Note: Ego is mostly given a negative connotation of being self-centered and is so also in Gurbani. However ego also has a positive role – that of being creative. So whereas the tendency to be self-centered has to be avoided, ego for development without attachment is to be imbibed. Both these aspects have been brought out in the Sloks below.
ਸਲੋਕ ਮਃ ੧ ॥
Salok mėhlā 1. Ha▫o vicẖ ā▫i▫ā ha▫o vicẖ ga▫i▫ā. Ha▫o vicẖ jammi▫ā ha▫o vicẖ mu▫ā.
(Slok M: 1) prologue by the first Guru. The mortal (aaia) comes to this world (vich-i) in (haumai) ego and (gaiaa) leaves in ego, i.e. ego, the quality of going by one’s own rather than Divine will, is the cause for being born again, - this cycle goes on until ego is given up and the Almighty obeyed..
S/he (jammia) is born in ego and (muaa) dies like-wise – the soul carries the characteristic with it.
Ha▫o vicẖ ḏiṯā ha▫o vicẖ la▫i▫ā. Ha▫o vicẖ kẖati▫ā ha▫o vicẖ ga▫i▫ā.
What is (ditaa) given is in ego and so is what is (laiaa) taken, i.e. one’s dealings in life
are done in (haumai) ego.
Ha▫o vicẖ sacẖiār kūṛi▫ār. Ha▫o vicẖ pāp punn vīcẖār. Ha▫o vicẖ narak surag avṯār.
S/he acts as (sacchiaar-u) truthful, i.e. shows goodness, or (koorriaar-u) false - when it suits him/her in ego, i.e. such actions do not come to him/her naturally, but by ego.
His/her (veechaar-u) thinking on (paap = sin) transgressions and (pun) virtuous acts is by ego, i.e. decides what is right or wrong.
It is because of ego that s/he (avatar-u = descend) goes (narak-i = into hell) to take birth again or (surag-i) goes to heaven – merge with the Creator and have eternal peace.
Ha▫o vicẖ hasai ha▫o vicẖ rovai. Ha▫o vicẖ bẖarī▫ai ha▫o vicẖ ḏẖovai. Ha▫o vicẖ jāṯī jinsī kẖovai.
It is in ego that s/he (hasai = laughs) has fun – enjoys transitory pleasures forgetting the Almighty, and then (rovai) wails for the consequences - of being sent for rebirth.
His/her mind (bhareeai = smeared) is soiled by vices because of ego, but s/he can (dhovai = washes) get rid of them by ego – determined actions.
S/he can (khovai = lose) give up his/her (jaati jinsi) characteristics by ego i.e. by being determined.
Ha▫o vicẖ mūrakẖ ha▫o vicẖ si▫āṇā. Mokẖ mukaṯ kī sār na jāṇā.
In ego s/he acts (moorakh-u) foolish, or tries to be (siaana) clever.
But s/he does not (jaana) know (saar = understanding) what can get him/her (mokh mukat-i) emancipation from wrong-doings and hence rebirth.
Ha▫o vicẖ mā▫i▫ā ha▫o vicẖ cẖẖā▫i▫ā. Ha▫umai kar kar janṯ upā▫i▫ā.
All (maaia) world-play is (vich-i = in) governed by ego, and its (chhaaia = reflection) effect/influence is – bondage with – ego.
In fact the Creator (upaaia) created (jant) the creatures to (kar-i) act in ego to do good acts - but they also (kar-i = do) act otherwise in ego.
Ha▫umai būjẖai ṯā ḏar sūjẖai. Gi▫ān vihūṇā kath kath lūjẖai.
If the mortal (boojhai) understands (humai) the ego in him/her, (ta) then s/he (soojhai) gets awareness of how to get to (dar-u = gate) the entry gate to the Creator’s abode – and act to get there
One (vihoona) bereft of (giaan = knowledge) this understanding (kath-i kath-i) talks meaninglessly or (loojhai) keeps arguing.
