Jum Doot & Chitrgupt

By Karminder Singh | Sikhi Concepts | Part 10 of 12 |

The first thing Gurbani does is to REMOVE the myths of Jum and Chitargupt in the afterlife.

The Second thing Gurbani does is to ELIMINATE the fear that has been instilled by the purveyors or transmitters of this myth. 

Both are then REDEFINED to fit the canvas of Guru Nanak – a canvas that focuses on the Here and Now.

The claim is that Jum are the soldiers of death that accompany Dharm Raj when he comes to take the soul of the departed. Chitargupt is supposed to be the accountant-cum-prosecutor in the court of judgment in the afterlife. He is said to sit on the shoulders of every human being and his task is to keep an eye on all that we do so that he could report that in the afterlife. 


VERSE 1: Guru Amardas ji (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS, on page 1054)  

ਹਰਿ ਜੀਉ ਕੀ ਹੈ ਸਭ ਸਿਰਕਾਰਾ ਏਹੁ ਜਮੁ ਕਿਆ ਕਰੇ ਵਿਚਾਰਾ ਹੁਕਮੀ ਬੰਦਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਕਮਾਵੈ ਹੁਕਮੇ ਕਢਦਾ ਸਾਹਾ ਹੇ 

Har Jio Ki Hai Sabh Sirkara, Eh Jun Kya Krey Vichara. Ham Banda Hukm Kmaveiy, Hukmey Kadhada Saha Hay

It is the Omnipresent Creator that is in total and complete authority on matters of Creation.  What can these pitiful Jum do? Human beings are subject to the Hukm of the Creator and we live in accordance with His Hukm; death and things concerning death are in accordance with His Hukm

What can these pitiful Jum do? is a rhetorical question which is “what can these Jum Doot do? And the answer is plain. Nothing. These Jum Doot – meaning the Jum Doot of the existing beliefs, the Jum of the after life – have zero role in my life. 

Within such a spiritual narrative that is Gurbani – there is no place for the concocted narratives of Jum Doot as soldiers of death and Chitr Gupt as account keepers of the dead. 

VERSE 2: Guru Nanak (SGGS, 1029)

ਜਮ ਕੇ ਫਾਹੇ ਤੋੜੇ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਤੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ਹੇ 

Jum Kay Fahey Satgur Torray, Gurmukh Tatt Bichara Hay

The meaning of the verse is: The Creator-Connecting Guru Liberates Me From Entanglement with The Notion of Jum in the afterlife, This is the Authentic Discourse.  

Why get entangled in something that is concocted? Something that doesn’t exist? 

VERSE 3: Guru Arjan (SGGS, 620)

ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਤਾਪੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ਭਾਈ ਠਾਂਢਿ ਪਈ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ਅਪਣੇ ਜੀਅ ਜੰਤ ਆਪੇ ਰਾਖੇ ਜਮਹਿ ਕੀਓ ਹਟਤਾਰਿ 1  

Satgur Ageiy Ardas Kar Sajan Dey Milaye. Sajan Mileiay Sukh Paya, Jum Doot Muey Bikh Khaye

My Creator –connecting Guru  has eliminated my anxiety and this has brought calm into my spiritual world; By enlightening me that Life is under the absolute command of the Creator Himself and that the notion of Jum as soldiers of death can be eliminated from my life.

VERSE 4: Guru Nanak (SGGS, 55)

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਅਗੈ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ਕਰਿ ਸਾਜਨੁ ਦੇਇ ਮਿਲਾਇ ਸਾਜਨਿ ਮਿਲਿਐ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਮਦੂਤ ਮੁਏ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਇ

The Creator –connecting Guru has brought about realization of the Creator whin. I thus have spiritual bliss the automatic elimination of the notion of Jum Doot . 

