Gurmat view on intoxicants

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Alcohol damages your health

The use of wine, alcohol and recreational drugs (such as tobacco, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, PCP and other intoxicants, including such things as inhalants, gases, aerosols, shoe glue, solvents or the like) used with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational or religious experience are condemned by the Sikh Gurus.

People who use such things are wasting what little time they have in this life, by living in an illusionary state. The Guru supports those who stay alert and aware, keeping themselves away from all types of intoxicants; Gurbani states in the Guru Granth Sahib that "Those who do not use intoxicants are true; they dwell in the Court of the Lord.(1)" (SGGS p 15)

Drugs within the scope of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Siegel refers to intoxication as the "fourth drive", arguing that the human instinct to seek mind-altering substances (psychoactive drugs) has so much force and persistence that it functions similar to the human desire to satisfy hunger, thirst and the need for shelter; things that any human must have to survive [1]

View expressed by Gurbani

While Gurbani refers to intoxicants in a wider sense, it points out the falsehood of Maya which Gurbani considers an even greater intoxicant than those above. Further, intoxicants are grouped with four human traits which are responsible for deceiving the mortals of this world; the Guru says: "Sexual desire, anger, Maya, intoxication and jealousy - these five have combined to plunder the world.(1)(Pause)" (SGGS p 974)

The Guru says, in no uncertain terms, that the Gurmukh (Guru-oriented person) should not drink wine even if it is made from the water of the River Ganges, which is considered by Hindus and many others in India as the holiest river in the world.

The Guru expresses this very clearly in the following tuk (line) from the holy Granth, "Even if wine is made from the water of the Ganges, O Saints, do not drink it" (SGGS p 1293). So even if the wine or other alcoholic drink be it whisky or beer or rum or gin or brandy or martini or vodka or champagne is made from the most clear spring water obtained from the most natural, highest and pristine mountains of mother Earth, DO NOT DRINK it!

Strong condemnation by Bhagat Kabir

Kabir ji then wraps-up this issue in unambiguous terms by saying the anyone who indulges in taking marijuana (which is referred to as 'bhang' in India) or wine (which in Gurbani is referred to at "Sura-pann" in these lines) will go to hell - the exact quote is "Kabeer, those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine - no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell.(233)" (SGGS p 1377) This line should not leave any doubt in the minds of followers of Gurbani! The message is very clear and precise.

The mortals journey on this Earth only lasts a few days so don't waste it lost in deception; reap the real fruit and cultivate in the field of the Lord's Name. When you live in sin, the pleasure and taste only last a little while and then you will suffer and regret.

Gurbani tells us, "The fruit of sin is sweet for only a few days, and then it grows hot and bitter. That fruit which intoxicated you has now become bitter and painful, without Naam" (SGGS p 438). So Gurbani informs us not to live in sin and corruption, wasting away this precious gift of human life; plough the field of the Lord and remember Him and follow the path of Dharam, righteousness.

Summary of Gurmat view

  • Gurmat is against "Paan Supari", or any intoxicant related to tobacco. Other religions are also against items related to tobacco.
  • While alcohol, poppy and other drugs have not been directly prohibited by Gurbani, as the Sikh gurus knew that these are also used for medicinal purposes, but guru sahib said excess in anything is bad and the truth is that using alcohol, heroine, methamphetamine and other recreational drugs result in misery, suffering and untold numbers of deaths (drinking and driving for one). The costs of such behaviour to the family, community and society at large (in medical bills alone) daily give evidence to the wisdom of the Sikh Gurus in prohibiting the excess and senseless use of such intoxicants and mind altering drugs.


ਅਮਲ੝ ਗਲੋਲਾ ਕੂੜ ਕਾ ਦਿਤਾ ਦੇਵਣਹਾਰਿ ॥ ਮਤੀ ਮਰਣ੝ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਖ੝ਸੀ ਕੀਤੀ ਦਿਨ ਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਸਚ੝ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਸੋਫੀਆ ਰਾਖਣ ਕਉ ਦਰਵਾਰ੝ ॥੧॥
Amal galolĝ kūṛ kĝ ḝiṯĝ ḝevaṇhĝr. Maṯī maraṇ visĝri▫ĝ kẖusī kīṯī ḝin cẖĝr. Sacẖ mili▫ĝ ṯin sofī▫ĝ rĝkẖaṇ ka▫o ḝarvĝr.(1)
The Giver has given man intoxicating pill of falsehood.

Having been intoxicated therewith he has forgotten death and makes merry for four days.
The mortals, who are the non-users of intoxicants, obtain truthfulness to keep them in God's Court. (1)

(SGGS p15)        (English translation by Bhai Manmohan Singh)

ਦੇਵ ਸੰਸੈ ਗਾਂਠਿ ਨ ਛੂਟੈ ॥ ਕਾਮ ਕ੝ਰੋਧ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਦ ਮਤਸਰ ਇਨ ਪੰਚਹ੝ ਮਿਲਿ ਲੂਟੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Ḏev sansai gĝʼnṯẖ na cẖẖūtai. Kĝm kroḝẖ mĝ▫i▫ĝ maḝ maṯsar in pancẖahu mil lūte. (1) rahĝ▫o.
O Divine Lord, the knot of skepticism cannot be untied.