Nānak hukmī likī▫ai lekẖ. Jehā vekẖėh ṯehā vekẖ. ||1||
Says Nanak: We (likhiai) write (leykh-u = writing) our destiny ourselves (hukmi) by Divine commands, i.e. by the divine law that what one does becomes part of his/her nature and does like-wise in future or later births.
The Creator (veykhah-i) watches it; we should (veykh-u) look at ourselves (teyha = similarly) as the Creator does, i.e. we should try to understand ourselves because the Creator is within us.
ਮਹਲਾ ੨ ॥
Mėhlā 2. Ha▫umai ehā jāṯ hai ha▫umai karam kamāhi. Ha▫umai e▫ī banḏẖnā fir fir jonī pāhi.
(Mahla 2) prologue by the second Guru. (Eha) this is (jaat-i = class) the nature of (haumai) ego; one having it (karam kamaah-i) acts in ego even later.
(Eyee) this ego keeps one (bandhna) in bondage and a person afflicted with it, (paah-i = put in) goes in numerous (joni) life forms, i.e. is born (phir-i phir-i) again and again.
Ha▫umai kithhu ūpjai kiṯ sanjam ih jā▫e.
Question: (Kithahu) where, i.e. how does ego (upjai = emanate) come about and (kit-u) by what method (ih) it (jaaey) goes, i.e. how may it be banished?
Ha▫umai eho hukam hai pa▫i▫ai kiraṯ firāhi. Ha▫umai ḏīragẖ rog hai ḏārū bẖī is māhi. Kirpā kare je āpṇī ṯā gur kā sabaḏ kamāhi.
Answer: (Eyho) it is (hukam-u = Divine command) the law of nature that ego is (paeiai kirt-i) is practised repeatedly, i.e. one who has ego acts by it again; this (phiraah-i) causes the soul to keep wandering in cycles of births and deaths.
(Haumai) ego is (deeragh = long) a chronic (rog-u) affliction, and (daaroo) the cure (bhi) also lies (maah-i) in (is) it, i.e. by making determined efforts.
(Jey) when the Almighty (kirpa karey) bestows kindness, then the person – finds the guru and - (kamaah-i) acts on (sabad-u = word) the teachings of the guru.
Nānak kahai suṇhu janhu iṯ sanjam ḏukẖ jāhi. ||2||
Says the second Nanak: (Sunhu) listen o (janh-u) people, it is (it-u sanjam-i) by this method that (dukh = distress) the afflictions caused by ego (jaah-i) go. 2.
Pa▫oṛī. Sev kīṯī sanṯokẖī▫īŉ jinĥī sacẖo sacẖ ḏẖi▫ā▫i▫ā. Onĥī manḏai pair na rakẖi▫o kar sukariṯ ḏẖaram kamā▫i▫ā.
(Paurri) stanza. (Jinhi) those who (dhiaaia) remember (sacho sach-u = universal Truth) the Eternal, such (santokhee-ein) contented people (seyv keeti) serve the Almighty, i.e. they are happy to comply with Divine commands.
(Onhi) they do not (rakhio) put their (pair) feet (mandai = bad) on the path of vices but (kamaaia) carry out their (dharam-u) duties – of the assigned role in life - (kar-i) doing (sukrit-u) good deeds, i.e. living according to commands of the Creator.
Onĥī ḏunī▫ā ṯoṛe banḏẖnā ann pāṇī thoṛā kẖā▫i▫ā. Ŧūŉ bakẖsīsī aglā niṯ ḏevėh cẖaṛėh savā▫i▫ā. vadi▫ā▫ī vadā pā▫i▫ā. ||7||
(Onhi) they (torrey) break (bandhna) bondage to (duneeaa) the world, i.e. they overcome temptations in the world-play, and (khaaia = eating) consume (thorra = less) only the required amount of (ann-u = grain) food and (paani = water) drinks, i.e. they are not greedy or wasteful.
O Almighty, (too-n) You are (aglaa) very (bakhseesee) gracious and (nit) ever (deyvah-i) give (charrah-i savaaia) more and more – to such people.
By (vaddiaaee) praising the virtues of the Almighty and living by them, they (paaia) attainunion with (vaddaa) the Highest Master. 7.