Bhagti

In the English translations of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), the term “Bhagti” is seen translated as devotion, devotional service, or devotional worship.

That’s NOT the Gurbani’s understanding or meaning of “Bhagti“!

Then — NOT according to the illiterate and crafty Pujaaree groups (Brahmins, Pandits, Bhais, Ragis, Parchaarak, Deraavaad Baabaas or Sant, etc.) — but according to the Gurbani, what is “Bhagti” in Sikhi (Sikhi => the Way of life based on the Giaan or Wisdom of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS)?

For Sikhs (learners or students of the SGGS), the SGGS = Giaan Guru.

Hence, Gurmat (Wisdom, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS) = Giaan of the SGGS.

Therefore, the Guru of the Sikhs  = Giaan (the Divine Knowledge…) or Bibek of the SGGS.

Thus, Bhagti in Sikhi is to (1) realize or awaken the Wisdom (Giaan) of the SGGS (Giaan Bhagti or Gurmat Bhagti) and Virtues (Rabbi Gun-ਗੁਣ) within, (2) and then live daily life responsibly according to that Wisdom (Giaan) of the Guru!

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਮਤਿ ਤੂੰ ਲੇਹਿ ਇਆਨੇ ॥ ਭਗਤਿ ਬਿਨਾ ਬਹੁ ਡੂਬੇ ਸਿਆਨੇ ॥: You ignorant fool, take the Gurmati (i.e., Divine Wisdom or Aatmic-Giaan of the Gur-Shabad); without (this) Bhagti, even many clever have drowned (in perplexity). (sggs 288).
  • ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਮਤਿ ਆਵੈ ਸੋ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਮਾਹਿ ਸਮਾਨਾ ॥ ਇਹ ਬਾਣੀ ਜੋ ਜੀਅਹੁ ਜਾਣੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਰਵੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: (One who) imbibes (accepts…) the Wisdom (intellect, understanding, sense, Bibek-Budhi, Truth…), is absorbed into the Satigur (he permeates into the Satigur’s Wisdom…). Who heartily understands this Bani, (he) experiences within him the Divine Naam (Wisdom…). ||1|| Pause ॥ (sggs 797).(sggs 797).
  • ਨਿਜ ਧਨੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਭਗਤਿ ਗੁਰਿ ਦੀਨੀ ਤਾਸੁ ਸੁਮਤਿ ਮਨੁ ਲਾਗਾ ॥ : The Guru Given Giaan-Bhagti (Bhgati of spiritual Knowledge) is my personal Wealth. (Now my) mind is connected to that good understand (obtained from the Giaan Bhagti). (sggs 336).
  • ਸਚੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥: True Bhagti consists of love for the Gur-Shabad (i.e., life of the Shabad-Giaan, Wisdom, Upadesh, Virtues…). (sggs 158).
  • ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਜਨ ਭਏ ਖਾਲਸੇ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਭਗਤਿ ਜਿਹ ਜਾਨੀ ॥: O Kabeer! Those persons become “Khaalsae” (ਖਾਲਸੇ) who have realized the Prem Bhagti (Virtues-ਗੁਣ, understanding of the Gur-Shabad, Giaan or Wisdom…). (sggs 655).

In other words, Bhagti is to live by ones inherent Pure Nature (Jot Saroop, divine Wisdom, Virtues…); or live by the divine Hukam (Law of Nature) as do air, water, fire…

  • ਪਉਣੁ ਪਾਣੀ ਬੈਸੰਤਰੋ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਭਗਤੀ ॥ ਏਨਾ ਨੋ ਭਉ ਅਗਲਾ ਪੂਰੀ ਬਣਤ ਬਣਤੀ ॥: Water, air and fire, by the Hukam (Law of Nature), perform Bhagti. They are in the divine fear (Pure Fear of Hukam — reverence or respectfulness of Hukam, Love, ਹੁਕਮ ਦਾ ਅਦਬ-ਸਤਕਾਰ, ਪ੍ਰੇਮ…), such is the perfect make (of the world). (sggs 948).
  • ਪਉਣੁ ਪਾਣੀ ਬੈਸੰਤਰੋ ਮੇਰੀ ਜਿੰਦੁੜੀਏ ਨਿਤ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਸੁ ਗਾਵੈ ਰਾਮ ॥: O my soul! Wind, water and fire continually live by their inherent qualities (Rabbi Gun-ਗੁਣ, ਨਿਯਮ). (sggs 540).

