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Sri Guru Granth Ji

Sikh Bhatts (Bards)



During medieval times Bhatts (ballad singers) were part of every kingdom in India, their job was to compose and sing martial songs. With their narrative and descriptive poetry of war, their songs and music led the warriors to the battlefield. Marching to the battlefield to meet their enemies, they would narrate to them the heroic deeds of their forefathers, who had laid their lives for the honour of the motherland. They recited the martial poems and aroused passion of the heroes for war and love for the motherland. The compositions of the Bhatts attached to the courts of the latter Sikh Gurus, which are now included in the Guru Granth Sahib are eulogies to the first five Gurus.

Bhatt Bani (the hymns by the bards) comprising twenty pages is incorporated in the concluding part of Adi Granth. The Bhatts are supposed to be the descendants of Koshish Rishi and are linked with the Sarshat Brahmins. It is a fact that almost all the eleven Bhatts belonged to Punjab and were residents of Sultanpur Lodhi (district Kapurthala) where Guru Nanak had served in the Modikhana for 13 years. According to Bhatt chronicles they were sons or nephews of Bhikha and Toda Bhatts. It appears some of them may have attended earlier congregations of Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das.

These Bhatts used the popular form of poetry called "Swaiya Chhand", which gave their Swaiyas a very distinctive style. Their rich language, full of poetic imagery, is packed with elegant and decorative vocabulary.

The eleven Bhatts whose Bani is included in Adi Granth are:

Forward Bhatt Kalshar - who is also known as Kalh and Talh was the leader of the group of the Bhatts.

Forward Bhatt Jalap - Bhatt Jalap also wrote under the name of Jalh. Five of his Swaiyas eulogies the 3rd Guru are included in Adi Granth.

Forward Bhatt Kirat - son of Bhikha, besides being a poet, had the privilege of being an enrolled soldier in the army of Guru Hargobind Sahib.

Forward Bhatt Bhika - a brahmin bard of Sultanpur Lodhi, became a Sikh receiving the rites of initiation at the hands of Guru Amar Das.

Forward Bhatt Salh - whose three Swaiyas are incorporated in the Adi Granth, was protagonist of Gurmat Philosophy.

Forward Bhatt Bhalh - only one Swaiya of Bhatt Bhalh is available comprising of 4 lines. It is written in praise of Guru Amar Das.

Forward Bhatt Nal - authored sixteen Swaiyas, all in praise of Guru Ram Das. Surprisingly, the style of this poet is similiar to Bhatt Kalshar.

Forward Bhatt Gyand - was a bard and saraswat brahmin who became a Gursikh. Bhatt Gyand introduced the word "Waheguru" in gurbani.

Forward Bhatt Mathura - is the author of fourteen Swaiya's.

Forward Bhatt Bal - the subject of his Swaiyas has been the transmigration of the soul and continuity of the divine light from one Guru to the other.

Forward Bhatt Harbans - had the privilege of witnessing the congregations of the 4th and 5th Gurus.

It is said that the eleven Bhatts had come to the fifth Guru in a group led by Bhatt Kalshar. It appears some of them had also attended earlier the congregations of Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das.

According to the chronicler Sant Singh Bhatt as written in Bhatt Bahi, "It was the ninth generation of Bhatt Bhagirath that was blessed with an eminent poet and scholar known as Raiya, who had six sons named Bhika, Sokha, Tokha, Gokha, Chokha and Toda. The Swaiyas of the Adi Granth are authored mostly by the sons and grandsons of Raiya, with the exception of Bhatt Nal. The compositions of these Bhatts, popularly known as Bhatt Bani, are comprised of 123 Swaiyas, written in praise of the first five Gurus."

A significant point to be noted in this respect is that these Bhatts were not mercenaries whose words were written only to please their employer written only for money; their compositions were genuine expressions of their love and regards for the Gurus. They were dedicated followers of the Gurus and their poetry was the spontaneous articulation of their deeprooted respects for the house of Nanak. According to them, beginning with Guru Nanak, all the Gurus were the carriers of the same light as Guru Nanak. The Oneness of the spirit of the Gurus was the main theme of their Swaiyas.

