The word Bhagat has its origins in two words.

  • Bhao which means love.
  • Angket which means imbued or contained within. 

The word Bhagat therefore is the outcome of the combination of the two words together, Bhao and Angket. Hence the meaning is ‘someone imbued with full love.’ 

And the word Bhagti is derived from Bhakta meaning ‘to serve, honour, revere, love and adore.’ In Sikhism love is given the highest priority in Gurbani. Spiritual love is the way to the One and Only God.

(SGGS 534 Rag Devgandharee M 5)

ਰਾਜੁ ਨ ਚਾਹਉ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਨ ਚਾਹਉ ਮਨਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਚਰਨ ਕਮਲਾਰੇ ॥

Raaj N Chaaho Mukath N Chaaho Man Preeth Charan Kamalaarae ||

I do not seek power, and I do not seek liberation. My mind is in love with Your Lotus Feet.

Preet is Love. Guru Arjun Sahib ji is saying ‘I will forsake a kingdom

and I will even forsake  salvation. I only desire pure love derived from full submission to the message.’ Charan kamlarey refers to the message within the shabad. 

Salvation is the highest desire of all religions. But love is the highest order of Gurbani spirituality and the highest of the seeker’s emotions too. Love subsumes all other.  When love exists, the existence or absence of all else in spirituality becomes immaterial.


(SGGS 807 Rag Bilaval M5)

ਐਸੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ॥ ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜਾਨਹੁ ਨੇਰੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

Aisee Preeth Karahu Man Maerae ||

Aath Pehar Prabh Jaanahu Naerae ||1|| Rehaao ||

Enshrine such love, O my mind, That twenty-four hours a day, God will seem near to you. ||1||Pause||

Aath Peher literally means 24/7. It is not a measure of time per se. It is an indication of love being the highest order, love being the full-time ambition of a seeking Sikh and love being an all-consuming emotion ; leaving nothing else to be desired. 

In short Bhagat is lover and Bhagti is love. And of course the Lover is in love with the Gunns (virtues) of God. This is a love that is unbreakable and permanent.

(SGGS 827 Rag Bilaval M: 5)

ਮੂ ਲਾਲਨ ਸਿਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਬਨੀ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਤੋਰੀ ਨ ਤੂਟੈ ਛੋਰੀ ਨ ਛੂਟੈ ਐਸੀ ਮਾਧੋ ਖਿੰਚ ਤਨੀ ॥੧॥

Moo Laalan Sio Preeth Banee ||

Thoree N Thoottai Chhoree N Chhoottai Aisee Maadhho Khinch Thanee||

I have fallen in love with my Beloved Lord. ||

Cutting it, it does not break, and releasing it, it does not let go. Such is the string the Lord has tied me with. ||1||

Love exists in our worldly relationships and Gurbani uses analogies to describe the divine love for God. This Gurbani verse suggests that the bhagat loves God as a wife loves her husband.

(SGGS 843 Rag Bilaval M: 1)

ਮੈ ਮਨਿ ਚਾਉ ਘਣਾ ਸਾਚਿ ਵਿਗਾਸੀ ਰਾਮ ॥ ਮੋਹੀ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਪਿਰੇ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਰਾਮ ॥

Mai Man Chaao Ghanaa Saach Vigaasee Raam ||

Mohee Praem Pirae Prabh Abinaasee Raam ||

My mind is filled with such a great joy; I have blossomed forth in Truth.

I am enticed by the love of my Husband Lord, the Eternal, Imperishable Lord God.

Each of us has friends with whom we share personal ideals and even our problems. Friends come next to our family. Guru Ram Das Sahib ji has compared the close ties between best friends with this spiritual love.

(SGGS 175 Rag Maajh M: 4)

ਮੇਰੈ ਮਨਿ ਤਨਿ ਪ੍ਰੇਮੁ ਲਗਾ ਹਰਿ ਬਾਣੁ ਜੀਉ ॥ ਮੇਰਾ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮੁ ਮਿਤ੍ਰੁ ਹਰਿ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਸੁਜਾਣੁ ਜੀਉ ॥

Maerai Man Than Praem Lagaa Har Baan Jeeo ||

Maeraa Preetham Mithra Har Purakh Sujaan Jeeo ||

The arrow of the Lord’s Love has pierced by mind and body. The Lord, the Primal Being, is All-knowing; He is my Beloved and my Best Friend.

How strong is this relationship? This bond between the Bhagat and the Lord is such that all other bonds are meaningless. No other bond can surpass this true love.

(SGGS 659 Rag Sorath Bhagat Ravidas )

ਸਾਚੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਹਮ ਤੁਮ ਸਿਉ ਜੋਰੀ ॥ ਤੁਮ ਸਿਉ ਜੋਰਿ ਅਵਰ ਸੰਗਿ ਤੋਰੀ ॥੩॥

Saachee Preeth Ham Thum Sio Joree ||

Thum Sio Jor Avar Sang Thoree ||3||

I am joined in true love with You, Lord.

I am joined with You, and I have broken with all others. ||3||

Just as a mother raises her child with unconditional love, the Sikh bhagat has a protective Guru who looks after him. Guru Ram Das Sahib ji explains this.

