Bhagat Pipa, also known as Raja Pipaji or Rao Pipa or Sardar Pipa or Pipa Bairagi or Pipanand Acharya, was a mystic poet, Rajput ruler turned bhagat and one of devotees whose hymns is incorporated in Guru Granth Sahib. Venerated in region of Punjab, among Sikhs his devotional hymn is widely quoted by most of preachers. Since childhood, He was a Sakta follower, thereafter adopted Vaishnavism in company of Ramananda and then adopted Gurmat way of life. His hymn is considered among one of influences of Bhakti movement in India.
Raja Pipaji was born, as Pratap Rao, at Gagaron, in present-day Jhalawar district of Rajasthan in a Khichi Chauhan Rajput family. His great grandfather King Jaitpal obtained possession of Gagron by killing Kamal-Ud-Din, Governor. Raja Pipaji was successor of Rao Khandwa and ruled Gagron possibly between 1360 to 1385.
He had 12 queens among those Rani Sita was his devout lady and was very dear to him. Sita was daughter of King Haja Solanki of Toda Rai Singh in District Tonk. Her name was Padmavati which was changed to Sita after marriage.
As ancestors were worshiper of Goddess Bhavani, he continued worshiping Bhavani in the form an Idol with eight arms holding weapons, bearing the head of the slain demon Mahishasura. He accepted Bairagi faith later on under influence of Ramananda.
Ramananda was following tyaga section of Ramanuja's Bairagi tradition, when this historical encounter occurred in Kashi and was ascetic rely upon meditation and strict ascetic practices and also believe that the grace of god is required for them to achieve liberation.
When King Pipa went to Benaras, Ramananda refused to see him in his gaudy robes. Pipa cast off his royal apparel and put on a mendicant's garment. He returned home after initiation and began to live like an ascetic. At his invitation Ramanand visited Gagrongarh, and the Raja lent his shoulder to the palanquin carrying him in a procession. After conversion to Bairagi, one has to adopt the following karmas:
1. Pilgrimage to Dwarka
2. Shankha, Chakra etc. Symbols on body
3. Tilaka of Gopichand
4. Worshipping Idols of Krishna and Rama
5. Putting Bead garland of Tulsi around Neck
Pipa devoutly follow all of above Karmas. Pipa now finally decided to give up his throne and retire to a life of seclusion and meditation. He went to Dwarka (Gujrat) where Lord Krishna, after the Mahabharata war, had spent the last years of his life. All the twelve wives of Pipa insisted on accompanying him, but he took along only one, named Sita, who was of a pious temperament. He selected a cave for his residence from where he daily walked through a tunnel to the temple of Krishna on the sea coast. The temple is still a popular place of pilgrimage. and a fair is held there annually in Pipa's memory. After what he thought was a personal encounter with the Lord, he gave up idol-worship.
Though, the prevalent belief is that Ramananda and some of his disciples got converted by Kabir from Bairagi denomination to strict monotheism. Kabir was disciple of Ramananda and when he was not getting any spiritual benefit, Seeking the same he shifted to Maghar and studied Vedas. After attaining spiritual wisdom and essence of vedas, he returned Kashi and discussed his essence with Ramananda and other disciples including Pipaji. They started understang his wisdom and thoughts were accepted by all and everyone left Idolatry and Karmic philosophy thereafter.
From an Idol worshiper, Pipaji turned worshiper of the Formless One. As he says in his hymn in the Guru Granth Sahib, the subtle body itself is the Supreme Being's temple (kaiau deval) and one need not make stone images of him and burn incense or light candles in front of them.
His great grand father named Jotpal won the Malwa area from muslims and became its king. As Pipa's father died young, so Pipa became king. Because of youthfulness and customs he had 12 to 16 queens. Though he was very rich and had a great personality, he was also a spiritual and Godly person. He was a devotee of the Goddess Bhavani whose idol was enshrined in a temple within the premises of his palace. It is said that the Goddess once told him in a dream to visit Kashi (Varanasi) and receive initiation from Bhagat Ramanand.
Some people claim that Pipa met Nanak during journeys but this point is not proven. It is also said that Bhagat Pipa once met Guru Nanak in the town of Toda. This discovery is said to have been found through the teachings of Anant Das (who was the grandson of Bhagat Pipa), found by Principal Harbhajan Singh of Chandigarh. Anant Das wrote that the tola of the sadhus from Punjab (Guru Nanak) was going from Pushkar to Kashi and stayed at Toda town. However, the fact has not been proven.
It is believed that Pipa lived before Nanak's time and was here on earth at same time as Kabir, Ramanand, Sain etc were.
