Life & teaching of bhagat Beni ji

Dr Amrit Kaur | December 04, 2020 09:58 PM
Dr Amrit Kaur

Bhagat Beni Ji is deeply respected by the Sikhs because he is among the 15 bhagats whose hymns Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji included in the Holy Scripture the Adi Granth Sahib compiled by him. In compiling this Holy Scripture Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji, in addition to the hymns of his four predecessor Sikh Gurus and his own hymns included the hymns of 15 bhagats, 11 bhatts and four others closely associated with the Sikh Gurus.These fifteen Bhagats include (i) Bhagat Jaidev Ji (ii) Sheikh Farid Ji (iii) Bhagat Trilochan Ji (iv) Bhagat Namdev Ji (v) Bhagat Sadhna Ji (vi) Bhagat  Ramanand Ji (vii) Bhagat Ravidas Ji (viii) Bhagat Kabir Ji (ix) Bhagat Sain Ji (x) Bhagat Dhanna Ji (xi) Bhagat Pipa Ji (xii) Bhagat Beni Ji (xiii) Bhagat Bhikhan Ji (xiv) Bhagat Surdas Ji and (xv) Bhagat Permanand Ji.

           Bhai Gurdas Ji in his Var 10, Pauri 14 has highlighted that for worshipping Bhagat Beni Ji the holy man would sit in a lonely place for meditation. He would involve himself in spiritual deeds but would not tell anybody about these astonishing deeds. When he reached home his wife would ask him as to where was he? He would dilly dally the answer and would tell her that he had gone to the king’s palace. His wife thought that it was the worldly king where he had gone although Bhagat Beni Ji meant that he had gone to God Almighty.

    This Holy Scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib is unique in the sense that it includes the hymns of Hindu and Muslim saints belonging to various castes and creeds born in different parts of India.  In Sri Adi Granth Sahib Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji added the hymns of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and this Holy Scripture is now known as Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib three hymns of Bhagt Beni Ji have been included, one hymn in Sriraag (SGGS Page 93), one in Raag Ramkali (SGGS Page 974) and one in Raag Prabhati (SGGS Page 1351)

               Very scanty Informaton is available about the personal life of Bhagat Beni Ji. Unfortunately, no authenticate account of his life is accessibe. Macauliffe has stated that since Bhagat Beni Ji’s bani is difficult to understand, he must have belonged to an ancient period. He says that Beni briefly traces the progress of man’s spiritual degeneration from the time of birth. Owing to the great difficulty of his writings it is generally believed that he belonged to comparatively some ancient date. The logic of Macauliffe is not very convincing because difficult words are found in the hymns of Guru Sahiban, Bhagat Kabir Ji and hymns of bhatts .

           Bhai Kanh Singh Nabha has simply stated that Bhagat Beni Ji’s hymns are included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib but no details are available about his life.

          Basing his analysis on Bhai Kanh Singh Nabha and Macauliffe’s writing Bhai Jodh Singh has written only two sentences in his book (i) insufficient information is avilable about the life of Bhagat Beni Ji (ii) the vocabulary used in his writings is very difficult so he must have lived in some ancient period.

      Tript Kaur has written that nothing is certain about the time, place of birth and background of Bhagat Beni Ji. Some writers think that he belonged to the 14th century and others believe that he belonged to the 15th ceutury. It is generally believed that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji brought the hymns of Bhagat Beni Ji during his first Udasi. It may be added that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s first Udasi was during 1497-1505. According to Sukhdev Singh Shant Bhagat Beni Ji must have been born between  1451 and 1460. Sarup Singh Alag also thinks that Bhagat Beni Ji was born during 1451 and 1460 but he says that nothing can be said abont the date of his leaving for the heavenly abode.

             Sarbjnder Singh in his book Divine Revelation (1999) has mentioned that Bhagat Beni Ji was born in village Asani , which falls in Madhya Pradesh and that he was  a Brahman.The fact that Bhagat Beni Ji was a Brahmin is not verified by any source. Perhaps it is because of his knowledge of Vedas-Shastras that it is thought that he was a Brahman.

            Nabhaji in his Book Bhagatmal has included Bhagat Beni Ji in his list of well-known bhagats and has narrated some  incidents about his life.