Editorial Pattern

The editorial pattern of Guru Granth Sahib is the gift of the illustrious Guru Arjan Sahib. The current volume of the Granth (total pages 1430) follows in the main the editorial scheme set by the Fifth Guru, with addition of Guru Tegh Bahadur's bani-compositions, including his verses in Raag Jaijavanti.

The first version, popularly known as the Adi-Granth, comprised of three broad divisions:

1) the liturgical section with prayers of daily routine;
2) the musical section that is by far the largest part (1340 pages of the present edition);
3) the miscellaneous part of compositions which are not set to Raag measures but dwell on various poetical metres.

The verses composed by eleven Bhatts in the Swayya metre are to be found in the Miscellaneous division of the Granth, which starts with Sahaskriti Saloks, followed by Gatha, Phunhas, Chaubolas and Saloks of Bhagat Kabir and Shiekh Farid. These are followed by Guru Arjan's 20 Swayyas and 123 Swayyas by the Bhatts. After these, Saloks left over from the Vars are placed including 57 Saloks of the Ninth Guru, followed by Mundavani and another Salok by Guru Arjan Sahib. The Granth ends with Raagmala that bears no one's name as its author. One Bhatt, viz, Balwand, together with his associate Satta the Dum, composed Ramkali Var, which praises the first Five Gurus as also refers to Mata Khivi, consort of Guru Angad, by name. This and a few other historical allusions are available in the Bhatt verses.

Contributions

Details of the Bhatts contributions, in the name of each Guru, are as follows:

Name

Guru Nanak

Guru Angad

Guru Amar Das

Guru Ram Das

Guru Arjan Sahib

Total

Kalshar

10

10

9

13

12

54

Jalap

-

-

5

-

-

5

Kirat

-

-

4

4

-

8

Bhika

-

-

2

-

-

2

Salh

-

-

1

2

-

3

Bhalh

-

-

1

-

-

1

Nal

-

-

-

16

-

16

Gyand

-

-

-

13

-

13

Mathura

-

-

-

7

7

14

Bal

-

-

-

5

-

5

Harbans

-

-

-

-

2

2

Total

10

10

22

60

21

123

As per the chronicles:

1) Mathura, Jalap and Kirat were sons of Bhika.
2) Salh and Bhalh were sons of Sokha.
3) Gal was son of Tokha.
4) Haribans was son of Gokha.
5) Kalshar and Gyand were sons of Chokha.

The above mentioned nine Bhatts, combined with Bhikha and Nal make a group of eleven, who came to the congregation at Amritsar during the pontification of the 5th Guru. In this connection, it is very important to note that earlier Bhatt Bhikha had visited Goindwal and paid a tribute to Guru Amardas, in a Swaiya, which is very important and has since assumed the status of an historical document. It is a very pungent comment on the prevalent deteriorated state of religion in India and the dubious position of clergy. Indirectly it also establishes the fact that popularity of Sikh philosophy and the credibility of the house of Nanak had already spread far and wide. Bhikha says:

I wandered all over the place searching for a hermit with Heavenly Grace. I met many a mendicant, high flying on the ego fleet Soft-spoken, polished, vainful and sweet. In vain I wasted all my time. None of them was spiritually fine. Like an empty vessel or hollow pot, They talked a lot, all but rot. God in their hands was just a pawn Shady deals were in their clan At last I reached the rightful place, With The Guru Amardas I found solace.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1395.

Bhatt Bani is a very important chapter of Adi Granth. Is it important because it is an eulogy to the Gurus or that'it contains social, economic and political events of the era, significant from historical point of view? No. Its significance lies in its relevant worth, for it has glaring clash of ideology. It is a well known fact that Sikhism does not believe in Avtarvad (incarnations) and in the entire Guru Bani, no where any credence has been given to it, except Bhatt Bani. It must be remembered that the composers of Bhatt Bani were all Vaishnavites, followers of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna, who strictly believed in incarnation but at that time they were still in search of spiritual attainment. This fact is evident from the Swaiya of Bhatt Bhikha as quoted above, which highlights their search in this realm.

