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Bhagat Dhanna Ji

Bhagat Dhanna (Gurmukhi: ਭਗਤ ਧੰਨਾ) was a devotee and Gurmukh, born in village of Dhuan Kalan in 1415, on April 20th near Deoli city, in the Tonk district, Rajasthan, present day North West India. Three Shabads of Bhagat ji's Bani are included in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib on Ang's 487, 488 and 695.

Though born in a Jatt hindu family of Dhaliwal Clan, he rejected all hindu traditions and rituals, when he came in contact with Gurmukhs, he found God from his heart. He choose to control his desires and to have the only one desire for God. He was a farmer by profession. The 5th Nanak said Dhanna served the Lord, with the innocence of a child. He followed command of the Lord after realising the true way of the Lord.

Sikhs admire and follow the teachings of Dhanna, as in Gurmat, Kabir, Nanak, Ravidas, Bhatts all are same and all are treated as Gurus - "spiritual guides". Sikhs bow before Guru Granth Sahib which include the teaching of many who had the same thoughts and views about Waheguru. The creator himself spoke through his Bhagat's, revealing the holy Shabad.

Life

Bhagat ji was born in house of Bhai Panna from Mai Reva in village Dhuan Kalan Tonk District of Rajasthan in April 1415. He was the only son in his family.

He was born into a farmer family (Jatt) and he was not educated in any school or college. In the beginning he was an idol worshipper; but after that he became a "Param Sant" (pure saint). He earned his livelihood by farming (Kheti). From his early childhood, he was a very simple, hard-working and straightforward person. He enjoyed the company of saints and scholars.

He also spent time serving the needy and holy men with dedication and devotion. When he grew up, after he stopped worshipping idols, he went to Kashi and he got the initiation from Swami Ramananda. He was an illiterate; but in the end he achieved high status and became a Perfect Saint.

There is a Gurdwara of Saint Dhanna Bhagat in village Duan Kalan. where he was born, in 1415, Medieval India.

Guru Arjun Dev Ji on Dhanna

Bhagat Dhanna Ji

Bhagat Dhanna Ji

Guru Arjan admires Bhagat Dhanna for his dedication towards the Lord. According to him, Dhanna was not initially a Gurmukh but when he met company of saints where only truth is discussed; where knowledge of only the one is given; he became a Gurmukh, "Guru-guided". He worshipped God and found God within his heart. He served God with innocence like a child as he was a very humble person. Guru Arjun dev said that like Bhagat Dhanna his too wants his mind to also become the Lord's slave. Following are lines which Arjun Dev has said about Bhagat Dhanna ji in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib:

"Hearing this, Dhanna the Jaat applied himself to devotional worship. The Lord of the Universe met him personally; Dhanna was so very blessed. ||4||2||"
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 488

"Naam Dayv, Jai Dayv, Kabeer, Trilochan and Ravi Daas the low-caste leather-worker, blessed Dhanna and Sain; all those who joined the humble Saadh Sangat, met the Merciful Lord. ||7||"
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 835

"O my mind, chant the Naam, the Name of the Lord, and cross over. Dhanna the farmer, and Balmik the highway robber, became Gurmukh, and crossed over. ||1||Pause||"
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 995

"Dhanna served the Lord, with the innocence of a child. Meeting with the Guru, Trilochan attained the perfection of the Siddhas. The Guru blessed Baynee with His Divine Illumination. O my mind, you too must be the Lord`s slave. ||5||"
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1192

Sakhi of Bhagat Dhanna

Bhagat Dhanna Ji was a simple Indian farmer who worked hard on his farm all day tending his crops. He used to go past the house of a clever pundit everyday on the way to his work on the farm.

Dhanna Ji used to listen to the pundit singing religions verses, as he carried out various ritualistic acts, which were beyond the understanding of this simple Jatt (farmer). He found these acts intriguing but never asked the religious man about any of the things that he had observed in the many years that he had gone past the pundit's house.

One day, Bhai Dhanna ji was passing the pundit's house and noticed that the religious man was feeding his Thakur - a stone idol. Bhai Dhanna ji was quite puzzled by what he was observing. On this occasion as he had some free time, so he went and asked the pundit. Dhanna Ji asked "pundit Ji, What are you doing?"

The pundit was very hungry and wanted to get this feeding over as soon as possible and really wasn't in a mood for Bhai Dhanna ji's simple inquiries. He replied, "Oh, nothing, I am just feeding my Thakur. Now if you will excuse me..."

