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Sikh Beliefs

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History of Sikhism
Sikh practices

1a. Simran
1b. Seva

2. Three Pillars
2a. Naam Japo
2b. Kirat Karni
2c. Wand kay Shako

3. Five Evils
3a. Kam
3b. Krodh
3c. Lobh
3d. Moh
3e. Ahankar

4. Five Virtues
4a. Sat
4b. Santokh
4c. Daya
4d. Nimrata
4e. Pyare

Articles on Sikhism

Greed is a dog; falsehood is a scavenger; Cheating is...Guru Nanak

Lobh is a Gurmukhi and Punjabi word which translates into English as greed, temptation or avarice. Sikhi tells us that it is one of five evils found within most human beings.

The five evils or five thieves or panch doot (five demons) or panj vikar (five sins) as they are referred to in the Sikh Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, are according to Sikhi, the five major weaknesses of the human personality at variance with its spiritual essence. These are the five traits that bring misery and pain the our lives; the Guru Granth Sahib asks us to overcome these internal demons and clasp the virtues of the "Super soul".

The common evils found in mankind far exceed this number, but a group of five of them came to be identified because of the major obstruction they are believed to cause to man's pursuit of the moral and spiritual path. The other four evils in the group of five are:

  • kam (Lust)
  • krodh (Rage or uncontrolled anger)
  • moh (Attachment or emotional attachment)
  • ahankar (ego)

Together these five are the ones that need to eradicated from our persona so that we can live a life without the pain and misery that results from the company of these five vices.

What is greed or Lobh?

According to Sikhi, Lobh or greed is the intense desire to possess material items like money, goods, gadgets, properties, cars, jewellery, etc to an extent that is far beyond ones real needs and requirements. A Loby (a person subject to lobh) is the result of a foolish and feeble mind; is happy just thinking about his or her wealth; will continuously be occupied in this desire to possess material items.

A desire to acquire possessions far in access to ones basis needs is called Lobh. A strong and uncontrollable desire for worldly goods and a constant or recurring focus on possessing material items, especially the urge to possess the things that rightfully belongs to others. It makes an individual selfish and self-centred. It takes a person away from peace; from his or her religious, moral and social duties. A person can become blind with greed if an effort to control the desire for unlimited worldly possessions is not extinguished.

An unstoppable desire to gain wealth, possessions, assets, or other material things; especially when there is no need for there items; the desire to own items purely because others own them; the desire to own material items that belong to others - are all examples of greed and Lobh.

Sikhs do not believe that it is wrong to enjoy the good things in life, to be wealthy or to be admired by others. The Gurus taught that human beings should make the most of everything that God has given. However, if a person’s actions and thoughts are predominantly focused on possessing material things in life he or she can no longer focus on God then they are moving further and further from liberation and Mukti.

How do you extinguish greed (lobh)

The Sikh scripture give direction and guidance on the ways of extinguishing evils of all kinds, including greed. It is acknowledged that the five evils afflict all beings in the world and that it is difficult to control them. Yet the possibility of conquering them is not ruled out in the theological framework of Sikhism; the moral training of a Sikh is in fact directed towards controlling the senses and eradicating the evils.

The seeker of liberation has first to liberate himself from the yoke of the pentad (group of five). No headway can be made towards God-realization without discarding the cardinal evils. Kabir says, "He alone cherishes the Lord's feet who is rid of desire, wrath, greed and attachment — kamu krodhu lobhu mohu bibarjit haripadu chinai soi" (SGGS p1123).

The fifth master, Guru Arjan, in Raag Asa gives us a solution to overcome the clutches of these five demons thus:

ਕਾਮ ਕ੝ਰੋਧ ਲੋਭ ਮਾਨ ਇਹ ਬਿਆਧਿ ਛੋਰੈ ॥੧॥
Kĝm kroḝẖ lobẖ mĝn ih bi­ĝḝẖ cẖẖorai. ॥1॥
How can I escape the afflictions of sexual desire, anger, greed and pride? (1)

In the Satsang, immersed in Naam, with love sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord.
Night and day, meditate on God. Capture and demolish the wall of doubt. O Nanak, Naam is my only treasure. ((2)(3)(154))
ਸੰਤਸੰਗਿ ਨਾਮ ਰੰਗਿ ਗ੝ਨ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਗਾਵਉ ॥ ਅਨਦਿਨੋ ਪ੝ਰਭ ਧਿਆਵਉ ॥ ਭ੝ਰਮ ਭੀਤਿ ਜੀਤਿ ਮਿਟਾਵਉ ॥ ਨਿਧਿ ਨਾਮ੝ ਨਾਨਕ ਮੋਰੈ ॥੨॥੩॥੧੫੪॥
Saṯsang nĝm rang gun govinḝ gĝva­o. Anḝino parabẖ ḝẖi­ĝva­o. Bẖaram bẖīṯ jīṯ mitĝva­o. Niḝẖ nĝm Nĝnak morai. ॥2॥3॥154॥

The three ways to conquer greed (lobh)

Bhagti: Loving devotion (bhagati, bhakti) to God is, according to Sikhi the way to ultimate release. One can love God only when one has annihilated self-love or ego; this means that the devotee must be humble and surrender himself fully unto God. The Gurus stress the necessity of taking refuge in God. To this end, one must first renounce pride ("maan"). Constant awareness of God (simran) is the panacea for all ills. He who enshrines the Lord's lotus feet in his heart destroys sins of many existences.