Let us consider it from another angle. After the Bhatts were able to establish contact with Guru Arjun Dev, they attended the congregations personally and enjoyed the blissful Kirtan sung in the' Sangat, their belief in the house of Nanak became more resolute. Here they got set for the spiritual journey under the expert guidance of Guru Arjun Dev. Now came the time of writing the Swaiyas, they expressed their thoughts with all the sincerity at their command. They wrote in the light of their Pauranic knowledge, mythological background mingled with the new spiritual experience that they gained in the Guru's court. It was here that they saw the grandeur and sublimity, the concept of Spiritual Temporal authority (Miri and Piri), together.

Through their angle of vision, they saw the Gurus as incarnations of Vishnu, but they went to the extent of calling Guru Nanak as personified Bhagwan (God himself). This being a very neologistic expression in the Sikh exegesis, became extraordinarily conspicuous. One must remember that the Sikh ethos does not permit such expressions, which at the most may be termed as vagary or the poetic exaggeration. It is worth noting that the Gurus never called themselves Bhagwan and never liked to be addressed as such. Guru Gobind Singh went to the exted calling himself as the humblest servant of God (Akal Purakh). He says in autobiography: "I am the humblest servant of God. Whosoever calls me Parmeshwar (God), shall be condemned to hell".

Main hoon Param Purakh ka Dasa, Dekhan aayon jagat tamasha Jo ham ko Parmeshwar uncharhen, Te sab Narak Kund men parhenz.
- Guru Gobind Singh (Dasam Granth)

Activities of the Bhatts

It is well known that the Bhatts used to keep records of their contemporary events and their Bhatt-Vahis are believed to be quite reliable in this respect. Their descendants are still active at several centres of pilgrim interest. Many of the Bhatts were poets who roamed about the country and instantly composed verses and hymns, impressing the audience. A group of Bhatts, possibly headed by Kalsahar, visited Goindval, as indicated by Nalh in one of his verses. The visit occurred during the pontificate of Guru Arjan, around 1581-82. Before this, the Bhatts were in search of a true saint, as is evident in one of Bhikha's verses, which expressly states that for one whole year the group moved from place to place but did not find any spiritual guide to their satisfaction. Bhikha confirms this in his praise of Guru Amar Das.

The Bhatra/Bhatt Sikhs were originally northern hindu Saraswat Brahmins who eventually became Sikhs, these Brahmins were autochthonous inhabitants who helped found the Indus-Saraswati civilization during 4000-2000BC. They lived in the 700+ archeological sites discovered along the former Saraswati River that once flowed parallel to the Indus in present day Kashmir, Himachal, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan regions.

As the intellectual and priestly class of that ancient civilization, they are highly respected and honored for creating the world's oldest literary and religious traditions. They were the original propagators (some argue composers too) of the revered texts such as the Vedas and the Upanishads and took these texts into other parts of South Asia.

It is notable that the Bhatts became Sikhs as they were considered to be the descendants of the revered Brahmin, Sage Saraswat Muni, who lived on the banks of the ancient river Saraswati. Around 1900 BC, the river Saraswati started vanishing under ground and the people on its banks started migrating to other parts of South Asia thus forming sub-communities. During the Islamic invasions of modern day Pakistan and india, many Saraswat Brahmins were forced to flee due to religious oppression.

Number of Bhatts

How many Bhatts composed panegyrics glorifying the Gurus? Scholars are not in agreement about their count. Some believe they were seventeen, while others hold them to be eleven. The names of the Bhatts are not explicitly stated at the head of their respective hymns, unlike the case of Bhagat Bani. But the internal evidence of the verses and their styles, as also the numerical figures point to the count eleven. Some of the names do appear in the verses, for instance Bhika, Kirat, Jalap, Mathura and Haribans. Bhatt Kalsahar mentions his own name in several verses, but sometimes he calls himself 'Kal' and 'Tal'. At least in six verses in reference to Guru Ram Das, the word 'Kalchare' also signifies Kalsahar. In addition to these 11 Bhatts, the author of Ramkali Var 'Balwand' (in association with Satta) is also considered to be a Bhatt-poet.