Bhai Dhanna ji found that incredibly funny, "What is the use of feeding a stone?"

pundit, "This is not a stone, it is God. It's Thakur!"

Dhanna, "Really? What happens if you feed the Stone... I mean, what happens when you feed the Thakur?"

pundit: "The Thakur gives you everything!! If you can please God, you will get everything. Now, I really must ask you to leave...I have a lot to do"

Bhai Dhanna ji liked this idea of giving a little food to this small God and getting back everything. So Bhai Dhanna ji asked the pundit if he could also have a Thakur.

At this time, the pundit's stomach was audibly complaining about lack of food. So he hastily picked up the nearest stone off the ground and said, "Here. First feed Thakur, then you eat. Understood! Goodbye." Saying that the pundit dived into the food left over by Thakur. "Lovely I really could not have waited any longer!"

Bhagat Dhanna Ji

Bhagat Dhanna Ji

Bhai Dhanna ji held the stone closely to his chest and hurried home. As soon as Bhai Dhanna ji got home, he first carefully and loving washed the stone. Having bathed the Thakur, Dhanna then cooked the best meal he knew - Saag and Makkee di Roti - for dinner. He placed it in front of Thakur and said, "Here Thakur ji, please eat this food, I have made it lovingly for you. Afterwards, I want to discuss many things with you. I need a new cow for example, and a few other simple requests - but for now, please eat."

Saying that Bhai Dhanna ji sat in front of Thakur and waited. And waited. And waited. After a while, Bhai Dhanna ji said, "Look Thakur, I really have no time for your play. Come and eat at once! I have many things to do."

After several hours, Bhai Dhanna ji thought perhaps Thakur ji was annoyed at him – May be he has done something wrong. So Bhai Dhanna ji tried to persuade Thakur ji to forgive him: "Look here Thakur, I haven't eaten in a while. Now it is entirely possible that I have done something to annoy you but believe you me, we can discuss this much better after this Saag and Makkee dee Roti is in our stomachs." Still nothing happened. Slowly the night deepened. It was now pitch dark outside and the Thakur was showing no signs of eating the delicious food.

Bhai Dhanna ji was now getting angry and said, "Look Thakur, I have one nerve left and you are dancing on it. Either eat your food or I will....", Bhai Dhanna ji couldn't really think of anything else to say so he bust out in anger. Still nothing happened! The angry outburst had no effect on the Thakur.

Pretty soon, Danna ji could see light skies in the East and soon it was going to became daylight. Bhai Dhanna ji felt quite disoriented and confused. Sometimes Bhai Dhanna ji would curse the Thakur, sometimes Bhai Dhanna ji would hug the Thakur and sometimes Bhai Dhanna ji would start crying.

Two long and hungry nights and days passed in this manner. Dhanna ji tried every way to convince the Thakur to take the food. He tried with all the tricks that he knew, with all the love that he could muster, with all the pleadings that he knew, with all the anger – But nothing appeared to work. Dhanna Ji was a stubborn farmer but he was failing miserably here. However, his conviction had not faltered. He kept working on his begging and pleadings.

Then at amrit vela (early dawn) on the third day, when Dhanna ji was too weak to curse any more, Waheguru decided to intervene. To stop Dhanna from going mad, Waheguru gave Bhai Danna a vision in the form of a young man. It was the most beautiful body of a young man. Dhanna ji lost all his anger and just stared at the young man.

Speaking through the young man Waheguru said, "Dhanna ji, Sorry, I am late…" Dhanna ji interrupted and said, "I will warm up the food. Thakur Ji you must eat the food – You must also be very hungry" Dhanna Ji fed the young man and ate the remaining food himself after having stayed hungry for over 2 days.

After, eating the food, Dhanna Ji said to Waheguru, "As I said to you two days ago, I have a few things to discuss with you. First there is the work of the farm and then…"

Bhai Dhanna ji fell head over heels in love with the young man (through whom God spoke to him). He couldn't resist being with the young man. They spent the next few days literally arm in arm. Even at night, Bhai Dhanna ji would hold Waheguru 's hand and listen to Waheguru's songs - Waheguru sang a lot - and would drift off to sleep. A week later, the pundit was passing Bhai Dhanna ji's hut. Bhai Dhanna ji saw him and ran to him and said, "Oh, pundit ji, you are the most wonderful man. I can never thank you enough for giving me that marvellous Thakur..."

pundit, "What you on about??? OK, Oh, yeah, sure, anytime. Look, I am in a hurry. I am going to the big pundit conference ..."

