Guru Granth Sahib | Sikh Scriptures


Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Scriptures of Sikh Religion is unique in many ways:

It is the only religious scripture that enjoys the distinction of being compiled and edited by the Prophet of Sikh religion, the fifth Master, Guru Arjan Dev himself.

It contains the compositions of holy men drawn from all parts of India, belonging to different faiths, speaking different languages, following divergent cultural traditions, placed in many caste categories - both high and low, existing in different periods of time but united only by the divine nature of the message contained.

Guru Granth Sahib is the only holy scripture that has been bestowed Guruship by the Prophet to replace the Guru in human form. It has been providing necessary spiritual guidance to the millions of Sikh devotees since then and being worshipped as Śabad Guru.


1. Intro | 2. The Holy Scripture| 3. Uniqueness | 4. Editorial Pattern | 5. Why Edited? |
6. Sequence of Bani | 7. Sequence of Ragas | 8. Sequence of Poetic Forms |
9. Total Contributors | 10. Sequence of Contributors |
11. Guru Sāhibān | 12. Bhagat Bani | 13. Composition of the Bhats |
14. Other Contributors |

The Holy Scripture

The existence of a religious denomination is not possible without Scripture.

These scriptures are to show the path to the followers to act according to the principles of faith as laid down by their Prophets, Gurus, Saints and Holy men.

Taking the refuge of these scriptures, the followers have been able to adhere to the traditions of their faith even after centuries.

Using those prophetic dictates for the welfare of the society, they not only attract other people towards their faith but also are in a position to convince them to adopt the same.

It is because of these scriptures that we find religion in every nook and corner of the world and the presence of every culture is made available to us.

It is therefore clear that Holy Scripture is the central-pivot of the religion; it is the life and blood of the religious thought.

It would not be an exaggeration to state that the existence of religion cannot be thought of without scriptures and the fear of effacement into oblivion is always looming large without these. That is why scripture is considered so central and essential for the religion.

Scholars say that scriptures are like springs of fresh and cool water for travellers who are tired and thirsty due to long and arduous journey in the deserts.

The holy scriptures are compared with the dense shade provided by green trees in the sandy dunes. It is therefore clear that the relationship of religion and scripture is that of soul and body.


The Holy Bible, Holy Quran, Sacred Vedas, Jain Angas, Buddha Tripitaka and Śrī Guru Granth Sahib are the famous scriptures of the world which not only gave expression to the principles of their own faith but also helped in creating great nationalities.

If we look at the history’ of the creation of the above mentioned scriptures, the glimpses of the unique distinction of Guru Granth Sahib manifest prominently, because:

1. In the annals of the world religions, this is the only scripture which has been accepted as Guru.

2. This is the only scripture which is compiled by one of the Prophets himself and consequently this scripture has been accepted without any ifs, buts and doubts whatsoever.

3. In this scripture, the life sketches of the Prophets have not been presented as miracles.

4. The thought process and philosophy presented here, while opening the doors of human salvation creates a picture of a person who treats the emancipation of humanity, life dedication to the Lord and the ultimate death as the same for him.

5. This scripture has the 500 year long history of India (12th to 17th Century A.D.) preserved in its contents.

Editorial Pattern

The task of editing Guru Granth Sahib was carried out by the 5th Master, Guru Arjan Dev himself. The work of editing this Guru Granth Sahib started in 1599 A.D.

For this purpose, the enchanting and captivating surrounds of Rāmsar, having a close proximity to Amritsar were chosen.

Bhai Gurdas got the honour of scribing this Granth and the great work was completed in 1604 A.D. It was first installed in Harimandar Sahib and Baba Budha ji was appointed its first Granthi.

The first Hukam-ma (divine dictate) that appeared was as under:

Soohee, Fifth Mehl:

The Lord Himself has stood up to resolve the affairs of the Saints;
He has come to complete their tasks.
The land is beautiful, and the pool is beautiful; within it is contained the Ambrosial Water.
The Ambrosial Water is filling it, and my job is perfectly complete; all my desires are fulfilled.
Congratulations are pouring in from all over the world; all my sorrows are eliminated.
The Vedas and the Purāṇas sing the Praises of the Perfect, Unchanging, Imperishable Primal Lord.
The Transcendent Lord has kept His promise, and confirmed His nature; Nanak meditates on the Nām, the Name of the Lord. ||1||

(G.G.S. pg. 783)

Inter Faith Dialogue

At the time of the advent of Sikh religion, there were two main religions in India - Hinduism and Islam. Both the religions hated each other. For Hindu faith, Islam was barbarity and for Muslims, Hindu religion was paganism.

This hatred was so deep rooted that any follower of Hindu faith who crossed Hindu Kush mountain was treated as a serious defaulter and the punishment was his removal from the faith for all times to come.

The problem with Hinduism was that the Hindus not only hated the Muslims but had also divided its own society on unethical basis that their faith in being human had also been shattered badly creating perpetual divisions in the society; thus paving the way for the subjugation of the country.

On the other side, Islam was the religion of the ruling class, as a result, they not only considered their religion as the best but also themselves:

It was in their mind that either the Hindu society should embrace Islam or should agree to stay and live the life as second rate citizens.

The consequence turned out to be mutual hatred only. At the level of practice, there was not even a trace of religiousness among the preachers of both the religions.

