Gurbani and commerce
In a highly commercial world, we sometimes get carried away and make business gain our primary aim in life. As with many moral and spiritual issues, the message in Gurbani can at times be a "bitter pill to swallow"; the message appears too strict or highly difficult to achieve. However, if one wants to elevate their life to a upper spiritual plane, then the bitter medicine of Gurbani has to be taken!
Some of the topics relating to Gurbani and commerce are very sensitive, and they are not meant to hurt anybody's feelings, but to make moral progress in life, it very important to bring this truth out to the masses and help them benefit from it. However, as already narrated, sometimes it is real difficult to digest the truth and accept it; the truth is bitter and hard to digest and follow it is much easier to follow an easier path of acceptance and submission to the fashion or the "norm" of the day. However, those who are able to understand the true path in its pure state, will benefit greatly from it.
The Guru tells us "Cursed are the lives of those who read and write the Lord's Name to sell. Their crop is devastated - what harvest will they have? " (SGGS p 1245). So, here we see the first hint in Gurbani where a line needs to be drawn in our business and commercial affairs. When dealing with the "Lord's Name", one has to be careful not to engage in business to gain from the sale of any writing or reading of the Lord's Name.
Relevant Gurbani shabads
Do not sell Naam to make a living
|ਇਹ ਧਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਗਾਂਠਿ ਨ ਬਾਧਉ ਬੇਚਿ ਨ ਖਾਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥|
|Ih ḝẖan mere har ko nĝ▫o. Gĝŉṯẖ na bĝḝẖa▫o becẖ na kẖĝ▫o. (1) rahĝ▫o.|
|The Name of the Lord alone is my wealth.
I do not tie it up to hide it, nor do I sell it to make my living. (1)(Pause)
You sell knowledge; your life is totally worthless!
The operative word here is "bideya" (sdd|ਬਿਦਿਆ} which can be translated as 'knowledge', but can also refer to 'learning', 'education' especially of a spiritual kind.
|ਮਨ ਕੇ ਅੰਧੇ ਆਪਿ ਨ ਬੂਝਹ ਕਾਹਿ ਬਝਾਵਹ ਭਾਈ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਨ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬੇਚਹ ਜਨਮ ਅਬਿਰਥਾ ਜਾਈ ॥੩॥|
|Man ke anḝẖe ĝp na būjẖhu kĝhi bujẖĝvahu bẖĝ▫ī.
Mĝ▫i▫ĝ kĝran biḝi▫ĝ becẖahu janam abirathĝ jĝ▫ī. (3)
|You are blind in your mind, and do not understand your own self; how can you make others understand, O brother?
For the sake of Maya and money, you sell knowledge; your life is totally worthless. (3)
Manmukh sells his knowledge
|ਮਨਮਖ ਬਿਦਿਆ ਬਿਕਰਦਾ ਬਿਖ ਖਟੇ ਬਿਖ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਮੂਰਖ ਸਬਦ ਨ ਚੀਨਈ ਸੂਝ ਬੂਝ ਨਹ ਕਾਇ ॥੫੩॥|
|Manmukẖ biḝi▫ĝ bikarḝĝ bikẖ kẖate bikẖ kẖĝ▫e.
Mūrakẖ sabaḝ na cẖīn▫ī sūjẖ būjẖ nah kĝ▫e. (53)
|The self-willed manmukh sells his knowledge; he earns poison, and eats poison.
The fool does not think of the Word of the Shabad. He has no understanding, no comprehension. (53)
Cursed are the lives who sell
|ਧਰਿਗ ਤਿਨਾ ਕਾ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਵੇਚਹਿ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਖੇਤੀ ਜਿਨ ਕੀ ਉਜੜੈ ਖਲਵਾੜੇ ਕਿਆ ਥਾਉ ॥ ਸਚੈ ਸਰਮੈ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਅਗੈ ਲਹਹਿ ਨ ਦਾਦਿ ॥|
|Ḏẖarig ṯinĝ kĝ jīvi▫ĝ jė likẖ likẖ vecẖėh nĝ▫o. Kẖeṯī jin kī ujṛai kẖalvĝṛe ki▫ĝ thĝ▫o. Sacẖai sarmai bĝhre agai lahėh na ḝĝḝ.|
|Cursed are the lives of those who read and write the Lord's Name to sell.
Their crop is devastated - what harvest will they have? Lacking truth and humility, they shall not be appreciated in the world hereafter.
Let your trade be listening
|ਸਣਿ ਸਾਸਤ ਸਉਦਾਗਰੀ ਸਤ ਘੋੜੇ ਲੈ ਚਲ ॥ ਖਰਚ ਬੰਨ ਚੰਗਿਆਈਆ ਮਤ ਮਨ ਜਾਣਹਿ ਕਲ ॥ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਕੈ ਦੇਸਿ ਜਾਹਿ ਤਾ ਸਖਿ ਲਹਹਿ ਮਹਲ ॥੩॥|
|Suṇ sĝsaṯ sa▫uḝĝgrī saṯ gẖoṛe lai cẖal. Kẖaracẖ bann cẖang▫ĝ▫ī▫ĝ maṯ man jĝṇėh kal. Nirankĝr kai ḝes jĝhi ṯĝ sukẖ lahėh mahal. (3)|
|Let your trade be listening to scripture, and let Truth be the horses you take to sell.
Gather up merits for your travelling expenses, and do not think of tomorrow in your mind. When you arrive in the land of the Formless Lord, you shall find peace in the Mansion of His Presence. (3)