Bhai Dhanna ji: "But please come and drink some lassi (Milk Shake). Thakur ji makes the best lassi."

pundit: "What now? What are you saying? Thakur makes something?"

Bhai Dhanna ji: "Oh yes! It's the best in the world. Just look at him, how handsome he is!"

pundit ji looked and indeed he could see that someone was pushing the cows on the farm. And yet there was nobody to be seen.

pundit ji: "Who is controlling the cows. Who is that?"

Bhai Dhanna ji: "Why, that is Thakur ji, of course. Can't you recognise him. Oh, you should hear him sing...It's out of this world!"

pundit ji was quite intrigued by now. And kept repeatedly asking Bhai Dhanna ji about Thakur. After a while Bhai Dhanna ji realized that pundit could not see Thakur ji. Dhanna ji promised that he would talk to Thakur about this.

The pundit left. Bhai Dhanna ji went to Waheguru and said, "Thakur ji, how come pundit ji can't see you?"

Waheguru: "The pundit really doesn't want to see me. He is more interested in my maid – Maya and he is captivated in it entanglement. He has no real interest in me only in my creation"

Dhanna ji: "But I don't understand. Why can I see you and others cannot? How can one begin to see you?"

Waheguru: "One has to become pure. And in this age, Dhanna ji, the only way to become pure is by reciting Naam."

Dhanna ji: "Naam?"

Waheguru: "Naam is the magic of this age. Even a few minutes of Naam Simran will bring the magic that is needed to see me."

Dhanna ji: "But, I haven't recited Naam. How come I can see you?"

The young man, touched Bhai Dhanna ji 's forehead. Bhai Dhanna ji's surat went inside. Inside he saw that he, Bhai Dhanna ji, had done heavy tapasaya for over many lifetimes. He had stood in water all night and in the hot sun all day. He had hung upside down for several lifetimes. He had been a celibate in one lifetime and a moni (ones who doesn't talk) in another. But he had progressed spiritually very little.

Then in his previous life, he had met an adept Guru who had given him Naam. And by doing Naam Simran for just one lifetime, Bhai Dhanna ji had become pure. Seeing Waheguru ji was the reward for his Naam from previous life.

Bhai Dhanna ji fell at the young man's feet and cried. Saying, "Please forgive this fool, I treated you as an equal..."

The young man ji picked him and held him close, singing songs of comfort, "Bhai Dhanna ji, now the time is right to leave. The way you see me now is the superficial way of meeting me. The real way is inside. Now you must start Naam Simran again and then I will meet you inside."

Saying that the young man vanished into thin air. Bhai Dhanna ji was enlightened now. He restarted his Naam Simran with each breath. Within days, Bhai Dhanna ji had parkash (sighting) of Waheguru ji within his mind and through this enlightenment; we today have the benefit of Dhanna Bani in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

When we bow to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, we are not just acknowledging the advice and lives of our ten Gurus but also the lives and Bani of 15 Sikh Bhagats.

God is within us all and pervades throughout his creation (there is universe beyond universe...Japji Sahib). So if we want vision of God then we need to meditate on his name (he has innumerable names, as told to us by Guru Gobind Singh Ji). It is important to note that God DOES NOT take any form, but for our purpose he can give us a vision in any form. For example, Waheguru was inside the young man as much as he was inside bhai Dhanna but for Bhai Dhanna's experience, God spoke through the young man. Guru Granth Sahib tells us that in Sach Khand, where the light of God dwells, blessed saints merge with God (as Guru Gobind Singh Ji did in his previous incarnation). Therefore when a christian wants to "see God" he may get a vision of Jesus, a Muslim that of Allah.

If you envision God as a radiant light which pervades throughout the universe, then if you are blessed this may be the vision you will see. An important concept in Sikhism is that God does not take form (Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth), he is formless and pervades throught his creation.

