Brahm Giani is a Sikhi term used to describe a highly enlightened individual who has obtained the ultimate blessings of Waheguru. The eighth Ashtapadee in the Sukhmani Sahib gives us a definition of a Brahm Giani and a yardstick to measure if an individual has achieved this state of spiritual attainment and enlightenment.
Shalok: The True One is on his mind, and the True One is upon his lips. He sees only the One. O Nanak, these are the qualities of the Brahm Giani. ||1|| Ashtapadee:
The Brahm Giani is always unattached, as the lotus in the water remains detached. The Brahm Giani is always unstained, like the sun, which gives its comfort and warmth to all. The Brahm Giani looks upon all alike, like the wind, which blows equally upon the king and the poor beggar. The Brahm Giani has a steady patience, like the earth, which is dug up by one, and anointed with sandal paste by another. This is the quality of the Brahm Giani: O Nanak, his inherent nature is like a warming fire. ||1||
The Brahm Giani is the purest of the pure; filth does not stick to water. The Brahm Giani mind is enlightened, like the sky above the earth. To the Brahm Giani, friend and foe are the same. The Brahm Giani has no egotistical pride. The Brahm Giani is the highest of the high. Within his own mind, he is the most humble of all. They alone become Brahm Giani, O Nanak, whom God Himself makes so. ||2||
The Brahm Giani is the dust of all. The Brahm Giani knows the nature of the soul. The Brahm Giani shows kindness to all. No evil comes from the Brahm Giani. The Brahm Giani is always impartial. Nectar rains down from the glance of the Brahm Giani. The Brahm Giani is free from entanglements. The lifestyle of the Brahm Giani is spotlessly pure. Spiritual wisdom is the food of the Brahm Giani. O Nanak, the Brahm Giani is absorbed in God’s meditation. ||3||
The Brahm Giani centers his hopes on the One alone. The Brahm Giani shall never perish. The Brahm Giani is steeped in humility. The Brahm Giani delights in doing good to others. The Brahm Giani has no worldly entanglements. The Brahm Giani holds his wandering mind under control. The Brahm Giani acts in the common good. The Brahm Giani blossoms in fruitfulness. In the Company of the Brahm Giani, all are saved. O Nanak, through the Brahm Giani, the whole world meditates on God. ||4||
The Brahm Giani loves the One Lord alone. The Brahm Giani dwells with God. The Brahm Giani takes the Naam as his Support. The Brahm Giani has the Naam as his Family. The Brahm Giani is awake and aware, forever and ever. The Brahm Giani renounces his proud ego. In the mind of the Brahm Giani, there is supreme bliss. In the home of the Brahm Giani, there is everlasting bliss. The Brahm Giani dwells in peaceful ease. O Nanak, the Brahm Giani shall never perish. ||5||
The Brahm Giani knows God. The Brahm Giani is in love with the One alone. The Brahm Giani is carefree. Pure are the Teachings of the Brahm Giani. The Brahm Giani is made so by God Himself. The Brahm Giani is gloriously great. The Darshan, the Blessed Vision of the Brahm Giani, is obtained by great good fortune. To the Brahm Giani, I make my life a sacrifice. The Brahm Giani is sought by the great god Shiva. O Nanak, the Brahm Giani is Himself the Supreme Lord God. ||6||
The Brahm Giani cannot be appraised. The Brahm Giani has all within his mind. Who can know the mystery of the Brahm Giani? Forever bow to the Brahm Giani. The Brahm Giani cannot be described in words. The Brahm Giani is the Lord and Master of all. Who can describe the limits of the Brahm Giani? Only the Brahm Giani can know the state of the Brahm Giani. The Brahm Giani has no end or limitation. O Nanak, to the Brahm Giani, bow forever in reverence. ||7||
The Brahm Giani is the Creator of the entire world. The Brahm Giani lives forever, and does not die. The Brahm Giani is the Giver of the way of liberation of the soul. The Brahm Giani is the Perfect Supreme Being, who orchestrates all. The Brahm Giani is the helper of the helpless. The Brahm Giani extends his hand to all. The Brahm Giani owns the entire creation. The Brahm Giani is himself the Formless Lord. The glory of the Brahm Giani belongs to the Brahm Giani alone. O Nanak, the Brahm Giani is the Lord of all. ||8||8||
Below is the definition by By D. K. Gupta
BRAHM GIANI (Sanskrit Brahmajnanin), literally the knower of Brahman or one possessing the knowledge of Brahman. The knowledge (giana, jnana) of the Universal Spirit (Brahman) consists not in the mere recognition of His existence, but in a continuous consciousness about Him—His realization in the heart or rather the realization of a total identity of the individual soul (atman) with that Universal Soul (Brahman), which makes the former transcend joy and sorrow and life and death. This total identity signifies, in essence, the oneness of the Universe with that Universal Soul and of the latter with the individual souls which a Brahmgiani realizes as the Ultimate Reality. The concept of Brahman in Sikhism delineates the Universal Spirit in theistic terms as the Absolute, the Creator and the Ordainer of the Universe which is, as it were, His visible form.
