Seeking heaven, fearing hell. What says Gurbani?

Gurbani has, it seems, tossed out the notions of heaven and hell. Sikh thinker KARMINDER SINGH DHILLON says that Gurbani has clearly and unequivocally rejected both.

By Asia Samachar Team | OPINION |

Are you yearning to hit the highway to heaven? Are you afraid of hell? Well, maybe it is time you take a break from both those thoughts. And it is high time you reexamine your underlying beliefs.

Gurbani has, it seems, tossed out the notions of heaven and hell. Sikh thinker Karminder Singh Dhillon says that Gurbani has clearly and unequivocally rejected both.

“The critique is that there is no such thing as heaven and hell. And that the Creator made no such places. And therefore that heaven and hell is nothing more than the concoction of the clergy,” he argues in his latest installment of Sikhi Concepts video series. Click here.

In Part 6 of the series, Karminder argues that most Sikhs are actually holding on an age old belief of heaven and hell that had actually been discarded by the Sikh Gurus themselves. What’s his proof? He examines relevant Gurbani verses from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), the Sikh scripture, to develop the basic principles of his arguments.

“The narrative held within a vast majority of Sikhs is not the narrative of Gurbani, but that of the 4,000 year-old canvas. And this vast majority of Sikhs mistakenly think, and accept, and belief, that heaven and hell is indeed the narrative of Gurbani,” he says.

In one of the Gurbani verses, he said it provides a critique that there was no such thing as heaven and hell, and that the Creator made no such places. Therefore, it argued that that heaven and hell was nothing more than the concoction of the clergy.

“If a Sikh of Gurbani thinks for himself or herself, this one couplet alone is sufficient to debunk the whole concocted theory of heaven and hell. That is the power of Gurbani when read by ourselves, understood on our own and contemplated within ourselves. One couplet is enough to debunk an entire theory.

“Our problem is that we let our earn a living clergy – our granthis, ragis and parcharaks – people who are beholden to the 4K year old canvas deep within their souls – give us distorted and corrupted interpretations of Gurbani – and accept it in either good or blind faith,” he argues.

Shared below are Gurbani verses, captured with their meaning as provided by the author, for ease of reference.




ਕਵਨੁ ਨਰਕੁ ਕਿਆ ਸੁਰਗੁ ਬਿਚਾਰਾ ਸੰਤਨ ਦੋਊ ਰਾਦੇ ॥ ਹਮ ਕਾਹੂ ਕੀ ਕਾਣਿ ਨ ਕਢਤੇ ਅਪਨੇ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੇ ॥ 5 ॥

Meaning: What’s the Concern With the Discourse on Heaven and Hell – Both of Which Are Rubbished by the Seekers of Realization. By the Blessings of Enlightenment from my Guru, I have No Concern with Either. (SGGS, 969)


ਜਬ ਏਕਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਅਗਮ ਅਪਾਰ ॥ ਤਬ ਨਰਕ ਸੁਰਗ ਕਹੁ ਕਉਨ ਅਉਤਾਰ ॥

Meaning: When there was none other than the Omnipresent Creator pray tell me who was lining up to go into heaven and hell then? (SGGS, 291)


ਪਾਪੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਤਹ ਭਈ ਕਹਾਵਤ ॥ ਕੋਊ ਨਰਕ ਕੋਊ ਸੁਰਗ ਬੰਛਾਵਤ ॥ SGGS 295


ਕਥਾ ਕਹਾਣੀ ਬੇਦੀਂ ਆਣੀ ਪਾਪੁ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਦੇ ਦੇ ਲੈਣਾ ਲੈ ਲੈ ਦੇਣਾ ਨਰਕਿ ਸੁਰਗਿ ਅਵਤਾਰ ॥

Meaning: The Narrative given to the world by the Vedas is that there are pious deeds and sinful ones To give more than one receives and, and to receive more than one gives is the basis for becoming a resident of Heaven and Hell. (SGGS, 1243)


ਬੇਦੁ ਪੁਕਾਰੇ ਪੁੰਨੁ ਪਾਪੁ ਸੁਰਗ ਨਰਕ ਕਾ ਬੀਉ ॥ ਜੋ ਬੀਜੈ ਸੋ ਉਗਵੈ ਖਾਂਦਾ ਜਾਣੈ ਜੀਉ ॥

Meaning: The Vedas pronounce that acts of piousness and sin are the determinants or the seeds of heaven and hell in the afterlife. What is planted in this life will bear fruit in heaven or hell. (SGGS, 1243)


ਸਭੁ ਕੋਈ ਚਲਨ ਕਹਤ ਹੈ ਊਹਾਂ ॥ ਨਾ ਜਾਨਉ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੁ ਹੈ ਕਹਾਂ ॥ 1 ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਆਪ ਆਪ ਕਾ ਮਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਾਂ ॥ ਬਾਤਨ ਹੀ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੁ ਬਖਾਨਾਂ ॥

