Bhav Saagar

The Gurbani mentions (1) Sukh Saagar (“ਸੁਖ ਸਾਗਰ”) or Sach Khand, and (2) Bhav Saagar (ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ). In this post, we will try reflecting on what’s the Bhav Saagar? Where is it located? Who is caught in it? Last but not least, how it be crossed over?

What is this Bhav Saagar (ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ)?

Bhav – ਭਵ ” = Maya, world, material existence, birth …
Saagar – ਸਾਗਰ” = sea, ocean, ਸਮੁੰਦਰ…

Hence, Bhav Saagar (ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ) = ocean of MayaMayaic consciousness, materiality, worldliness, ill-thoughts, ill-doings, bad habits, wickedness or badness (ਬੁਰਾਈ), material desires, material/worldly existence, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, attachment, etc.), dread, fear, bondage, illusion, duality, doubt, “Dubidhaa – ਦੁਬਿਧਾ”, suffering (“ਦੁਖ ਸਾਗਰੁ”), etc.

It is also mentioned by many other terms in the Gurbani. A few are quoted here: Bhavsaagaru (“ਭਵਸਾਗਰੁ”), Bhav saagru (“ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ”), Bhavsaagar (“ਭਵਸਾਗਰ”), Bhavsaagru (“ਭਵਸਾਗਰੁ”), Bhavjalu (“ਭਵਜਲੁ”), Bhaoujali (“ਭਉਜਲਿ”), Bhaoujalu (” ਭਉਜਲੁ”), Sansaar Saagar (“ਸੰਸਾਰ ਸਾਗਰ”), Saagaru Sansaare (“ਸਾਗਰੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੇ”), Bhav Dutaru (“ਭਵ ਦੁਤਰੁ”), Kali Ghor Samudr (“ਕਲਿ ਘੋਰ ਸਮੁਦ੍ਰ”), Samund (“ਸਮੁੰਦ”), Bhav Sindh (ਭਵ ਸਿੰਧ), Bhav Nidhi (ਭਵ ਨਿਧਿ), and so on.

In nutshell, whatever we see with our physical eyes is Bhav Saagar.

Since the Gurbani speaks to the mind/Aatmaa, hence, from a spiritual standpoint, Bhav Saagar (ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ) = Manmukhi Budhi, Mayaic intellect, ocean of ignorance,  Bikaaree mind (i.e., mind ridden with lust, anger, whirlpool of wandering, greed, attachment, pride…), illusioned or deluded mind, doubt-ridden mind, egotism, the gap or separation between one’s Mool (Source, Jot Saroop, Truth…), the conditioned mind (conditioned thinking—Phurne or thoughts-stuff), etc.

  • ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਬਿਖੁ ਸੋ ਪਾਰਿ ਉਤਰੀਐ ॥: Bhav Saagar is poisonous, (by realizing Mool) this world-ocean is crossed over (sggs 320).
  • ਦੁਤਰ ਅੰਧ ਬਿਖਮ ਇਹ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: This Maya is like an ocean, which is full of darkness and difficult to cross (sggs 377).
  • ਸੈਸਾਰ ਗਾਰ ਬਿਕਾਰ ਸਾਗਰ ਪਤਿਤ ਮੋਹ ਮਾਨ ਅੰਧ ॥: (O Prabhoo!) The world is a swamp of Bikaar, ocean of Bikaar. Blinded (by the Maya’s) attachment and pride, (people) remain (trapped in it). (sggs 1306).

The attempt or practice (“ਘਾਲਣਾ – Ghaalanaa“, “ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਈ – Sabadu Kamaaee“) to reunite with the Mool (Jot Saroop, True Nature…) within is crossing the so called Bhav Saagar (Maya, Jagat, world…).

  • ਹੁਕਮੁ ਬੂਝਿ ਜਨ ਭਏ ਨਿਹਾਲਾ ਇਹ ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਘਾਲਣਾ ॥੧੧॥: Realizing the Hukam (described in the Gurbani), Jan (Bhagats, Daas, Gurmukhs...) are enraptured; this is the “Ghaalanaa” of Bhagats. ||11|| sggs 1077).
  • ਜਗੁ ਕਰੜਾ ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਗਾਵਾਰੁ ॥ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਈਐ ਖਾਈਐ ਸਾਰੁ ॥: The world is hard (like iron – full of suffering…) for the foolish Manmukh; practicing the Shabad, (one) can chew this iron (i.e., iron-like tough world). (sggs 943).

Where is this Bhav Saagar located?