The literal meaning of ਮੁਏ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਇ is that Jum Doot committed suicide by poison. Its an idiomatic expression to say that this narrative of Jum Doot as soldiers of death dissipates by itself when enlightenment of the Creator connecting shabd comes. That the notion of Jum Doot as soldiers of death in the afterlife ceases to exist, disappears and vanishes when enlightenment of the Shabd comes. 

So what we see thus far from the verses as above are the following three things. 

One, the notion of Jum Doot as contained within the 4000 year old Canvas is critiqued in the light of Gurbani enlightenment. As Guru Amardas ji says ਏਹੁ ਜਮੁ ਕਿਆ ਕਰੇ ਵਿਚਾਰਾ meaning what can these pitiful Jum do now that I am enlightened? Or As Guru Nanak says ਜਮ ਕੇ ਫਾਹੇ ਤੋੜੇ the enlightenment of Gurbani liberates me from the entanglement with the notion of Jum in my afterlife. Or as Guru Arjun Ji says ਜਮਦੂਤ ਮੁਏ ਬਿਖੁ ਖਾਇ. Meaning: The notion of Jum doot as soldiers of death in the afterlife ceases to exist, disappears and vanishes when enlightenment of the Shabd is shone on this concocted notion. 

Two, Gurbani critiques Jum Doot in the afterlife in a way so as to dispel that narrative from our spirituality. To enlighten us that the narrative is so ridiculous that it needs to be removed completely from our psyche.

Three, it is critiqued in a manner so as to eliminate the fear that is associated with accepting and believing this concocted and ludicrous narrative of Jum Doot. Sikhi is not a spirituality based on fear. It is based on enlightenment. 

Four, JUM DOOT is nothing more than the expression of physical death that comes within the Hukm of the Creator. The nothing of Jum Doot has No separate identity of its own whatsoever. 

So JUM in Gurbani is ALIGNED as an expression of physical death.

Guru Amardas jis makes this absolutely clear in his verse on page 588 of the SGGS.

VERSE 5: Guru Amardas (SGGS, 588)

ਸਲੋਕ ਮਃ 3 ਕਲਿ ਮਹਿ ਜਮੁ ਜੰਦਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਹੁਕਮੇ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਇ

Kal Meh Jum Jundaar Hai, Hukmey Kaar Kmaye.

Within the span of our life time Jum is Certain Death  which comes in the Hukm of the Creator.   

So Jum is simply physical death within the confines of His Hukm, within the parameters of the law of life.

ਗੁਰਿ ਰਾਖੇ ਸੇ ਉਬਰੇ ਮਨਮੁਖਾ ਦੇਇ ਸਜਾਇ

Gur Rakhey Say Ubhrey Mankukha Dey Sjaye

Manmukhs consider death a punishment, a suffering, a thing of fear but the messages of the Guru elevate us above that. 

ਜਮਕਾਲੈ ਵਸਿ ਜਗੁ ਬਾਂਧਿਆ ਤਿਸ ਦਾ ਫਰੂ ਕੋਇ

Jum Kaleiy Vas Jug Bandhiya Tis da Fry Na Koye

Meaning: Death is for all living things, no one is above it. 

When something is for all, when something is certain, when no one can escape it – then fear is futile. 

So, in the basic sense then, what Gurbani has effectively done is to demolish the notion of Jum Doot as contained within the 4000 old Canvas. 

Gurbani then goes on to REDEFINE the notion of Jum. 

We know that Gurbani has REDEFINED death as Spiritual Death.  A large portion of Gurbani is aimed at helping us avoid spiritual death, the death of our conscience. 

Since Spiritual Death is what Gurbani is concerned with, then the JUM of Gurbani are Human Vices as the bearers of this death. As the causes of this death. 

This verse of Guru Arjun ji on page 626 of the SGGS makes clear the redefining.

VERSE 6: Guru Arjun (SGGS, 626)

ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮਿ ਮਨੁ ਲਾਗਾ ਜਮੁ ਲਜਾਇ ਕਰਿ ਭਾਗਾ 1  

Ram Nam Man Laga. Jum Ljaye Kar Bhaga.