(SGGS 168 rag Gauri Bairaagan M : 4)

ਜਿਉ ਜਨਨੀ ਸੁਤੁ ਜਣਿ ਪਾਲਤੀ ਰਾਖੈ ਨਦਰਿ ਮਝਾਰਿ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਮੁਖਿ ਦੇ ਗਿਰਾਸੁ ਖਿਨੁ ਖਿਨੁ ਪੋਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਤਿਉ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਰਾਖਤਾ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਪਿਆਰਿ ॥੧॥

Jio Jananee Suth Jan Paalathee Raakhai Nadhar Majhaar ||

Anthar Baahar Mukh Dhae Giraas Khin Khin Pochaar ||

Thio Sathigur Gurasikh Raakhathaa Har Preeth Piaar ||1||

Just as the mother, having given birth to a son, feeds him and keeps him in her vision, indoors and outdoors, she puts food in his mouth; each and every moment, she caresses him.

In just the same way, the True Guru protects His GurSikhs, who love their Beloved Lord. ||1||

Gurbani also gives comparisons of a father’s love for his child that sometimes leads to rebukes for his mistakes. But ultimately the father forgives and takes his child into his embrace. ‬‬ The Lord is a loving Father to all. The bhagat recognises and welcomes this.

(SGGS 624 Rag Sorath M : 5)

ਜੈਸਾ ਬਾਲਕੁ ਭਾਇ ਸੁਭਾਈ ਲਖ ਅਪਰਾਧ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥

ਕਰਿ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਝਿੜਕੇ ਬਹੁ ਭਾਤੀ ਬਹੁੜਿ ਪਿਤਾ ਗਲਿ ਲਾਵੈ ॥

Jaisaa Baalak Bhaae Subhaaee Lakh Aparaadhh Kamaavai ||

Kar Oupadhaes Jhirrakae Bahu Bhaathee Bahurr Pithaa Gal Laavai ||

Like the child, innocently making thousands of mistakes.

His father teaches him, and scolds him so many times, but still, he hugs him close in his embrace.

And a rebuke is as easily accepted by the bhagat as is forgiveness. A form of love that is mutually trusting. A love without conditions or terms.

In contrast, worldly love is mostly a means to an end as there is usually something to be achieved through worldly love. 

(SGGS 758 Rag Suhi M :4)

ਜੇ ਗੁਰੁ ਝਿੜਕੇ ਤ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਗੈ ਜੇ ਬਖਸੇ ਤ ਗੁਰ ਵਡਿਆਈ ॥੨੫॥

Jae Gur Jhirrakae Th Meethaa Laagai Jae Bakhasae Th Gur Vaddiaaee ||25||

Even if the Guru rebukes me, He still seems very sweet to me. And if He actually forgives me, that is the Guru’s greatness. ||25||

Guru Teg Bahadur ji’s Banee is rich with such distinction. Guru ji reminds us that Apney Sukh or self-centeredness is the objective of worldly love. Each individual has his own desires to fulfill.

(SGGS 634 Rag Sorath M 9)

ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ ਜਾਨਿ ਲੇਹੁ ਮਨ ਮਾਹੀ ॥|| ਅਪਨੇ ਸੁਖ ਸਿਉ ਹੀ ਜਗੁ ਫਾਂਧਿਓ ਕੋ ਕਾਹੂ ਕੋ ਨਾਹੀ ॥੧॥

Preetham Jaan Laehu Man Maahee

Apanae Sukh Sio Hee Jag Faandhhiou Ko Kaahoo Ko Naahee ||1||

O dear friend, know this in your mind.

The world is entangled in its own pleasures; no one is for anyone else.

In the Sikh faith the highest ideal is to accept Hukam (the will of God)

cheerfully and to live one’s life in Raza (acceptance) of the Hukam. Only if it pleases God can a Bhagat sing His praises.

(SGGS 6 Jap )

ਸੇਈ ਤੁਧੁਨੋ ਗਾਵਹਿ ਜੋ ਤੁਧੁ ਭਾਵਨਿ ਰਤੇ ਤੇਰੇ ਭਗਤ ਰਸਾਲੇ ॥

Saeee Thudhhuno Gaavehi Jo Thudhh Bhaavan Rathae Thaerae Bhagath Rasaalae ||

They alone sing, who are pleasing to Your Will. Your devotees are imbued with the Nectar of Your Essence.

Thus the basic principle of Gurbani is this: Love for God and Guru is an end in itself.  To the Sikh bhagat, his bhagti is devotional love. There is nothing higher.

(SGGS 167 Rag Gauri Bairagaan M : 4)

ਤੂੰ ਗੁਰੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਤੂੰਹੈ ਗੁਰੁ ਮਾਤਾ ਤੂੰ ਗੁਰੁ ਬੰਧਪੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਖਾ ਸਖਾਇ ॥੩॥

Thoon Gur Pithaa Thoonhai Gur Maathaa Thoon Gur Bandhhap Maeraa Sakhaa Sakhaae ||3||

O Guru, You are my father. O Guru, You are my mother. O Guru, You are my relative, companion and friend. ||3||