7. The understanding of Ego is the door to salvation The Egoism (Haumai)

“ਮਾਇਆ ਮਮਤਾ ਮੋਹਣੀ”

The term Haumai is frequently used for those who have not reached the state of Gurumukha (Jiwan-mukta) or liberated one. In Sikhism ego is treated as vice and disease for a man (Manmukh). Though, it is difficult to define the meaning of the term as used by Guru Nanak, but the literal meaning is “I – I, Hau-Main”.[1]

However, this word Haumai implies both spiritual and a moral malady. Guru Amar Das has aptly said in this way that, this is a filth that clings to man. This is a polluting presence that persecutes its victims at the same it resists all attempts made on by its victim on his part to wash it away: “The world is polluted with the filth of egotism, suffering in pain. This filth sticks to them because of their love of duality” (SGGS, p.39).[2]

Guru Ram Das further declares that this Humai is intrinsic to humankind, “Deep within the mind is the disease of ego; the self-willed manmukhs, the evil beings, are deluded by doubt” (SGGS, p. 301).[3] Due to its inherent nature, “In ego they come, and in ego they go. In ego they are born, and in ego they die” (SGGS, p.466).[4] This is the reason why a person is so obedient to or is the servant of ego, “The self-willed manmukhs praise their own egos; their attachment to egotism is useless” (SGGS, p. 301).[5]

There are five traditional evil impulses (vices or thieves) which are offspring of Haumai that govern one’s life, “Within this body dwell the five thieves: sexual desire (Kama), anger (Kordha), greed (Lobha), emotional attachment (Moha) and egotism (Honkara)” (SGGS, p. 600).[6] Since, a Soul (Jiva) is trapped in this body which is bound by these five vices; hence, these vices or thieves determine the direction of one’s thoughts, feelings and actions.

Thus, in this way Haumai, controls  a person and makes him/her to determine the very pattern of their life. In other word, the body decides the fate of a person. As a result, the door of salvation is locked by the impulses of Ego. The door is lockedfrom attaining the truth, because this ego stands in the way of God’s realization.

Guru Grantha further adds that all the efforts made by a Soul (Jiva) are futile, “The foulness of haumai will not be removed, though one may bathe at a hundred places of pilgrimage” (SGGS, 39).[7] Hence, the remedy for this inner malady is given in first to understand that a Soul is suffering from it or is sick of it, “When one understands ego, then the Lord’s gate is known” (SGGS, 466),[8] and second, is to meet the True Guru, “O Nanak, this disease is eradicated, only when one meets the True Guru, our Holy Friend” (SGGS, p. 301).[9]   

The above mentioned facts opens our eyes to understand that, since our body is trapped in the cage of Haumai, it  can neither produce good work nor it can help us to meet with the Lord our Master. It clearly stands between lover and his consort as a partitioning wall, between the Master and disciple, between the True Guru and his follower. One’s eyes are so blinded that they cannot measure the very nature of Haumai. Hence, it leads us to ask an important questions that, how a person could get rid from the Haumai, which has entrapped our body. If all the religious efforts are futile as envisioned in Guru Granth, how then would a person meet the True Guru and would one find the True Name (Satnam) or Satguru to dispel this darkness.  

The answers to these questions are very clearly given in the Granth Bible. Granth Bible says that, yes it is true that in human body “nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans 7:18), as a result one’s works of flesh are bad, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsand envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-20). It further adds in it that, “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Sachkand – realm of truth) (Galatians 5:21). Hence, a seeker cries out once in their inability for emancipation if so is the case then who, is going to help me, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24).

The seeker finds an apt answer again from Granth Bible. Granth Bible says that, first a person has to deal with the inherent evil, because, a Soul (Jiva) is “dead [morally and spiritually] in due to trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). To bring the life back to this dead Soul, Lord the Master Satguru Jesus Christ himself stepped down to earth to rescue the humankind in their incapability,

“because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”

Ephesians 2:4-5

Granth Bible further says that, knowing the sickness or the poverty of our flesh, Satguru Jesus Christ himself regenerated our flesh,

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life”

Titus 3:4-7

Thus, our evil body was not only regenerated, but also was renewed hence this has qualified us to have eternal life. Therefore, the coming down of the True Name (Sat Nam or Whaheguru) that is Satguru Jesus Christ from Sachkhand (Realm of Truth) is the only medicine for this sick body. In addition to this, since he came down heaven itself came down to dwell in His own created creation as in essence, Sach Khand (Realm of Truth) is Waheguru (God) himself. That is why once Satguru Jesus had said like this,

“whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life”

John 4:14

As a result, his coming moved us from the realm of righteous action (Dharam Khand) that is this worldto the Realm of Truth (Sach Khand). There remains now only one desire in a Bhakta’s heart,

“I have asked the Lord for one thing. This is what I desire. I want to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life so I can gaze at the splendor of the Lord and contemplating His temple” [that is the very abode of God]

Psalms 27:4

This desire is further explained, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord (Sachkhand) forever” (Psalm 23:6).

So, how was all this made possible? The simplest answer is that, it is because Satguru Jesus Christ met with a Bhakta, he created everything new in him, thus, Granth Bible says,“if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As a result, because of the work of regeneration done by Satguru Jesus Christ, the Chronic malady of Egoism is removed, “you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:9-10).  That changes a self-willed person (Manmukh) to a person who is inclined towards Guru (Gurumakh). Hence the words of Guru Nanak are apt here about this kind of a person, “O Nanak, he is a brave warrior, who conquers and subdues his vicious inner ego” (SGGS, p.86).[10]

[1] W. Owen Cole, Piara Singh Sambhi. “A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism: Sikh Religion and Philosophy. (London: Routledge, 1997), p. 40.

[2] ਜਗਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਮਲੁ ਲਾਗੀ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ॥

[3] ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਹੈ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਭੂਲੇ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਦੁਰਜਨਾ ॥

[4] ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਆਇਆ ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਗਇਆ ॥ ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਜੰਮਿਆ ਹਉ ਵਿਚਿ ਮੁਆ ॥

[5] ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਸਲਾਹਦੇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਮਤਾ ਵਾਦੁ ॥

[6] ਇਸੁ ਦੇਹੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਪੰਚ ਚੋਰ ਵਸਹਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਲੋਭੁ ਮੋਹੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਾ ॥

[7] ਮਲੁ ਹਉਮੈ ਧੋਤੀ ਕਿਵੈ ਨ ਉਤਰੈ ਜੇ ਸਉ ਤੀਰਥ ਨਾਇ ॥

[8] ਹਉਮੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਤਾ ਦਰੁ ਸੂਝੈ ॥

[9] ਨਾਨਕ ਰੋਗੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਮਿਲਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸਾਧੂ ਸਜਨਾ ॥੧॥

[10] ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋ ਸੂਰਾ ਵਰੀਆਮੁ ਜਿਨਿ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਦੁਸਟੁ ਅਹੰਕਰਣੁ ਮਾਰਿਆ ॥