My Mind has acquired Divine Virtues, My Vices Have Left Me. 

VERSE 7: Guru Ramdas (SGGS, 574)

ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਿਨੀ ਆਰਾਧਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਕੇ ਦੁਖ ਪਾਪ ਨਿਵਾਰੇ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਖੜਗੁ ਹਥਿ ਦੀਨਾ ਜਮਕੰਕਰ ਮਾਰਿ ਬਿਦਾਰੇ  

Har Har Nam Jini Arahiya, Tin Kay Dukh Paap Nivarey. Satgur Gyan Kharrug Hath Dina, Jum Kankar Mar Bidarey.

Through the acquisition of Divine Virtues, I eliminated the Pain of  Vices. The Guru handed me a sword of Enlightenment with which I eliminated the Jum.

So JUM are redefined as our Vices. And that is because Vices are the agents of our spiritual death. 

VERSE 8: Bhagat Ravdas (SGGS, 659)

ਰਵਿਦਾਸੁ  ਜਪੈ ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮਾ ਮੋਹਿ ਜਮ ਸਿਉ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਾਮਾ 3  

Ravdas Jpeiy Ram Nama. Mohe Jum Sion Nahi Kama.

I have realized divine virtues. Vices don’t work within me anymore. 

The word JUM carries the REDEFINED meaning as VICES. 

This is because Spiritual life is on account of DIVINE VIRTUES and Spiritual death is on account of our vices. 

VERSE 9: Guru Arjan (SGGS, 623)

ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਮ ਕਾ ਪੰਥੁ ਮਿਟਾਇਆ

Vadbhagi Satgur Paya. Jin Jum Ka Panth Mitaya.

Meaning: I have been blessed with realization of the creator connecting Guru  My spiritual path has been cleared of my vicesThe word PANTH means path. 

VERSE 10: Guru Teg Bahadur (SGGS, 902)

ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਨਰੁ ਨਿਸਿ ਬਾਸੁਰ ਮਹਿ ਨਿਮਖ ਏਕ ਉਰਿ ਧਾਰੈ ॥ ਜਮ ਕੋ ਤ੍ਰਾਸੁ ਮਿਟੈ ਨਾਨਕ  ਤਿਹ ਅਪੁਨੋ ਜਨਮੁ ਸਵਾਰੈ 3

Ram Nam Nar Nis Basur, Meh Nimakh Ey Ur Dhareiy. Jum Ko Traas Miteiy, Nanak Teh, Apno Janum Svareiy.

I have inculcated Divine Virtues and my spirituality has been blessed.  The affliction of my vices JUM has been eliminated and my life has become adorned.  

VERSE 11: Guru Arjun (SGGS, 79)

In summation, pyareo, here is a shabd of that sums up the Gurbani understanding of the subject matter under discussion. 

ਮਨ ਪਿਆਰਿਆ ਜੀਉ ਮਿਤ੍ਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਲਦੇ ਖੇਪ ਸਵਲੀ ਮਨ ਪਿਆਰਿਆ ਜੀਉ ਮਿਤ੍ਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਦਰੁ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਮਲੀ  

Chitar Gupt Ka Kagad Fareya. Jum Duta Kchu Na Chli. Nanak Sikh Dey Mun Pritam. Har Ladey Kheyp Svli.

Meaning: O beloved mind of mine, adopt the spirituality pertaining to the Omnipresent    Adopt a spirituality that provides permanent realization of the Creator   

ਹਰਿ ਦਰੁ ਸੇਵੇ ਅਲਖ ਅਭੇਵੇ ਨਿਹਚਲੁ ਆਸਣੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਤਹ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਣੁ ਆਵਣ ਜਾਣਾ ਸੰਸਾ ਦੂਖੁ ਮਿਟਾਇਆ  

Har Dar Sevey, Alakh Abhevey, Nihchul Aasann Paya. Teh Janum, Na Marunn, Na Avann Janna, Sansa Dukh Mitaya.

