Bhagat Pipa ji's association with Sikhism and his spiritual journey

Dr Amrit Kaur | March 10, 2021 02:38 PM
Bhagat Pipa Ji painting portrait
Dr Amrit Kaur

Bhagat Pipa Ji also known as Pratap Singh Raja Pipa Ji, Rao Pipa, Sardar Pipa, Sant Pipa Ji, Pipa Bairagi, Pipanand Acharya and King Pipa. He is deeply respected by the Sikhs because Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji included his one hymn in Sri Adi Granth Sahib compiled by him. 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. As stated in Guru Granth Sanket Kosh in the history of Mewar, Rajasthan Pipa Ji was Chauhan by caste, was king of Gagraun Garh, and that he was a contemporary of Rana Kumbha. Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha has mentioned him as a Sardar of Gagraun which is 45 miles south-east from Kota, Rajasthan. According to Mayherwaan Singh ‘Pipa was a Rajput prince born in Gagraun, Jhalawar district, Rajasthan’. Jhalawar is located in the southeastern part of the state of Rajasthan and was the capital of the former princely state of Jhalawar which was once known as Brijnagar. Sarup Singh Alag has also said that Bhagat Pipa Ji's place of birth was Gagraun in Jalawar near Kota in Rajasthan. Sarup Singh Alag and Sarbjinder Singh have given the year of birth of Bhagat Pipa Ji as 1426 AD. But Macauliffe has stated that, “Pipa born in the year AD 1425 was a King of the state called Gagraunhgarhˮ also known as Gagraun. It is worth mentioning here that in india the historical records mention dates in samvat instead of the Gregorian calender. It may be concluded that Bhagat Pipa Ji was born in 1426. 

 About Bhagat Pipa Ji’s personality Macauliffe has written that he possessed every spiritual excellence and conferred happiness and saintship on the human race and has also added that a Marathi chronicler sums up the character of Pipa Ji saying that he was brave, liberal, learned, religious, self- restrained and watchful. 

 According to a Parchi in Nagri Parcharni Sabha Kashi which is in manuscript form, Bhagat Pipa Ji’s 16 verses and 12 anecdotes are available. In one of these verses which is in Dhanasri Raag Bhagat Pipa Ji has emphasized the importance of sat sangat. This verse is different from his hymn included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. 

 Regarding Bhagat Pipa Ji's place of birth according to Sarbjinder Singh he was born in Gagraun Garh in Rajasthan in a Rajput family  According to Chauhan Saint Pipa ji was born a prince of Ghatan Nagar in a Rajput family and became ruler of Gagraugarh , which is at  a distance of 45 miles from Kota in Rajasthan. In Guru Granth Sanket  Kosh it is mentioned that he was Chauhan by caste and king of  Gagraungarh State. The consensus seems to be that Bhagat Pipa Ji was a Rajput born in a princely family and became king of Gagraungarh in Rajasthan probably around 1457.

 Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha’s and Macauliffe's writings make it clear that Bhagat Pipa Ji was first a devote of goddess Durga the consort of Shiv Ji. King Pipa Ji had enshrined an idol in a temple within the premises of his palace. It is said that once this goddess appeared to him. Pipa Ji prostrated himself before her, and asked her how he could serve God. She told him to go to Varanasi and adopt Ramanand Ji as his spiritual guide. So, he went to Varanasi because he had heard that Ramanand Ji lived there. But Ramanand Ji refused to see him because he was wearing princely robes. Pipa Ji did not get upset by the behaviour of Ramanand Ji. He wore mendicant’s garments and then Bhagat Pipa Ji was initiated by Ramanand Ji. He returned to his home and began to live like an ascetic. After Pipa Ji’s initiation, Ramanand Ji visited Gagraun and King Pipa Ji lent his shoulder to the palanquin carrying him in a procession. After this even as a king Pipa Ji served the hermits wholeheartedly and attained marg darshan (direction) from them. Because Pipa Ji was keen to attain the company of hermits it was natural that the hermits came to stay with him. It is possible that Pipa Ji learned about the other Bhagatas and saintly persons and their writings them. Mcauliffe has stated that some holy men came to his capital and he with his usual generosity and devotion ministered to all their needs. These holy men prepared food, offered it to God and prayed that the King should become a saint. 