If one has to express this situation in very simple words, it can be said that the entry of Gītā in the mosque was paganism and the presence of Quran in the temple was barbarism.

The spirit of sitting together was totally absent.

Guru Arjan Sahib wanted to bridge the gaps so created among the followers of various religions in the world and aimed at converting the principle of “all to be brought together” into real practice by establishing Guru Granth Sahib.

Sikh religion was not a reformist movement that the founder of the faith, Guru Nanak would come, remove the distortions in the contemporary religions and depart:

Guru Nanak while rejecting the principles of traditional religious faiths laid down the base of such principles which while totally smashing the principles of exploiting humanity, also showed new paths leading to the creation of new man, new society and new nation.

This fact is revealed by Gurbani itself, Guru says:

Besides this, the following five basic elements are a pre-requisite for any religion:

1. Prophet
2. Script
3. Culture
4. Scripture
5. Form

Sikh religion had its own ten Prophets (Guru Sāhibāns) and the founder of Sikh faith was Guru Nanak.

There was their own script known as Gurmukhi which was used for writing Gurbani and Gurmat literature.

Their own culture based on Sikh principles had also taken shape.

Now what was required was their own Scripture so that Sikh religion could be established forever.

A distinct form was bound to be there based on that scripture which manifested itself in the form of the man adorning the five Ka-kārs, after the creation of Khalsa.

Sequence of Bani

The Ādi Granth edited by Guru Arjan Dev ji, whose printed version in the current form comes to 1430 pages, can be divided into 3 sections -

1. Pages 1 - 13 comprises the Bani of Nitnem i.e. ‘Japu’ which is without Rāga and 'So daru’ & 'Sohila’ whose Śabads are in the rāgas.

2. Pages 14 - 1352 is strictly based on musicology and comprise a large section of Guru Granth Sahib:

Guru Arjan Dev ji has divided this section into 30 rāgas and afterwards, Guru Gobind Singh ji included the Bani of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, finally adding the rāga Jaijāvantī; thus making a total of 31 Rāgas.

3. Page 1353 - 1430 includes:

- Salok Sahaskritī Mahalā 1 and 5,
- Salok Bhagat Kabīr and Farid ji,
- Sawaīe Śrī Mukhbāk Mahalā 5,
- Bani of Bhats,
- Salok Vārā te Vadhīk,
- Salok Mahalā 9 and
- Mundāvaṇī Mahalā 5.

The text of Guru Granth Sahib ends here.

In the starting saloka of Mundāvaṇī, Guru Granth Sahib has been portrayed as such a dinner plate in which many types of food has been presented:

These preparations are the main basis of the consciousness of the contented life. By this, man has to attain the spiritual heights.

After this, very humbly Akal Purakh has been thanked with whose grace this task could be completed. Rāga-mala is mentioned in the end of Guru Granth Sahib.

Sequence of Rāgas

Rāga is the foundation of music and Guru Sahib was well acquainted with the importance of music. Music tops the list of all fine arts as it takes the person into a state of bliss (bismād).

The effect of music is such that steps of travellers come to a halt by themselves, birds stop swinging their feathers; as we blow that Śabad of Guru Nanak and Rabāb of Mardānā was always together.

Apart from this, the music relates with the mental state of man:

As the feelings or the mental state changes, so do the time of singing the Rāgas. That is why Rāgas have been accorded very high importance in Guru Granth Sahib.

The sequence of Rāgas included in Guru Granth Sahib is this: -

Rāga | Time of singing

1. Sirī rāgu Last quarter or at noon
2. Mājh First quarter of night
3. Gaurī First quarter of night
4. Āsā In the morning
5. Gūjarī Second quarter of the day
6. Deva Gānd Second quarter of the day
7. Bihāgarā At mid-night
8. Vadahansu At mid-day or second quarter of the night
9. Sorathi Second quarter of the night
10. Dhanāsarī Third quarter of the day
11. Jaitasarī At fourth quarter
12. Todī Second quarter of the day
13. Bairārī Second quarter and in the evening
14. Tilang Third quarter of the day
15. Sūhī Two hours after sun rise
16. Bilāval First quarter of the morning
17. Gond Second quarter of the day
18. Rāmakalī From sun rise to first quarter of the day
19. Nat Nārāin Second quarter of the night
20. Mālī Gaurā Third quarter of the day
21. Mārū Third quarter of the day
22. Tukhārī In the evening
23. Kedārā First quarter of the night
24. Bhairau Early morning
25. Basantu First quarter of the day and in spring season
26. Sārang Any time
27. Malār Third quarter of the night
28. Kānarā Second quarter of the night
29. Kaliān First quarter of the night
30. Prabhātī First quarter of the day
31. Jaijāvantī Second quarter of the night

Sequence of Poetic Forms

After the sequence of the contributors and Rāgas, Guru Arjan Dev ji has used various forms of poetic compositions in a marvellous way.

Before the start of Bani in any Rāga, Mūla-mantra (basic sermon) has been given which is called the Mangalācharan (invocation).

Mūla-mantra has been given before the start of the very first Bani Japu in Guru Granth Sahib. It has appeared in Guru Granth Sahib in various forms as follows: -

Ik Ongkār Satnām Kartā Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akāl Mūrat Ajūni Saibhang Gur Prasād,

Ik Ongkār Satnām Kartā Purakh Gur Prasād,

Ik Ongkār Satnām Gur Prasād and Ik Ongkār Satgur Prasād.

