Bhagat Bhikhan

(1480-1573 AD)

Medicine of the Name Divine in the mouth he pours and yama's (demon) noose snaps

In the Sikh thought, householder's life enjoys a place of prominence because only a householder can aspire to live with others in a spirit of humility, mutual understanding, cooperation and coexistence. The feeling of fraternity is also connected with the house holder's life, and as a result of it the house holder's life has been accepted as the ideal way to realize the ideal of service and remembrance of the Divine. All the contributors to the Guru Granth Sahib advocated this point of view, and bhagat Nizamuddin Bhikhan is one of these contributors.

Bhikhan belonged to the Lucknow region in the Uttar Pradesh. He was born in AD 1480 in Kakeri town. He was the disciple of Syed Pir Ibrahim from whom he learnt the lesson in spiritual and moral values.

Bhikhan, a medieval Indian Sufi saint (A monastic sect of Muslims), lived a very simple life guided by pious and high thinking. Bidauni, an historian contemporary of emperor Akbar, writes of Bhikhan that he was the greatest among scholars, but inspite of this he used to call himself Kari, i.e., a student or learner. Such a humble pseudonym (assumed name) reflects the humility of his heart. On the whole, the life of Bhikhan was the life of an ideal house holder. Being a great scholar and intellectual, Bhikhan's fame spread far and wide. Soon he came under the influence of Bhakti movement and thus became a bitter critic of futile superstitions and formalism. Religious label was no more of any importance for him. He devoted himself completely to the One Lord. To him, Divine Name was the Panacea for all human maladies. Thus, he came to develop a deep faith and devotion in the Absolute One. He was strongly against retaining difference in one's profession and practice. According to him, one who has to reach the Divine Portal must drink the nectar of Divine Name.

Following is the complete hymn in this context
In the old age are the eyes flowing with water,
the body enfeebled,
The hair turned grey,
The throat choked, uttering not a word
What power has man now? (1)
Divine King, Lord! turn-you his physician now:
Save your devotees (1 Pause)
The forehead with ache is burning,
the heart throbbing with pain :
Such is the torment that knows no remedy.(2)
The Name Divine is holy amrita-Water-
this the whole world's remedy,
Prayeth Bhikhan, servant of God:
By the grace of the Master
The door of liberation may I attain! (3) (1)

Two hymns of Bhikhan are included in the Guru Granth Sahib on Page 659. The essence of these hymns is that it is man's deeds that cause him suffering and discontentment. Caught in the web of Maya (wealth) and love for his body, man is engaged in adding patches like mending the shoe. He can secure liberation from such a situation only if God bestows His grace on him. Then the path to liberation will become open to him. Divine grace is certainly bestowed on him provided he remembers the Lord-Curer of all ills of the world.
In his second hymn which begins by calling Name a priceless jewel, Bhikhan describes the effect of Naam-Simran (remembrance of Divine Name) on man's body, soul and mind. The taste of Name is indescribable, says Bhikhan, just as a dumb man cannot explain the taste of sweets. Reciting His Name provides comfort and joy to the tongue, and remembering Him is comforting for the mind. Bhikhan says that his eyes have experienced a strange coolth by remembering the Lord: now whichever direction he looks to, he perceives the Almighty Lord. This Hymn, reads as follows:
The invaluable jewel of the
holy Name in reward for good deeds have I attained.
By innumerable devices in my heart have I lodged it
Yet this jewel concealed may not be. (1)
Beyond expression are merits of the Lord,
As taste of sweets for the dumb. (1 pause)
In the tongue's utterance,
the ears listening to the Name,
The mind's contemplation, lies joy.
Saith Bhikhan : Both my eyes now are content:
Wherever 1 look, Him 1 behold.-(2)-(2) SGGS-659

In both these hymns is found expressed the multi-faceted admiration of Name. The essence of his faith in the significance of Name is identical with the thought expressed in the following verse of the Gurus:
Of those not cherishing the Lord in heart Is all doing tasteless. SGGS-1336

Some scholars are under the mistaken belief that these two hymns as included in the Scripture in the name of Bhikhan are in fact by Syed Bhikhan Shah, a holy-man who spent most of his time in the village of Ghuram, near Patiala. A tomb also stands erected there in his memory. Pir Bhikhan Shah of Ghuram had been a contemporary of Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh. As the tradition goes, Bhikhan Shah was performing his Namaz (Muslim prayer) facing west when he learnt of the birth of Guru Gobind Singh, and on learning this he immediately turned eastward (towards Patna) to pay obeisance to the newly born Guru.

No doubt, Pir Bhikhan Shah was a sufi saint of high spiritual merit, but none of his verses is included in the Sikh Scripture. The holy-man whose hymns are included in the Guru Granth Sahib has been Bhagat Bhikhan who was born at Kakeri in Uttar Pradesh and about whom it is said that although he was Bhikhan by name yet he had the heart of an emperor. Eulogy of God was his profession. He had complete control over his senses, and remained ever absorbed in Divine Name.

Bhagat Bhikhan breathed his last in 1631 Bikrami (1574-A.D.), the time when Guru Ram Das occupied the spiritual throne of Guru Nanak.
Here are examples of his bani included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji:

Raag Sorat'h, The Word Of Devotee Bheekhan Jee:
One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:
Tears well up in my eyes, my body has become weak, and my hair has become milky-white.
My throat is tight, and I cannot utter even one word; what can I do now? I am a mere mortal. ||1||
O Lord, my King, Gardener of the world-garden, be my Physician,
and save me, Your Saint. ||1||Pause||
My head aches, my body is burning, and my heart is filled with anguish.
Such is the disease that has struck me; there is no medicine to cure it. ||2||
The Name of the Lord, the ambrosial, immaculate water, is the best medicine in the world.
By Guru's Grace, says servant Bheekhan, I have found the Door of Salvation. ||3||1||
Such is the Naam, the Name of the Lord, the invaluable jewel, the most sublime wealth, which I have found through good deeds.
By various efforts, I have enshrined it within my heart; this jewel cannot be hidden by hiding it. ||1||
The Glorious Praises of the Lord cannot be spoken by speaking.
They are like the sweet candies given to a mute. ||1||Pause||
The tongue speaks, the ears listen, and the mind contemplates the Lord; they find peace and comfort.
Says Bheekhan, my eyes are content; wherever I look, there I see the Lord. ||2||2||



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