Today, among the various descriptions about the world view the most popular is seen as brittle, anxious, non-liner, incomprehensible (BANI). This four word acronym has distinctively marked the world with problems. Wherein, the most suitable instance at present is of COVID-19 that has shaken the world.
Since the dawn of civilization man is continuously putting his efforts in pursuit of the acquiring more and more comfort and pleasing the sensual organs. However, the thirst for the fulfillment of desire never quenches. And, in a chase to grab more and more, one forgets that its impact and influence are not only on one, but on its surroundings as well. With regard to this tendency of mind, which gets polluted Sri Guru Granth Sahib quoting Guru Nanak says “If mind is not refrained from falling into the flames of the rivers of fire, one is burned and is saved only by executing the virtuous deeds.”. The four flames – Cruelty, material attachment, greed, and anger create the river of fire.
In literal sense, the term cruelty refers to the behavior/act that holds a deliberate intention to harm others, which may be of either in form physical or mental. The act of abusing or killing or hurting and etc. are considered as the cruel acts. In my opinion, greed is like the driver seat for the other three because it is due to greed the tendency (thirst) to possess more arises that paves the way for material associations and attachment. It blurs the eyes of thinking. Additionally, the non-fulfillment and the failure of acquisition of the desired object results in turn the generation of anger/hatred that further sows the seed of intentionality to harm others. The colour of this river is so strong that it colours the human life into its shade that manifests in the form of immoral deeds. The Guru Granth Sahib quotes those who swim in this river “Gathers in the assets of sin and greed” and suffers entire life not once, but many times.
The dive into such rivers creates deception (maya) that clouds the vision in perceiving the true nature of things as impermanent. It is under the veil of such ignorance one believes it real, which is not, and thus keeps on drowning the self in the sea of suffering. Hence, to be free from falling into such a miserable condition the Gurbani exhorts one to follow the righteous path having the proper understanding of the words of the Sikha-Gurus.