Haumai

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Sikh beliefs
  • 1a. Simran (spiritual contemplation)
  • 1b. Sewa (selfless service)
  • 2. Three Pillars
    • 2a. Naam Japo (contemplating God's names) Meditating on God's naam to control your 5 evils to eliminate suffering and live a happy life.
    • 2b. Kirat Karo (work diligently) Earning/making a living honestly, without exploitation or fraud
    • 2c. Vand Chhako Sharing with others, helping those with less or those who are in need
  • 3. Five Thieves
    • 3a. Kaam (lust)
    • 3b. Krodh (anger)
    • 3c. Lobh (greed)
    • 3d. Moh (attachment, e.g. to material things or people)
    • 3e. Hankaar (ego, pride)
  • 4. Five Virtues

Haumai is the self-centeredness (ego or Ahankar) of a human, which can only be overcome through meditation on God’s name (Naam), Simran and Sewa in Sikhism. It is a portmanteau of the words Hau meaning "I" and Mai meaning "me".

In the Sikh religion, humility (or Nimrata) is considered a great virtue. Humility is developed by erasing its opposite, which Sikhs call haumai or self-centred pride, or ego. It is this ego which stands in the way of realizing God. It can be erased by seva, or selfless service, and complete submission to Waheguru, or God. A Sikh serves God by serving other people.

Guru Ram Das was perhaps the most self-effacing of the 10 Sikh gurus. As the fourth guru, he built the Amrit Sarovar and established the city of Amritsar around the Sarovar. His son, the fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev, built the magnificent Golden Temple in the Amrit Sarovar. Not much is known about the personal life of Guru Ram Das. However, there is a beautiful story about his sense of humility.

Once, Baba Sri Chand, the elder son of Guru Nanak, came to meet Guru Ram Das. Baba Sri Chand was not part of the Sikh mainstream, but being Guru Nanak’s son the Sikh gurus who followed the founder gave him the highest respect. So, even on this occasion Guru Ram Das treated Sri Chand with utmost respect.

Baba Sri Chand was much older than Guru Ram Das. Because of his years, he had the privilege to joke at the expense of the younger man. It is said that during the meeting he passed a remark at the long beard of Guru Ram Das, “Why have you grown such a long beard?”

Without taking offence at Baba Sri Chand’s remark, Guru Ramdas replied, “My Guru had told me to use this long beard to wipe the holy feet of great men like you.”

And he immediately bowed down and started wiping Babaji’s feet with his beard.

Baba Sri Chand was taken aback at such display of humility by the reigning guru of the Sikhs. Embarrassed, the Baba chuckled sheepishly and said, "Yes, that is the difference between you and me. You have completely erased your haumai. I have not been able to do so. No wonder, Guru Amar Das chose you as his successor to lead the Sikhs. You fully deserved to be the guru."[1]

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