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Question from a satsanggi:
I have a few simple questions, hope you can help clarify.
A) is it wrong to pray in the car? E.g. going home from work to do rehraas in the car.
B) must I shower before a prayer. If I am on the way back from office and pray in the car I definitely would not have had a shower. I don’t know if this is wrong.
Growing up the older folks have instilled some rules in the head which I think may not work with current times
Bhai Manjeet’s response:
A. It is not wrong to pray in the car. Gurbani tells us we must reach a state of “aath pahar dhiaye” i.e.
ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਧਿਆਈਐ ਗੋਪਾਲੁ
(SGGS Ang 200)
you should engage in continuous prayer. 24 hours.
Yes. It is OK to read Rehras as you drive your car. But you can reflect better on what you are reading if you are seated at home or in some other place like a gurdwara. Driving a car requires you to be alert to avoid accidents and some degree of concentration would be spent in relating to your surroundings.
At Ang 810 Guru Ji says,
“uthatt bethat sovtey har har har chet”
ਊਠਤ ਬੈਠਤ ਸੋਵਤੇ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਚੇਤ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
(While standing up, sitting down, even while sleeping, lovingly remember the Lord)
B. Must you shower before a prayer.?
There are many Shabads in SGGS Ji which say you can only achieve some degree of cleanliness by physical bathing. It is good to be clean and to have good hygiene. But purity (as opposed to cleanliness), can only come from Naam and His grace.
So, it is perfectly OK to do prayer while driving your car even if you have not had a bath for a few hours.
At Ang 1193, Bhagat Kabir Ji replies a pandit who scolded Him for eating without washing Himself and observing the protocols of Hindu teachings.
(Tell me O pandit which place is uncontaminated; the place where I am supposed to sit and eat my food.?)
In the next two padas Bhagat Ji tells us everything we use is impure. Even the fire used to cook food. The water used is impure too.
“Aggan bhi juthee pani juthaa..”
ਅਗਨਿ ਭੀ ਜੂਠੀ ਪਾਨੀ ਜੂਠਾ ਜੂਠੀ ਬੈਸਿ ਪਕਾਇਆ ॥
(The fire is impure, and the water is impure. The place where you sit and cook is impure)
In the final line Bhagat Ji tells us that only those who have pure understanding (i.e. through Naam) are indeed pure.
“Kaho Kabir teyi nar suchey sachi bhari bichara.”
ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਤੇਈ ਨਰ ਸੂਚੇ ਸਾਚੀ ਪਰੀ ਬਿਚਾਰਾ ॥੪॥੧॥੭॥
(Says Kabeer, they alone are pure, who have obtained pure understanding. ||4||1||7||)
Many other Shabads which tell us only Naam is pure. Bhagats Namdev Ji and Bhagat Ravidas Ji have Shabads where they express clearly that all samagree used in puja is impure. Only Naam is pure and spotless.
Taking all that into account you can never be pure even if you take a bath and immediately sit to read some Gurbani. At the most you would have achieved some degree of cleanliness.