After this the whole Bani has been given a unique sequence in the form of

śabad, aṣṭapadī, solahe, chhant, vār and salokas.

Guru Arjan Sahib has included the related salokas with the paurī (stanza) of every vār.

The salokas which were left alone, were collected at one place under the heading ‘Salok Vārā te Vadhīk.

Besides this, the use of dupade, tipade, chaupade etc. and in the end large Banis such as Bārah Māha, Bāvan Akharī, Siddh Gosti, Sukhmanī, Oankār, Thītī, Patī etc. has been included.

Guru Sahib has used the word ‘Rahāo’ in the Bani which literally means halt and contains the central idea of the Śabad.

Besides this, the counting of Bani has been done with the use of numerals. With this mathematical sequence, a stamp has been put on the Guru Bani; thus keeping it in the pure form. In this way, no Śabad can be deleted or added.

Going through the editorial scheme of Guru Granth Sahib, one becomes aware of the fact that the editor, Guru Arjan Dev ji was very conscious about the purity and authenticity of the Ādi Granth.

Total Contributors

Guru Arjan Sahib wanted to edit such a scripture which could establish itself globally by breaking the national and international barriers:

That is why, apart from including the bani of Guru Sahibs, Hindu Bhagats and Muslim pir-fakirs were also given due recognition by including their Bani in Guru Granth Sahib.

This Holy Scripture contains words of many languages but their interpretation has been done in Gurmukhi script.

This Holy Scripture contains Bani of:

- 6 Guru Sāhibāns
- 15 Bhagats
- 11 Bhats
- 4 Gur-sikhs

Thus, making a total of 36 contributors.

It is the only scripture of the world which not only includes persons from different religions but from different cultures, languages and castes also; thus taking the dignity of man to the highest peak.

The only pre-requisite for inclusion of Bani in this Holy Scripture is the concept given by Guru Nanak and not the superiority of caste or class.

That is why, a contributor of Bani, Bhagat Ravidas belongs to the cobbler class while the other contributor, Bhagat Rāmānanda is a Brahmin. The house of Guru negates the superiority by birth and accepts the superiority of the intellect.

Guru Gobind Singh ji recited the whole Bani at Talwandi Sabo and got it in written form by Bhai Mani Singh ji.

At the time of jotī-jot (demise), Guru Sahib gave it the honour of being the Guru of the Khalsa in 1708 A.D. at Nānder, Maharashtra, India.

Sequence of Contributors

The contributors of the Bani have been placed in a particular sequence in Guru Granth Sahib -

1. First, the Bani of Guru Sāhibān in successive order.
2. Then, the Bani of Bhagats.
3. Bani of the Bhats.
4. Composition of other contributors.

Guru Sāhibān

The Bani of Guru Sāhibān (Institution) has been included under the stamp of ‘Nanak’. But to differentiate and indicate that the Bani is of which Guru, the word ‘Mahalā’ has been used.

For example, Mahalā 1 is written in front of Bani of Guru Nanak Dev ji, Mahalā 5 in front of Bani of Guru Arjan Dev ji etc.

Guru Granth Sahib includes the Bani of first five successive Gurus and the ninth Guru. (Tenth form of Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh ji included the Bani of the ninth Guru at a later stage.)

Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Birth Date: 1469 A.D.
Birth Place: Rāe Bhoi dī Talavandī (now Nankana Sahib, Pakistan)
Father: Mehtā Kālū ji
Mother: Tripatā Devī ji
Sister: Bībī Nānakī
Wife: Mata Sulakhani ji
Sons: Baba Srī Chand and Baba Lakhamī Dās
Realization: 1499 A.D., Veīn river, Sultanpur Lodhi
First Proclamation: “There is no Hindu and no Muslim”
Pilgrimage: 4 - towards North, East, South & West
1st Travel: Towards Hindu religious centres
2nd Travel: Towards Buddhist religious places
3d Travel: Towards the places of Yogis and Nāthas
4th Travel: Towards Muslim religious centres
Time-period in Pilgrimage: 22 years

Objective of the Travels:

To have dialogue with other religious practices
“For the benefit of One and All.”

Bani: 974 hymns in 19 ragas

Special Contribution

- Establishment of Paṇgat and Saṇgat
- Choosing the leaders from the Saṇgat
- Collecting Bani and giving it the shape of a Pothī
- New concept of keeping the Guru’s tradition moving.