Their Vaishnav Faith

The Bhatts belonged to Brahmin community and were followers of the Vaishnav faith. They held Sri Ram and Sri Krishna as Divine incarnates, and on meeting the Gurus in Punjab, believed that Guru Nanak and his four successor Gurus were Ram and Krishna reborn. Bhatt Kalsahar says, during Satyuga it was Guru Nanak who overpowered Bali; in the Treta-age, Nanak was Ram of the Raghu clan; in Dupar Nanak was in the form of Krishna who delivered Kans. And in the Kali-yuga "You are called Nanak, Angad and Amar Das". He adds: "Your praises are sung by Ravidas, Jaidev and Trilochan. Also by Kabir, Namdev and Beni, in addition to innumerable Yogis, Jangams, Vyas and Brahma. Guru Nanak placed his hand on the forehead of Bhai Lehna who became Guru Angad.

Swayya: Their Favourite Metre

The Bhatt-Bani as recorded in Guru Granth Sahib, is in the poetic metre 'Swayya'. It is a non-Raag measure and has its own variations of style. At least three chhand-metres are mentioned in the Swayyas: Radd (in Nalh's praise of Guru Ram Das, 5th swayya); Jholna (Nalh's 13th swayya); and Sortha (in Kalsahar's praise of Guru Arjan). The numerical arrangements of Swayyas is indicative of the authorship of particular verses and also of the change of style in a swayya. As for the names of Bhatts, interesting rhyme in pronunciation is noted, for instance Kal (Kalsahar), Salh, Bhalh, Nalh, Balh. Other names that do not fall in this category are Jalap, Kirat, Bhikha, Gayand, Mathura and Haribans. All of them, however, make use of the Swayya metre for their verses.

Language and style

The language of Bhatt-Bani is a mixture, deriving its vocabulary from Sanskrit and employing Bhagat-Bani diction. The Bhatts used to sing odes (Vars) to brave fighters and eventually developed a specific lingo known as Bhattashri. Some of their verses recorded in Guru Granth Sahib are easy to follow by the Punjabi readership, but a large number of Swayyas are not that easy. Bhatt poets often indulge in exaggeration and use of glittering phraseology in their verses. Quite often two Bhatts follow each other in the same style. While entering their poetry in the Adi-Granth, the rules of Gurbani grammar and word-endings were applied, in order to bring the verses in line with the rest of Bani compositions. Some of the Swayyas clearly indicate that their authors were familiar with the Gurus' and Bhagats' phrases and vocabulary. Bhatt Gyand's repeated use of 'Waheguru' in his verses is proof of the popularity of the term in the Bhatt period.

In Praise of the Gurus

One major contribution of Bhatt-Bani is the praises showered on the first Five Gurus. Kalsahar who composed a total of 54 Swayyas, devoted 10 of these to Guru Nanak whom he calls 'Param' (Supreme) Guru. According to Kalsahar, Guru Nanak was bestowed with both 'Raj' and 'Yog' and as such he enjoyed Raj-Jog which characterized all the rest of Gurus as well. Kalsahar composed ten Swayyas in praise of Guru Angad Sahib, who attained to his height of spirituality as 'Jagat Guru' through contemplation of Naam. The Bhatt insists that by having 'Darshan' of the Guru, all sufferings vanish. Similarly, he pays tribute to Guru Amar Das who held all spiritual powers (riddhis and siddhis) by dint of Naam Bhagti. Passing on to Guru Ram Das, the poet refers to the pool of Nectar (Amrit-sar) established by the Fourth Guru. Kalsahar regards Guru Arjan as the harbinger of 'Janak Raj' in the region and the treasure of knowledge that is Guru-Bani.

The Bhatt poets who sang encomiums to Guru Amar Das included Jalap, Kirat and Bhikha. Salh and Bhalh also put down one Swayya each in praise of the Third Guru. According to Kirat, God (Narain himself) descended on the earth for the salvation of humanity. Bhatt Kirat's Swayya in reference to Guru Ram Das is quite popular among the Sikhs (starting with Hum Avgun Bharai). Nalh too chants his devotion to Guru Ram Das in his 16 Swayyas. He prays to the Guru for protection of his 'lajj' (honour). Gayand composed 13 Swayyas in praise of the Fourth Guru whom he believes to be incarnate of the Divine. His 'Wah-Wah' phrase is popularly recited by the Sikhs. Bhatt Mathura composed seven verses each in praise of Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan Sahib. His high devotion to the Gurus impresses the readers. The Divine Essence is absorbed in the Essence, culminating in the succession of Gurus. Guru Arjan, for him, is Hari himself. Similar sentiments are voiced in the compositions of other Bhatts.