Bhagat Pipa ji temple at Gagrungarh, Rajasthan

 Pipa Ji distributed all his wealth to the poor and thus his treasury became almost empty. In the apparel of a hermit Pipa Ji again went to meet Ramanand Ji. To test his dedication Ramanand Ji ordered him to jump into a well. To obey his orders Bhagat Pipa Ji became immediately ready for this action. The disciples of Ramanand Ji saved him. Becoming pleased Ramanand Ji adopted him and asked him to go back to his princely state and serve the hermits and the poor persons. After one-year Ramand Ji along with his selected forty disciples reached Pipa Ji’s palace. It is believed that these forty disciples included Bhagat Ravidas Ji and Bhagat Kabir Ji (1398-1495).  Pipa Ji was overjoyed to receive Ramanand Ji as well as his disciples.  He served them whole heartedly. Becoming overjoyed he distributed money to the poor. One day Ramanand Ji expressed the desire to go to Dwarka an ancient city in Gujarat which is a popular place of Hindu pilgrimage. Pipa Ji also got ready to accompany him. This ancient temple in Dwarka enshrines a black marble idol of Lord Krishna. This ancient temple is known as Dwarkadhish Temple. Ramanand Ji laid down the condition that Pipa Ji could accompany him in the garb of a hermit and not a king. So, Pipa Ji wore hermit’s apparel. Out of his queens Sita Ji who was of a pious temperament expressed the desire to accompany him. She also wore hermit’s apparel and got ready to accompany him. Pipa Ji finally decided to relinquish his throne, handed over his kingdom to his brother’s son and retired to a life of seclusion and meditation. At Dwarka Pipa Ji selected a cave for his residence from where he would walk through a tunnel to the temple.  It may be added that this temple is still a popular place of pilgrimage among the Hindus and a fair is held there annually in the sacred memory of Pipa Ji.

 After a miraculous incident, Bhagat Pipa Ji was blessed with a personal encounter with the Lord and thus he gave up idol worship and started worshipping the Formless one. From then onwards he started living in a jungle. After a period of penance, he and Sita Ji set out roaming about the country to serve the common people. He composed prayers and hymns which he and Sita Ji would sing and collect money to help the poor. He fed sadhus (hermits) and treated them as God’s chosen ones.

 Bhagat Pipa Ji was a very religious, humble, generous, merciful, and benevolent person. Explaining his generosity Macaulffe has written that once on the occasion of a famine Pipa Ji distributed such a quantity of eatables and drinkables that it appeared as if there was no famine and everybody’s sufferings were relieved. 

 There are several anecdotes that show that he was a bountiful person. In this context Macauliffe has referred to two anecdotes (i) once thieves stole his buffalo. The next morning, he took the female calf along with him and went to the thieves and told them that they can fetch milk only if the female calf is present. The thieves were very much impressed by Bhagat Pipa Ji’s personality, repented, and returned the buffalo to him (ii) One day Bhagat Pipa Ji was bringing a cart full of wheat to serve the hermits. On the way some dacoits snatched from him the wheat as well as the cart. Bhagat Pipa Ji gave some money to the dacoits saying that for cooking food they will need utensils and other things. The dacoits repented very much and returned the cart along with the wheat to Bhagat Pipa Ji.

 There are many anecdotes about the chrismastic personality of Bhagat Pipa Ji. One anecdote about Bhagat Pipa Ji’s charismatic power is that one day when early in the morning he went to a canal to take a bath there he saw a pitcher full of mohars (medieval gold coins). He did not touch it. But at night he shared this incident with Sita Ji. Sita Ji warned him not to go to that place again. But some thieves overheard their dialogue and went to fetch that pitcher. But as soon as they tried to touch it they saw a snake in it. They thought that Bhagat Pipa Ji had tried to make fun of them or that he wanted to kill them. So they put

a lid on the pitcher and left it in front of Bhagat Pipa Ji’s house. The next morning when Bhagat Pipa Ji and his wife looked at the pitcher they saw that it was full of medieval gold coins and considering it a God-given gift arranged a preeti bhoj with the money.

 When Bhagat Pipa Ji left Dwarka along with his wife they had not gone very far that some Afghan soldiers becoming attracted by Sita Ji’s beauty tried to kidnap her. Sita Ji continued worshipping God.  At this time a very heavy hail storm started so the soldiers got worried about their own lives and thus they left Sita Ji. Another anecdote about his charismatic personality is that he revived to life the husband of a teli (seller of oil). Once a man named Sri Rang wrote a letter to Bhagat Pipa Ji that he wanted to meet him. When Bhagat Pipa Ji reached his house, Sri Rang was worshipping an idol. When Sri Rang came out Bhagat Pipa Ji told him that he was unable to garland the idol properly. Heaing this Sri Rang was astonished and very much impresed. He told Bhagat Pipa Ji that when he was putting the garland on the statue it was stuck up in the crown of the statue.

 About Bhagat Pipa Ji’s personality Macauliffe has written that he possesed every spiritual exccellance and confirred happiness and saintship on the human race and has also added that a Marathi chronicler sums up the character of Pipa Ji sayind that he was brave, liberal, learned, religious, self-restrained and watchful. 