Jotī-jot: 1539 A.D., Kartārpur (Pakistan)

As long as we are in this world, O Nanak,
we should listen, and speak of the Lord.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 661) 

Guru Angad Dev Ji

Birth Date: 1504 A.D.
Birth Place: Matte di Sarā, Distt. Firozpur, Punjab
Father: Baba Pheru Mall ji
Mother: Bebe Dayā Kaur ji
Wife: Mata Khivi ji
Sons: Baba Dātū ji and Baba Dāsū ji
Daughters: Bibi Anokhī ji and Bibi Amro ji
Meeting with Guru Nanak Dev Ji: 1531 A.D., at Kartarpur
Guruship: 1539 A.D., Kartarpur
Preaching centre: Khadur Sahib, Punjab
Bani: 63 salokas

Special Contribution:

- Ratification of Gurmukhi script
- Started the tradition of Janam Sakhīs
- Gave due recognition to the status of women by appointing Mata Khivi as head of the Langar.
- Preservation of Bani
- Established schools to encourage academic and physical education

Jotī-jot: 1552 A.D., Khadur Sahib, Punjab

Die before the one whom you love;
to live after he dies is to live a worthless life in this world.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 83)

Guru Amar Das Ji

Birth Date: 1479 A.D.
Birth Place: Village Bāsarke, Amritsar, Punjab
Father: Baba Tej Bhān ji
Mother: Mata Sulakhaṇī ji
Wife: Bibi Mansa Devi ji
Sons: Baba Mohan ji and Baba Mohri ji
Daughters: Bibi Dānī ji and Bibi Bhānī ji
Guruship: 1552 A.D., Khadur Sahib
Preaching centre: Goindwal, Punjab
Bani: 869 hymns in 17 ragas

Special Contribution:

- Rejected the tradition of untouchability by constructing Bāulī in Goindwal

- Establishment of 22 Manjīs as preaching centres

- Establishment of 52 Pīrīs as sub-centres

- Started the tradition of meeting the Guru after partaking Langar

- Opposed the rituals of Sati (self- immolating widow) and Pardā (veil)

- Got abolished Jazīā - a tax imposed upon non-Muslims by Emperor

- Preserved Bani, got prepared Pothīs through his grandson Sahansar Rām in which the Bani of the Bhagats were also collected along with Gurus Bani.

Jotī-Jot: 1574 A.D., Goindwal, Punjab.

The world is going up in flames – shower it with your mercy, and save it!
Save it and deliver it by whatever way it takes!

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 853)

Guru Rām Dās jī

Birth Date: 1534 A.D.
Birth Place: Chūnā Mandī, Lahore (Pakistan)
Father: Baba Hari Das ji
Mother: Bebe Dayā Kaur ji
Wife: Bibi Bhānī jī
Sons: Baba Prithī Chand ji, Baba Maha Dev and (Guru) Arjan Dev ji
Guruship: 1574 A.D., Khadūr Sāhib
Preaching centre: Guru kā Chakk (Amritsar)
Bani: 638 hymns in 30 ragas

Special Contribution:

- Founded the city of Amritsar (Guru kā Chakk)

- Excavation of two sarovars - Santokhsar and Amritsar

- Established the Masand system

- Started the system of preparing hand-written Gutkās

- Pointed towards a major change through the Bani of ‘Lava’

Jotī-jot: 1581 A.D., Goindwal, Punjab

I am blind, totally blind, entangled in corruption and poison.
How can I walk on the Guru's path?
If the true Guru, the giver of peace, shows his kindness,
he attaches us to the hem of his robe.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 667)

Guru Arjan Dev Ji

Birth Date: 1563 A.D.
Birth Place: Goindwal, Distt. Amritsar, Punjab
Father: Guru Rām Das ji
Mother: Bibi Bhānī ji
Wife: Mata Gangā ji
Sons: (Guru) Hargobind ji
Guruship: 1581 A.D., Goindwāl
Preaching centre: Amritsar
Bani: 2312 hymns in 30 ragas

Special Contribution:

- Constructed Harimandar Sahib with four entrances amidst Amritsar sarovar

- Established the sarovar and city of Taran Tāran where a leprosy home was built to serve the lepers

- Founded the city of Hargobindpur on the banks of river Biās

- Constructed a Bāolī in Lahore

- Started the system of Dasvandh (tithe)

- Permanent stamp on the Sikh nationality by compiling Ādi Granth

- First martyr of Sikh religion

Jotī-jot: 1606 A.D., Lahore (Pakistan)

Guru Tegh Bahadur Jī

Birth Date: 1621 A.D.
Birth Place: Guru ke Mahāl, Amritsar
Father: Guru Hargobind ji
Mother: Mata Nānakī ji
Wife: Mata Gūjarī jī
Sons: (Guru) Gobind Rai (Singh) ji
Guruship: 1665 A.D., Bakālā
Preaching centre: Anandpur Sahib
Bani: 115 hymns in 15 ragas

Special Contribution:

- Undertook travels for the propagation of Sikhism
- Founded the city of Anandpur and Guru ke Lahore
- Unique sacrifice for the ‘Right to freedom of religion’
- Three Sikhs also sacrificed their lives along with him

Jotī-jot: 1675 A.D., Delhi

One who does not frighten anyone, and who is not afraid of anyone else
- says Nanak, listen, mind: call him spiritually wise.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1427)

Bhagat Bani

The word ‘Bhagat’ is believed to be related to Sanskrit root ‘bhaj’. ‘Bhaj’ means to recite, worship, service, meditate and share.

If one has to state in simple terms, then it can be said that Bhagat is one who through the remembrance (simran) of Almighty, finds the glimpses of the form of Creator in the whole creation, serves him and share his bounties.

Besides this, the word Bhagat can be understood by segregating the letters contained in it, as for example,

- the letter bh has been taken to be related to bhau i.e. love,
- the letter g with knowledge and
- letter t with sacrifice.

This has been accepted that the person, who is endowed with these three qualities, is in reality a Bhagat.