The concept of Brahmgiani in Sikhism is elaborated in sublime poetry of Guru Arjan, Nanak V, in his Sukhmani (GG, 272-74). According to him Brahmgiani is one who has realized, in his life, the One Supreme Spirit as well as his identity with the individual selves. Such a person has also been called gurmukh, sadhu or sant. The Brahmgiani enjoys the highest spiritual status and he is accorded the highest veneration. The Brahmgiani in Sukhmani is postulated as being unattached (nirlep) like the lotus in water. He is endowed with Divine realization; he is deeply humane and compassionate. To all is he gracious casting an equal glance on all like the sun, and indifferent to praise or dispraise like the earth. He has humility and is ever anxious to do good to others. In a moment of exaltation, Guru Arjan pronounces him the Supreme Being Himself—such is his merit, such his holiness: “Nanak brahmgiani api parmesur” (GG, 273). He is compared to the earth to whom he who is digging it with the shovel and he who is plastering it with sandalwood are alike. Brahmgiani is gracious, compassionate to all. From all bonds is he free. On God is solely his reliance and on Him are all his hopes centred. Ever is he awake in spirit. To all does he bring liberation by his counsel.
|Brahmgiani is the creator of all, immortal, dying never.
Brahmgiani is the conferrer of the way of liberation, the perfect being, rewarder of deeds.
Brahmgiani is the succourer of the helpless;
Brahmgiani affords protection to all.
All creation is Brahmgiani’s image;
Brahmgiani himself is the Supreme Being.
Brahmgiani alone is deserving of his high repute;
Of all is Brahmgiani the overlord, sayeth Nanak.
Brahm giani looks on all beings equally and impartially—brahmgiani sada samdarsi (GG, 272). He showers the nectar of love and affection of all (GG, 373). An embodiment of compassion, he does good to others and helps those in distress. A model of piety and righteousness, he is the repository of all ethical virtues and a shunner of all vices and sins (GG, 272, 273). He is unaffected by the pleasures and enjoyments of the world just as the lotus-leaf remains untouched by water. He is fully in control of his mind and is pure and blemishless (GG. 272-73). He takes pleasure and pain, profit and loss alike. A Brahm giani leads others to the path of holiness and piety. He commands their spontaneous respect and reverence by virtue of his great glory and profound spiritual influence over them (GG, 273). He is a serene and sublime soul and an ideal human entity of ineffable greatness, who, in his supreme spiritual attainment, eminently commands the vision of the Universal Soul in himself and who has even been exalted by Guru Arjan to the position of the Supreme Being, in the eighth astpadi or canto of Sukhmani: “Brahmgiani puran purakhu bidhata. . . Brahmgiani api nirankaru (GG, 273-74).
1. Winternitz, M., History of Indian Literature. Tr. S. Ketkar. Calcutta, 1927
2. Sher Singh, The Philosophy of Sikhism. Lahore, 1944
3. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990
4. Jodh Singh, Bhai, Gurmati Nirnaya. Lahore, 1932
Above adapted from article By D. K. Gupta