Here in the foregoing verse the Gurbani proclaims that air, water, and fire are doing Bhagti! How so?

Have you seen air, water, and fire rosary? Have seen them sitting cross-legged in Smadhi posture? Have you seen them sitting in secluded basement? Have seen singing with Tabla and harmonium?

No? Then how are they doing Bhagti? Simply put: they follow their inherent nature, qualities (Rabbi Gun-ਗੁਣ, ਨਿਯਮ), responsibilities…

Hence, as asserted by the SGGS, there can be no Bhagti without  living by one’s inherent or Pure Nature, Wisdom or Virtues (Rabbi Gun-ਗੁਣ, ਨਿਯਮ), responsibilities…

  • ਵਿਣੁ ਗੁਣ ਕੀਤੇ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: Without acquiring Virtues, Bhagti can not be performed (sggs 4).

Also, the Gurbani proclaims that a freeloader (who does not work to earn his living, ਵੇਲੜ, ਮੰਗ ਖਾਣਾਂ…) cannot perform Bhagti or be a Bhagat! In other words, there can be no Bhagti without “Kirati-ਕਿਰਤਿ” — honest work, labor, ਮਿਹਨਤ, etc. (e.g., Deraavaad Baabaa, Pujaaree groups, and so on.).

  • ਮਾਇਆ ਕੀ ਕਿਰਤਿ ਛੋਡਿ ਗਵਾਈ ਭਗਤੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਨੈ ॥: (A freeloader – ਵੇਲੜ, ਮੰਗ ਖਾਣਾਂ – who) renounces to work or earn his livelihood while living in the midst of Maya, he cannot know what Bhagti is! (sggs 381).

To put it in simple Punjabi:
ਸਿਖ ਵਾਸਤੇ ਗੁਰਮਤ ਲੈਕੇ ਜੀਵਨ ਵਿਚ ਰੱਬੀ ਗੁਣਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਕਮਾਉਣਾਂ ਹੀ ਭਗਤੀ ਹੈ । ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਮਾਰਗ = ਭਗਤੀ ਮਾਰਗ = ਗਿਆਨ ਮਾਰਗ

Hence, unequivocally, the Way of the Gurbani is the Way (Maarag) of Inner Searching and Understanding (i.e., Giaan Maarag – ਗਿਆਨ ਮਾਰਗ).

  • ਖੋਜਤ ਖੋਜਤ ਮਾਰਗੁ ਪਾਇਓ ਸਾਧੂ ਸੇਵ ਕਰੀਜੈ ॥: Searching and seeking, (with the help of the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom, I) have found the “Maarag” (Way). Serve the Guru (through Shabad-Vichaar). (sggs 1269).

Thorough understanding of the Gurbani helps becoming “One” with our Mool within, which is the purpose of life — to become One (Ik Mann Ik Chitt), to Unite (“ਵੀਆਹੁ”) the mind with its Mool within (Source, Jot…), “Saabat Soorati – ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤਿ”, Gurmukh-hood, etc.

  • ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥: Not by reading (books), but through Understanding, is the Mystery Realized. (sggs 148).

To say it otherwise, Bhagti is a Lifestyle — the Gurmukh Lifestyle, a Divine Life of Virtues, Truth, Dharma, Inner Revolution, transformation based on the Divine Wisdom (Giaan) of the SGGS, and so on. According to the Gurbani, ONLY such Bhagti is fruitful.

  • ਹਰਿ ਕੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਫਲ ਦਾਤੀ ॥: Bhagti of Hari (i.e., Mool) is what gives fruits (fulfillment, spiritual profit…). (sggs 628).