The paeans (praises) sung by the Bhatts are to be seen collectively. All of them are one in holding the Gurus as the Ship (Bohitha or Jahaaz) for ferrying people across the Sea of mundane existence. The Gurus are as 'Paaras' – The Philosopher's Stone – whose touch turns base metal into gold. Guru Amar Das, says Kalsahar, has the sign of Lotus (Barij or Kamal) in his right hand and all spiritual powers are in front of him, whereas the worldly powers sought by the folks are held in his left hand. In paying obeisance to the Gurus, peace of mind and spiritual satisfaction can be attained. No one can hope to win emancipation without the Guru's blessing. The bard Mathura is convinced that whosoever meditates on Guru Arjan, would not be subject to transmigration. God himself has put the canopy of Grace over the head of Guru Arjan Sahib.

Historical References

Apart from the praises of Guru Nanak and the four successor Gurus, Bhatt Bani contains a number of references to the life-history of the Gurus. Evidently, the Bhatt-poets came into close contact with the Gurus and grasped their geneology. Some of their utterances confirm what the historians and biographers in general have stated. Bhatt Nalh clearly mentions Goindval situated on the banks of river Beas, where the Bhatts met with Guru Arjan and experienced the bliss. Their verses repeatedly depict the sequence of Guru Nanak up to Guru Arjan, pinpointing the Spirit or the divine Jyoti passing on from the first Guru to the second and so on. Bhatt Salh pays tribute to Guru Amar Das 'Son of Tej Bhan' – And the bard Kalsahar utters the praises of Guru Ram Das 'Son of Har Das'. He sings the glory of Guru Arjan who appeared in the 'Home of Guru Ram Das'. Such references indicate Bhatts' intimate knowledge of the Guru-household.

Classical References

The authors of Bhatt-Bani seem to be great admirers of Raja Janak whose reign of 'Janak-Raj' had no parallel. Kalsahar addressing Guru Ram Das says "Janak Raj becomes only to you." Again, referring to Guru Arjan, he says Satyug-like reign of Janak Raj has now prevailed. Guru Nanak is believed to have personified in various forms during the Four Yugas, viz. Satyug, Treta, Duaparn and Kaliyug. He was 'Ram' and he was 'Krishna' of the Classical period. Bhatt Nalh seeks protection of Guru Ram Das, just as Draupadi's honour was saved by providing endless robes to her. And Sudama of modest means was honoured by Krishna. The names of Harlot Ganika, Narad, Jasoda, Sanakas and several other angels and devils are mentioned in the verses. Even Nehaklank, Machh Kachh, Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and Shiva figure in the classical-mythological references in the Swayyas, which are composed to eulogize the Gurus.

Significance of Bhatt-Bani

Guru-Bani is the outpouring of divinely inspired spirits. Similarly Bhagat-Bani is an independent entity collected and selected by the Gurus and incorporated in the Holy Granth. But the Swayyas composed by the Bhatts are unique in the sense that they are testimony to the spiritual heights of Gurbani. The Bhatts did not belong to the family circle of the Gurus, nor were they associates of the Bhagats. They came to realize the Divine Essence present in the Gurus in person and in their sacred Word. Their recognition of the greatness of Gurus speaks eloquently in their verses and hymns.

Bhatt-Bani has ideological affinity with Guru-Bani as well as Bhagat-Bani. All the three centre around the vision of Naam. The Bhatts share with Gurbani their faith in the efficacy of Sat-Santokh-Gyan as the vehicle of deliverance. They endorse the name 'Waheguru' for the godhead. Their firmly rooted faith in the immortal character of Amrit-Bani brings out their Sikh Spirit.

The linking of Guru Nanak and other Gurus with Raja Janak, may be an off-shoot of the Bhatts' way of looking at the historical-mythological tradition of India. They believe it was Nanak and none else who operated in the person of Ram and Krishna. This is their own unique way of expressing their sentiments. They adopted the poetic metre Swayya for paying tributes to the Gurus, even though they were quite familiar with the use of classical Raags in Gurbani. Whatever the methods and means they chose for their poetry, their dedication to the Gurus is evident and crystal clear.