Devotion to God eradicates the evils in an instant and purifies the body (GG, 245). The destruction of evils may be viewed both as a cause and consequence of the practice of nam simran. Awareness of God's presence comes only when lust, wrath, avarice, attachment and egoity have departed from the devotee; when the devotee lives in constant awareness of God, the evils touch him not. Such a person is unaffected by pleasure and pain, for he has freed himself from evils such as lobh, moh and abhiman. Guru Tegh Bahadur describes such a sage as one liberated while still alive and calls him an image of God on earth (GG, I426-27).

Satsang: The second way of overcoming lobh (greed) and other evils is to keep the company of the saints (sant, sadh) who radiate virtuous and spiritual qualities. One kills lust, wrath, greed and other depravities of the evil age (kalijug) by taking refuge in the sangat, the holy congregation. It is by discarding the most powerful of evils, egotism, that one can get admission to this sacred society. "Egotism ceases as one takes to the company of the holy" (GG, 271).

Follow the Guru: The third method of overcoming the evil of lobh (greed) is to submit oneself to the instruction of the spiritual teacher (or Guru). He who would overcome the five evils must follow his teaching. The wisdom obtained from the preceptor is like a swift sword (kharagu karara) which cuts through confusion, infatuation, avarice and egoity (GG, 1087). One celebrates God's virtues through the favour of the sage (sant prasadi) and destroys lust, anger and insanity born of egoism (unmad).

In Guru Nanak's Sidh Gosht (part of the Gurbani in the Guru Granth Sahib), it is stated that without the spiritual teacher one's efforts bear no fruit. The importance of living up to the instruction of the holy preceptor can be judged from the concept of the 'Guru-oriented person' (gurmukh) so central to the Sikh moral system. A gurmukh is one who has turned his face towards the Guru, that is to say, a person who by practising what the Guru teaches has freed himself from the depravities and lives in the Divine presence. He achieves this position by conquering the evils under the guidance of the Guru and ever remains in tune with the Supreme Reality.

Message of Gurbani

The following Shabads from Gurbani clarify the negativity of this cardinal vice:

ਲਬ੝ ਕ੝ਤਾ ਕੂੜ੝ ਚੂਹੜਾ ਠਗਿ ਖਾਧਾ ਮ੝ਰਦਾਰ੝ ॥
Lab kuṯĝ kūṛ cẖūhṛĝ ṯẖag kẖĝḝẖĝ murḝĝr.
Greed is a dog; falsehood is a scavenger* . Cheating is eating a rotting carcass
* see gurbani dictionary

ਸਬਦਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਸੋ ਮਿਲਿ ਰਹੈ ਜਿਸ ਨਉ ਆਪੇ ਲਝ ਮਿਲਾਇ ॥
Sabaḝ milai so mil rahai jis na­o ĝpė la­ė milĝ­ė.
Their intellect and understanding are perverted;
they just don't understand. They are filled with greed and corruption.

ਸਚੇ ਸੇਤੀ ਰਤਿਆ ਸਚੋ ਪਲੈ ਪਾਇ ॥੭॥
Sacẖė sėṯī raṯi­ĝ sacẖo palai pĝ­ė.॥7॥
The world is deceived and plundered by riches, youth, greed and egotism (7).

ਕਾਮਿ ਕਰੋਧਿ ਮੋਹਿ ਵਸਿ ਕੀਆ ਕਿਰਪਨ ਲੋਭਿ ਪਿਆਰ੝ ॥ ਚਾਰੇ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਉਨਿ ਅਘ ਕੀਝ ਹੋਆ ਅਸ੝ਰ ਸੰਘਾਰ੝ ॥

ਪੋਥੀ ਗੀਤ ਕਵਿਤ ਕਿਛ੝ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਕਰਨਿ ਧਰਿਆ ॥ ਚਿਤਿ ਆਵੈ ਓਸ੝ ਪਾਰਬ੝ਰਹਮ੝ ਤਾ ਨਿਮਖ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਤਰਿਆ ॥੪॥

Kĝm karoḝẖ mohi vas kī­ĝ kirpan lobẖ pi­ĝr. Cẖĝrė kilvikẖ un agẖ kī­ė ho­ĝ asur sangẖĝr.