Thus, according to the Gurmat (Wisdom of the SGGS), Gurmat-Bhagti is not just repetition of some “Mantra”; or singing of the Gurbani or devotional songs (Kirtan); or sitting in some peculiar posture (“ਬਗੁਲ ਸਮਾਧਿ”) with half closed eyes staring the sky or the nose; or counting beads (ਮਾਲਾ ਫੇਰਨੀ) with the Maya infatuated mind (ਮਨ ਵਿਚ ਮਾਇਆ ਦੀ ਭੁੱਖ), and so on.

  • ਇਕਿ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਰਾਗ ਪਰੀਆ ਰਾਗਿ ਨ ਭੀਜਈ ॥: Some sing according to traditional Raag, but the Lord is not pleased by these Raag (sggs 1285).
  • ਗਾਵਹਿ ਗੀਤ ਨ ਚੀਨਹਿ ਆਪੁ ॥: You sing the songs, but you do not understand your own self (i.e., your Mool). (sggs 903).
  • ਰੋਟੀਆ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਪੂਰਹਿ ਤਾਲ ॥: For the sake of bread, they perform melodiously (sggs 465).
  • ਜਬ ਕੀ ਮਾਲਾ ਲਈ ਨਿਪੂਤੇ ਤਬ ਤੇ ਸੁਖੁ ਨ ਭਇਓ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Ever since this worthless son (i.e., mind, ਔਂਤਰਾ ਮਨ…) has taken the Maalaa (rosary), since than there has been no Sukha (Joy, ਪ੍ਰਾਪਤੀ, Gain, etc.)! ||1||Pause|| (sggs 856).

Thus, in essence, Bhagti is the way of searching within and Understanding oneself to Realize Mool within (Source, Origin, Jot, Truth, Wisdom…) through the earnest Shabad-Vichaar. In nutshell, according to the Wisdom of the SGGS, “Bhagti” in Sikhi is to die in the Shabad. As a result, one gets connected to his Mool within,  becoming the living liberated (Jeevan Mukt).

  • ਨਿਰਮਲ ਭਗਤਿ ਹੈ ਨਿਰਾਲੀ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਤਨੁ ਧੋਵਹਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰੀ ॥: Bhagti that purifies (mind…) is “Niraalee” (unique). (Through this unique Bhagti) wash the mind, and the body (i.e., senses: eyes, ears, etc.) with Shabad-Vichaar (sggs 1059).
  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਭਗਤਿ ਪਾਏ ਜਨੁ ਸੋਇ ॥੩॥: One who dies in the Shabad, obtains Bhagti ||3|| (sggs 159).
  • ਏਹਾ ਭਗਤਿ ਜਨੁ ਜੀਵਤ ਮਰੈ ॥: This is Bhagti, (by which) “Janu” (Gurmukh, Daas…) remains dead while yet alive (sggs 364).

However, for this Bhagti to be fruitful, the Gurbani says that the conditioned mind has to bathe and gets dissolved in the pool of the spiritual Knowledge (Giaan, Virtues…)!

Therefore, the real aim of Bhagti is to debug the conditioned mind and eradicate it’s “filth” or negativity (Bikaars, Durmat, crookedness, Haumai or egotism, ignorance, doubt…), and Realize the Mool (Source, Jot, Truth, Wisdom…) within by obtaining true understanding of the Gurbani’s Divine Knowledge (Aatam-Giaan…); and then persistently live it in daily life (Gurmukh Lifestyle).

  • ਮਨਿ ਮੈਲੈ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਨਾਮੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਾਇ ॥: With a filthy mind (filth of Haumai…), Bhagti cannot be performed, and the Naam cannot be obtained (sggs 39).
  • ਮਨ ਮਾਰੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥੨॥: Without killing the mind, Bhagati  does not happen ||2|| (sggs 329).

Hence, the Gurbani’s Bhagti is to live a Divine Life (Gurmukh Lifestyle) that springs from Awareness of One’s Divine Nature (Jot Saroop), Divine Virtues (ਗੁਣ), Divine Wisdom, and so on.

