Bhav Saagar

The Gurmat Wisdom of the Sri Guru Grant Sahib (SGGS) teaches us about (1) the Sukh Saagar (‘ਸੁਖ ਸਾਗਰ’), and about (2) the Bhav Saagar (ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ). This post will attempt (through the Gurbani) to Reflect on the the Bhav Saagar:

  1. What’s ‘Bhav Saagar’?
  2. Where is it located?
  3. Who is caught in it?
  4. Who is not caught in it?
  5. Last but not least, how to get across it?

What is ‘Bhav Saagar’?

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

Hence, ‘Bhav Saagar’ (ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰ) = ocean of MayaMayaic mind or 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, mental traps or 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: Bhavjal(u) (‘ਭਵਜਲੁ’), Bhaoujali (‘ਭਉਜਲਿ’), Bhaoujal(u) (‘ਭਉਜਲੁ’), Sansaar Saagar (‘ਸੰਸਾਰ ਸਾਗਰ’), Saagar(u) Sansaare (‘ਸਾਗਰੁ ਸੰਸਾਰੇ’), Bhav Dutar(u) (‘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 at the level of the mind, 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.

  • ਦੁਤਰ ਅੰਧ ਬਿਖਮ ਇਹ ਮਾਇਆ ॥: This Maya (as if it is 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 (i.e., lust, anger greed, etc.), ocean of Bikaar. Blinded (by the Maya’s) attachment and pride, (people) remain (trapped in it). (sggs 1306).
  • ਸਾਗਰ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਭਵ ਉਤਾਰ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਿਮਰਤ ਬਹੁ ਤਰੇ ॥: This world is Bhav Saagar; by remembering the Naam many people are crossing (this Bhav Saagar). (sggs 377).

Where is Bhav Saagar located?

The Gurbani reveals that the Bhav Saagar is within the Sukh Saagar:

  • 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!

  • 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 (called Gurmukh in the Gurbani) sees the Bhav Saagar in the Sukh Saagar.

Who is caught in Bhav Saagar?

According to the Gurbani, caught in this Bhav Saagar are the Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree.

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਭਉਜਲਿ ਪਚਿ ਮੁਏ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਰੇ ਅਥਾਹੁ ॥੮॥੧੬॥: Manmukhs putrefy and die in the ‘Bhaoujali’ (Spiritual death), while Gurmukhs cross over this unfathomable 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 Virtues, he has loaded (gathered…) the poison (of Maya…); (thus, during his lifetime, he) trades in demerits. (sggs 580).

Who is not caught in 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?

  • 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…) which is filled with the water of poison (i.e., Bikaar)?  O my mind! Beholding the false Maya, you have gone astray ||1||Pause|| (sggs 486).

In nutshell, the Gurmat Wisdom of the SGGS tells us Bhav Saagar cannot be crossed over without becoming living-dead (the Gurmukh Lifestyle…) through the Gurmat Giaan or Wisdom.

  • ਕਵਨ ਸੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਜਿਤੁ ਭਵਜਲ ਤਰਉ ॥੨॥ : How can I cross over the BhavJal (Bhav Saagar, ocean of Maya…). ||2|| (sggs 187).
  • ਕਿਨ ਬਿਧਿ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ॥ ਜੀਵਤਿਆ ਨਹ ਮਰੀਐ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: 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|| (sggs 877).

In ‘Sidh Gosti‘ (sggs 938), Baabaa Nanak was asked by Sidhas as to how one can cross ‘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).

Baabaa Nanak replied as follows:

  • ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਮੁਰਗਾਈ ਨੈ ਸਾਣੇ ॥ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੇ ॥: The lotus flower in water remains untouched by the water, and feathers of the duck in water do not get wet (similarly, don’t let your mind get wet or tainted in the world-play – remain detached in it). O Nanak! With the mind fixed on the Shabad (Wisdom, Upadesh, Virtues, Naam, Hukam…), one gets across ‘Bhav Saagar‘ (the world-ocean of Maya). (sggs 938).
  • ਸਬਦਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਭਵਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ਇਤ ਉਤ ਏਕੋ ਜਾਣੈ ॥: Bhav Saagar is crossed over through the Guru‘s Shabad (Wisdom, Upadesh, Virtues, Naam, Hukam…). (He who has crossed over) recognizes one Rabb pervading everywhere. (sggs 944).

Although a man fallen in the ocean may be a 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 theWisdom of the Gur-Shabad picks up the struggling Jeev (individual beings) from this world-ocean of Maya (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).
  • ਰਮਈਆ ਜਪਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਅਨਤ ਜੀਵਣ ਬਾਣੀ ਇਨ ਬਿਧਿ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰਣਾ ॥੨॥: O mortal! Understand Rabb through the Bani which bestows steady life; in this way the world-ocean is crossed. ||2|| (sggs 92).
  • ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਚੜਿ ਉਤਰਹਿ ਪਾਰਿ ॥੨॥: By boarding (at the ship of the Divine Virtues and Wisdom, you will) cross over the world-ocean. ||2|| (sggs 196).

In short, dying in the Gur-Shabad (Naam, Wisdom, Virtues, Upadesh, Hukam, etc.) is must.

  • ਗੁਰ ਚਰਨੀ ਲਾਗਿ ਤਰਿਓ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਾ ॥੪॥੨੬॥੯੦॥: O Nanak! By understanding the Naam, follow the footsteps of the Guru and (thus) cross over the world-ocean. ||4||26||90|| (sggs 630).

In other words, death of one’s false ego-sense or Haumai, Bikaar, Maya’s hunger etc, through the Wisdom of the Gur-Shabad is must.

Hence, the attempt or practice (‘ਘਾਲਣਾ – Ghaalanaa‘, ‘ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਈ – Sabadu Kamaaee‘ or Shabad-Vichaar) to reunite with one’s Mool (True Nature or Jot Saroop …) within is to cross this Bhav Saagar (Maya, Jagat, world…).

  • ਹੁਕਮੁ ਬੂਝਿ ਜਨ ਭਏ ਨਿਹਾਲਾ ਇਹ ਭਗਤਾ ਕੀ ਘਾਲਣਾ ॥੧੧॥: Realizing the Hukam (System-Rule-Law of Nature), 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).


  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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