Bhagat Pipa in Dwarka Pipa finally decided to give up his throne and retire to a life of seclusion and meditation. He went to Dwarka (Gujarat) where Lord Krishna, after the Mahabharata war, had spent the last years of his life. All the twelve wives of Pipa insisted on accompanying him, but he took along only one, named Sita, who was of a pious temperament. He selected a cave for his residence from where he walked daily through a tunnel to the temple of Krishna on the sea coast. The temple is still a popular place of pilgrimage and a fair is held there annually in Pipa's memory. After what he thought was a personal encounter with the Lord, he gave up idol-worship.
He and his companion-wife started living in a jungle. After a period of penance, he set out roaming about the country to serve the common people. He, along with his wife, sang hymns and prayers of his own composition and collected money to be distributed among the poor. He fed the beggars and treated them as God's chosen ones.
Once an idol-worshipper (saguna bhakta) Pipa became a worshipper of the Formless One (nirguna devotee).
As he says in his hymn in the Guru Granth Sahib, the body itself is the Supreme Being's temple (kaiau deval). One need not make stone images of Him and burn incense or light candles in front of them. Pipa composed many hymns in praise of the Lord and sang them along with his wife for seeking alms. The money he received was put to the service of the poor.
The traditional genealogy of Gagron suggests his death as early as 1400. His son, Maharaja Dwarka Nath, was successor of Gagron. His grandson Maharaja Achal Das ruled Gagron from 1410 AD and was killed by hereditary Muslim enemies in 1448 and captured Gagron.
Two collections of Pipa's sayings are known to exist, namely Shñ Pipa ji Bani and Sarab Gutaka, both in manuscript form. Pipa Math, a monastery in Dwãrkã, honours his memory.
A Gurmukh can easily understand life of Bhagat Pipa's through his Bani, in which he himself tells his beliefs before encountering with Gurmat. Following facts are clear from his Bani:
1. Renouncer turned householder: This belief is confirmed from above story and from his Bani too. Before finding Gurmat, he was an ascetic, as written ਕਾਇਆ ਬਹ ਖੰਡ ਖੋਜਤੇ ਨਵ ਨਿਧਿ ਪਾਈ ॥ , but after experiencing Gurmat he changed. He said ਜੋ ਬਰਹਮੰਡੇ ਸੋਈ ਪਿੰਡੇ ਜੋ ਖੋਜੈ ਸੋ ਪਾਵੈ ॥, which means what one finds in the world is actually present in one's inner body. It means after having encounter with Gurmat he came back to his home or preached Gurmat only thereafter.
2. Do not support pilgrimages: Peepa find that there is no use of going for pilgrimages as God is present in one's heart all the time and one should visit there and purify it with God's name, ਕਾਇਅਉ ਜੰਗਮ ਜਾਤੀ ॥
3. Was against ritualism: While worshipping, people use light essence etc. which Peepa says is of no use. It's better if one does aarti of one's own inner body with Gurmat.
Raja Pipaji, like Ramananda, used to visit temple for worship Idols with incense, lamps and offerings but when he got to know about Formless attribute of lord he left physical worship and wrote following hymn which was included in Adi Granth Sahib: Shabad by Bhagat Pipa:
ਕਾਯਉ ਦੇਵਾ ਕਾਇਅਉ ਦੇਵਲ ਕਾਇਅਉ ਜੰਗਮ ਜਾਤੀ ॥
ਕਾਇਅਉ ਧੂਪ ਦੀਪ ਨਈਬੇਦਾ ਕਾਇਅਉ ਪੂਜਉ ਪਾਤੀ ॥੧॥
ਕਾਇਆ ਬਹੁ ਖੰਡ ਖੋਜਤੇ ਨਵ ਨਿਧਿ ਪਾਈ ॥
ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਆਇਬੋ ਨਾ ਕਛੁ ਜਾਇਬੋ ਰਾਮ ਕੀ ਦੁਹਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
ਜੋ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਡੇ ਸੋਈ ਪਿੰਡੇ ਜੋ ਖੋਜੈ ਸੋ ਪਾਵੈ ॥
ਪੀਪਾ ਪ੍ਰਣਵੈ ਪਰਮ ਤਤੁ ਹੈ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਹੋਇ ਲਖਾਵੈ ॥੨॥੩॥
Within the Subtle body, the Divine Lord is embodied.
The Subtle body is the temple, the place of pilgrimage, and the pilgrim.
Within the Subtle body are incense, lamps and offerings.
Within the Subtle body are the flower offerings. ॥1॥
I searched throughout many realms,
but I found the New treasure within the Subtle body.
Nothing comes, and nothing goes;
I pray to the Lord for Mercy. ॥1॥ Pause॥
The One who pervades the Universe also dwells in the physical body;
whoever seeks Him, finds Him there.
Pipa prays, the Lord is the supreme essence;
He reveals Himself through the True Guru.
Gurmat Gyan (Knowledge)
Other Gurbani Contributors