The Gurbani reveals to us that the Bhav Saagar (“ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ”) is within the Sukh Saagar“ਸੁਖ ਸਾਗਰ” (Sukh Saagar: a state devoid of shape-form-color-name which is beyond the three qualities of Maya, “Pooran Parmesaru”, Prabhoo, Mool-abidance, Pure Awareness, True or Pure Nature (Jot-Saroop), “Sach Khandi”, Shabad-consciousness – “ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ”…), Naam-Consciousness,

  • ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ ਸੁਖ ਸਾਗਰ ਮਾਹੀ ॥: The Bhav Saagar is within the Sukh Saagar. (sggs 323).

Understandably, the Gurbani tells us that a Wise person sees the visible or gross within the Invisible – not separate!

  • ਸੂਖਮ ਮਹਿ ਜਾਨੈ ਅਸਥੂਲੁ ॥: (A Pandit who understands the Essence) sees the visible (“Asathool-ਅਸਥੂਲ”-material, gross world or Jagat…) within the Invisible (“Sookham-ਸੂਖਮ” – subtle…). (sggs 274).

In other words, a Spiritually Wise person (the Gurmukh) sees the Bhav Saagar (ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ) in the Sukh Saagar (“ਸੁਖ ਸਾਗਰ”)!

Who is caught in Bhav Saagar?

According to the Gurbani, caught in this Bhav Saagar are the Manmukhs (mind-willed, Bikaaree, Mayadhaaree, Saakat, who do not follow the Truth-Hukam-Naam-Divine Wisdom…).

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਭਉਜਲਿ ਪਚਿ ਮੁਏ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਰੇ ਅਥਾਹੁ ॥੮॥੧੬॥: Those in material consciousness (Manmukhs) putrefy and die in the “Bhaoujali”, while those in Spiritual-consciousness (Gurmukhs) cross over this bottomless ocean. ||8||16|| (sggs 64).

As a result of not using the Gur-Giaan or Wisdom, some are already drowned in the Bhav Saagar (of Maya), some are stuck half-way

  • ਤਿਤੁ ਸਰਵਰੜੈ ਭਈਲੇ ਨਿਵਾਸਾ ਪਾਣੀ ਪਾਵਕੁ ਤਿਨਹਿ ਕੀਆ ॥ ਪੰਕਜੁ ਮੋਹ ਪਗੁ ਨਹੀ ਚਾਲੈ ਹਮ ਦੇਖਾ ਤਹ ਡੂਬੀਅਲੇ ॥੧॥: ||1||: That (world) pool, (in which people) have made their homes, there is the fire (of Maya in it, instead of) the water! In the mud of emotional attachment, (their) feet cannot move. As we see, (many Jeeva stuck in this mire of attachment) are drowning there. ||1|| (sggs 12).
  • ਭੂਡੜੈ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਿਸਾਰਿਆ ਬੂਡੜੈ ਕਿਆ ਤਿਸੁ ਚਾਰੋ ॥ ਗੁਣ ਛੋਡਿ ਬਿਖੁ ਲਦਿਆ ਅਵਗੁਣ ਕਾ ਵਣਜਾਰੋ ॥੩॥ : (Stuck in Maya) the wicked person has forgotten the Naam; he is drowning – what can he do now? Forsaking the Divine Virtues, he has loaded (gathered…) the poison (of Maya…); (thus, during his lifetime, he) trades in demerits. (sggs 580).

Who is not caught in this Bhav Saagar?

The Gurbani tells us that this Bhav Saagar is very treacherous; and very few realize this! Those who realize how treacherous this Bhav Saagar is are called Gurmukhs in the Gurbani.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਭਉਜਲੁ ਉਤਰਹੁ ਪਾਰਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: By becoming the Gurmukh, cross over the”Baoujalu”. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 229).
  • ਮਹਾ ਬਿਖਮੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਵਿਰਲੈ ਪੇਖਿਆ ॥ Rare (one) has realized how very treacherous is this ocean (of Maya…)!|(sggs 398).

How can Bhav Saagar be crossed over?

In nutshell, Baabaa Nanak tells us that the Bhav Saagar cannot be crossed over without becoming living-dead (ਜੀਊਂਦਿਆਂ ਮਰ ਜਾਣਾਂ).