Controversy

The Bhatts loved the Gurus, treated them as revered Avtars and the accepted continuity of the same light in each one of them. According to them, it wa the same spirit which started with Guru Nanak and was passed on to the success Gurus. Their forms might have been different, but the spirit was the same. A important point which crops up at this stage is that, even though the Sikh culture accepts oneness of the spirit of the Gurus, the Bhatts saw Guru Nanak as the incarnation of Vishnu and the successor Gurus as the incarnation of Guru Nanak. The point which makes it more significant is that it was for the first time that this recognition was recorded in Sikh literature and the full credit goes to Bhatts.

Moreover, the theory of incarnation (Avtarvad) as accepted and narrated by the Bhatts is different from what has been the conceptual attitude recorded in Gur Bani. Here we would like to quote the eminent Sikh scholar, Bhai Santokh Singb, who is considered an authority on the history of the Gurus. He has mentioned in his work Suraj Prakash that Bhatts were the incarnations of Vedas. As stated earlier, the same expression has been repeated by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha in his Mahan Kosh. Mr. Trumpp has also accepted this version.

If we consider the Bhatt Bani, vis-a-vis Guru Bani, we find a marked change and deviation from the utterances of the Gurus. While the Gurus in general condemned the Avtarvad, the Bhatts were staunch followers of this tradition and wrote their poetry with this very knowledge and belief, derived from Hindu mythology and Puranic definitions. This is the root point which distinguishes the Bhatt Bani from Guru Bani. The marked difference makes the Bhatt Bani as an appendage to Adi Granth. Of late there have been some voices of dissent asking for disintegration of Bhatt Bani from Guru Granth Sahib but these voices have died down now. On the other hand those who do not want disintegration consider the very idea as sacrilege.

No doubt, Bhatt Bani was written as eulogy to the Gurus, yet analysing it with the diversity of its underlying theme and the undertone atmosphere, it may be concluded that the compiler of Adi Granth was much above the parochial and sectarian approach. He was radical, open-minded and gave liberal space in the Holy Book, to the poetry which could be termed as diagonally opposite to the convictions of the Gurus.

History

Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, author of Mahan Kosh has referred to an en the 'Sooraj Prakash' by Gyani Santokh Singh which accepts the Bhatts incarnations of Vedas. In other words he has accepted their scholarship, acknowledging them as the store-house of Vedas. Dr. Mohan Singh Diwan . The History of Punjabi Literature has accepted them as the court poets of the G who endeavoured to establish the social, religious and the spiritual state of Gurus in beautiful language.

According to records it is stated that Bhatt Bani was incorporated Adi Granth in AD 1604 by Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Guru, the compiler of the Ha Granth. During the life time of the fifth great spiritual leader of the Sikhs thei compositions were sung by balladeers, Satta and Balwand in the congregations melodious tunes to enthrall the audience with their devotional overtone.

Bani, recorded under the title Savaiyye, is the name popularly given to the compositions of the Bhatts as included in the Guru Granth Sahib (pp. 1389-1409). Bhatts were bards or panegyrists who recited poetry lauding the grandeur of a ruler or the gallantry of a warrior. Bhatt was also used as an epithet for a learned Brahman. In the Sikh tradition, Bhatts are poets with the personal experience and vision of the spirituality of the Gurus whom they celebrate in their verse. According to Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Pratap Süraj Granth, They were the Vedas incarnate (p. 2121).

The Bhatts are-said to have originally lived on the bank of the River Sarasvati which is also the name of the Indian mythological goddess of knowledge. They were thus called Sarasvat, i.e. the learned Brahmans. Those living on the other side of the Sarasvat were called Gaur. They showed little interest in learning and contended themselves with alms given them by their patrons whose bansavalinamas or genealogies they recorded in their scrolls called vahis. They are still found on the bank of the Sarasvati in the Talauda (Jind), Bhadson (Ladva) and Karsindhu (Safidon) villages in Haryana. Some of these families shifted over to Sultanpur Lodhi, now in Kapurthala district of the Punjab, and settled there. Bhikha and Toda of these families embraced the Sikh faith during the time of Guru Amar Das.