Glimpses of Bhakti movement can be seen in the ancient Vedic literature:

The Vedic believers were very simple persons and their devotion was limited only to worshipping of gods or to propitiate their ancestors by offering sacrifices.

Being afraid of natural calamities and to be safe from their fury, these people used to worship them so that they could be recipient of their benevolence.

As the time passed, all this became very complicated and was converted into rituals, while segregating the common masses.

To oppose all this, Jain and Buddhist religion appeared. Over a period of time, these also got divided into many sects and differences also appeared in their principles for attaining supreme bliss.

In the present age, the start of Bhakti movement is believed to be in the beginning of the tenth century from south India:

Here, whichever Bhagats appeared, they were very simple in nature. The only aim of their life was to sing songs in the praises of the supreme power. They started to be known as Āḻvārs.

Āḻvār word was related to Tamil language and was used for that person who had taken dips in the divine tank, one who has become a soul totally immersed with the divine knowledge.

The functions of Āḻvār saints were taken over by Rāmānuja. Without doubt, these saints raised their voices against the ritualistic system, but still they had full faith in the caste system.

In north India, the real impetus to Bhakti movement was received in the time of Rāmānanda ji who was fifth in line after Rāmānuja. In reality, he propagated the concept of one God and raised his voice against the rituals.

Rāmānanda had 12 main followers, among which were Bhagat Kabīr, Ravidas, Dhannā, Pīpā and Saiṇ whose compositions are included in Guru Granth Sahib.

To identify the composition of Bhagats, Bhats and other contributors, the name of the holy person has been mentioned along with their Bani in Guru Granth Sahib.

Bhagat Kabīr Ji

Born: 1398 A.D.
Place: Benares, Uttar Pradesh
Father: Nīrū jī
Mother: Nīmā jī
Wife: Mai Lot jī
Caste: Julāhā (weaver)
Initiation: From Bhagat Rāmānanda jī
Bani: Total 532 in 16 ragas

Main Achievements:

- Promoted workmanship and hard labour
- Opposed the priest class
- Opposed icon worship
- Negated caste system

Demise: 1495 A.D.

If you are indeed a Brahman, born of a Brahman mother,
then why didn't you come by some other way?

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 324)

Bhagat Nām Dev Jī

Born: 1270 A.D.
Place: Village Narsī Bāmṇī, Distt. Satārā, Mahārāshtra
Father: Dam Setī jī
Mother: Gonā Bāī jī
Wife: Rājāī jī
Caste: Chhīmbā (calico printer)
Bani: Total 61 in 18 ragas
Demise: 1350 A.D., village Ghūmāṇ, Gurdaspur, Punjab

Main Achievements:

- Worship of one God
- Negated the caste system
- Opposed religious factionalism

Bhagat Ravidas Jī

Born: 1450 A.D.
Place: Benares, Uttar Pradesh
Father: Raghū Rāi jī
Mother: Karmā Devī ji
Wife: Rājāī jī
Caste: Chamār (cobbler)
Bani: Total 40 in 16 ragas
Demise: 1520 A.D.

Main Achievements:

- Worship of Formless (Nirguṇa) from icon worship (Saguṇa)
- Negated caste system and opposed icon worship

Love of this world is like the pale, temporary colour of the safflower. The colour of my Lord's love, however, is permanent, like the dye of the madder plant. So says Ravi Das, the tanner.

W (S.G.G.S. pg.: 346)

Bhagat Rāmānanda Ji

Born: 1366 A.D.
Place: Prayāga, Uttar Pradesh
Father: Bhūri Karam jī
Mother: Shasīlā jī
Caste: Brahman
Initiation: From Swami Rāghavāchārya
Bani: 1 hymn in rāga Basantu

I am a sacrifice to you, O my true Guru.
You have cut through all my confusion and doubt.
Rāmānanda's Master is the all-pervading God.
The word of the Guru's Śabad eradicates the karma of millions of past actions.

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 1195) 

Bhagat Jai Dev Ji

Born: 1201 A.D.
Place: Village Kendlī, Distt. Bir Bhūmi, Bengal
Father: Bhoj Dev jī
Mother: Bām Devi jī
Caste: Brahman
Bani: 2 hymns in 2 ragas
Demise: 1245 A.D.

Main Achievements:

- Composed the Granth ‘Gītā Govinda
- From icon worship to the worship Formless

Dwell only upon the beauteous Name of the Lord,
the embodiment of ambrosial nectar and reality.
Remembering him in meditation,
the fear of birth, old age and death will not trouble you.

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 526) 

Bhagat Trilochan Ji

Born: 1267 A.D.
Place: Village Bārsī, Sholāpur, Maharashtra
Bani: 4 hymns in 3 ragas

Main Achievements:

- Adopted the worship of Formless in place of icon worship
- Emphasized on discarding worldly rituals

At the very last moment, one who thinks of the Lord, and dies in such thoughts, says Trilochan, that man shall be liberated; the Lord shall abide in his heart.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 526) 

Bhagat Dhannā Ji

Born: 1415 A.D.
Place: Dhuān Nagar, Distt. Tāṇk, Rājasthān
Caste: Jaṭṭ (agriculturist tribe)
Initiation: From Bhagat Rāmānanda jī
Bani: 3 hymns in 2 ragas

Main Achievements:

- Worship of One God
- Unique concepts of worship
- Promoted workmanship and hard labour

O Lord of the world, this is your lamp-lit worship service.
You are the Arranger of the affairs of those humble beings
who perform your devotional worship service.

