Bhagat Surdas

(1529 AD)

O man abandon thou the association of those turned away from God. SGGS-1253

Bhagat Surdas, whose earlier name was Madan Mohan, was born in 1586 Samvat 1529 AD in a Brahmin family of Kashi, the known Hindu centre of spiritual learning those days. His father's name was pandit Ravidas. According to some other scholars, he was born in a village near Delhi. Besides having proficiency in Sanskrit, Persian and Sadh Bhasha (Language used by saints), he was a musicologist as well. Emperor Akbar was so impressed by his multi-faceted achievements that he appointed him the governor of Sandila, which is in the region of Avadh. Here his main responsibility was to collect revenue and transmit it to the government in Delhi, besides maintaining law and order. Since his heart was oriented towards Divine Name, he continued to utter, like Guru Nanak did during the days he functioned as keeper of stores at Sultanpur Lodhi, "tera, tera (yours, yours). So whatever he saw around seemed to him only His manifestation. He opened the doors of his official treasure to meet the requirements of the poor and the needy. Such deeds of nobility and altruism earned him kudos all around, but this was not liked by many who nurtured jealousy towards him. They complained to emperor Akbar that Surdas has squandered the royal treasure. As this news reached Surdas, he acquitted himself of his responsibilities as a ruler and devoted himself more intensely and deeply to the devotion of Absolute One. The emperor was aware of this peculiar trait of his saintly temper, so he requested him to take his charge again. But he declined the offer saying that henceforth he would serve the Lord alone. According to him so long as one does not surrender to God completely-in the form of his body, mind and wealth-it is not possible for him to achieve mystical oneness with Him. A sort of distance remains between the two, and this is more than death for a devotee.

Only a single verse of Surdas is found included in the Guru Granth Sahib under Sarang measure, on page 1253. It reads as follows,
Myself! leave company of those
turned away from God SGGS-1253

It means: O man, give up the company of those persons who are not oriented towards God, because they are atheists, and have no faith in Him and the company of such self-centred people would bring no use. Gurbani hymns appearing on page 66 and 755 of SGGS endorse the viewpoint of Bhagat Surdas:
The egoists stand and lose all sap,
Bereft of shade and fruit: Spurn the company of such.
They neither have home nor habitation SGGS-66
And :-
Egoists are of minds loveless,
foul and hardened :
Like serpents fed on milk,
Are they full of poison within. SGGS-755

According to the Mahan Kosh (A Panjabi dictionary), two hymns by Surdas are there in the Guru Granth Sahib, but this statement does not seem to be correct because the second Hymn, on the same page of the Holy Book, is by Guru Arjan written in the name of Surdas. In this latter hymn, the seeker has been advised as to how to give up the company of the Manmukh (self-willed). It also teaches that man should try to achieve oneness with the Lord. One should surrender oneself completely before God and then try to seek out all joys from the glimpse of the Divine. In sum it can be said that the Guru has supplemented in his hymn what Surdas has hinted at in the preceding verse.
No authentic historical evidence is available to specify the date or year of his death. However, a memorial tomb is built at Kashi which the devotees visit to offer their respect and reverence for this holy man.

Saturated in devotion was Surdas Intoxicated with Name was Surdas.

Here are examples of his bani included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji:

O mind, do not even associate with those who have turned their backs on the Lord.
Saarang, Fifth Mehl, Sur Daas:
One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:
The people of the Lord dwell with the Lord.
They dedicate their minds and bodies to Him; they dedicate everything to Him. They are intoxicated with the celestial melody of intuitive ecstasy. ||1||Pause||
Gazing upon the Blessed Vision of the Lord's Darshan, they are cleansed of corruption. They obtain absolutely everything.
They have nothing to do with anything else; they gaze on the beauteous Face of God. ||1||
But one who forsakes the elegantly beautiful Lord, and harbors desire for anything else, is like a leech on the body of a leper.
Says Sur Daas, God has taken my mind in His Hands. He has blessed me with the world beyond. ||2||1||8||



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