In essence, as the Gurbani indicates, Bhagti is essentially to become absorbed in the Naam (Aatam-Giaan, Wisdom, Spiritual Knowledge…).

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਭਗਤੀ ਨਾਮਿ ਸਮਾਇ ॥੩॥: O Nanak! Bhagti is to get absorbed in Naam ||3|| (sggs 289).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਭਗਤੀ ਜਾਗੇ ॥: United with Bhagti, the mind of the Gurmukh remains Awakened (sggs 415).

And the Naam — as the Gurbani asserts — is no other than the Giaan-Padaarath of the entire SGGS (Divine Knowledge, Wisdom, Gurmat …). Gurbani is the mirror of the mind:

  • ਤਤੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮ ॥: The Divine Wisdom is Amrit Naam (which bestows Spiritual Life). (sggs 1146).

Thus, the Gurbani emphasizes on Realizing and abiding in Brahm-Giaan (Aatam-Giaan, Wisdom, Virtues…) rather than dogmas, religious paraphernalia, or empty rituals. In nutshell (ਮੁੱਕਦੀ ਗਲ), we are asked by the Gurbani (SGGS) to see the world as the Gurbani sees it.

The Gurbani asserts that such true Bhagti is performed when one becomes permeated in Naam.

  • ਸਾਚੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਤਾ ਥੀਐ ਜਾ ਹਰਿ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Then alone the true Bhagti is performed when Hari (i.e., Mool, divine Wisdom, Virtues..) comes to dwell within the mind ||1||Rahaaou|| (sggs 35).

The Gurbani indicates that such person who has Realized this true Bhagti is very “rare”. For it’s an uphill climb with challenges that need courage to surmount them.

  • ਭਗਤਿ ਬਿਨਾ ਸਹਸਾ ਨਹ ਚੂਕੈ ਗੁਰੁ ਇਹੁ ਭੇਦੁ ਬਤਾਵੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: The Guru reveals this secret — without Bhagti, doubt does not finish ||1||Rahaaou|| (sggs 830).
  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਭਗਤਿ ਪਾਵੈ ਜਨੁ ਕੋਈ ॥੧॥: A rare “Janu” (Gurmukh, Bhagt, Daas…) obtains the “Gurmati Bhagti” (understanding of the Gur-Shabad, Naam, Hukam…) ||1|| (sggs 879).

The nature of Sansaar or a Sansaaree (world or a worldly person…) is contrary to that of the Bhagti or the Bhagat. Accordingly, the Gurbani reminds us that there can never be a “Jorr” (connection, link, bond, union, alliance, association…) between a Sansaaree (worldly person) and a Bhagat (who is engaged in the Gurmat-Bhagti)!

  • ਭਗਤਾ ਤੈ ਸੈਸਾਰੀਆ ਜੋੜੁ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥: There can never be any alliance (ਜੋੜ-Jorr) between Bhagat (Gurmukh, Daas, Jan…) and the worldly people (ਦੁਨੀਆਦਾਰ). (sggs 145).

20 comments

  1. Pyare Jio
    Charan sharan gur ek painda jai chal satgur kot painda aage hoye lait hai…
    Sach de Gyna marg val ek kadam chalna bahut okha hai(kyunki pehla da sara pareya suneya anpareya karna pavega , man-mat(sakat mat) to gurmat da dharni hona pavega) je oh kadam tusi chal leya tan tuhada mool(chit, ram, hans, suraj etc. ) tuhade mann(bagla,kiran,jot etc.) nu apne aap ji khic panda jayega ji.
    Ik aughat ghati ram ki tis chard raheya kabir…
    Je tuhade mann vich is marag te turan da furna otheya hai tan Insha Alha(Akala purak, Hukam di marji naal) tuhanu andar di taraf jaan di khic jaroor pavegi ji.
    regards
    Das Gurpreet Singh

  2. Gurufateh jee
    Thanks for quick response.
    Guru maharaj mehar karain issi bi ass marg te chaliay

  3. Hello Sir,

    The Article was great and I could relate to all except the last part— that there can be no connection between Sansaari and Bhagat.

