Bhagat Bhikhan (1480-1573) was a medieval Indian saint two of whose hymns are included in the Guru Granth Sahib. Bhagat Bhikhan was the most learnt of the learned men of the time of Emperor Akbar. He lived a very simple life, A married man and householder, he was held in high repute for his piety and learning, guided by pious and high thinking. Bhagat Bhikhan breathed his last in 1631 Bikrami (1574-A.D.), the time when Guru Ram Das occupied the spiritual throne of Guru Nanak. The common and well known belief is that Bhikhan was a Sufi saint of Lucknow.
Who was he?
Like other Bhagats knowledge of his early life is limited. There's lots of confusion about his identity, religion and birth place. There were two saints of that time with the name Bhikhan - Saint Bhikhan(Hindu) and Sheikh Bhikhan(Musilm). Even Bhagat Bhikhan is linked with three places by historians; Kakori(Lucknow), Pakori (UP) and Punjab. It is not sure wether he was muslim or hindu. but popular belief is that he was sheikh of Kakori(UP) and was Sufi.
- Acc. to Mcaullife, Bhagat bhikhan was a Muslim Sheikh, a married man of akbar's times. In his book, The Sikh Religion, he wrote that Bhikhan belonged to Kakori (UP). He died during during the early years of akbar's regime. He also included that when Muzaffar Khan revolted against akbar he camped near saint bhikhans grave. Badyuni also mentioned one more saint called Bhikhan Vasvani, which Macaliffe thinks was the same person. He was a nuyayi of Kabir. But still he is confused that it may be some other Bhikhan too.
- A Persian Writer Badyuni relates that Bhagat Bhikan belonged to Kakori (UP) and was the most learned man of his times. He was learned in Dharam Shashtras and was a pious person. He knew whole qur'an sharif zubani. He preached Quran Sharif. He was disciple of Mir Sayyed Ibrahim. A Sufi, he did not tell people about secrets of god openly but use to tell to devotees and seekers. He also said that he was a prominent sufi who was against music. He left behind several children who were adorned with piety, wisdom, knowledge and virtue. He preached that one should read Adhyatmik granths only. Sheikh Sahib died in 921 Hijri i.e 1573 - 74. Badyuni also mentioned one more saint called Bhikhan Vasvani.
- Acc. to Pundit narayan Singh, He was a Hindu Saint of Kayisath caste and was born during 1473 in Town pakoi in Lakhnow District. He was 90 of age. Parshuram Chaturvedi also thinks that he was vaishnav saint. Pundit narayan Singh said he was born in Pakoi. (It seems that the Lucknow word kakori, became pakoi when it reached the Punjab.)
- Bhai Kanh Singh Nabha mentioned only a vague history of Bhagat Bhikhan, calling him a sadhu and sufi faqir. He believes that he died in 1631, which would mean that he died at the age of 101, but he didn't mention that he was same man as the- kakori sheikh bhikhan?
- Acc to Nirmal Dass's, Songs of the saints from the Adi Granth, Bhikhan was a disciple of Kabir, which makes the largely Hindu overtoned words of his rhymes, the atmosphere of these rhymes are not islamic, however there are many saints who are claimed by different religions, such as Baba Farid, Kabir and Madho Lal Hussain, to mention only a few.
- Prof. Sahib Singh says that Bhagat Bhikhan was neither a Muslim nor a Sufi.
- Sardar Joginder Singh says that Bhagat Bhikhan was a Vaishnav Sant.
