Karma & Dharma in Sikh Dharma (Punjabi Katha)

Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji

Over the past 35 years Siri Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogi ji gave thousands of lectures, mostly in English, so the fiew that I find that are in Punjabi are a bit rare. Here is one that I found. My Punjabi is not good so I can’t really give the lecture a title or summarize it. If you listen to it…please do post a comment as to the topic of the lecture and any details. Thanks.

Update: Many Thanks to Lakhvir Singh who did an English translation of this Lecture and posted on his blog. This is another excellent lecture and I am glad to be able to understand it by reading the translation. It will give you something to think about :)


‘It is the maryada of the House of Nanak that he who places people on the path of Truth can surely expect to get a beating from the world.’ – Yogi Bhajan

English Translation by Lakhvir Singh (Kenya)

By Bhai Sahib Bhai Harbhajan Singh Ji Khalsa

This is a humble attempt in translating the lecture on Karam and Dharam, posted on MrSikhnet. I do not claim precise translation, but it is only to help those that are not too familiar with Punjabi, so that they may be able to derive benefit from the core message of the lecture.

This morning, we will contemplate on the status of karam (worldly duty) and dharam (religious duty) in Sikhi. The truth is that no matter what we do, it is nothing less than what animals already do. Those that are filled with the pride of having earned themselves (worldly or spiritual) things have in essence all that amounting to nil – for they have only reaped what was due for deeds done in their past lives. No one can earn even a dime for himself in this life. The scientists are solely mistaken in believing that one can change the frequency of his magnetic psyche. Whatever life, and the strength in life, is granted by Akaal Purakh, and we have no right of owning any of it.

The folly of man is that all he seeks is self-praise for all that he has no right over – he grooms himself and compliments himself over how he looks like when he sees his reflection in the mirror; expects his wife and children to regard him as good; yearns to be honoured when he’s at the Gurudwara – what a tragedy, that even at the Door of the Guru, he does not seek to Praise the Guru, but wants his own. Man is so endlessly greedy for respect, honour and love that he forgets the purpose of his life is to make it worthy [in contemplating on God) and get going after the life is over. What’s of worth in this world? Are we going to take the bed covers of this hotel when we check out of it? All you do is pack up what’s your’s and leave – and even when we are to leave this world, pack up your sack of deeds and leave.

We are so concerned about the nitty-gritties of the foundations of the homes we build, we forget that we are to leave them behind to crumble away. We worry over the home and not the one who lives in it. Where we have come from and with whom we are are related to, we give no thought to Him. These days, we all read the five five pauris of Anand Sahib and conclude it with the fourtieth one and then offer an Ardas before the Guru for Anand Sahib! What a farce! It’s like reading the first five pages of Guru Granth Sahib and then jumping all the way to the end to Raag Mala and then offer an Ardas before the Guru for having completed an ‘Akhand Paath’! Then we are the same people who complain that our children speak lies and they do not listen to us and are not interested in the Guru . . . what a great karam of lies!

When a child asks what the hairs (beard) are all about on his father’s face, father doesn’t want to be bothered on explanations and just ignores the innocent questions of his child. When the same child matures, he considers the whole idea of Sikhi nothing more than a meaningless act of life as he got no lessons on what it is all about when he was young. The Guru’s teachings were not implanted within the child, how will the Guru even sit by the child as he grows into an adult?

As a Sikh, one should count himself fortunate that the Guru awaits him as soon he leaves the darkness of the mother’s womb. While the others stumble in life in search of a Guru, a Sikh is blessed to have been born with the Guru already chosen for him. The Sikh’s life is all guided by the Guru – from the naming of the new born to the scriptures, everything for the Sikh is guided by the Word of the Guru. All the affairs and accounts of the Sikh are already determined by the Guru, and we have unfortunately turned the Guru to an act of worldly deed (karam) in the place of a religious one (dharam). Where are we going to find that illusive liberation, peace and merging into the One, when we have switched our religious duty with worldly deeds? How then will we be able to merge into the roop of Nirankar and understand the Shabad of One God? It’s taken me 15 years of teaching in America and have now topped the age of 55 in pondering over what the fate will be of these kind of people.

What a mess you’ve got yourselves into by thinking that all your affairs are well. Your very base is not well – you have no understanding of what Sikhi (dharam). Deeds must be done anyway, because they have been determined by your past life. But man is just full of ego of claiming that his deed of giving is his own and that Sikhi is the Gift of the Great Giver (Dataar), but above all, the biggest of all our lies is we mention of His gifts. The truth is that we do not acknowledge any of His gifts – it’s all a false show of words. Through insipid words, all we do is fill our mindS with the soot of ego, suppress our wisdom and eventually bring an end to the radiant light within the body – and thus, wherever we may say anything, our words will have no value.

Man’s greatest strength is Shabad (the Word) – you are the Sikhs of Shabad Guru and you have great knowledge of Shabad that ‘Shabad is my faith, my guidance’ and by quoting endlessly from Gurbani . . . yet your claims have no weight, no strength, no inner penetration, no effectiveness within and no relation to your consciousness. Otherwise, wouldn’t that happen what a Sikh would proclaim? Wouldn’t the words of a Sikh change the course of fate? Wouldn’t the words of a Sikh change the fate of countries? Wouldn’t the words of a Sikh increase knowledge in the world?

