Principles and Concepts

What is humility?

As God is the Father of all human being, any slight or insult to anyone is to injure God in every soul. Guru Arjan says:

ਸਭਿ ਜੀਅ ਤੇਰੇ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਮੇਰੇ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਸਭ ਰੇਣ ਥੀਵਾ ॥
“All beings are Yours, O my God; bless me with Your Mercy, that I may become the dust under the feet of all men.”
(Ang 926)

The antidote for the poison of pride, is humility.

The five organs of senses – eyes, mouth, ears, nose and hands – are located in the upper portion of the body and easily confused by sin. The feet, which are located in the lower part are seldom used in wickedness. In India the feet are respected and touched at the time of salutation.

The vain and the arrogant challenge their peers and leaders. They seldom realize that there are other people who are better or more able than they are. They lack feeling of brotherliness. it is the awareness of human fellowship, which should make one treat all, with decency and consideration.

03-Bhai Datu kicks Guru Amar Daas Ji - 'Your foot must have bee
Painting depicting Bhai Datu Ji kicking Guru Amar Daas Ji
The Sikh Gurus set many examples of meekness and humility. When the old Guru, Guru Amardas was kicked by Datu, he never showed resentment but humbly suggested that his hard bones must have caused hurt to Datu’s feet. Similarly Sri Chand, Guru Nanak’s son asked Guru Ramdas in a humorous way why he had kept such a long and flowing beard. The Guru replied: “To wipe the dust off your holy feet.” Sri Chand was much impressed by the Guru’s humility. Humility requires the elimination of the ego.

ਗਰੀਬੀ ਗਦਾ ਹਮਾਰੀ ॥ ਖੰਨਾ ਸਗਲ ਰੇਨੁ ਛਾਰੀ ॥
ਇਸੁ ਆਗੈ ਕੋ ਨ ਟਿਕੈ ਵੇਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪੂਰੇ ਏਹ ਗਲ ਸਾਰੀ ॥੧॥
“Humility is my spiked club.
My dagger is to be the dust of all men’s feet.
No evil-doer can withstand these weapons.
The Perfect Guru has given me this understanding. ||1||”
(Ang 628)

It is the ego which is the barrier to self-knowledge and salvation. Pride is eliminated by understanding Guru’s word. Guru Arjan says:

ਮਨ ਜਿਉ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭਾਵਉ ॥
ਨੀਚਹੁ ਨੀਚੁ ਨੀਚੁ ਅਤਿ ਨਾਨ੍ਹ੍ਹਾ ਹੋਇ ਗਰੀਬੁ ਬੁਲਾਵਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
“O my mind, act as it pleases God. Become the lowest of the low, the very least of the tiny, and speak in utmost humility. ||1||Pause||”
(Ang 529)

It is the humble who are great and are exalted in God’s court. True humility leads to a surrender to God’s Will and the ultimate merger of the individual soul into Divinity.