Pothī gīṯ kaviṯ kicẖẖ kaḝė na karan ḝẖari­ĝ. Cẖiṯ ĝvai os pĝrbarahm ṯĝ nimakẖ simraṯ ṯari­ĝ. ॥4॥

When you are under the power of sexual desire, anger and worldly attachment, or a greedy miser in love with your wealth;

if you have committed the four great sins and other mistakes; even if you are a murderous fiend
who has never taken the time to listen to sacred books, hymns and poetry -
if you then come to remember the Supreme Lord God, and contemplate Him, even for a moment, you shall be saved. (4)

Greed as defined on the net

  • Dictionary.com definition of Greed excessive or rapacious desire, esp. for wealth or possessions. [Origin: 1600–10; back formation from greedy] —Synonyms avarice, avidity, cupidity, covetousness; voracity, ravenousness, rapacity. Greed, greediness denote an excessive, extreme desire for something, often more than one's proper share. Greed means avid desire for gain or wealth (unless some other application is indicated) and is definitely uncomplimentary in implication: His greed drove him to exploit his workers. Greediness, when unqualified, suggests a craving for food; it may, however, be applied to all avid desires, and need not be always uncomplimentary: greediness for knowledge, fame, praise. —Antonyms generosity.
  • Wikipedia's definition of Greed:, Greed is the selfish desire for or pursuit of money, wealth, power, food, or other possessions, especially when this denies the same goods to others. Greed denotes desire to acquire wealth or possessions beyond the needs of the individual, especially when this accumulation of possession denies others legitimate needs or access to those or other resources.
  • Straight from the Barrel...What is "greed"? Most people will tell you that greed is a part of human nature - that it is present at least to some extent in every single human being on the planet. In fact, certain religious traditions hold that part of our spiritual purpose on earth is to overcome this aspect of human nature. These traditions usually hold that generosity is a part of our nature too, so our purpose is really to overcome just half of our nature - by learning to express the generous half while suppressing the greedy half.

    But if greed is really a part of our most basic nature, if it is even half of the essence of humanity, then what hope do we have of overcoming it? This may sound controversial, but I actually don't believe that greed itself is a part of human nature at all. I think that greed is what happens when we take human nature - specifically, the SEEKING drive in human nature - and direct it toward certain goals.
  • America's Disease is Greed August 20, 2004 by the Chicago Sun Times The most serious spiritual problem in the country today is reckless and untrammeled greed. Greed caused the disgraceful corporate scandals that fill our newspapers. Greed is responsible for crooked cops and crooked politicians. Greed causes the constant efforts to destroy unions that protect basic worker rights.

    Greed is responsible for the obscene salaries of CEOs. In the '90s the ratio of CEO compensation to average workers' compensation was 250 to 1, meaning that the boss earned on his first day of work during a year as much as the worker did in a whole year.
  • Is Greed Ever Good? No, Say Ethicists; and It’s Not Even Good for Capitalism, Some Argue By Michael S. James: Aug. 22, 2002 — When stock speculator Ivan Boesky declared "greed is healthy" in 1985, his audience cheered. And when the comment was echoed a couple of years later by the infamous "Greed … is good" line in Wall Street, moviegoers flocked to the film. But in the intervening years — following a high-tech stock bubble gone bust and amid a wave of corporate accounting scandals — "greed" has become a bug nobody wants to catch.

    In fact, "infectious greed" was the diagnosis from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who last month told Congress it was the reason for the current business crises. The prominent central banker blamed greed for causing business executives to embellish balance sheets and artificially inflate stock values, adding, "The rapid enlargement of stock market capitalizations in the latter part of the 1990s … arguably engendered an outsized increase in opportunities for avarice."

More Gurbani


Within is the terrible darkness of greed, and so they come and go in reincarnation, over and over again. ((7))


Cruelty, material attachment, greed and anger are the four rivers of fire. Falling into them, one is burned, O Nanak! One is saved only by holding tight to good deeds. ((2))


You practice greed, avarice and great falsehood, and you carry such a heavy burden. O body, I have seen you blowing away like dust on the earth. ((1))


ਕਰਮ੝ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ਧਰਮ੝ ਨ ਜਾਣਾ ਲੋਭੀ ਮਾਇਆਧਾਰੀ ॥
Karam na jĝṇĝ ḝẖaram na jĝṇĝ lobẖī mĝ­i­ĝḝẖĝrī.
I do not know about karma and good deeds; I do not know about Dharma and righteous living. I am so greedy, chasing after Maya.


With greed within them, their minds are filthy, and they spread filth around. They do filthy deeds, and suffer in pain.


Kabeer, where there is spiritual wisdom, there is righteousness and Dharma. Where there is falsehood, there is sin. Where there is greed, there is death. Where there is forgiveness, there is God Himself. ((155))


ਲੋਭੀ ਕਾ ਵੇਸਾਹ੝ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ਜੇ ਕਾ ਪਾਰਿ ਵਸਾਇ ॥
Lobẖī kĝ vėsĝhu na kījai jė kĝ pĝr vasĝ­ė.
Do not trust greedy people, if you can avoid doing so.

See also

Five Evils

1.Kam (Lust) 2.Krodh (Rage) 3. Lobh (Greed) 4. Moh (Attachment) 5. Ahankar (Ego)

External links

  • commondreams.org The most serious spiritual problem in the country today is reckless and untrammeled greed...
  • mindunbound.com Most people will tell you that greed is a part of human nature ...
  • wikipedia.org Greed is the selfish desire for or pursuit of money, wealth....
  • google.co.uk What is greed?