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 695)

Bhagat Saiṇ Ji

Born: 1390 A.D.
Place: Bāndhavgarh, Rīvā, Madhya Pradesh
Caste: Nāī (barber)
Initiation: From Swami Vallabhācārya
Bani: 1 hymn in raga Dhanāsarī
Demise: 1440 A.D.

Main Achievements:

- Negated caste system
- Perception of the Formless Akal Purakh
- Disbelief in icon worship

The Lord of the world, of wondrous form,
has carried me across the terrifying world-ocean.
Says Saiṇ, remember the Lord, the embodiment of supreme joy!

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 695)

Bhagat Pīpā Ji

Born: 1426 A.D.
Place: Gagaroun Garh, Rājasthān
Wife: Sītā jī
Caste: Rājpūt
Initiation: From Bhagat Rāmānanda jī
Bani: 1 hymn in raga Dhanāsarī

Main Achievements:

- Became sadhu (hermit) after discarding the royal throne
- Dedicated to the concept of unity of God
- Established a monastery in Dwārkā

The one who pervades the universe also dwells in the body;
whoever seeks him, finds him there.
Pīpā prays, the Lord is the supreme essence;
He reveals himself through the true Guru.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 695)

Bhagat Bhikhan Ji

Born: 1480 A.D.
Place: Village Kakori, Lakhnau, Uttar Pradesh
Religion: Islam
Initiation: From Sayyad Mir Ibrahim
Bani: 2 hymns in rāga Sorathi
Demise: 1573 A.D.

Main Achievements:

- Faith in one Creation
- Looked upon all religion and its people as one
- Treated the God’s Name and His remembrance superior to the Muslim code of conduct

The glorious praises of the Lord cannot be spoken by speaking.
They are like the sweet candies given to a mute.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 659)

Bhagat Sadhana Jī

Born: 12th century
Place: Sehbān, Sindh (Pakistan)
Religion: Islam
Bani: 1 hymn in rāga Bilāval

Main Achievements:

- Instead of the prevailing concept of emancipation in Indian tradition, preached the concept of Jīvanmukta (emancipated).

- Chose the occupation of a butcher to emphasize on righteous earning but also attained the love of God

What is your value, O Guru of the world,
if you will not erase the karma of my past actions?
Why seek safety from a lion, if one is to be eaten by a jackal?

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 858)

Bhagat Paramānanda Ji

Born: 1483 A.D.
Place: Kanauj, Maharashtra
Caste: Brahman
Initiation: From Swāmī Vallabhācārya
Bani: 1 hymn in rāga Sārang
Demise: 1593 A.D.

Main Achievements:

- Composed the Granth 'Paramānanda Sāgar'
- Turned towards worship of the Formless from icon worshipping

So what have you accomplished by listening to the Purāṇas? Faithful devotion has not welled up within you, and you have not been inspired to give to the hungry.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1253) '

Bhagat Sūrdās Ji

Born: 1529 A.D.
Father: Pandit Ravidas jī
Caste: Brahman
Bani: 1 hymn in raga Sārang
Demise: Kāśī, Uttar Pradesh

Main Achievements:

- Inspired towards the worship of the Formless One
- Worked as an official of Emperor in the area of Sandīlā in Avadh
- Scholar of Hindi, Sanskrit and Persian language

O mind, do not even associate with those who have turned their backs on the Lord.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1253)

Bhagat Beṇī Ji

Born: 15th century
Place: Village Āsanī, Madhya Pradesh
Caste: Brahman
Bani: 3 hymns in 3 ragas

Main Achievements:

- From icon worship to the worship Formless
- Preached the concept of equality

Whoever does not realize the essence of the soul –
all his religious actions are hollow and false.
Says Beṇī, as Gurmukh, meditate.
Without the true Guru, you shall not find the Way.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1351)

Sheikh Farīd Jī

Born: 1173 A.D.
Place: Village Khotvāl, Chāval Mushaikhān, Multān (Pakistan)
Father: Sheikh Jamāludīn jī
Mother: Bibi Kursham jī
Children: 8
Religion: Islam
Initiation: Kutabdīn Bakhtiār Kākī
Bani: Total 116 in 2 ragas
Demise: 1265 A.D.

Main Achievements:

- Head of the Chishtī order of Sufis
- Established the concept of equality by depicting Creator in the creation

They alone are true, whose love for God is deep.
Those who have one thing in their heart and other on mouth, are judged to be false.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 488)

Composition of the Bhats

The word ‘Bha’ is a Punjabi form of Sanskrit word ‘bhṛt’ which is believed to have developed from the Sanskrit root bhṛ.

This word was normally used for mercenaries who fought for their masters and while manifesting total devotion to their masters, would treat life and death equally.

Besides this, this word was also used for those people who use to sing the praises of great warriors:

Mahān Kosh has treated this word in this manner and has taken it to mean those people who sing the praises of great personalities or by presenting their ancestral history would make a man or his family famous.

Along with this, the meaning of Bhaṭ has been taken as fighters and brave soldiers.