Adopt a spirituality that brings realization of the Creator within in the permanent sense. In such a spirituality the fears or anxieties   of death, re-birth and the cycle of reincarnation are eliminated completely. 

ਚਿਤ੍ਰ ਗੁਪਤ ਕਾ ਕਾਗਦੁ ਫਾਰਿਆ ਜਮਦੂਤਾ ਕਛੂ ਚਲੀ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਸਿਖ ਦੇਇ ਮਨ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਹਰਿ ਲਦੇ ਖੇਪ ਸਵਲੀ   

Chitar Gupt Ka Kagad Fareya, Jum Duta Kchu Na Chli. Nanak Sikh Dey Mun Pritam Har Ladey Kheyp Svli.

I Adopted a spirituality in which I shredded to pieces, the belief in the accounting of Chitargupt and in which the Jum Doot will have no effect on me. That spirituality is the messages of Nanak that inculcate love of the Creator Within. This is the spirituality of benefit 

Just this one single shabd of Guru Arjun is sufficient to tell us that Jum Doot, Chitr Gupt – as pre 1469 beliefs – have no place in Sikhi, Gurmat and Gurbani. 

It’s a pity that our clergy – granthis, parcharaks, kirtanias, ragis – keep narrating these stories in our gurdwaras on a regular basis. They sing/recite Gurbani, but provide narratives form rejected 4000 years old texts.  

Some of our clergy appear engaged in a display of fake knowledge in wanting to fix the round pegs of Gurbani into the square holes of beliefs of pre-1469 beliefs. 

They consider themselves schooled and well-read in narrating stories of the 4,000 texts each time a Gurbani verse mentions Dargah, Drhm Raj, Jum Doot, Chitr Gupt, 8.4 mil, heaven hell etc – without stopping to think if Gurbani is actually mentioning them to critique them, rubbish them, align them or re-define them. 

While some of these clergy are doing so simply because they are schooled in deras, taksals or sampardas ALL of which are rooted in Bhramanical beliefs – others are unaware. And yet others have an agenda to fit sikhi into the parameters of Brahmanism. 

In conclusion then,  whenever and wherever any pre-1469 concept appears within Gurbani it appears in two contexts. 

The first is in the context of the pre-1469 beliefs.  As Jum in the afterlife. As Chitrgupt in the afterlife. When used in this context – the purpose of the Bhagat or Guru is to destruct the myth, critique it as unacceptable, point out its un-believability and its non-acceptance, and to declare that I am above such a myth. 

The second usage is in the REDEFINED context. JUM DOOT in the Gurbani context are the VICES that bring about spiritual death.

Chitargupt is that form or dimension CHITAR of ours that is invisible GUPT – as opposed to the form that is visible and known to the whole world namely  CHITR PARGAT. The message of Gurbani are for our inner form to be one and same as out visible outer one. The messages of gurbani are for our Chitar gupt to the be one and same as our chitar pargat. 

Our task – as Sikhs of Gurbani within the SGGS – is to be able to know which of the two contexts are being applied by the composer of the shabd whenever any pre-1469 concept is mentioned in Gurbani. 

The argument that Gurbani accepts these pre-1469 concepts SIMPLY because they are mentioned does not hold water. To hold such a position is to display our ignorance. 

In essence then what Gurbani has done is to Liberate us from the entire pre 1469 Canvas.  To free us from the debilitating and crippling entanglement, fear and anxiety of the clergy concocted concepts of the 4,000 year old canvas. 


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

Part 10: Jum Doot & Chitrgupt

Part 11: Ancestors


Sikh thinker, writer and parcharak Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston), is a retired Malaysian civil servant. He is the joint-editor of The Sikh Bulletin and author of The Hijacking of Sikhi. He can be contacted at dhillon99@gmail.com. 



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: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |


  1. Dear Editor,

    Many of my comments have not been posted. This is not fair. Sikhs are being misled by Dr Karminder Singh by misrepresenting Gurbani and this needs to be corrected.

