Bhai Gurdas (1551- 23 September 1637) is a much honoured Sikh scholar, missionary, and literary master who is also respected for his Sikh way of life. He was a leading figure in Sikhism who enjoyed the company of Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh Guru.
It was under the supervision of the fifth Sikh Guru that he inscribed the first copy of Sikh Scripture, then called The Adi Granth, which is now respected as the perpetual Guru of the Sikhs and is central of the Sikh religion. He was also responsible for various writings in his own right which have gained much respect in the Sikh community. His Varan have been referred to by Guru Arjan as the “Key” (“khungee”) to the Guru Granth Sahib. Bhai Sahib is also responsible for composing the composition known as “Kabit Savaiye Bhai Gurdas”.
Bhai Sahib was born in a Bhalla Khatri family. His father was Bhai Ishar Das and his mother’s name was Mata Jivani. He was born at Goindval, Punjab, India in 1551. He was the nephew of the third Guru, Guru Amar Das. (see Guru family tree) Bhai Gurdas was a first cousin of Mata Bhani, mother of Guru Arjan Dev.
Bhai Gurdas, who was the only child of his parents, lost his mother when he was barely three and his father when he was 12. He had spent his early years at Goindval and Sultanpur Lodhi. At the former place, he had the opportunity of listening to many men of knowledge and spiritual attainment who kept visiting the town which fell on the Delhi-Lahore road. At that time the city was the religious centre of the Sikhs.
· (Bhai Ishar Das, one of Guru Amar Das’s brothers had settled in Goindval soon after the town was founded in 1546AD, 1603 Bk).
Bhai Gurdas later proceeded to Varanasi where he studied Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures, subsequently he was initiated into Sikhism. He was then sent as a missionary of the Sikh Guru to spread the teaching of Guru Nanak. He made extensive visits to Agra, Lucknow, Varanasi, Burhanpur, Rajasthan, Jammu and the Chamba hills, preaching Guru Nanak’s words.
After the passing of Guru Ram Das, in 1581, Bhai Gurdas returned to the Punjab, where he first visited Goindval and thence proceeded to Amritsar to pay his obeisance to Guru Arjan, Guru Ram Das’s successor. He made Amritsar his home and through his devotion and love of learning carved for himself a pre-eminent position among the Guru’s disciples.
When the Guru compiled the Adi Granth containing the hymns of the Gurus and those of some saints and sufis, Bhai Gurdas inscribed the the entire text. Though the original copy was once turned over to Guru Tegh Bahadur after an attempt on the ninth Guru’s life, it was returned at the wish of the Guru to Dhir Mall, the elder son of Baba Gurditta and a grandson of Guru Hargobind. Though many hope that the original Bir as penned by Bhai Gurdas will one day return to the possession of the Panth, the original Granth is still in the possession of the family of Dhir Mall’s descendants at Kartarpur, in Jalandhar district of the Punjab. (Some have pointed out that had the Adi Granth been in the library of the Darbar Sahib during 1984’s attack the Original Bir would most likely have been lost in the fires that destroyed so many priceless treasures of Sikh History.)
Sewadar and dedicated academic
Bhai Gurdas also contributed the labour of his hands to the excavation of the sacred pool at Amritsar (1577). He was chosen to recite the Gurus’ hymns to Emperor Akbar when he visited Kartarpur in 1596-97 on his way back from a military campaign.
As the tradition goes, the Emperor had been incited by Prithi Chand and his supporters against Guru Arjan saying that the hymns he was planning to compile into a volume had an anti-Muslim tone. As Bhai Gurdas read out verses selected at random, the Emperor was deeply impressed with their spiritual content.
Respected Sikh leader
When Guru Hargobind, Nanak Vl, decided to construct the Akal Takht (lit. Throne of the Timeless (a reference to God)) in front of the Harmandar Sahib , he entrusted the task to the two most revered Sikhs of the time, Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Buddha, the latter who had been blessed by Guru Nanak himself.
Bhai Gurdas was assigned to look after the premises. Guru Hargobind also appointed him to teach his young son (the future (Guru) Tegh Bahadur, the ancient classics. Bhai Buddha also trained the Guru’s son in the manly arts of archery and horsemanship.
Philosopher and Chief scribe
Bhai Gurdas continued as the ‘bulwark’ of Sikhi for many years. He was the expounder and exemplar of the Sikh way of life. He was a man of wide learning especially in ancient texts and philosophy who devoted his exceptional talents to preaching the Sikh faith. He composed verse which is valued for its vigorous, fast paced style and for its vivid exposition of the teaching of the Gurus.