In fact, centuries old history of this class is available which is in Bhaṭākṣrī script (a medieval script).

The days of their ascending starts from 9th century A.D.:

In the areas of Rajasthan, their unique stories are in vogue which tell us about their bravery and also bring forth their role as the builders of society.

Chānd Vardie who freed Prithvī Rāj from the imprisonment of Mohammad Gauri and also got Mohammad Gaurī killed by Prithvī Rāj, belong to the Bhaṭ tribe.

This legend of Chand Bhaṭ is very famous in Rajasthan and everybody is aware of it. It is thus evident that there were only two main duties of Bhats - expression of praise and bravery.

The great Guru Nanak raised the divine concept of ‘Ik Ongkār’ creating a context leading from slavery to emancipation and thus, made man aware of his human-ness. He created the present context after taking the person out of his past and future.

Then the people having faith in such belief started visualising the prophetic soul who could lead them to emancipation, in Guru Nanak. Now Guru Nanak was their true emperor. When this glory of Guru Nanak reached the Bhats, they also approached the Guru’s court.

After having darśan of the divine soul like those of Gurus, they were immersed in love and divine grace. They started singing spontaneous praises and then we find many examples of their singing the praises of Gurus and showing exemplary courage as well.

These Bhats composed verses in the praise of Gurus which are a part of Guru Granth Sahib. They also laid down their lives and died as martyrs in many battles.

Bhaṭ Bani: Total 123 Sawaīe

Major Deeds:

- Unique task of praising Guru’s concept and Guru’s court
- Praised Guru Sāhibān on the basis of the image of mythological characters.
- Total faith in Guru-jot and institution of Guruship.

Bhaṭ Kalasahār Ji

Bani: 54 hymns
Sawaīe Mahale Pahile Ke 1: 10
Sawaīe Mahale Dūje Ke 2: 10
Sawaīe Mahale Tīje Ke 3: 9
Sawaīe Mahale Chouthe Ke 4: 13
Sawaīe Mahale Pañjve Ke 5: 12

Bhaṭ Kalasahār jī composed Sawaīe in the praise of first five Guru Sāhibān.

His father Bhaṭ Choukhā jī was the younger brother of Bhaṭ Bhikhā jī. Bhaṭ Gayand jī was his younger brother.

In many verses, he had also used his pen-name as Tal and Kal in place of Kalasahār.

So speaks Tal the poet: serve the Guru,
day and night, with intuitive love and affection.
Gazing upon the blessed vision of the Guru,
the pains of death and rebirth are taken away.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1392)

Kal the poet sings the sublime praises of Guru Nanak,
who enjoys mastery of R
āja yoga, the yoga of meditation and success.

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 1389)

Kalasahār chants His glorious praises.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1396)

Bhaṭ Jālap Ji

Bani: 2 hymns
Sawaīe Mahale Tīje Ke 3: 2

Bhaṭ Jālap jī is also known by the pen-name of Jal. His father was Bhaṭ Bhikhā jī and his brothers were Bhaṭ Mathurā jī & Kīrat jī whose compositions are also included in Guru Granth Sahib.

His composition depicts the respect he had for the Guru’s court, especially for Guru Amar Das jī and its limits cannot be portrayed.

Fruitful is the head, says Jālap, which bows forever before Guru Amar Das.

....says Jal that through sublime thoughts you renounce vices to know the way.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1394)

Bhaṭ Kīrat Ji

Bani: 8 hymns
Sawaīe Mahale Tīje Ke 3: 4
Sawaīe Mahale Chouthe Ke 4 : 4

Bhaṭ Kīrat jī was the younger son of the head of the Bhaṭs tribe, Bhikhā jī. His composition is full of love, the language used is very captivating and it leaves the impression of deep devotion.

Along with the praises for Guru Sahib in his composition, he also joined the sixth Guru’s army and sacrificed his life fighting bravely against the Mughals.

Kīrat the poet offers this one prayer: O Guru Ram Das, save me! Take me into Your sanctuary!

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 1406)

Bhaṭ Bhikhā Ji

Bani: 2 hymns
Sawaīe Mahale Tīje Ke 3: 2

Bhaṭ Bhikhā was the son of Bhaṭ Raīā jī and was born in Sultanpur. His sons - Bhaṭ Kīrat jī, Mathura jī and Jālap jī has also praised Guru Amar Das jī, Guru Ram Das jī and Guru Arjan Dev ji in a marvellous manner.

Those who have abandoned the Lord's Name, and become attached to duality
- why should I speak in praise of them?
So speaks Bhikhā: the Lord has led me to meet the Guru.
As you keep me, I remain; as you protect me, I survive.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1396)

Bhaṭ Salh Ji

Bani: 3 hymns
Sawaīe Mahale Tlje Ke 3: 1
Sawaīe Mahale Chauthe Ke 4: 2

Bhaṭ Salh jī was the son of Bhaṭ Sekhe jī, the younger brother of Bhaṭ Bhikhā ji. He was the brother of Bhaṭ Kalh jī.

Sal speaks the truth; O Guru Amar Das,
you have conquered the army of evil, fighting this way.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1396)

Bhaṭ Bhalh Ji

Bani: 1 hymn
Sawaīe Mahale Tīje Ke 3: 1

Bhaṭ Bhalh jī was the brother of Bhaṭ Salh jī and nephew of Bhaṭ Bhikhā jī.