What will you achieve with these pieces of worthless paper called money? Has money ever managed to bring health and earn consciousness and peace? Death is simply going to seize you. Where you are headed after that, you do not have even an iota of a clue.

There was once a wealthy landowner who had great and lavish ways of entertaining and pampering himself. He soon hired himself a manager to overlook his vast empire, and in the joy of it, the manager sought to pay his obeisance at the River Ganga in Haridwar and offer his gratitude to the gods for the good job he has been blessed with. The wealthy landlord granted the request and further requested his manager to take the former’s walking cane with him so that it may help the latter on his way and at the same time, it would touch the blessed waters of the Ganga. He then instructed him to make the cane an offering to any one moorakh who had taken a dip in the Ganga.

So the servant of the landlord embarked on his journey, used the cane as a support, took and dip in the Ganga, along-with the cane. Remembering the instruction of his master to offer the cane to any one pilgrim at the Ganga, he approached many, but they all declined the offer as none felt any use for it. He finally returned home with the cane. His master offered his respects to his servant for the pilgrim had returned from the revered Ganga and installed him as an in-charge of his vast properties.

One day, as the master lay on his death bed, the manager offered him his very own cane as he would now need it more than anyone else. The master questioned him why he had not given away the cane to any worthless moorakh as he had instructed him to. In response, the servant remarked that he couldn’t find any moorakh who needed it, and he had found no other greater one than his own master to offer it to. The master asked why he was seen as a moorakh. The servant replied that all his life, he had employed dozens of servants to make all the arrangements wherever he was headed to, but at this moment (at the death bed), not knowing where he is headed, he failed to see any arrangements made. ‘Wherever it is you are headed to’, asked the manager, ‘please tell me what sort of place it is so that I can make the necessary arrangements – how far is the place, what supplies would you need for the journey, who will you summon for help, how many servants would you need at your disposal and what clothing would you need?’ The dying man replied that he had never thought of all those factors. ‘Then take this walking cane along with you’, instructed his servant, ‘this cane has had a dip in the Ganga, it would be a use to you.’

And here we are, endlessly grooming ourselves – trimming our eyebrows, facial hairs, making hairstyles . . . and then we claim to be Sikhs of the Guru! If I tell you right here right now that none of you here is a Sikh of the Guru, you will make sure I don’t stand here a moment longer. That’s why I have not called you Sadh Sangat because you are not, why should I lie and say that you are? You come to the Guru’s Darbar, that’s fine because the Guru is ever forgiving , and if He accepts you as His own, you were destined to. But when we do not connect with the Guru, what use is any of our worldly deeds we deem to qualify us to be Sikh?

You have no defense mechanism to protect yourself as you have neither horns nor a trunk – you simply have no power. Your power you possess is to discover your intuition as you have been blessed with intelligence and conscience to determine the consequences of his own deeds. When one chooses to serve the Panth, he can expect to be jolted. It is the maryada of the House of Nanak, that he who places people on the path of Truth, he can be sure of getting a lashing from the world. This is proved by Guru Arjan Dev Ji when he had to go through torture in defence of Righteousness. The first sign of virtue within you is the day people will begin to slander you when you become righteous.

You think (the body that you pamper) is of any worth? The day you exit it, it will be either snuffed out on a pyre or thrown into a dark pit. All these titles you boast around with – Sardar, Singh, Chairman, President, etc – are equal to nothing more than ash . . . God has no use of these titles you own. God has nothing to do with the world of mortal deeds (karam), but does have an interest in the world of spiritual deeds (dharam). Those that have taken the unfortunate birth in Sikh Dharam and have turned dharam into karam, their hell is yet to come to form, as the land (for hell) is still being acquired. Is it any wonder why the world is getting over-populated? That’s because there is no space left in hell! You think that the world’s population growth is a sign of progress – you couldn’t have been more mistaken – hell is being expanded. You have no place else to go but there, you’ll keep revolving in the cycle of birth and death and still come back to this hell on earth. You want your departed loved ones to find a resting place in heaven when their spirits are still roaming around on this earth. Only your mortal body gets dissolved in the elements, but your soul has no such permission and is left on this earth after your death as it is stuck back, nailed down due to karams (deeds). First the soul was nailed down by the house of body, woman (or spouse), children, black money, sinful thoughts – with all these nails, where is the soul going to go but stay back on earth? By getting engrossed in worldly affairs and not listening to the instructions of the Guru, and then to go ahead and claim ourselves as the Sikhs of the Guru, what other great lie can there be? We desire to be referred to as Sikh and GurSikh when we have not sought the Guru’s wisdom, listened and contemplated on His teachings and not lived in Gurmat . . . please do not play this joke with Sikhi, let go off that game now.


There is no need to claim oneself as a Sikh if you have not developed love for the Guru. There are 22 religions in the world, 8 of which are the major ones and within those 8, Sikh Dharam is one of them. But Sikh Dharam is the only unique one of all religions – there is no hypocrisy in Sikhi as it is the religion of humility when we supplicate the Lord is saying, ‘Preserve me in any way You can. After all, I belong to You.’ In Sikhi, this prayer is not just up to saying it, but seeing it through to fruit. It is only in Sikhi that one beseeches the True Guru (God) to awaken him at Amritvela and make him meditate on Him. The lazy ones claim they cannot take a cold shower in the morning, but without that, the body will fall ill as the mind will not be alert. The only way to help open up the blood capillaries and make the blood in your body to flow in your body is to awaken them with a cold shower every morning.