Bhai, sometimes translated as God's Fear, But a better translation is "Apprehension of the divine". To put it otherwise, Bhai does not mean to be afraid of God, it is the Fear of the consequences of one's Karma . It simply implies respect, Love, reverence, veneration or ਅਦਬ for the Divine Law, Hukm. In essence, it is the fear of immoral, false and unrighteous conduct. Thus, in deeper sense, Bhai is meant to discourage ambivalence. Such pure "Fear" (respect, reverence, Love or ਅਦਬ) keeps a seeker in the scale of morality and righteousness, which, in turn, encourages noble virtues, Spiritual Life, Spiritual discipline, meditation on the Absolute One, cultivation of spiritual-knowledge (Aatam-Giaan) through inner inquiry (Vichaar) and one-pointed conscious Love for FSM. With the help of these Divine Attributes, one adorns Bhagti (devotion) with its important element of Bairaag - detachment from materiality and temptations, and attachment to the practice of Love and devotion of the Divine within. According to the WMOM, only those deeds are "excellent" (good Karanee) that are done in the Bhai (respect, reverence, Love or ਅਦਬ), otherwise they are "false". Thus the third Guru Sahib says, "Forsake desire, and abide in the Fear of God; O Nanak, these are the most excellent actions".
ਬਿਨੁ ਭੈ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵਣੇ ਝੂਠੇ ਠਾਉ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥੪॥: Bin bhai karam kamaavane jhoothe thaaou na koi ||4||: Without fear (ਡਰ-ਅਦਬ of God), the performance of Kaarma (of religious rituals, and so on) is false, and one finds no place of Rest. ||4|| (sggs 427). ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਭਉ ਊਪਜੈ ਭਾਈ ਭਉ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਚੁ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Guramatee bhaou oopajai bhaaee bhaou karanee sach saar: O Brother, under Guru's Instruction, the Fear of God is produced; true and excellent are the deeds (Karanee) done in the Fear of God (sggs 638). ਕਾਮਣਿ ਗੁਣਵੰਤੀ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਏ ॥ ਭੈ ਭਾਇ ਸੀਗਾਰੁ ਬਣਾਏ ॥: Kaaman gunavantee har paaye. Bhai bhaai seegaar banaaye: The virtuous soul-bride finds the Lord; she decorates herself with the Love and the Fear of God. (sggs 122). ਭੈ ਤੇ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਹਰਿ ਖੋਜਤ ਫਿਰਣਾ ॥: Bhai te bairaag oopjai Hari khojat phirnaa: Through the Fear of God, the attitude of detachment (Bairaag) wells up, and one sets out in search of God (sggs 1102). ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਛੋਡੈ ਭੈ ਵਸੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: Trisanaa shodai bhai vasai Nanak karanee saar: Forsake desire, and abide in the Fear of God; O Nanak, these are the most excellent actions (sggs 1089).
Although both the unfaithful (Bemukh, Saakat, the Manmukh or nonbeliever) and the faithful (believer, the opposite of Bemukh) entertain the Bhai, but the Bhai of both is something different. In separation from FSM, the Bemukh or Saakat is full of all other fears (e.g., fear of death, repeated suffering etc.). It's common to see such people subscribe to religion out of fear. They practice the various religious injunctions because of apprehension that nonperformance of the same will lead to retribution from God. Ignorance is the root of such fear. The basis of any religion is Love of FSM and hence anything done out of fear is due to immaturity. In True Love, how there can be any room for any kind of reprisal? The faithful, on the other hand, Fears the Allmighty in deep reverence, respect, Love, ਅਦਬ etc. So he has no other fears (such as the fear of death etc.) because he does not consider himself to be separate from FSM at any given moment.
ਡਰਿ ਡਰਿ ਪਚੇ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਵੇਚਾਰੇ ॥: Dar dar pache manamukh vechaare: The wretched self-willed Manmukhs are ruined through fear and dread (sggs 677). ਮਨਮੁਖ ਭੈ ਕੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਣਨੀ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਜਲਤੇ ਕਰਹਿ ਪੁਕਾਰ ॥: Manmukh bhai kee saar na jaananee trisanaa jalate karahi pukaar: The self-willed Manmukhs do not appreciate the value of the Fear of God. Burning in desire, they weep and wail (sggs 1288). ਸਾਕਤ ਜਮ ਕੀ ਕਾਣਿ ਨ ਚੂਕੈ ॥: Saakath jam kee kaan na chookai: The Saakat is not rid of his fear of death (sggs 1030). ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮਿ ॥: Ihu manu nirabhaou gurmukh naam: The mind of the Gurmukh becomes fearless through the Divine Naam (sggs 415). ਸਾਕਤ ਨਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਨਹੀ ਕੀਆ ਤੇ ਬੇਮੁਖ ਹਰਿ ਭਰਮਾਵੈਗੋ ॥ ਲੋਭ ਲਹਰਿ ਸੁਆਨ ਕੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਬਿਖੁ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਰੰਗਿ ਲਗਾਵੈਗੋ ॥: Saakat nar...: The Sakkat does not submit to the Satguru; the Lord makes such nonbeliever wander. (Within him are) the waves of greed, (these waves are of the nature of ) the dog. (As the dog is attracted by) carcasses (and loves to eat them), (similarly the greedy person) sticks to the poison (that brings death to one's spiritual life) of Maya (sggs 1311).
Spiritual value is associated not merely with Love and devotion of FSM but also linked to having the Bhai (respect, reverence, Love, ਅਦਬ etc.) and the practice of Dharma - the social responsibility of caring for the entire Creation. According to the WMOM, the true Love of FSM is produced by Bhai of the Fear of God.
1. anxiety or fear that something bad or unpleasant will happen.
2. understanding; grasp.