- Acc. to Dr. Dharmpal Singhal, he was related to punjab as his bani shabdavali is the same as one by guru Nanak, he suspects that Bhikhan ji was a sishya of the Guru, who may have even met Guru Nanak Sahib. With his style of bani so similar to Guru Ji's, he believes that it is wrong to think that bhikhan was from kakori and how could he be a sufi faqir and dislike music. Acc. to him he was prabhavit from gurus bani and have same veechar as they had and even used a theth punjabi muhavra in bani "Doye nain santokhe", Veechar and Language is same as gurus. In Guru Granth Sahib the Bani of Bhagat Bhikhan shows him the lover of RAM's name but acc. to Badyuni he was a muslim, prehaps he was a sufi but as sufi he using ram name is not seems to true, but this can't be impossible. Acc to the Stanzas of Guru Granth sahib, Saint Bhikhan have very good hindi using idioms. He have delicate flavour in his poem. which makes us feel that he was hindi speaking person. Other then guru granth sahib there is one more poem which is written in Sarbangi Granth on page 138 which is equal to guru granth sahib poems if we consider the language. In that stanza Mukand, word is used for god, who is emancipater, there's no word like allah or any other which gives clue that Bhagat bhikhan was a sufi. The shabdavali used in these lines gives a itution that he was some Vaishnav Saint, Stress Sangat and Mukti makes the indian bhav so it's difficult to call him a sufi. It is also written that his guru was Sayyed Meer Ibarhim, but if it was ramanand or some other indian saint then we could declare him one, but as his guru was different so it feels it was not Sheikh Bhikhan. Acc. to this his nature is calm and pure, vaishnav style of bhagti, was dhaarni of saadh sangat, daya and khima. He use Braj Language no Sandukhrhi hindi. Use idioms but very komal pardhan. His bani have significance of name and ahima of guru. and ustat of Ram, Banvari, Murari and Mukand. His stanzas show ihe was pious bhagat. Dr. Dharampal Singhal's claim that he was related to Punjab may be questionable, as it is well known that Guru Arjun Dev ji changed the wording of many Bhagats into local languages so that sikhs would be able to understand them. Perhaps, he even had to use Panjabi synonyms to make Bhagat Bhikhan's Bani understandable?
- Sardar Lakhwinderpal Singh Kumkulan, stated in an article, that Bhagat ji was not a muslim, as the wordings of his bani gives no clue that he was a sheikh, as no urdu words are used in his shabad, while Hindu words such as - nain, neer khina, kanth, mukand, banvari, ramrai are prevalent; moreover if he was a sheikh then why didn't Guru Nanak ji preface his name with the word sheikh, as he did with Sheikh Farid.
Claims that Bhagat Bhikhan was Pir Bhikhan Shah of Ghuram
Some scholars are under the mistaken belief that the two hymns included in the Scripture in the name of Bhikhan are in fact by [Sayyed Bhikhan Shah]], a holy-man who spent most of his time in the village of Ghuram, near Patiala, but they forget that he was a contemporary of Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh, who (as the tradition goes) was about to perform Naamaz (Muslim prayer) facing Makkah, but when he sensed of the birth of Gobind Rai, he immediately turned eastward towards Patna(the city where Guru Gobind Singh was born) to pay his obeisance. Today a monument has been erected in Ghuram in honour of Pir Bhikhan Shah. No doubt, Pir Bhikhan Shah was a sufi saint of high spiritual merit, but none of his verses are included in the Sikh Scripture.
In Raga Sorath the Bani is daraj, there are two of his shabads on page 659/660
ਰਾਗ ਸੋਰਠਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਭਗਤ ਭੀਖਨ ਕੀ
Raag Sorat'h, The Word Of Devotee Bheekhan Jee:
ੴ ਸਤਿਗਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:
ਨੈਨਹ ਨੀਰ ਬਹੈ ਤਨ ਖੀਨਾ ਭਝ ਕੇਸ ਦਧ ਵਾਨੀ ॥
Tears well up in my eyes, my body has become weak, and my hair has become milky-white.
