In this pauri, the life of ritual-centered beings who do not listen to the eternal Nam and stay engrossed in transient things is depicted. Though such beings look clean on the outside, their minds are corrupt with cravings. Bliss can be experienced by renouncing cravings and embracing Nam.
jīahu maile   bāharahu nirmal.
bāharahu nirmal jīahu ta maile   tinī janamu jūai hāriā.
eh tisnā vaḍā rogu lagā   maraṇu manahu visāriā.
vedā mahi nāmu utamu so suṇahi nāhī   phirahi jiu betāliā.
kahai nānaku jin sacu tajiā kūṛe lāge   tinī janamu jūai hāriā.19.
-Guru Granth Sahib 919
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
In the eighteenth pauri, the eighteenth step of the ladder, Guru Amardas revealed that attached to Sabad (hymn-like stanza that exemplifies the word-sound of Infinite Wisdom), doubts dissipate, and intuitive bliss emerges through the grace of the Wisdom-Guru. Moving on to the nineteenth pauri, the nineteenth step of the ladder offers insight into the human condition. Guru Amardas states that some individuals are filthy from within the mind and appear clean from the outside. We pause. It raises a crucial question: Is this outward appearance a reflection of genuine intuitive bliss or merely a facade? Guru Amardas reiterates that specific individuals conceal inner impurities despite their pristine external image. What will their fate be? These individuals are essentially gambling with their very existence and will lose. Guru Amardas emphasizes a particular kind of gambler: those who present themselves as untainted on the surface but carry the weight of filth within. Their gamble is a losing one. Why? Because it thrives on pretense, hypocrisy, and falsehood. Their insatiable desire for material possessions has deeply entrenched them, causing them to forget the inevitability of death. They labor under the illusion that death cannot touch them, sustaining their pretense. Guru Amardas highlights that the most valuable teaching from ancient texts, such as the Vedas, is Nam, Identification with the One, which these individuals ignore. They persist in their aimless pursuit, akin to people who have lost their sense of harmony and rhythm, chasing after desires while neglecting the Eternal. In pursuing materialism, they have abandoned the Eternal, attaching themselves to trivial temporary pursuits. In essence, they have gambled away their lives. Guru Amardas concludes this ladder step by affirming that those who have renounced truth and are attached to falsehood have lost their life in a gamble.

We reflect on the term pretense. We often encounter individuals who wear specific attire or engage in elaborate displays of spirituality. Let’s pause: Is this verse directed at them or, perhaps, at us? The focus is on us, as it urges us to examine our lives. Are we, in essence, living a facade? Are our actions merely a performance for society’s approval? In pursuing material pleasures and sensory indulgences, have we veered off course, lost touch with our true essence, and wandered as if we were out of tune like ghost-like figures? The term “ghost-like" draws from South Asian traditions, which signifies a state of unawareness and detachment from reality; by neglecting Nam, Identification with the One, and immersing ourselves in filth, our inner being becomes troubled, akin to wandering spirits. We unknowingly take on the role of gamblers entranced by the allure of winning yet ultimately becoming losers in the game of life. When we delve into the oldest reservoirs of knowledge and wisdom, they consistently emphasize the value of Nam as a precious jewel. So why do we persist in immersing ourselves in stories and narratives centered around desires? When we engage with philosophical or religious texts of any kind, do we truly grasp the essence of Nam, the path leading us closer to the One? In a world filled with religious texts, debates, and discussions often revolve around the characters and authenticity of these texts, and the ultimate message of Nam seems obscured. Is it because we lack the desire for Nam? Consider the nature of gambling: its goal is to secure personal gain while ensuring others’ loss. Do we genuinely desire to forsake the Eternal, the One in our lives, and instead attach ourselves to the trivialities and falsehoods surrounding us? These questions compel us to reflect on our true priorities and the path we choose to follow.

We may ask ourselves: Are we partaking in this form of "gamble," where personal gain consumes us, and we disregard the repercussions for others? How profound is our yearning for Nam, the ultimate fount of wisdom? What steps can we take to dispel the darkness within ourselves? Are we living for societal approval, or are we living to immerse ourselves in the Nam?