His poetry, now available in two volumes, in Punjabi, Varan Bhai Gurdas and in Braj, Kabitt Savaiyye, is often sung along with gurbani, the Gurus’ words, at holy congregations. Guru Arjan put his seal of approval on the Varan Bhai Gurdas by designating it as the “key” to the Sikh Holy Scripture.
Bhai Gurdas Ji passed away at Goindwal Sahib, during Sixth Patshah, Sri Guru Har Gobind’s period. Guru Sahib personally conducted the last rights and the cremation of Bhai Gurudas Ji’s body.
23 Sep, 2023
Bhai Gurdas ji has been a great thinker/poet. He was born in the womb of his mother Jeevani to his father Datar Singh. Father’s name is Datar Chand in many places. Their birthplace is Gillwali, while according to many scholars, the place of birth is Goindwal. One scholar’s name is Datar Singh and mother’s name is Sukhdei. His birth time has also been shown differently by different historians.
Many scholars say this period as 1604-1694, some 1608-1695 and some 1615-1696. Aap ji had the good fortune of enthroning four Gurus. Aap ji’s family was in love with Guru Ghar. This is the reason why he also joined the service of Guru Ghar at a young age (12 years).
You were the only child of your parents. He was three years old when his mother left him and when he was 12 years old, his father’s shadow also left his head. He acquired deep knowledge of Punjabi, Hindi and Sanskrit languages. The 40 chants composed by you are considered as the key to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. When we come under the shelter of Guru, we get rid of sorrows/sufferings. He who stays away from devotion to God is always surrounded by troubles. Devotion to God is the boat that can take us across the ocean. Worshiping any other will other than the Lord is said to be manmat.
Vinu Gur Charana Poojana all trash.
(Verse 36, Step 13)
Satsang only puts us on the right path. When we are away from the glory of Satguru, we are surrounded by many kinds of sufferings. Without the shelter of Satguru, we cannot succeed in our efforts:
Kotin Saadin Ketde Jangal Bhupala.
Thalin Varole Ketde Parbat Betala.
Iksu Satgur Bahre Sabhi All Janjala
(v. 34, Pauri 18)
Now see Bhai Sahib is mentioning the glory of the name. what is the name What is the gift of name? Where and how to get it?
Naam is a gift given by the Lord to the mind temple of a Gur Sikh on which he meditates and becomes absorbed in the devotion of the Lord.
Simrano Satguru Mantu Kolu Rasu Ikhai of Gursikhi.
(Verse 28 step 5)
Another reference to this fact:
Gurmukhi oankaru sabdi dhiaiye.
Gurumukh Sabdu Vicharu Sada Liv Lai.
(War-19, step 16)
Now see what is Sabdu? It has been explained as follows:-
Adi Purkhu Adesu Kari
Adi Jugadi Sabd vartayaya.
(Verse 24 step 13)
What is the form of the word? The word is not stagnant water, but the fountain that is creating the music:
Anhad naad asankh suni hoy suhane/hiranai.
(Verse 13, Step-4)
The word is a light that dispels the darkness within us:
Sabad surati gur sikhu hoi
anhad bani nijhardhara.
(Verse 24 Pauri 14)
A divine light is shining upon us, of which we are all ignorant and wandering here and there:
Sadhsangati Sach Khand Gurmukhi Jaya
Sachu Nau Balwandu Gurmukhi Dhiai.
(Verse 22 verse 18)
The word is God’s faith. Therefore, the word is similar to the Guru, by uttering which we get rid of sorrows and pains.
Sabdi Surati Chela Guru Parmesaru Soi.
(Verse 13 Step 2)
Who is a Gursikh? He who chants the name meditates.
Last night wake up namu danu isnanu diraye.
Words Satguru spread the message of the mind.
(Verse 28 step 15)
He is restrained in Japu Tapu. Being fearless, Akal Purakh lives in joy.
Gursikhi’s sanjmo dri nidru nidri much darna
(v. 28, step 10)
His actions and utterances are one in essence:
Pari pai pakhaku muridai thivana.
Guru Murti Mustaku die die live.
(Verse 3, verse 19)
He lives in the presence of the Lord. He gets happiness by living in his will, because happiness and sorrow are all due to him, why complain?
Do not cry happiness or laughter.
(Way 28, Ladder 14)
The above ideology clarifies that Bhai Gurdas ji has advised man to recite Naam, meditate and become a true Guru Sikh. Without the word Guru he is nothing or say he is ignorant. When his surat is associated with the word, he becomes beloved of the Guru. He gets rid of all kinds of suffering. Staying in the mind of the Lord, he gives thanks to him and lives a good life. Bhai Sahib Ji’s invaluable contribution to Gurbani can never be forgotten.