Meaning: They all make claims about knowing the method to get to heaven. And they don’t know where heaven is. They have no clue where or what heaven is. They know nothing of themselves even, but they have concocted a narrative and told the world about it. (SGGS, 1161)


ਗਉੜੀ ਪੂਰਬੀ ॥ ਸੁਰਗ ਬਾਸੁ ਨ ਬਾਛੀਐ ਡਰੀਐ ਨ ਨਰਕਿ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥ ਹੋਨਾ ਹੈ ਸੋ ਹੋਈ ਹੈ ਮਨਹਿ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ਆਸ ॥ ੧ ॥ ਰਮਈਆ ਗੁਨ ਗਾਈਐ ॥ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਪਾਈਐ ਪਰਮ ਨਿਧਾਨੁ ॥ ੧ ॥

Meaning: I have no desire whatsoever to go reside in heaven. And I have no fear whatsoever of being sent to reside in hell. . I will not abide by your narrative of come what may. (SGGS, 337)


ਜਬ ਲਗੁ ਮਨਿ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ਕੀ ਆਸ ॥ ਤਬ ਲਗੁ ਹੋਇ ਨਹੀ ਚਰਨ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥ ੩ ॥

Gurbani tells us that so long as the desire to get to heaven remains. Realization of the Creator within cannot happen. (SGGS, 325)


ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਇਹ ਕਹੀਐ ਕਾਹਿ. ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਬੈਕੁੰਠੈ ਆਹਿ.

Meaning: Being in the company of the Guru is to have created one’s own heaven


ਸਿਰੀਰਾਗੁ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ਘਰੁ ੩ ॥ ਅਮਲੁ ਕਰਿ ਧਰਤੀ, ਬੀਜੁ ਸਬਦੋ ਕਰਿ, ਸਚ ਕੀ ਆਬ ਨਿਤ ਦੇਹਿ ਪਾਣੀ॥ ਹੋਇ ਕਿਰਸਾਣੁ, ਈਮਾਨੁ ਜੰਮਾਇ ਲੈ, ਭਿਸਤੁ ਦੋਜਕੁ ਮੂੜੇ ਏਵ ਜਾਣੀ ॥ ੧ ॥

Meaning: Perform good deeds, inculcate the messages of the shabd, and let your deeds flourish in the glory of the Creator. And do this daily. Practice such a life and anchor your spirituality in such and u will realize the folly of the claim of Heaven and Hell in the afterlife. (SGGS, 24)


ਨਰ ਤੇ ਸੁਰ ਹੋਇ ਜਾਤ ਨਿਮਖ ਮੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬੁਧਿ ਸਿਖਲਾਈ ॥ ਨਰ ਤੇ ਉਪਜਿ ਸੁਰਗ ਕਉ ਜੀਤਿਓ ਸੋ ਅਵਖਧ ਮੈ ਪਾਈ ॥ ੧ ॥

Meaning: My becoming Human to Divine – I acquired through the enlightenment given by my Creator connecting Guru. In doing so I have acquired heaven for myself and I have found the panacea for the hell of human vices. (SGGS, 873)



Part 1: Guru Nanak’s Canvas

Part 2: Death

Part 3: After Life

Part 4: 8.4 million (Chaurasi Lakh)

Part 5: Reincarnation

Part 6: Heaven and Hell

Part 7: Salvation in Afterlife (Mukti)

Part 8: Court of Judgement (Dargah)

Part 9: Dhrm Raj



Chauraasi lakh or 8.4m. What do they mean Gurbani-wise? (Asia Samachar, 21 Dec 2020)

Revisiting death (Asia Samachar, 5 Dec 2020)

Hijacking Sikhi (Asia Samachar, 19 Dec 2020)

Karminder talks about what shaped his thinking, and his latest books on Sikhi (Asia Samachar, 20 Nov 2020)


ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |


  1. Hardeep, stop clowning. Read the piece and try to learn something. If it’s not your cup of tea, move along. Now, run along.

  2. Imagine there’s no heaven | It’s easy if you try | No hell below us | Above us only sky | Imagine all the people living for today.

    That’s John Lennon. He may well have taken a leaf from the Sikh scripture, going by this discourse on ‘Heaven and Hell’ by Sikh parcharak Karminder Singh Dhillon. So, is there a heaven up (out) there, and a hell?

    I highly recommend his ‘Sikhi Concepts’ video series. It challenges us to ponder upon our understanding of Sikhi. It forces us to rethink concepts that we have settled on, thinking that’s what Guru Nanak is all about.
    Hence, it can be painful for some as unlearn and relearn.

    For a start, check out the six videos already available online. They are in English.

  3. U choose very complicated stuff to write on.none of my granthis in my lifetime has ever brought up heaven and hell.concept never existed in my mind .never heard of my sikh brothers and sisters talkimg about .but i hear my christian brothers and sisters speak about it.