ਰੂਧਾ ਕੰਠ ਸਬਦ ਨਹੀ ਉਚਰੈ ਅਬ ਕਿਆ ਕਰਹਿ ਪਰਾਨੀ ॥੧॥
My throat is tight, and I cannot utter even one word; what can I do now? I am a mere mortal. ||1||
ਰਾਮ ਰਾਇ ਹੋਹਿ ਬੈਦ ਬਨਵਾਰੀ ॥
O Lord, my King, Gardener of the world-garden, be my Physician,
ਅਪਨੇ ਸੰਤਹ ਲੇਹ ਉਬਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
and save me, Your Saint. ||1||Pause||
ਮਾਥੇ ਪੀਰ ਸਰੀਰਿ ਜਲਨਿ ਹੈ ਕਰਕ ਕਰੇਜੇ ਮਾਹੀ ॥
My head aches, my body is burning, and my heart is filled with anguish.
ਝਸੀ ਬੇਦਨ ਉਪਜਿ ਖਰੀ ਭਈ ਵਾ ਕਾ ਅਉਖਧ ਨਾਹੀ ॥੨॥
Such is the disease that has struck me; there is no medicine to cure it. ||2||
ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਨਾਮ ਅੰਮਰਿਤ ਜਲ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਇਹ ਅਉਖਧ ਜਗਿ ਸਾਰਾ ॥
The Name of the Lord, the ambrosial, immaculate water, is the best medicine in the world.
ਗਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਕਹੈ ਜਨ ਭੀਖਨ ਪਾਵਉ ਮੋਖ ਦਆਰਾ ॥੩॥੧॥
By Guru's Grace, says servant Bheekhan, I have found the Door of Salvation. ||3||1||
ਝਸਾ ਨਾਮ ਰਤਨ ਨਿਰਮੋਲਕ ਪੰਨਿ ਪਦਾਰਥ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
Such is the Naam, the Name of the Lord, the invaluable jewel, the most sublime wealth, which I have found through good deeds.
ਅਨਿਕ ਜਤਨ ਕਰਿ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਰਾਖਿਆ ਰਤਨ ਨ ਛਪੈ ਛਪਾਇਆ ॥੧॥
By various efforts, I have enshrined it within my heart; this jewel cannot be hidden by hiding it. ||1||
ਹਰਿ ਗਨ ਕਹਤੇ ਕਹਨ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥
The Glorious Praises of the Lord cannot be spoken by speaking.
ਜੈਸੇ ਗੂੰਗੇ ਕੀ ਮਿਠਿਆਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
They are like the sweet candies given to a mute. ||1||Pause||
ਰਸਨਾ ਰਮਤ ਸਨਤ ਸਖ ਸਰਵਨਾ ਚਿਤ ਚੇਤੇ ਸਖ ਹੋਈ ॥
The tongue speaks, the ears listen, and the mind contemplates the Lord; they find peace and comfort.
ਕਹ ਭੀਖਨ ਦਇ ਨੈਨ ਸੰਤੋਖੇ ਜਹ ਦੇਖਾਂ ਤਹ ਸੋਈ ॥੨॥੨॥
Says Bheekhan, my eyes are content; wherever I look, there I see the Lord. ||2||2||
An Article from Sikh Phulwari
Bhagat Bhikan's Bani
Bhagat Bhikhan's Bani can be found in the following ANG (page) of Guru Granth Sahib:
- Bhagat Bhikhan, pg. 659
- Harbans Singh, Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Published by Punjabi University, Patiala
- Max Arthur MacAuliff, The Sikh Religion, Vol 6,, Oxford University Press, 1909.
- Sri Guru Granth Sahib Page 659
- Dr. Dharampal Singhal, Bhagat Bhikhan.
|These are the 15 Bhagats of Sikhism
Bhagat Beni | Bhagat Bhikhan | Bhagat Dhanna | Sheikh Farid | Bhagat Jaidev | Bhagat Kabir | Bhagat Namdev | Bhagat Parmanand | Bhagat Pipa | Bhagat Ramanand | Bhagat Ravidas | Bhagat Sadhna | Bhagat Sain | Bhagat Surdas | Bhagat Trilochan