  • ਕਿਨ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ॥ ਜੀਵਤਿਆ ਨਹ ਮਰੀਐ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਦੁਖੁ ਦਰਵਾਜਾ ਰੋਹੁ ਰਖਵਾਲਾ ਆਸਾ ਅੰਦੇਸਾ ਦੁਇ ਪਟ ਜੜੇ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਲੁ ਖਾਈ ਪਾਣੀ ਘਰੁ ਬਾਧਿਆ ਸਤ ਕੈ ਆਸਣਿ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਰਹੈ ॥੨॥: How can I cross over the world-ocean? While I am living, I cannot be dead (i.e., without becoming living-dead it cannot be crossed over). ||1||Pause|| The Primal Lord sits in the Seat of Truth (i.e., the Heart-House. On the outside of this Heart-House) Pain is the door, and anger (i.e., all Bikaar) is the guard; hope and worry are the two shutters. Enchantment of Maya is like the moat (dug around it, which is filled with the) water of (Bikaar, etc.); in the middle of this moat, (Man’s Hear-Home) is built. ||2|| (sggs 877).
  • ਕੈਸੇ ਮਨ ਤਰਹਿਗਾ ਰੇ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਬਿਖੈ ਕੋ ਬਨਾ ॥ ਝੂਠੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਦੇਖਿ ਕੈ ਭੂਲਾ ਰੇ ਮਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: O my mind! How will you cross over the world-ocean (of Maya…) filled with the water of poison (Bikaar, Haumai, doubt, worry, suffering, desires, etc.)? O my mind! Beholding the false Maya, you have gone astray ||1||Pause|| (sggs 486).

In nutshell, Baabaa Nanak teaches us becoming dead from or free of false ego-sense or Haumai, Bikaar, worry, doubt, Maya’s hunger, worldly suffering or Dukh…), while alive, not after death of the physical body (ਜੀਊਂਦਿਆਂ ਮਰਨਾਂ )!

In “Sidh Gosti” (sggs 938), Sidhas asked Baabaa Nanak as to how one crosses the Bhav Saagar?

  • ਦੁਨੀਆ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਦੁਤਰੁ ਕਹੀਐ ਕਿਉ ਕਰਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਪਾਰੋ ॥ ਚਰਪਟੁ ਬੋਲੈ ਅਉਧੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਹੁ ਸਚਾ ਬੀਚਾਰੋ ॥: Says Charpat (Yogi)! The world-ocean is difficult to cross over. O Nanak! Think it over, and tell how can it be crossed over? (sggs 938).

Shabad-Consciousness (Shabad-Memory, Shabad-Recollection…), replied Baabaa Nanak:

  • ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਮੁਰਗਾਈ ਨੈ ਸਾਣੇ ॥ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੇ ॥: The lotus flower floats untouched upon the surface of the water, and the duck swims through the stream (i.e., without getting feathers wet); (similarly) O Nanak! With consciousness focused on the Shabad, one crosses over the terrifying world-ocean (of Maya). (sggs 938).

Although a man fallen in the ocean may be very expert swimmer and may struggle very hard to save himself from drowning. However, if someone comes and picks him up from the water, then he is easily rescued!

Similarly, Baabaa Nanak says that the Gur-Shabad (Spiritual Knowledge of the Gur-Shabad, Upadesh…) picks up the struggling Jeev (individual beings) from this world-ocean of Maya or material existence (Bhav Saagar) and rescue him from deception.

  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਜੀਵਤੁ ਮਰੈ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਭਵਜਲੁ ਤਰਣਾ ॥੨॥: Through the Gur-Shabad, the Gurmukh remains dead while yet alive, and swims across the world-ocean (of Maya…). ||2|| (sggs 69).

In other words, dying in the Gur-Shabad is must. In other words, death of one’s Haumai, Bikaar, Maya’s hunger, etc, through the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad or Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS…) is must.


  1. I have nothing to comment. Whatever is said here is true, true and true.

  2. In my understanding Bhav -Sagar is the reference for OCEAN OF THOUGHTS which exist under the influence of Maya and or Trinity. It is formidable because these thoughts are highly polluted and to cross this formidable OCEAN of THOUGHTS one is required to catch a boat of NAAMu then only one can cross over and get into the domain of the Ultimate Lords Feet (Charan Kamal)

  3. Thank you Veer Gurjeet Singh Ji for additional support.

    Thank you for sharing. As about quotations, the Gurbani is full of many more related verses and synonyms, but all could not be given in the post from a space point of view.

  4. Thanks veer jee for sharing your thoughts and a job well done. Writing after researching takes time, effort and of course passion for gurbani.

  5. There are some more synonyms for Bhav -Sagar in Gurbani namely:
    ਭਵ ਸਿੰਧ
    ਭਵ ਨਿਧਿ

    It seems that the word Bhav comes from Bhawar (Whirlpool)

    ਭਵਰ = ਘੁੰਮਣਘੇਰੀ (Whirlpool)

    ਤੁਝ ਤੇ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਕਿਛੁ ਨਹੀ ਭਵ ਕਾਟਨਹਾਰੇ ॥
    There is none other than You, O Lord, Destroyer of Re-incarnations

    ਜੇਤੇ ਥਾਨ ਥਨੰਤਰਾ ਤੇਤੇ ਭਵਿ ਆਇਆ ॥
    The sentient soul have wandered through all incarnations.

  6. Thanks , Gurjit Singh Ji for providing informative and lahewand knowledge of Gurbani

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