Background

The Bhakti movement in India was at its peak in the 14th and 15th centuries. Several men of God who belonged by birth to poor families and the so-called low castes earned spiritual heights and thus gained fame far and wide. Many more from such lower state of society emulated them in pursuit of the divine ideal. Dhanna was also one such devotee of God. Guru Arjan Sahib has said that Dhanna heard of the fame of Namdev, saw for himself the spiritual grandeur of Kabir, learnt of the uplifted spiritual and moral position of Ravidas and experienced Sain's mystical oneness with the Lord. All this inspired in Dhanna's heart a deep felt urge to realize God.

Bhagat Dhanna Ji was such a bhagat that he remained ever absorbed in God, even when he was physically occupied in various jobs abd earning his livelihood. It was this deep devotion of Dhanna that ultimately enabled him to have a glimpse of the Timeless Lord even in a stone. Dhanna was a simple-hearted ,and noble person, and he took the advice of a Brahmin to consider the stone, Lord Himself. He was asked by the Brahmin to offer the stone (or the Lord in the stone) sacramental food. When Dhanna found that the Lord was not accepting the food offered by him, he declared that he himself would not touch the food and remain on a fast as long as the Lord did not accept his offer. Bhai Gurdas has narrated (Varan, X.1 3) the entire episode in a beautiful verse.

He says;

Brahmin used to worship idols
And Dhanna went out to graze cows;
When Dhanna saw this all
He put queries to Brahmin who said: '
We who serves the Lord Gets fulfilled all desires of his heart;
Dhanna made supplication to him:
'Give me one (Idol) if it pleases thee
Brahmin wrapped a stone in cloth
And gave it to Dhanna to get rid of him,
Dhanna first bathed the stone,
Then offered food and butter-milk;
He prayed with folded hands, and
Prostrated to persuade it accept the offer;
I will not eat a morsel-
Food I relish not if Thou art annoyed.'
God appeared before the Dhanna,
Accepted the offering he made;
Innocent love of Dhanna
Thus united him into the Lord.

A hymn by Guru Arjan Sahib included in the Guru Granth Sahib on Ang 487 narrates the same incident. The concluding two verses of this hymn are as follows;

Listening to such happenings,
the poor Jat Dhanna too in devotion engaged.
The Lord to him manifested Himself--
Such was Dhanna's good fortune.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 488

The determination and commitment of the innocent and pious Dhanna made even the Lord yield, and He had to take the form of Thakur, drink and eat what Dhanna had offered Him. Thus did Dhanna's unwavering determination win, and in consequence of this achievement he felt deeply committed to God. How easy it has been to win the pleasure of God with one's innocence and simple piety.

The following verse from the Sikh Scripture aptly applies to Dhanna;

In innocent spontaneous devotion
comes meeting with the Lord.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 324

There are three hymns of Dhanna in the Sikh Scripture under Asa and Dhanasari measures. In his hymns included at page 487, he says : "O man, you have wasted several lives in duality from God. Body, wealth and material gains are ephemeral. The poisonous effect of covetousness and indulgence in passions have separated man from the Creator-Lord. It is a matter of deep regret that human mind still feels attracted towards such sinful passions. He is so engrossed in realizing material comfort and gains that he fails to experience the importance of Naam-simran (Recitation of holy name). Thus, a man must endeavour to gather the wealth of Divine Name because only such a wealth can help in his spiritual amelioration." In the other hymn (Ang 488), he exhorts human beings to have unwavering faith in and devotion to God because only these feelings can become a medium for their union with God. Dhanna expresses his unbounded faith in God with the help of some examples. He tells us that God is omniscient. He brings up the smallest insects even inside the rocks. He provides nourishment to the embryo in the mother's womb. Whatsoever happens in this universe is in His will. Man should, therefore, have no fear. He must have love for and awe of God. He is our nourisher, our Patron Father. That is why Dhanna offers prayer (aarti) in eulogy of the Lord and at the same time requests Him that a householder has numerous needs to be fulfilled ; he prays to God for the fulfilment of these needs. He demands a house to live in, a wife to perpetuate the lineage, a mare of good breed to ride on, and pulses, ghee, flour, salt, pepper, etc. to fill one's belly.