           Bhai Gurdas Ji in his Var 10, Pauri 14 has highlighted that for worshipping Bhagat Beni Ji the holy man would sit in a lonely place for meditation. He would involve himself in spiritual deeds but would not tell anybody about these astonishing deeds. When he reached home his wife would ask him as to where was he? He would dilly dally the answer and would tell her that he had gone to the king’s palace. His wife thought that it was the worldly king where he had gone although Bhagat Beni Ji meant that he had gone to God Almighty. He concentrated on God Almighty. When his wife told him about the household things which were needed in the house he evaded the issue and postponed the issue for future. To prove Bhagat Beni Ji’s pretention, one day assuming the form of the worldly king God Almighty reached his home. Consoling his wife God Almighty provided several needful things. He helped his wife ecomically and gave her money also. Then in the same form  God Almighty went to Bhagat Beni Ji and pleased him by embracingh him. Bhai Gurdas Ji says that God always honours His  bhagats, The sayings of Bhai Gurdas Ji pinpoint that (i) one  should worship  God with concentration (ii) one should keep his worship a secret (ii) one should have full faith in God and that (iv) Bhagat Beni Ji had good relations with the  worldly king that is why the members of his family beleived whatever he said about the king. 

             In addition to the above mentioned Var 10, Pauri 14 Bhai Gurdas Ji has referred to Bhagat Beni Ji in Var 12,  Pauri 15 and his Var 23, Pauri 15.

              Bhai Darbari Das in his book Parchian Bhagtan Kian in Parchi Gosain Beni Ji Ki clarifies five things:

Bhagat Beni Ji was a Brahman by caste

He was well versed in Vedas and Shastras.

Achint Nath Ji was his Guru. Under his influence he left idol worship and started worshippping the formless, all pervasive  God Almighty.

He was against caste system

He even preached his mother and cleared her doubts .

              Bhai Darbari Das also writes that with God Almighty’s grace Bhagat Beni ji  met Achint Nath Ji whom he  dopted as  his Guru. One day Achint Nath Ji  threw his kharanv (wooden sandal) in water which started floating . Then Achint Nath Ji asked Bhagat Beni Ji to throw in water his salgram ( the sacred stone which he  worshipped). The salgram sank. Achint Nath Ji thus told Bhagat Beni Ji that an object which itself gets drowned  cannot save another person from drowning. Then Achint Nath Ji asked Beni Ji to bring back the kharanv from the water. After getting God’s name repeated three times by Bhagat Beni Ji Achint Nath Ji taught him swimming. Achint Nath Ji did all this to develsp his faith in God’s grace.  As stated by Bhai Darbari Das  Bhagat Beni Ji stayed with Achint Nath Ji for a long  time. On  returning  to his home he gave up materialistic values. He  even taught his mother that the main thing is worshipping God Almighty.

               Impressed by the praises of Bhagat Beni Ji one day a few Brahmans went to his house to have his darshan ( holy glimpse). On reaching his house they found that Bhagat Beni Ji was sitting on a cot woven with leather and was eating his meal . The Brahmans left his house immediately. Bhagat Beni Ji asked his disciples to call back the Brahmans. When the Brahmans came back they saw that Bhagat Beni Ji was eating his meal in a pure kitchen with full Vaishnav  tradition. To see this the Brahmans got so much  impressed that they  became his disciples.

             As mentioned earlier three hymns of Bhagat Beni Ji have been included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, one hymn in Sriraag, one in Raag Ramkali and one in Raag Prabhati .

His hymn in Sriraag is as follows:

sreeraag baanee bhagat benee jeeau kee ||

pahariaa kai ghar gaavanaa ||

ikOankaar satigur prasaadh ||

re nar garabh ku(n)ddal jab aachhat uradh dhiaan liv laagaa ||

mritak pi(n)dd padh madh naa ahinis ek agiaan su naagaa ||

te dhin sa(n)mal kasaT mahaa dhukh ab chit adhik pasaariaa ||

garabh chhodd mirat ma(n)ddal aaiaa tau narahar manahu bisaariaa ||1||

fir pachhutaavahigaa mooRiaa too(n) kavan kumat bhram laagaa ||

chet raam naahee jam pur jaahigaa jan bicharai anaraadhaa ||1|| rahaau ||

baal binodh chi(n)dh ras laagaa khin khin moh biaapai ||

ras mis medh a(n)mrit bikh chaakhee tau pa(n)ch pragaT sa(n)taapai ||

jap tap sa(n)jam chhodd sukirat mat raam naam na araadhiaa ||

auchhaliaa kaam kaal mat laagee tau aan sakat gal baa(n)dhiaa ||2||

tarun tej par tria mukh joheh sar apasar na pachhaaniaa ||

aunamat kaam mahaa bikh bhoolai paap pu(n)n na pachhaaniaa ||

sut sa(n)pat dekh ih man garabiaa raam ridhai te khoiaa ||

avar marat maiaa man tole tau bhag mukh janam vigoiaa ||3||

pu(n)ddar kes kusam te dhaule sapat paataal kee baanee ||

lochan srameh budh bal naaThee taa kaam pavas maadhaanee ||

taa te bikhai bhiee mat paavas kaiaa kamal kumalaanaa ||

avagat baan chhodd mirat ma(n)ddal tau paachhai pachhutaanaa ||4||

nikuTee dheh dhekh dhun upajai maan karat nahee boojhai ||

laalach karai jeevan padh kaaran lochan kachhoo na soojhai ||

thaakaa tej uddiaa man pa(n)khee ghar aa(n)gan na sukhaiee ||

benee kahai sunahu re bhagatahu maran mukat kin paiee ||5||                                                                                            (SGGS , Page 93)

Meaning of the above hymn is as follows:

Sree Raag, the Word Of Devotee Baynee Jee:

To Be Sung To The Tune Of ""Pehray"":One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:O man, when you were coiled in the cradle of the womb, upside-down, you were absorbed in meditation.You took no pride in your perishable body; night and day were all the same to you-you lived unknowing, in the silence of the void.Remember the terrible pain and suffering of those days, now that you have spread out the net of your consciousness far and wide.Leaving the womb, you entered this mortal world; you have forgotten the Lord from your mind. ||1||Later, you will regret and repent-you fool! Why are you engrossed in evil-mindedness and skepticism?Think of the Lord, or else you shall be led to the City of Death. Why are you wandering around, out of control? ||1||Pause||You play like a child, craving sweets; moment by moment, you become more entangled in emotional attachment.Tasting good and bad, you eat nectar and then poison, and then the five passions appear and torture you.Abandoning meditation, penance and self-restraint, and the wisdom of good actions, you do not worship and adore the Lord's Name.You are overflowing with sexual desire, and your intellect is stained with darkness; you are held in the grip of Shakti's power. ||2||In the heat of youthful passion, you look with desire upon the faces of other men's wives; you do not distinguish between good and evil.Drunk with sexual desire and other great sins, you go astray, and do not distinguish between vice and virtue.Gazing upon your children and your property, your mind is proud and arrogant; you cast out the Lord from your heart.When others die, you measure your own wealth in your mind; you waste your life in the pleasures of the mouth and sexual organs. ||3||Your hair is whiter than the jasmine flower, and your voice has grown feeble, as if it comes from the seventh underworld.Your eyes water, and your intellect and strength have left you; but still, your sexual desire churns and drives you on.And so, your intellect has dried up through corruption, and the lotus flower of your body has wilted and withered.You have forsaken the Bani, the Word of the Immortal Lord, in this mortal world; in the end, you shall regret and repent. ||4||Gazing upon the tiny bodies of your children, love has welled up within your heart; you are proud of them, but you do not understand.You long for the dignity of a long life, but your eyes can no longer see anything.Your light has gone out, and the bird of your mind has flown away; you are no longer welcome in your own home and courtyard.Says Baynee, listen, O devotee: who has ever attained liberation after such a death? ||5||

                In this hymn Bhagat Beni Ji  explains in detail that before birth while in the womb of the mother  the body undergoes lot of suffering  and spends the time in remembering God. After birth the person involves himself in worldly pleasures and forgets God . He does not even think what are good deeds and what are bad deeds. During old age, the hair become white, the voice becomes low, eyes become watery, ears become weak and other parts of the body are also waning but he still loves worldly pleasures and his sex desire is still prevalent. Lookng at his/her grand children he becomes proud and wants to live longer to enjoy life. 

            In this hymn Bhagat Beni Ji advises us to evade sex, anger, greed, attachment and pride. He has emphasized that mukti can be achieved only in this life by following the bhagti marg and cannot be attained after death.

Bhagat Beni Ji’s hymn in Raag Ramkali is as follows:

raamakalee baanee benee jeeau kee

ikOankaar satigur prasaadh ||

eiRaa pi(n)gulaa aaur sukhamanaa teen baseh ik Thaiee ||

benee sa(n)gam teh piraag man majan kare tithaiee ||1||

sa(n)tahu tahaa nira(n)jan raam hai ||

gur gam cheenai biralaa koi ||

tahaa(n) nira(n)jan ramieeaa hoi ||1|| rahaau ||

dhev sathaanai kiaa neesaanee ||

teh baaje sabadh anaahadh baanee ||

teh cha(n)dh na sooraj paun na paanee ||

saakhee jaagee gurmukh jaanee ||2||

aupajai giaan dhuramat chheejai ||

a(n)mirat ras gagana(n)tar bheejai ||

es kalaa jo jaanai bheau ||

bheTai taas param gurdheau ||3||

dhasam dhuaaraa agam apaaraa param purakh kee ghaaTee ||

uoopar haaT haaT par aalaa aale bheetar thaatee ||4||

jaagat rahai su kabahu na sovai ||

teen tilok samaadh palovai ||

beej ma(n)tr lai hiradhai rahai ||

manooaa ulaT su(n)n meh gahai ||5||

jaagat rahai na aleeaa bhaakhai ||

paachau i(n)dhree bas kar raakhai ||

gur kee saakhee raakhai cheet ||

man tan arapai kirasan pareet ||6||

kar palav saakhaa beechaare ||

apanaa janam na jooaai haare ||

asur nadhee kaa ba(n)dhai mool ||

pachhim fer chaRaavai soor ||

ajar jarai su nijhar jharai ||

jaga(n)naath siau gosaT karai ||7||

chaumukh dheevaa jot dhuaar ||

paloo anat mool bichakaar ||

sarab kalaa le aape rahai ||

man maanak ratanaa meh guhai ||8||

masatak padham dhuaalai manee ||

maeh nira(n)jan tirabhavan dhanee ||

pa(n)ch sabadh niramail baaje ||

ddulake chavar sa(n)kh ghan gaaje ||

dhal mal dhaitahu gurmukh giaan ||

benee jaachai teraa naam ||9||1||

                                                                    (SGGS, Page 974)

 The meaning of the hymn is as follows:

Raamkalee, The Word Of Baynee Jee:

One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru: The energy channels of the Ida, Pingala and Shushmanaa: these three dwell in one place.This is the true place of confluence of the three sacred rivers: this is where my mind takes its cleansing bath. ||1||O Saints, the Immaculate Lord dwells there;how rare are those who go to the Guru, and understand this.The all-pervading immaculate Lord is there. ||1||Pause||What is the insignia of the Divine Lord's dwelling?The unstruck sound current of the Shabad vibrates there.There is no moon or sun, no air or water there.The Gurmukh becomes aware, and knows the Teachings. ||2||Spiritual wisdom wells up, and evil-mindedness departs;the nucleus of the mind sky is drenched with Ambrosial Nectar.One who knows the secret of this device,meets the Supreme Divine Guru. ||3||The Tenth Gate is the home of the inaccessible, infinite Supreme Lord.Above the store is a niche, and within this niche is the commodity. ||4||One who remains awake, never sleeps.The three qualities and the three worlds vanish, in the state of Samaadhi.He takes the Beej Mantra, the Seed Mantra, and keeps it in his heart.Turning his mind away from the world, he focuses on the cosmic void of the absolute Lord. ||5||He remains awake, and he does not sleep.He keeps the five sensory organs under his control.He cherishes in his consciousness the Guru's Teachings.He dedicates his mind and body to the Lord's Love. ||6||He considers his hands to be the leaves and branches of the tree.He does not lose his life in the gamble.He plugs up the source of the river of evil tendencies.Turning away from the west, he makes the sun rise in the east.He bears the unbearable, and the drops trickle down within;then, he speaks with the Lord of the world. ||7||The four-sided lamp illuminates the Tenth Gate.The Primal Lord is at the center of the countless leaves.He Himself abides there with all His powers.He weaves the jewels into the pearl of the mind. ||8||The lotus is at the forehead, and the jewels surround it.Within it is the Immaculate Lord, the Master of the three worlds.The Panch Shabad, the five primal sounds, in their purity, resound and vibrate there.The chauris - the fly brushes wave, and the conch shells blare like thunder.The Gurmukh tramples the demons underfoot with his spiritual wisdom.Baynee longs for Your Name, Lord. ||9||1|

           In this hymn in Raag Ramkali Bhagat Bani Ji emphasizes that ira, pingla and sukhmana dwell in the place which is the true place of confluence of the three sacred rivers Ganges, Jamuna and Saraswati. He says his mind takes its cleansing bath there because the immaculate lord dwells there. The Tenth Gate is the dasam dwar which is the home of the inaccessibli. The four sided lamp illuminates the Tenth Gate. The Gurmukh tramples the demons underfoot with his spiritual wisdom. Bhagat Beni Ji longs for Almighty’s Naam(name). It may be added that ‘Dasam Dwar’ is the tenth dwar which has been kept a secret by God. The nine dwars include two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth and two excretory systems.  