Sexual desire, anger, Maya, intoxication and jealousy - these five have combined to plunder the world.(1)(Pause)

ਕਾਮ ਕ੝ਰੋਧ ਲੋਭ ਮਦ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਮਿਟਿਆ ਅਭਿਮਾਨ ॥ ਝਸੇ ਸੰਤ ਭੇਟਹਿ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਸਦ ਕ੝ਰਬਾਨ ॥੨॥੩੯॥੫੨॥
Kĝm kroḝẖ lobẖ maḝ ninḝĝ sĝḝẖsang miti▫ĝ abẖimĝn. Aise sanṯ bẖetėh vadbẖĝgī Nĝnak ṯin kai saḝ kurbĝn.(2)(39)(52)
Sexual desire, anger, intoxication, egotism, slander and egotistical pride are eradicated in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy.

By great good fortune, such Saints are met. Nanak is forever a sacrifice to them.(2)(39)(52)

ਅਲੀਅਲ ਗ੝ੰਜਾਤ ਅਲੀਅਲ ਗ੝ੰਜਾਤ ਹੇ ਮਕਰੰਦ ਰਸ ਬਾਸਨ ਮਾਤ ਹੇ ਪ੝ਰੀਤਿ ਕਮਲ ਬੰਧਾਵਤ ਆਪ ॥
Alī▫al guʼnjĝṯ alī▫al guʼnjĝṯ he makranḝ ras bĝsan mĝṯ he parīṯ kamal banḝẖĝvaṯ ĝp.
The bumble-bee is buzzing - the bumble-bee is buzzing, intoxicated with the honey,
the flavor and the fragrance; because of its love for the lotus, it entangles itself.

Gurbani relating to wine

ਸ੝ਰਸਰੀ ਸਲਲ ਕ੝ਰਿਤ ਬਾਰ੝ਨੀ ਰੇ ਸੰਤ ਜਨ ਕਰਤ ਨਹੀ ਪਾਨੰ ॥
Sursarī salal kiraṯ bĝrunī re sanṯ jan karaṯ nahī pĝnaʼn.
Even if wine is made from the water of the Ganges, O Saints, do not drink it.

ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛ੝ਲੀ ਸ੝ਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੝ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ ॥ ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਝ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥੨੩੩॥
Kabīr bẖĝʼng mĝcẖẖulī surĝ pĝn jo jo parĝnī kẖĝʼnhi. Ŧirath baraṯ nem kī▫e ṯe sabẖai rasĝṯal jĝʼnhi.(233)
Kabeer, those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine -

no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell.(233)

ਪ੝ਰਾਨ ਸ੝ਖਦਾਤਾ ਜੀਅ ਸ੝ਖਦਾਤਾ ਤ੝ਮ ਕਾਹੇ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਓ ਅਗਿਆਨਥ ॥ ਹੋਛਾ ਮਦ੝ ਚਾਖਿ ਹੋਝ ਤ੝ਮ ਬਾਵਰ ਦ੝ਲਭ ਜਨਮ੝ ਅਕਾਰਥ ॥੧॥
Parĝn sukẖ▫ḝĝṯa jī▫a sukẖ▫ḝĝṯa ṯum kĝhe bisĝri▫o agi▫ĝnath. Hocẖẖĝ maḝ cẖĝkẖ ho▫e ṯum bĝvar ḝulabẖ janam akĝrath.(1)
He is the Giver of peace to the breath of life, the Giver of life to the soul; how can you forget Him, you ignorant person?

You taste the weak, insipid wine, and you have gone insane. You have uselessly wasted this precious human life.(1)

ਇਕਤ੝ ਪਤਰਿ ਭਰਿ ਉਰਕਟ ਕ੝ਰਕਟ ਇਕਤ੝ ਪਤਰਿ ਭਰਿ ਪਾਨੀ ॥ ਆਸਿ ਪਾਸਿ ਪੰਚ ਜੋਗੀਆ ਬੈਠੇ ਬੀਚਿ ਨਕਟ ਦੇ ਰਾਨੀ ॥੧॥
Ikaṯ paṯar bẖar urkat kurkat ikaṯ paṯar bẖar pĝnī. Ās pĝs pancẖ jogī▫ĝ baiṯẖe bīcẖ nakat ḝe rĝnī.(1)
In one pot, they put a boiled chicken, and in the other pot, they put wine.

The five Yogis of the Tantric ritual sit there, and in their midst sits the noseless one, the shameless queen.(1)

Here the reference to the "five yogis" are the five evils and "noseless one" is Maya - illusionary world.