A hymn by Dhanna under Dhanasari measure on this subject reads as under:

Lord! Thy servant am I in affliction.
Those that to Thee are devoted,
Thou their objectives dost fulfil (Pause)
I beg for lentils, flour and some ghee,
Whereby may my heart be delighted.
Seek I also shoes and good clothing,
And grain grown over well-ploughed Land.
A cow and a buffalo in milk I seek,
As also a good Arab mare.
Thy Servant Dhanna then begs also for a wife,
a good house keeper.
SGGS-695

No man of God other than Dhanna or Kabir has ever supplicated to God with such emphasis for the fulfilment of his material needs. They are fully justified in saying that one can't concentrate on God with empty stomach because the fire of hunger adversely affects both the body and soul. In case one feels unable to satiate one's hunger with food morning and evening even after a day of hard labour, Kabir in such a situation is prepared even to give back to God the rosary he uses for remembrance of His Name.

Bhagat Dhanna Ji's Personal Experience

Dhanna shared his personal experience which is also part of guidance through Guru Granth Sahib:

ਭ੝ਰਮਤ ਫਿਰਤ ਬਹ੝ ਜਨਮ ਬਿਲਾਨੇ ਤਨ੝ ਮਨ੝ ਧਨ੝ ਨਹੀ ਧੀਰੇ ॥
I wandered through countless incarnations, but mind, body and wealth never remain stable.

ਲਾਲਚ ਬਿਖ੝ ਕਾਮ ਲ੝ਬਧ ਰਾਤਾ ਮਨਿ ਬਿਸਰੇ ਪ੝ਰਭ ਹੀਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Attached to, and stained by the poisons of sexual desire and greed, the mind has forgotten the jewel of the Lord. ||1||Pause||

ਬਿਖ੝ ਫਲ ਮੀਠ ਲਗੇ ਮਨ ਬਉਰੇ ਚਾਰ ਬਿਚਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਨਿਆ ॥
The poisonous fruit seems sweet to the demented mind, which does not know the difference between good and evil.

ਗ੝ਨ ਤੇ ਪ੝ਰੀਤਿ ਬਢੀ ਅਨ ਭਾਂਤੀ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਨ ਫਿਰਿ ਤਾਨਿਆ ॥੧॥
Turning away from virtue, his love for other things increases, and he weaves again the web of birth and death. ||1||

ਜ੝ਗਤਿ ਜਾਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਰਿਦੈ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ਜਲਤ ਜਾਲ ਜਮ ਫੰਧ ਪਰੇ ॥
He does not know the way to the Lord, who dwells within his heart; burning in the trap, he is caught by the noose of death.

ਬਿਖ੝ ਫਲ ਸੰਚਿ ਭਰੇ ਮਨ ਝਸੇ ਪਰਮ ਪ੝ਰਖ ਪ੝ਰਭ ਮਨ ਬਿਸਰੇ ॥੨॥
Gathering the poisonous fruits, he fills his mind with them, and he forgets God, the Supreme Being, from his mind. ||2||

ਗਿਆਨ ਪ੝ਰਵੇਸ੝ ਗ੝ਰਹਿ ਧਨ੝ ਦੀਆ ਧਿਆਨ੝ ਮਾਨ੝ ਮਨ ਝਕ ਮਝ ॥
The Guru has given the wealth of spiritual wisdom; practicing meditation, the mind becomes one with Him.

ਪ੝ਰੇਮ ਭਗਤਿ ਮਾਨੀ ਸ੝ਖ੝ ਜਾਨਿਆ ਤ੝ਰਿਪਤਿ ਅਘਾਨੇ ਮ੝ਕਤਿ ਭਝ ॥੩॥
Embracing loving devotional worship for the Lord, I have come to know peace; satisfied and satiated, I have been liberated. ||3||

ਜੋਤਿ ਸਮਾਇ ਸਮਾਨੀ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਅਛਲੀ ਪ੝ਰਭ੝ ਪਹਿਚਾਨਿਆ ॥
One who is filled with the Divine Light, recognizes the undeceivable Lord God.

ਧੰਨੈ ਧਨ੝ ਪਾਇਆ ਧਰਣੀਧਰ੝ ਮਿਲਿ ਜਨ ਸੰਤ ਸਮਾਨਿਆ ॥੪॥੧॥
Dhanna has obtained the Lord, the Sustainer of the World, as his wealth; meeting the humble Saints, he merges in the Lord. ||4||1||

  • Gurdwara Sri Bhagat Dhanna

    Gurdwara Sri Bhagat Dhanna

    Dhuan Kalan, Rajasthan, India.

    Associated with Bhagat Dhanna Ji.

    Bhagat Dhanna was born in house of Bhai Panna from Mai Reva in village Dhuan Kalan Tonk District of Rajasthan in April 1415.


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