Bhagat Beni Ji’s hymn in Raag Prabhati is as folllows:

prabhaatee bhagat benee jee kee

ikOankaar satigur prasaadh ||

tan cha(n)dhan masatak paatee ||

ridh a(n)tar kar tal kaatee ||

Thag dhisaT bagaa liv laagaa ||

dhekh baisano praan mukh bhaagaa ||1||

kal bhagavat ba(n)dh chiraa(n)ma(n) ||

karaoor dhisaT rataa nis baadha(n) ||1|| rahaau ||

nitaprat isanaan sareera(n) ||

dhui dhotee karam mukh kheera(n) ||

ridhai chhuree sa(n)dhiaanee ||

par dharab hiran kee baanee ||2||

sil poojas chakar ganesa(n) ||

nis jaagas bhagat pravesa(n) ||

pag naachas chit akarama(n) ||

e la(n)paT naach adharama(n) ||3||

mirag aasan tulasee maalaa ||

kar uoojal tilak kapaalaa ||

ridhai kooR ka(n)Th rudhraakha(n) ||

re la(n)paT kirasan abhaakha(n) ||4||

jin aatam tat na cheeni(h)aa ||

sabh fokaT dharam abeeniaa ||

kahu benee gurmukh dhiaavai ||

bin satigur baaT na paavai ||5||1||

                                                                 (SGGS Page 1351)

The meaning of the above hymn is as follows.

Prabhaatee, The Word Of Devotee Baynee Jee:One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:

You rub your body with sandalwood oil, and place basil leaves on your forehead.But you hold a knife in the hand of your heart.

You look like a thug; pretending to meditate, you pose like a crane.You try to look like a Vaishnav, but the breath of life escapes through your mouth. ||1||You pray for hours to God the Beautiful.But your gaze is evil, and your nights are wasted in conflict. ||1||Pause||You perform daily cleansing rituals,wear two loinclothes, perform religious rituals and put only milk in your mouth.But in your heart, you have drawn out the sword.You routinely steal the property of others. ||2||You worship the stone idol, and paint ceremonial marks of Ganesha.You remain awake throughout the night, pretending to worship God.You dance, but your consciousness is filled with evil.You are lewd and depraved - this is such an unrighteous dance! ||3||You sit on a deer-skin, and chant on your mala.You put the sacred mark, the tilak, on your forehead.You wear the rosary beads of Shiva around your neck, but your heart is filled with falsehood.You are lewd and depraved - you do not chant God's Name. ||4||Whoever does not realize the essence of the soul all his religious actions are hollow and false.Says Baynee, as Gurmukh, meditate.Without the True Guru, you shall not find the Way. ||5||1||

          In this hymn Bhagat Beni Ji says that the ritual of rubbing the body with sandalwood oil, placing basil leaves on the forehead and all other rituals are meaningless if you carry a knife in the hand of your heart. Your long prayers are meaningless if your gaze is evil, if your consciousness is filled with evil and if you do not realize the essence of the soul. In other words all the religious rituals are meaningless and false if you do not meditate. Bhagat Beni Ji furthar adds that without ‘Satguru’ one cannot find ‘Param Anand’.

               In his Bani Bhagat Beni Ji has mentioned about yog mat (sect), and Vaishnava mat. He does not discard the rituals of Brahmans but emphasizes that one should live a life of purity.

                 Bhagat Beni Ji motivates us to adopt grood qualties and try to become one with the God in the present life itself and  become mukt (emancipated) . He preaches the cencept of equality.  He has used an approprte  style and vocabulary to explain the deep spiritual and philosophical subject matter. He left idol worship and started worshipping the all pervasive God Almighty.                                

                                          Dhan Dhan Bhagat Beni Ji !

The refrances  used in this write – up include (i) Encyclopaedia of Sikhism published by Punjabi University , Patiala , Part I (1995) (ii) Mahan Kosh by Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha (1930) (iii) Pandran Bhagat Sahiban by Sukhdev Singh Shant (2018) (iv) Divine Revelation by  Sarbjinder Singh (2004) (v) Varan Bhai Gurdas Ji (vi) Parchian Bhagatan Kian by Darbari Das (Bhai) ditor Dr. Gurcharan Singh Sek (1994), M.A Macauliffe’s book The Sikh Religion Vol  VI (2009) (vii) Guru Granth Sanket Kosh by Piara Singh Padam and Others (1994) (viii) Jodh Singh (Bhai)’s book Bhagat Namdev Tatha Hor Bhagat (2004) (ix) Tript Kaur’s book Bhagat Bani (1998) (x) Sahib Singh’s book Bhagat Bani Steek, Part 1, (1972) and (xi) Sarup Singh Alag’s book Parichai Sri Guru Granth Sahib  (2016)  although reference has not been given at each place.

                                         Dr. Amrit K                                                                                                               Retd. Professor                                                                                                         Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, india

Have something to say? Post your comment