ਸ੝ਆਦ ਲ੝ਭਤ ਇੰਦ੝ਰੀ ਰਸ ਪ੝ਰੇਰਿਓ ਮਦ ਰਸ ਲੈਤ ਬਿਕਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ॥ ਕਰਮ ਭਾਗ ਸੰਤਨ ਸੰਗਾਨੇ ਕਾਸਟ ਲੋਹ ਉਧਾਰਿਓ ਰੇ ॥੩॥
Su▫ĝḝ lubẖaṯ inḝrī ras pareri▫o maḝ ras laiṯ bikĝri▫o re. Karam bẖĝg sanṯan sangĝne kĝsat loh uḝẖĝri▫o re.(3)
Those who are deluded by sensual pleasures, who are tempted by sexual delights and enjoy wine are corrupt.

But those who, through destiny and good karma, join the Society of the Saints, float over the ocean, like iron attached to wood.(3)

ਤਕਹਿ ਨਾਰਿ ਪਰਾਈਆ ਲ੝ਕਿ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਠਾਣੀ ॥ ਸੰਨ੝ਹ੝ਹੀ ਦੇਨ੝ਹ੝ਹਿ ਵਿਖੰਮ ਥਾਇ ਮਿਠਾ ਮਦ੝ ਮਾਣੀ ॥ ਕਰਮੀ ਆਪੋ ਆਪਣੀ ਆਪੇ ਪਛ੝ਤਾਣੀ ॥ ਅਜਰਾਈਲ੝ ਫਰੇਸਤਾ ਤਿਲ ਪੀੜੇ ਘਾਣੀ ॥੨੭॥
Ŧakėh nĝr parĝ▫ī▫ĝ luk anḝar ṯẖĝṇī. Sanĥī ḝeniĥ vikẖamm thĝ▫e miṯẖĝ maḝ mĝṇī. Karmī ĝpo ĝpṇī ĝpe pacẖẖuṯĝṇī. Ajrĝ▫īl faresṯĝ ṯil pīṛe gẖĝṇī.(27)
They spy on other men's women, concealed in their hiding places.

They break into well-protected places, and revel in sweet wine.
But they shall come to regret their actions - they create their own karma.
Azraa-eel, the Angel of Death, shall crush them like sesame seeds in the oil-press.(27)

ਮਾਣਸ੝ ਭਰਿਆ ਆਣਿਆ ਮਾਣਸ੝ ਭਰਿਆ ਆਇ ॥ ਜਿਤ੝ ਪੀਤੈ ਮਤਿ ਦੂਰਿ ਹੋਇ ਬਰਲ੝ ਪਵੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਆਇ ॥

ਆਪਣਾ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਨ ਪਛਾਣਈ ਖਸਮਹ੝ ਧਕੇ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਜਿਤ੝ ਪੀਤੈ ਖਸਮ੝ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਦਰਗਹ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ ॥
ਝੂਠਾ ਮਦ੝ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਪੀਚਈ ਜੇ ਕਾ ਪਾਰਿ ਵਸਾਇ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰੀ ਸਚ੝ ਮਦ੝ ਪਾਈਝ ਸਤਿਗ੝ਰ੝ ਮਿਲੈ ਜਿਸ੝ ਆਇ ॥ ਸਦਾ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕੈ ਰੰਗਿ ਰਹੈ ਮਹਲੀ ਪਾਵੈ ਥਾਉ ॥੧॥

Mĝṇas bẖari▫ĝ ĝṇi▫ĝ mĝṇas bẖari▫ĝ ĝ▫e. Jiṯ pīṯai maṯ ḝūr ho▫e baral pavai vicẖ ĝ▫e.

Āpṇĝ parĝ▫i▫ĝ na pacẖẖĝṇ▫ī kẖasmahu ḝẖake kẖĝ▫e. Jiṯ pīṯai kẖasam visrai ḝargėh milai sajĝ▫e.
Jẖūṯẖĝ maḝ mūl na pīcẖ▫ī je kĝ pĝr vasĝ▫e. Nĝnak naḝrī sacẖ maḝ pĝ▫ī▫ai saṯgur milai jis ĝ▫e. Saḝĝ sĝhib kai rang rahai mahlī pĝvai thĝ▫o.(1)

One person brings a full bottle, and another fills his cup. Drinking the wine, his intelligence departs, and madness enters his mind;

he cannot distinguish between his own and others, and he is struck down by his Lord and Master.
Drinking it, he forgets his Lord and Master, and he is punished in the Court of the Lord.
Do not drink the false wine at all, if it is in your power. O Nanak, the True Guru comes and meets the mortal; by His Grace, one obtains the True Wine.
He shall dwell forever in the Love of the Lord Master, and obtain a seat in the Mansion of His Presence.(1)

See also

External links


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