With the spiritual wisdom of the true Guru, says Bhalh the poet, these may be counted. O Guru Amar Das, your glorious virtues are so sublime; our praises belong only to you.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1396)

Bhaṭ Nalh Ji

Bani: 16 hymns
Sawaīe Mahale Chauthe Ke 4: 16

Bhaṭ Nalh jī is also known by the pen-name of ‘Dās’. He regarded the pious land of Goindwal as heavenly abode.

So speaks Nalh the poet:
with your eyes and with the words you speak, make him your true Guru.

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 1399)

Now, please preserve the honour of your humble slave Dās.

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 1400)

Bhaṭ Gayand Jī

Bani: 13 hymns
Sawaīe Mahale Chauthe Ke 4: 13

Bhaṭ Gayand jī was the younger brother of Bhaṭ Kalasahār jī and son of Chokhā jī who was the brother of Bhaṭ Bhikhā jī, the head of Bhaṭs tribe. The composition of Bhaṭ Gayand jī in the praise of Guru Sahib depicts the true devotion of a Sikh to his Guru..

Enshrine this most excellent Name within your heart,
and renounce the wickedness of the mind, O Gayand
the true Guru is the Lord of the universe himself.

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 1403)

Bhaṭ Mathura Ji

Bani: 14 hymns
Sawaīe Mahale Chauthe Ke 4: 7
Sawaīe Mahale Pañjve Ke 5: 7

Bhaṭ Mathura jī, like his brother Bhaṭ Kīrat jī & Bhaṭ Jālap jī and his father Bhaṭ Bhikhā jī was totally committed to the Gurus and saw the image of God in the Gurus.

Speaks Mathura: there is no difference between God and Guru;
Guru Arjan is the personification of the Lord himself.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1409)

Bhaṭ Balh Jī

Bani: 5 hymns

Sawaīe Mahale Chauthe Ke 4: 5

Bhaṭ Balh jī was the son of Bhaṭ Sekhe, who was the brother of Bhaṭ Bhikhā jī.

Those who obtain your blessed vision, by their good deeds,
touch the philosopher's stone, and like Balh the poet, sing your praises.
O supreme Guru Ram Das, you have attained the supreme status of the Lord.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 1405)

Bhaṭ Haribans Jī

Bani: 2 hymns
Sawaīe Mahale Pañjve Ke 5: 2

Bhaṭ Haribans jī in his unique style has illustrated the importance and eulogize the vessel of the holy Śabad; thus expressing his deep faith on the Guru.

So speaks Haribans:
their praises echo and resound all over world;
who can possibly say that the great Gurus are dead?

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 1409)

Other Contributors

In Guru Granth Sahib apart from the Gurus, Bhagats and Bhaṭs, the compositions of four more holy men have been included: These are those great personalities who had seen by their own eyes the life of the Gurus and the ever increasing area of Sikh faith.

Three out of them - Bhai Mardānā jī, Bhai Satā and Bhai Balwand jī were the Rabābīs of the Gurus who used to sing Gurbani in the presence of Guru.

The fourth holy man Baba Sundar jī was related to the Guru’s family. He was the grandson of Baba Moharī jī (son of Guru Amar Das jī) and his father was Bhai Anand jī. He was the great grandson of the third Guru, Guru Amar Das jī.

Bhai Mardānā Ji

Born: 1459 A.D.
Place: Rāi Bhoe Ki Talwandi (Shekhūpurā, Pakistan)
Father: Bhai Bādare jī
Mother: Bebe Lakho jī
Caste: Marāsī (bard)
Initiation: From Guru Nanak Dev jī
Bani: 3 salokas in rāga Bihāgarā
Demise: 1534 A.D., Khuram City

Major Deeds:

- Accompanied Guru Nanak Dev jī during the four Udasis (travels) covering a distance of around 39,000 miles for the benefit of One and All

- Established a unique example of the relationship of Guru and a Sikh

Drinking too much in the company of falsehood and greed, one is ruined.
So let good deeds be your distillery, and truth your molasses;
in this way, make the most excellent wine of truth.

(S.G.G.S. pg. : 553)

Rāi Balwand Ji

Caste: Dūm Rabābī (bard)
Guru’s Grace: Guru Arjan Dev jī entrusted the title of Rāi upon him
Bani: Total 1 (first 5 pauris of Vār) in Rāmakalī rāga
Major Deed: Kirtan of Bani in Guru’s Darbar

One who chants the Name of the Almighty Creator - how can his words be judged?

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 966)

Bhai Satā Ji

Caste: Dūm Rabābī (bard)
Guru’s Grace: Cremated by Guru Hargobind Sahib himself
Bani: Total 1 (last 3 pauris of Vār) in Rāmakalī rāga

Major Deed:

- Praised the Gurus through Kirtan.

The Four Gurus enlightened the four Ages;
The Lord Himself assumed the fifth form.

Baba Sundar Ji

Born: 1560 A.D.
Place: Goindwal, Punjab
Father: Bhai Anand jī
Bani: Total 1 (Sadu) in Rāmakalī raga
Demise: 1603 A.D., Goindwal

True Guru summoned his family as per his Will.
Let no one weep for me after I am gone, that would not please me at all.

(S.G.G.S. pg.: 923)