KAAM (LUST) by Rajinder Singh ‘Arshi’ In the earlier article I referred to the five thieves (punj chor) viz: 1. lust (kaam): 2. anger (krodh); 3. greed (lobh); 4. attachment (moh); and 5. ego (hunkaar or Ahankaar). It is easy to succumb to the desires of the heart and flesh - kaam (lust). In this article Kaam will be discussed in greater detail. Meaning of Kaam The term Kaam has Sanskrit roots. The term kaamna means to desire. In itself it is a neutral term. i.e. it may be used in a derogatory or non-derogatory manner. One may have a kaamna for anything, good or bad, virtuous or sinful. However when shortened to ‘Kaam’ it equates with a desire for sensual pleasures, though not necessarily defining the degree of propensity towards such obsession. Again Kaam may be defined as: 1. an essential and natural desire (but controlled and coupled with a sense of responsibility and commitment; this is a necessary process for procreation as designed by mother nature; 2. a deep desire. A person with obsessive propensity towards sensual desires is often referred to as a ‘kaami pursh’ - a person obsessed with unrestricted propensity towards lust. Kamun dekh kaam lobhaya. (Parbhati M.1 SGGS 1342) Kaam did not spare even the yogis and rishis (1) of earlier (and more righteous) Yugs (Eras) (2) , and many succumbed to the desires of the heart and flesh when put to the test. The Hindu scriptures are full of references where even the exalted (deities) were led astray by sirens of desire and lust; where years of meditation and spiritual achievement evaporated in seconds. Exercising control over sensual desires has been the hardest task faced by men seeking to ‘cross-over’ (attaining moksha – Eternal Bliss, Unification with God). Many having conquered the other four fail to clear this last hurdle. It is even more difficult in this Dark Age, Kalyug (3), to stay focused on the true direction of life and its purpose. Unfortunately, a lot of help is available to do just the opposite. Our children, growing up in the western culture, are subjected to numerous pressures which fortunately their ancestors did not have to go through. In addition, they are growing in a multicultural society and are exposed to many schools of thought and disciplines (rather indiscipline in many cases); this obviously adds to their confusion. The Asian sub-continent, too, is fast changing and catching up with the western world. However, whilst it is benefiting from the technological and the commercial advances of the west, it is also acquiring the west’s negative traits which go hand in hand with materialistic quests and ambitions. Our biggest misfortune is that even the well informed, with good backgrounds, are sucked in to this system and there is little help or guidance available to the new generation. There is little hope for the younger generation where its elders have abandoned the culture their parents strived so hard to inculcate in them. So where do we go from here? It is now up to the few who still hold on to their beliefs (and far superior values) to pool their resources and proceed in a unified manner. We must forget our minor differences and act for the greater good of our faith. How do we in a society, where ‘values’ have been turned on their heads, bring up children to respect their elders, pay homage to their Gurus and above all to become good upright citizens free of the five ills mentioned above? The five thieves are all inter-connected. Gaining control over one will have a knock on effect on the others. Kaam, in the culture we are living in, is perhaps one of the hardest to overcome. A society which makes light of moral values makes it even more difficult not to stray from the right path. Kam krodh jalai sabh koi. (Maru M. 3 SGGS 1062) The entire world is burning in rage and sensual pursuits. There are far too many pitfalls for the unwary. Our contemporary world is churning out, at an alarming rate, objects and products associated with sensual and base desires than those lending to sobering thoughts and pursuits. It is considered wrong to cover your heads and dress sensibly (the current events in France and the United States are rather disturbing) but acceptable to walk about half-naked. It is considered ‘cool’ to visit bars and night clubs but old-fashioned to attend churches and temples. Such is the measure of our problem which frustrates our attempts to adhere to the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib. Our inability to instill these in our younger generation, which by the passing of each day is getting further and further away from ‘Sikhi’(4), is exasperating. The question here is how we can assist in promoting good and decent values which are the cornerstones of any faith. The current atmosphere only generates soul-destroying values such as lust, greed and power and violence. Kam krodh kaya ko galeay. (Ramakali M.1 SGGS 932) Lust and rage rot away ones spiritual body. Hey kamn narak bisramn boh joni bharmwvanh (SGGS 1358) Thou lust trap souls into your evil grip and burn them in hell; you are responsible for sending them into the cycle of life and death. Sikhism does not believe in physical austerities or extreme measures of physical and mental exertions. It does not lend to Brahmanical ritualism and superstition. Some Eastern schools of thought look upon kaam with utter horror and abhorrence. They recommend austerities ranging from suppression to total celibacy. Sikhism does not look upon kaam as an ‘absolute evil’ or as a fire which should be totally suppressed. Sikhism does not preach celibacy. However, it does recommend certain guidelines, certain parameters which must not be crossed. Kaam in the form of unrestrained animal lust for pure physical gratification, without a sense of commitment is sinful. Sikhism supports restrained physical relationship between man and women only in the sanctity of marriage (grahista). A grahsathi (married person) while fulfilling the duties of a householder must at the same time meditate on His Naam if he or she is to achieve eternal bliss (moksha). Meditation must also be backed by good deeds and charitable work. Passions of sensual desires must be checked and there is no room for physical relationship outside marriage. Even within the confines of married life such passions must be controlled and kept under constant physical and spiritual self-discipline. Sex outside marriage is a definite sin and a Sikh who transgresses is labeled an apostate. Guru Amar Das states that the relationship between a married couple must be elevated from the union of bodies to the fusion of the two souls into one light, whilst the Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, addressing a married man, says he ‘must not go to another women’s bed even in a dream’. Bhai Gurdas, the prominent Sikh bard and intellectual said (again addressed to a male Sikh – as most transgressions in those days were from men) that with the exception of one’s wife one must regard all other women as, daughters, sisters and mothers’. If the fire and energy which generates unrestrained inclination towards kaam is channeled into meditation then ‘kaam-ras’ (tendency towards sensual pleasures) can be transformed into ‘nam-ras’ (the ambrosial nectar of Lord’s name). (1) Rishi is a Hindu saint. A sage well-versed in Vedic knowledge. (2) Yug is an era, a cycle of age. (3) Kalyug: Dark Age. Kalyug, the current cycle of age is believed to have commenced 3102 BC. (4) Sikhi: Righteous and disciplined living according to the Sikh tenets. Author's note: Differences of opinion are inevitable when interpreting Gurbani. The author most humbly regrets any inaccuracy or errors in quoting or interpreting Gurbani and prays Satguru grants him the boon of greater insight into understanding the Guru’s word.