Bhai Gurdas ji

Bhai Gurdas also gives in his varan, XI. 21, a brief account of these Bhatts. What was the number of Bhatts whose compositions are included is a question not yet firmly answered. According to a tradition, Kalh, a leading Bhatt poet, took it upon himself to note down some of the verses of the Bhatts from the vahis and passed it on to Guru Arjan at the time of the compilation of the Holy Book.

As for the number of Bhatt contributors to the Guru Granth Sahib, Sahib Singh, Teja Singh, Taran Singh and other modern scholars count 11 of them, whereas Santokh Singh (Sri GurPratap Suraj Granth), Bhai Vir Singh (Guru Granth Kosh) and some others among the traditional scholars count 17, and Panclit Kartar Singh Dakha puts the figure at 19. This variation in owed to the fact that the Bhatts used to sing in chorus and sometimes the chorus sung in a group went in the name of the leader at other times individually in the members of the group.

The names of the Bhatts are not explicitly stated at the head of their respective hymns, unlike the case of Bhagat Bani. But the internal evidence of the verses and their styles, as also the numerical figures point to the count eleven. Some of the names do appear in the verses, for instance Bhika, Kirat, Jalap, Mathura and Haribans. Bhatt Kalsahar mentions his own name in several verses, but sometimes he calls himself 'Kal' and 'Tal'. At least in six verses in reference to Guru Ram Das, the word 'Kalchare' also signifies Kalsahar. In addition to these 11 Bhatts, the author of Ramkali Var 'Balwand' (in association with Satta) is also considered to be a Bhatt-poet.

Among the Bhatts, in the Guru Granth Sahib, Bhikha, son of Rayya, was a resident of Sultanpur Lodhi and had been a follower of Guru Amar Das. Of the total 123 savaiye in the Guru Granth Sahib two are of his composition, both in praise of Guru Amar Das Of the remaining sixteen Bhatt contributors four are his sons; Kalh, also called or Kal Thakur, who is reckoned to be the most learned of all the Bhatts, has 10 in praise of Guru Nanak, 9 each of Guru Angad and Guru Amar Das, 13 in praise of Guru Ram Das and 12 in praise of Guru Arjan; Jalap who had migrated to Goindval with his father has four his name all of which are in praise of Guru Amar Das; Kirat (d. 1634) has eight savaiye, four each in praise of Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das; and Mathura 12, all in praise of Guru Ram Das. Salh who has three savaiye extolling the pre-eminence of Guru Amar Das (1) and Guru Ram Das (2), Bhalh who has one savaiyya in praise of Guru Amar Das were the sons of Sekha, a brother of Rayya.

Balh who has five savaiye stressing the spiritual oneness of the Gurus was son of Tokha, another brother of Rayya. Haribans, the eldest son of Gokha, a brother of Rayya, has two savaiyyes , both in praise of Guru Arjan. Nalh has five savaiyyes all in praise of Guru Ram Das. Das also spelt dasu or dasi, has composed ten savaiyyes including one conjointly written with Sevak, who in addition to this has four savaiyye of his own. Parmanand has five savaiyyes are in praise of Guru Ram das, Tal's single one in praise of Guru Angad .Jalan has two savaiye in praise of Guru Ram Das, Jalh one in praise of Guru Amar Das and Gayand five which glorify Guru Ram Das. Of the total 123, ten each pay homage to Guru Nanak and Guru Angad, 22 to Guru Amar Das, Ram Das and 21 to Guru Arjan.

The main purpose of the savaiye is to acclaim the Gurus, not as individuals but as the revelation they embodied. The Bhatts see the Gurus as one light, as one spirit passing from one body to the other. Bhatt Kirat for instance: Just as (Guru) Angad was ever the part of Guru Nanak's being so is Guru Ram Das of (Guru) Amar Das's Again, Bhatt Kalh: From Guru Nanak was Angad: from Angad, Amar Das received sublime rank. From Guru Ram Das descended Guru Arjan, the great devotee of God (GG, 1407). This concept of all the Gurus being one light, one voice has informed all along the Sikh belief and development and constitutes today a fundamental principle of the faith.






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