect is dimmed by material contamination. They hate holiness. They chase after Maya, and wander in this dense forest of material existence like a beast in human garb.
  • Manmukh tatt na jaananee pasoo maahi samaanaa: The Manmukh is a beast; he does not know the essence of Reality that is contained Within himself (sggs 1009).
  • Bhagtee saar na jaananee Manmukh ahankaaree: The egotistical Manmukhs do not appreciate the value of devotional worship (sggs 429).
  • Kookar sookar kaheeahi kooriaaraa. Bhayuki marhi bhayu bhayu bhay haaraa. Man tan jhoothe koor kamaavahi durmat dargah haaraa he: The false Manmukhs are called pigs and dogs. They bark themselves to death; they bark and bark and howl in fear. False in mind and body, they practice falsehood; through their evil-mindedness, they lose out in the Spiritual Realm (sggs 1029).
  • Manmukh jhootho jhooth kamaavai: The material beings practice falsehood, only falsehood. (sggs 363).
  • Manmukh agiaanee andh andhaaraa: The Manmukhs are ignorant; immersed in utter darkness (sggs 1067).
As the Manmukh or demons take shelter in material corruption, they are called the lowest of mankind despite their advancement in material education, science and politics. Association with such material beings is called Kusang (false or bad association). By its very nature, such association separates an individual from the Truth, and makes him forgetful of his True Nature which is Pure Consciousness (or "Joti Svaroop").
  • Manmukh saevaa jo karae doojai bhaae chit laae. Putt kalat kattamb hai Maya mohu vadhaai: The materialists may perform service, but his consciousness is attached to the love of duality. Through Maya, his attachment to children, spouse and relatives increases (sggs 1422).
  • Manmukh maile mal bhare haumai trisanaa vikaar: The materialists (Manmukhs) are polluted. They are filled with the pollution of egotism, cravings and evil passions (sggs 29).
A Manmukh lifestyle is void of humility, contentment, compassion, and spiritual wisdom. Such lifestyle exhibits nothing but undesirable qualities in a person. To make us aware of Manmukhs and their conduct, the Gurbani has provided us with numerous symptoms of such material beings caught in the vertex of unenlightened existence. Some of these symptoms include: egoism, ignorance, selfishness, duality, bondage, evil-mindedness, falsehood, violence, untruthfulness, doubts, superstitions, uncontrolled senses, identification with the feeling of "I, me, mine, your", lust, anger, greed, attachment, self pride, self-conceit; jealousy and enviousness, stubborn mindedness, hatred, fanaticism, conflicts, lack of contentment, material hankering and lamentation, lack of mental control and inner peace, self-centered, full of quarrel and contentions, lack of faith, extrovertedness, ritualistic, unhappy, always interested in taking instead of giving, affinity for bad association, lack of self-discipline, mental agitation, unceasing wandering (rat-race), begging material things from God, complaining, finding faults in others, unable to bear pains and sorrows of life, love for material world instead of the Self within, corruption, fraud, larceny and swindling, bribery, cheating, lying, plundering, stealing, fond of mental speculations and material logic, attachment to material world, deceitful nature, fearful, unceasing desire for sense objects, cynicism, hypocrisy, always wanting to control the world, always wanting to be appreciated, unceasing hunger for name and fame, love for titles and honor, divisiveness, prejudices, cruelty, bigotry, unnatural diet, indulgence in worldly pleasures, illusion, delusion, wrong identity, stupor, obstinate error, love of Maya or worldliness, crookedness, animosity, and so on. Opposite to these are the attributes of Gurmukhs (Spiritual Beings)

Hence, according to the Gurbani, a Manmukh is not a question of heredity, family of birth, ancestry, race, region, social status, caste, creed, education, titles, religion or any peculiar external appearance of a person; it is a question of unenlightened existence, cynicism, egoism, ignorance, hypocrisy, bondage, mental delusion, body-consciousness, mistaken identity, and so on! The Gurbani sums it up as follows:
  • Gurmukh chaanan jaaneeai Manmukh mughad gubaar: The Gurmukh knows the Divine Light, while the foolish Manmukh gropes around in the darkness of ignorance (sggs 20).
  • Nanak manmukh bandh hai gurmukh mukati karaae: O Nanak, the Manmukhs remain in bondage; the Gurmukhs are liberated (sggs 559).
  • Manmukh sayu kar dostee sukh ki pushahi mit. Gurmukh sayu kar dostee Satgur sayu laayi chit. Jamman maran kaa mool katteeai taan sukh hovee mit: If you make friends with the Manmukhs, O friend, who can you ask for peace? Make friends with the Gurmukhs, and focus your consciousness on the True Guru within. The root of birth and death will be cut away, and then, you will find peace, O friend (sggs 1421).
  • Nanak aape aapi aapi khuaaeeai: Says Nanak: Let your (True) Identity consume your (mistaken) body-identity (sggs 369).
  • Gumukh jotee joti milaaee: By becoming Gurmukh (Spiritual Being) blend your light with the Divine Light (sggs 362).
T. Singh
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Shabad Vichaar by SPN'ers

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