Below is something I wrote some time ago as I explained to my kids, about Fear and how nir-bhau means no fear.
We shouldn't have FEAR because it's a negative emotion and a negative character trait. Negative emotions from mind, lead to negative affects on body and soul. Anger, anxiety, guilt, worry, chinta, etc. are all negative emotions. Gurbani says Nirbhau Nirvair, Nir-bhau meaning No fear. If we want to go on the path to God, then we have to be like him and show no fear.
So, what is this "fear" of God all about? Should we worry about hukam of God and be in fear? Should we be frightened of his power and greatness?
This "Fear" or ਭੈ is somewhat misunderstood..
The fear that we all understand is usually about "being scared of an outcome". Frightened and worrying to move ahead in fear of something negative occurring It's a human emotion triggered by a perceived threat. For eg. If I had to walk across field with snakes and dogs, then I would also "fear" getting bitten or attacked. If I had to cross over the road with eyes closed, then I'd have fear of a negative outcome and getting hit by a vehicle.. This is negative trait, because I'm fearing the OUTCOME and possibility. What will actually occur as an outcome will be in line with hukam, yet, this is what I'm fearing. I'm fearing the truth. I'm fearing the will of God. I'm not living by "therah bhaana mitta" (your will is sweet).
What Fear is gurbani telling us about then?
The "fear" in gurbani is about the Ghulam(head servant) serving his master or Dog serving his master
There is a difference between this ਭੈ (Fear) that we should have for God.
In asa di vaar.
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਅਗਨਿ ਕਢੈ ਵੇਗਾਰਿ ॥
Bẖai vicẖ agan kadẖai vegār.
In the Fear of God, fire is forced to labor.
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਧਰਤੀ ਦਬੀ ਭਾਰਿ ॥
Bẖai vicẖ ḏẖarṯī ḏabī bẖār.
In the Fear of God, the earth is crushed under its burden.
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਇੰਦੁ ਫਿਰੈ ਸਿਰ ਭਾਰਿ ॥
Bẖai vicẖ inḏ firai sir bẖār.
In the Fear of God, the clouds move across the sky.
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਰਾਜਾ ਧਰਮ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥
Bẖai vicẖ rājā ḏẖaram ḏu▫ār.
In the Fear of God, the Righteous Judge of Dharma stands at His Door.
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸੂਰਜੁ ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਚੰਦੁ ॥
Bẖai vicẖ sūraj bẖai vicẖ cẖanḏ.
In the Fear of God, the sun shines, and in the Fear of God, the moon reflects.
ਕੋਹ ਕਰੋੜੀ ਚਲਤ ਨ ਅੰਤੁ ॥
Koh karoṛī cẖalaṯ na anṯ.
They travel millions of miles, endlessly.
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਸਿਧ ਬੁਧ ਸੁਰ ਨਾਥ ॥
Bẖai vicẖ siḏẖ buḏẖ sur nāth.
In the Fear of God, the Siddhas exist, as do the Buddhas, the demi-gods and Yogis.
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਆਡਾਣੇ ਆਕਾਸ ॥
Bẖai vicẖ ādāṇe ākās.
In the Fear of God, the Akaashic ethers are stretched across the sky.
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਜੋਧ ਮਹਾਬਲ ਸੂਰ ॥
Bẖai vicẖ joḏẖ mahābal sūr.
In the Fear of God, the warriors and the most powerful heroes exist.
ਭੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਆਵਹਿ ਜਾਵਹਿ ਪੂਰ ॥
Bẖai vicẖ āvahi jāvėh pūr.
In the Fear of God, multitudes come and go
These verses from asa tell us that the sun shines by rising and setting. The moon reveals it's reflection on an ongoing regular basis. They do this in the 'bhai' . The sun doesn't decide to not come out one day, neither does the moon and neither do any of the other mentions in following pangtees.
This FEAR in gurbani is similar to the "Ghulam" (ਗੁਲਾਮੁ), Ghulam is head servant of house.
ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਗੁਲਾਮੁ ਘਰ ਕਾ ਜੀਆਇ ਭਾਵੈ ਮਾਰਿ ॥੨॥੧੮॥੬੯॥
Kahi Kabīr gulām gẖar kā jī▫ā▫e bẖāvai mār. ||2||18||69||
Says Kabeer, I am the slave of Your home; I live or die as You will. ||2||18||69||
ਜੇ ਰਾਜਿ ਬਹਾਲੇ ਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਲਾਮੁ ਘਾਸੀ ਕਉ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਢਾਈ ॥
Je rāj bahāle ṯā har gulām gẖāsī ka▫o har nām kadẖā▫ī.
If the Lord were to set me upon a throne, I would still be His slave. If I were a grass-cutter, I would still chant the Lord's Name.
I believe the rich masters used to go and purchase house servants, just like the white men purchased black African slaves. The white man called this head slave the "house negroe" similar to the Ghulam. (the role Samuel Jackson plays in "Django'"). BIG DIFFRENCE between this servant and ordinary naukar or white mans field slave, is that the ghulam was allowed in Master's bedroom and everywhere master went. Ghulam is constantly at the beck and call of master. He is totally committed and submissive to his Master's needs. He has many privileges, such as being dressed nicely and eating what he wishes by having the house cook make meals for him. This servant builds respect and love for his master because the master takes care of him in every way. ALL his requirements and needs are seen to, as long as he's submissive to master.
The "fear" that the servant has of master isn't negative, but it is fear of being under the power of master. Since master is the doer and provider for him. He doesn't have to worry or think what or if he may eat or drink the following day, or when he'll bathe and what he'll wear...etc. because he knows the master will be taking care of this. In same way, God takes care of meeting our human needs as long as we remain submitted to his hukam. This is the "bhai"... the "fear" that we should have for him. This fear is ego-less and not negative. It's about having the faith and knowing that the all powerful is doing everything as long as servant continues serving.
Gurbani mentions the faithful dog and master. The dog fears no one else except his master.
ਹਮ ਕੂਕਰ ਤੇਰੇ ਦਰਬਾਰਿ ॥
Ham kūkar ṯere ḏarbār.
I am a dog at Your Court, Lord.
ਸਗ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੀਬਾਨ ਮਸਤਾਨਾ ਨਿਤ ਚੜੈ ਸਵਾਇਆ ॥
Sag Nānak ḏībān masṯānā niṯ cẖaṛai savā▫i▫ā.
Nanak is a dog in the Court of the Lord, intoxicated more and more, all the time.