 According to a Parchi in Nagri Parcharni Sabha Kashi which is in manuscript form, Bhagat Pipa Ji’s 16 verses and 12 anecdotes are available. In one of these verses which is in Dhanasri Raag Bhagat Pipa Ji has emphasized the importance of sat sangat. This verse is different from his hymn included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. 

 One writer Believes that Bhagat Pipa Ji’s grandson Anant Das (Vaisnav) Ji was blessed with a holy glimpse of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Toda which is at a distance of 138 kms from Pushkar. In one of his Parchis Anant Das Ji says that in the group of travellers and hermits who were going from Pushkar to Kashi the most impressive person was a young person named Nanak. According to the book Atlas:  Travels of Guru Nanak published by Punjabi University, Patiala which gives the details about the places visited by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji through maps Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited Banaras (Kashi) but he visited Pushkar while on his way from Ujjain to Jaipur. In this book, there is no mention of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s visit to Toda. It is probable that Bhagat Pipa Ji’s grandson met Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji at Pushkar. It is believed that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji procured Bhagat Pipa Ji’s hymn from his grandson Anant Das Ji.

Bhagat Pipa Ji’s hymn in Sri Guru Granth Sahib is as follows: -

kaa-ya-o dayvaa kaa-i-a-o dayval kaa-i-a-o jangam jaatee. kaa-i-a-o Dhoop deep na-eebaydaa kaa-i-a-o pooja-o paatee. ||1||

kaa-i-aa baho khand khojtay nav niDh paa-ee.naa kachh aa-ibo naa kachh jaa-ibo raam kee duhaa-ee. ||1|| rahaa-o.

jo barahmanday so-ee pinday jo khojai so paavai.

peepaa paranvai param tat hai satgur ho-ay lakhaavai. ||2||3||  (SGGS, Page-695)

 This means that within the body, the Divine Lord is embodied.  The body is the temple, the place of pilgrimage, and the pilgrim. Within the body are incense, lamps, and offerings. Within the body are the flower offerings. I searched throughout many realms, but I found the nine treasures within the body. Nothing comes, and nothing goes; I pray to the  Lord for Mercy. The One who pervades the Universe also dwells in the body; whoever seeks Him, finds Him there. Peepaa prays, the Lord is the  supreme essence; He reveals Himself through the True Guru.

 Bhagat Pipa Ji spent the last years of his life in village Toda also named Toda Raisings, District Tonk, Rajasthan. In his sacred memory at the place of his demise in Toda Raising Pipa Ji Mandir (Shyam  Devra) has been established. Other temples in Bhagat Pipa Ji’s sacred memory in Rajasthan include (i) Pipa Ji Temple Peepa Dham In Gagraun (ii) Shri Pipa Ji Mandir in Samdari, Tehsil Siwan, District

Barmer (iii) Shri Peepa Ji Maharaj Mandir in Raniwara, District Jalore (iv) Pipa Ji Mandir in Napasar, District Bikaner (v) Pipa Ji Temple, Tantwas, Tehsil Kheensvar, District Nagaur and (vi) Pipa Ji Temple in Jaipur.

 In Gagraungarh as well as in Masuria colony in the neighbourhood of Jodhpur, Rajasthan an annual fair is held in the sacred memory of Bhagat Pipa Ji.

The references used in this write-up include:

 (i) The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism published by Punjabi University, Patiala, Part III, (1997) (ii) Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha’s book Gurshabad Ratnakar Mahan Kosh (2009) (iii) Sarup Singh Alag’s book Parichai Sri Guru Granth Sahib (2010) (iv) Mayherwaan Singh’s book Glimpses of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (2006) (v) Gurdit Singh (Giani’s)

book Itihas Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Bhagat Bani Bhag) (1990) (vi) Max  Arthur Macauliffe’s book The Sikh Religion (1990) (vii) Giani Partap  Singh’s book Bhagat Darshan (2001) (viii)Harbhajan Singh’s article in  the book by Roop Singh (Editor) titled Se Bhagat Satgur Man Bhai (2017) (ix) Sarbjinder Singh’s book Divine Revelation (2004) (x) Darbari  Das Bhai Parchian Bhagtan Kian ‘Parchi Pipa Bhagat Ki’ editor  Gurcharan Singh Sek (1994) and (xi) Atlas: Travels of Guru Nanak by  Fauja Singh and Kirpal Singh published by Punjabi University, Patiala (1976) although reference has not been given at each place.

 Dhan Dhan Bhagat Pipa Ji!

 Dr. Amrit Kaur (Retd.) Professor, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India


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