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An act of cleaning or An act of disbelief February 16, 2012

Filed under: Experiences — The Inner Search @ 6:53 am
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Few months ago I came across a video that was going viral on internet. I saw countless number of people post the same video on their Facebook and I believe countless people admired it too.  A lot of people felt “Wow” watching the video and may be few like me just didn’t like it. The video was unseen footage of Harmandir Sahib and it showed the cleaning process of the diwan(main) hall. This is the cleaning process that is said to be followed every morning. Since it was “unseen footage” I was really curious to see it. But when I saw the video I ended up questioning the process and I couldn’t believe it was happening. Basically part of the process is to clean the hall with Milk. Buckets and buckets full of milk are thrown onto the floor of hall for cleaning all in the name of purity and then floor is cleaned again with water. Thereby making floor pure and holly. The pity is that in a world where so many people die of hunger everyday, there are buckets and buckets of milk drained in the name of holiness, cleanliness and faith. As I watched the video I felt like as if we haven’t really learned to live our Guru’s teachings. As uncomfortable and displeased I was watching the video, I didn’t know what to do about it.

Obviously the reason I wrote this blog is that somewhere I still hope that one day this will change. The least I can do is at least share and try to bring awareness among us. I beg to remind us that Guru taught us against blind faith and myths and if we still continue to perform such acts then are we really obeying our Guru? It’s like we worship, we listen and do all the other nine hundred and ninety nine things but we forget the most important thing, that is acting on it.

I will end this blog with a Shabad by Bhagat Ravidas Ji, where He talks about the various methods that were being used to clean and please God during those times. Let’s introspect if we are caught up in such acts even today or did we really learn to listen and practice what our Guru taught? I do want to thank Sarabjit Singh Dhunda (gem of a Sikh preacher) for enlightening with this Shabad in his katha and guiding us Guru’s way:



Bhagat Ravidas – Ang 525


ਗੂਜਰੀ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਜੀ ਕੇ ਪਦੇ ਘਰੁ ੩
Gūjrī sarī Raviḏās jī ke paḏe gẖar 3
Goojaree, Padas Of Ravi Daas Jee, Third House:

ੴ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
Ik▫oaʼnkār saṯgur parsāḏ.
One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:

ਦੂਧੁ ਤ ਬਛਰੈ ਥਨਹੁ ਬਿਟਾਰਿਓ ॥
Ḏūḏẖ ṯa bacẖẖrai thanhu bitāri▫o.
The calf has contaminated the milk in the teats.

ਫੂਲੁ ਭਵਰਿ ਜਲੁ ਮੀਨਿ ਬਿਗਾਰਿਓ ॥੧॥
Fūl bẖavar jal mīn bigāri▫o. ||1||
The bumble bee has contaminated the flower, and the fish the water. ||1||

ਮਾਈ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਹਾ ਲੈ ਚਰਾਵਉ ॥
Mā▫ī gobinḏ pūjā kahā lai cẖarāva▫o.
O mother, where shall I find any offering for the Lord’s worship?

ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਫੂਲੁ ਅਨੂਪੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Avar na fūl anūp na pāva▫o. ||1|| rahā▫o.
I cannot find any other flowers worthy of the incomparable Lord. ||1||Pause||

ਮੈਲਾਗਰ ਬੇਰ੍ਹੇ ਹੈ ਭੁਇਅੰਗਾ ॥
Mailāgar berĥe hai bẖu▫i▫angā.
The snakes encircle the sandalwood trees.

ਬਿਖੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਬਸਹਿ ਇਕ ਸੰਗਾ ॥੨॥
Bikẖ amriṯ basėh ik sangā. ||2||
Poison and nectar dwell there together. ||2||

ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਨਈਬੇਦਹਿ ਬਾਸਾ ॥
Ḏẖūp ḏīp na▫ībeḏėh bāsā.
Even with incense, lamps, offerings of food and fragrant flowers,

ਕੈਸੇ ਪੂਜ ਕਰਹਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਦਾਸਾ ॥੩॥
Kaise pūj karahi ṯerī ḏāsā. ||3||
how are Your slaves to worship You? ||3||

ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਅਰਪਉ ਪੂਜ ਚਰਾਵਉ ॥
Ŧan man arpa▫o pūj cẖarāva▫o.
I dedicate and offer my body and mind to You.

ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਪਾਵਉ ॥੪॥
Gur parsāḏ niranjan pāva▫o. ||4||
By Guru’s Grace, I attain the immaculate Lord. ||4|

ਪੂਜਾ ਅਰਚਾ ਆਹਿ ਨ ਤੋਰੀ ॥
Pūjā arcẖā āhi na ṯorī.
I cannot worship You, nor offer You flowers.

ਕਹਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸ ਕਵਨ ਗਤਿ ਮੋਰੀ ॥੫॥੧॥
Kahi Raviḏās kavan gaṯ morī. ||5||1||
Says Ravi Daas, what shall my condition be hereafter? ||5||1||


9 Responses to “An act of cleaning or An act of disbelief”

  1. sukhvirk150 Says:

    Thank you for working to bring up relevant questions veerji. I look forward to future posts.

  2. Your writings really made me think- I dont often bother to write replies but in this case I could see where you were coming from ….but I see it differently
    I saw that video & understood that the marble & granite is being cleaned every single day with milk as part of the ancient cleaning processes that preserve the stone in the best way. The video also showed the traditional recipies made with natural ingredients used to clean the gold at the top of Harmandir Sahib, again as the proven way to preserve this special place.
    Natural ingredients cost much less than the chemicals used in modern cleaners and result in less pollution. If the sevadars used other commercial cleaners, Chemicals would regularly enter the waters nearby and poison the Environment, affect the fish, wildlife & people etc whilst the milk is beneficial to all, bathers & other creatures. I think the old ways are best for in the long term for the Environment. The environment everywhere and particularly in Panjab is suffering & under threat, because of artificial products used without thought by us humans.
    Providing properly nutritious food and drink for the Poor, children, expectant women is an important goal but a seperate issue in my humble opinion.
    We humans have had a powerfulI detrimental impact on the environment and we should be thankful that some ancient and gentle practices have survived.
    I think original Sikhi advocates natural ‘green’ living as a principle.
    Sikhi’s other gentle & powerful loving virtues need our attention too.

    • Thanks for bringing up your view. I was unaware that milk can be used as preservative and thus used for cleaning. I wonder if that is the case. There is also another issue where women are not allowed to part take in this cleaning seva, and that to me is also against the principles of Sikhi as much as not allowing women to do Kirtan at Darbar Sahib.

  3. Prabhmeet Says:

    Waheguru ji ka Khalsa,
    Waheguru ji ki Fateh,

    Thank you for writing up your views on the video. I will try to pen down some thoughts that come across my mind when I read this.

    There are many ways of looking at the same thing in this world. For someone it is love for the Guru and for someone it is man mat and against the teachings of the Guru. A small example, its common to find air conditioners (ACs) in the rooms marked as Sukhasan asthans of Guru Granth Sahib. One may point this to be man mat (anti Guru thought) arguing that sri Guru Granth sahib is beyond cold and heat and for others the reason for putting up an AC is that out of love for their Guru they want to give the best comfort in the world to him knowing it doesn’t mean anything to him.
    Bathing in milk is considered super luxury in the India, so if one wants, one can look at the sewa at Harminder Sahib as the one token of love of the humble sewadars towards their Guru. The point that you make of wastage when so many are hungry can equally apply to the splendid rumalas (costing huge amt) adorned by the Guruji and many more things..In fact the Harmandir Sahib or aptly Golden Temple can be source of your thought. The gold pleating work was carried on first time by the greatest Sikh King out of love for his Guru.

    So it may not be a waste makes you do a lot which may appear waste to others..

    Fateh till then….

    • Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
      Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

      Thanks for sharing your views and I agree there are multiple ways to look at anything and that’s why it’s important to seek our answers from Guru Granth Sahib. After I wrote this blog someone shared a view that this practice is performed because milk is the natural cleanser for floor. Though I am not certain if that is the reason but it’s something that I may buy. As far as milk being pure or luxury and given out of love I think Shabad by Bhagat Ravidas ji clarifies us in simple words that even Milk is contaminated by calf and is not pure like any other thing to worship Waheguru. I take it as my answer as to whether I should use it as something out of love or not.

      I do agree that there are many things that can be considered as seva and token of love but we have to be watchful about anything that becomes empty ritual. “Can I do something with love but against the teaching of Guru?” is a question that one can answer themselves and figure what should be token of love like.

      Thanks for your views again.

      Gurfateh !!

      • Prabhmeet Says:

        Waheguru ji ka Khalsa
        Waheguru ji ki Fateh,

        Thanks for responding to my views.
        At the onset, I would like to make it clear that I do not aim to get into any negative discussion or an argument. My sole purpose to write here is to exchange views. The beauty of our religion is that it gives each Sikh a chance of have a personal relation with his Guru, the eternal Sri Guru Granth sahib, try to understand his teachings in his own way and love him. I am sure that you know that there are many books ( as they say teekas in Punjabi) written by different authors explaining the meaning of the Japji sahib. If you read few of them, you would find a lot of differences among each of them. But this doesn’t mean that one is correct and all others are wrong. It is just that each author inferred the same lines differently as per his understanding, knowledge, love and devotion. Barring the basic fundamentals of Sikh religion on which there cannot be diverse views I always respect difference of opinion because it demonstrates that one’s desires to walk on the path shown by the Gurus and his trying to do it too.
        Having said that, now with all the humility and accepting your views in the response I would like to add, I agree with meaning and reference to the teachings of Bhagat Sri Ravidas ji that you highlighted but many a times love and logic don’t work together. I would accept that I do not know the exact reason behind that washing of floors with milk, but I am sure that among the sewadars doing it daily there would be some who do it just for the love for their Guru with thoughts like “Instead of washing with plain water, lets wash it with something more luxurious like milk, rose water” and a dumb soul like me would like to give in to their love. Just sharing one thought with you, It is a well known fact that Sri Guru Amar Das before attaining the Guruship used to go every morning for years and years to fill a pot of water from the far away river for bathing of Sri Guru Angad Dev ji. The great Guru Angad, could have told his disciple that all the water is same, there is no point going so far to fetch water from the river, get it from the nearest well, but he let Guru Amar das do his sewa, because he saw the unbound love with which he did the sewa towards his Guru. At the Harminder Sahib, you can see lot of people cleaning floors of the parikarma and other areas and most of the time there are more than clean already, but the sangat, the sewadars don’t stop these people from cleaning or dusting it again, because they see the love and reverence in eyes of the doer.
        I don’t want to force this view on you neither I would like to justify the milk washing sewa with any reason to win an argument with you, but I want you to keep this view also in mind, so that while continuing your journey of understanding the world around you and importantly your inner self you have one more way of looking at things.

        Introducing myself, I am Prabhmeet Singh, I am 28yrs old and I live in Pune, India working as IT professional. You can write to me at I would love to read back from you.

        P.S. – I have always believed that there is a one thing which is fundamentally wrong with most of the educated guys like me. We tend to use our worldly knowledge, logical thinking, experience etc to understand and apply logics in understanding religion and theology We must learn to not do this. Unlearn and learn is the way.

        Guru Fateh till then.


  4. Prabhmeet Says:

    Views in response are appreciated.

    • It’s good to be able to discuss and share views, that’s what makes me write blogs too. I do agree with your view of having personal relationship and performing seva out of love. I only feel that in love we shouldn’t do something that was against teachings of Guru.
      I also agree that education does leads into worldly knowledge and unlearn is the way.
      Thanks for your views. I will send you email to connect.

      Chardikala veerji !!

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