  2. Kulwant Kaur Ji, Guru Nanak freed the people from Brahmanical thinking. There is no doubt about that. He changed symbolism of chanting mantras and performing rituals asking people to obey Hukam in practical life. There is nothing in Gurbani that goes against this. Karminder Singh either does not understand Gurbani or deliberately misinterprets it to fit his agenda. The Sodar Shabad (So dar teyra keyha so ghar keyha) comes thrice in Gurbani. In this Guru Nanak says Gaavan tudhno chit gupt likh jaanan likh likh dharam beechaarey. This means the Chitr Gupt write the deeds of creatures and Dharam Rai considers them. Then Guru Nanak says in the Slok at the end of Japji Sahib “Changiaaeeaa buriaaeeaa vaachai dharam hadoor” meaning Dharam Rai states good and bad deeds of creatures before God. So as may be seen, Karminder Singh relies on something other than Gurbani. It needs to be emphasized that God, Chitr Gupt and Jam are not physical entities. They are metaphors that represent the Divine natural justice system. It is based on the principle of “Aapey beej aapey hi khaahi” Japji Paurri 20, meaning One reaps what one sows. It is surprising Karminder Singh is not responding to my comments. He probably realizes he is misinterpreting Gurbani and cannot answer queries

  3. Kulwant Kaur Ji. The simple answer to your comment is to look at Karminder Singh’s meanings of Gurbani verses. He quotes the original but gives meanings which have no bearing on the original Gurbani. Simply saying something different does not make it creditable. You are talking of pre-Guru Nanak period. Please refer to Chitr Gupt in Japji Paurri 27 (gavah chitr gupt likh jaanah likh likh Dharam veechaarey). This is by Guru Nanak. Then see Slok at end of Japji (Changiaaeeaa buriaaeea vaachai dharam hadoor). Please reflect on Gurbani not just talk of what this man says. And yes, please ask him to reply to my post so that we can discuss. He has no feet to stand on. That is why he is not responding.

  4. Well said Dr Karminder Singh ji: There is so much clarity within Gurbani, yet some people want to bend over backwards in wanting to fix the round pegs of Gurbani into the square holes of the pre-1469 beliefs. Others appear engaged in a display of fake knowledge in wanting to take Sikhi of Guru Nanak back to 1468. This is the real manipulation – Rawel Singh ji.

  5. The first thing that one notices from Dr Karminder Singh’s writings and videos is the absence of mention of the Aatma or soul. He is requested to please enlighten.

    Gurbani has a pattern in which it presents both sides of the world-play. It encourages to conform to Naam or Divine virtues and commands or Hukam as in Japji Paurri 1. Hukam rajaaee chalna Nanak likhiaa naal. Follow the path told by Hukam which came written with the creature.

    Gurbani teaches that one who disobeys Hukam suffers including reincarnation. And one who obeys Hukam – the natural right way of acting – faces no problems, i.e. Dharam Rai, Chitr Gupt and Jam have no jurisdiction on him/her and s/he does not reincarnate.

    Dr Karminder Singh Dhillon Ji looks only at the latter side of the picture. All his writings including this post are proof of that. He thus manipulates Gurbani.

    Gurbani emphasizes the role of the Divine justice system based on the principle of “One reaps what one sows”. Dharam Rai, Chitr Gupt and Jam are metaphorical part of it. They correspond to the justice department, investigators and policemen of the worldly justice/law system respectively. Gurbani also gives the role of vices to Jam – as agent of death – and am glad to find it in his writings. I use it but have not found it being used by anyone else.
    He totally ignores the following.

    1. The soul.
    2. What Gurbani says on disobeying Hukam including role of the above entities and reincarnation.
    3. Whether Gurbani says that the soul has to account for actions of the body. Does Gurbani look at the person as the soul or Jeev.

  6. Very well explained in detail the Guru Nanak’s view is kept in the dark even in the temples gilded in gold !!