    A Sansaari can be bhagat too, one living a life of care giver, having all the material things in life and yet deeply connected with the divine and seeing and feeling that one is one with onself ( which is higher self). If I am in love with my Divine or Lord or pure energy and in turn a good human being then how difficult can it be to seperate the two!! Isnt it about how open, progressive, humanitarian and evolved one is??

    I am just wanting a perspective !!!

  4. 1. According to the Gurbani:
    • ਸੇਵਾ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Seva sursti sabad veechaar (sggs 1343).
    2. According to the Gurbani, the Way or the Lifestyle of the Bhagat is “Niraalee” (unique, extraordinary, peculiar, excellent, lonely, distinct, ਅਦਭੁਤ, ਸੁੰਦਰ, ਭਿੰਨ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਰ ਦਾ, ਜੁਦਾ, ਏਕਾਂਤ, ਅਦੁਤੀ, ਅਜੀਬ…):
    • ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਚਾਲ ਨਿਰਾਲੀ ॥: Bhagataa kee chaal niraalee (sggs 918).
    3. According to the Gurbani, as such, there can be no “Jorr” beween the worldly persons (Manmukh, Saakat…) and the Bhagat.

    Hence, this is the Gurbani’s edict — Below is a direct quote from the Gurbani:
    • ਭਗਤਾ ਤੈ ਸੈਸਾਰੀਆ ਜੋੜੁ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥: Bhagataa tai saisaareeaa jorru kde n aaiaa (sggs 145).

  5. Sat bachan ji
    Pareya nahi bhed bhujiya pawna…
    Pare sune kya hoye jo sehaj na milya soi…
    regards
    GS

  6. Thanks Veer Ji for taking time to comment on this post.

    “may be due to paucity of space u have written Bhagti”

    Yes, these blog posts are kept short and to the point – easy to focus, read, and digest. These posts are not meant to be lengthy articles, for this blog is not the platform for such lengthy writings. Secondly, I am neither a scholar (ਵਿਦਵਾਨ) nor a professional writer, nor I want to be one.

    “Sir bhagti starts when we listened divine gurbani&recite &enjoy peace”

    What is Kirtan according to the Gurbani? The kirtan according to the Gurbani, the Kirtan is:
    ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਬਖ੍ਯ੍ਯਾਨੁ ॥: Andinu Keertanu keval bakhyaanu (sggs 281).

    “and these r not empty rituals”

    Yes, but, according to the Gurbani, it does become meaningless when (for example listening…):
    ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕਛੁ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਪਸੁ ਜਿਉ ਉਦਰੁ ਭਰਉ ॥: Gurmati suni kashu giaan n upjio pasu jiou udar bharaou (sggs 685).

    “divide time for kirat kirni& seva”

    According to the Gurbani, what is seva? Here is Gurbani:
    ਨਾਮੁ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਸੇਵ ॥੧॥: Naam hamaarai Gur kee sev ||1|| (sggs 1145).
    ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸੇਵਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜੳਏ ॥: Satgur sevaa naam drirhaae (sggs 1175).
    ਸਤਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਭਾਣਾ ਮੰਨਿ ਲਈ ਵਿਚਹੁ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਇ ॥ ਏਹਾ ਸੇਵਾ ਚਾਕਰੀ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥: Satgur kaa bhaanaa mann layee vichahu aap gavaai. Ehaa sevaa chaakree Naam vasai manni aai (sggs 34).
    ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵਨਿ ਆਪਣਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੀ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Satigur sevan aapanaa gur sabadee veechaar (sggs 1415).
    ਸੇਵਾ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਰਹਸਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ॥: (sggs 1255).
    ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸੇਵਿਆ ਸਬਦਿ ਵੀਚਾਰਾ ॥: (sggs 1049).

    Now, again, according to the Gurbani, what is Naam?
    ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਹੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੋ ਦੇਇ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇ ॥: Gur Giaanu padaarathu naamu hai hari naamo dei drirhaai (sggs 759).
    ਬੂਝਹੁ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਸਬਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: (sggs 840).

    Gurfateh Ji. Bhul Chuk Maaf

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