Gurbani Shabad Vichar

Gurbani Shabd Vichar

Asa Bani Bhagat Dhanney Ki

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD


The shabd under discussion in this article is composed by bhagat Dhanna Ji – ਆਸਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਭਗਤ ਧੰਨੇ ਜੀ ਕੀ॥ Asa bani Bhagat Dhanney Ji Ki – and is contained on Page 487 of the SGGS.

Bhagat Dhanna ji has a total of 3 shabds in the SGGS ji. Two are found in Assa Raag on Page 487 and one in Jaistsri Raag on page 695 of the SGGS ji. This article looks at bhagatji’s shabd in Assa Raag.

Apart from discussing the selected shabd, this article serves a second task, namely to analyze the truth or otherwise, of a story about Dhanna ji that is commonly and widely narrated by our granthis, kirtanias, ragis and parcharaks.

The origin of the story is the Bhagat Maal – a book having its origins in the Vedic clergy at Benares. It was originally authored by Nabha Dass, a self-styled Snatn theologian based in the Punjabi village of Pathankot at Gurdaspur sometime in the 1600s – just about when the bhagat bani was being incorporated into the Pothi Sahib by GuruArjun. A Brej language version under the name of Swami Priya Daas came into existence in the late 1800s. Punjabi versions of this book pertaining to the 15 SGGS bhagats can be found under the names of Nirmla Keerat Singh and Nirmla Pandit Narain Singh. A Bhagat Maal under the name of Bhai Mani Singh – believed to be authored by Nirmla Surat Singh is also in existence.



The story as contained in Pandit Narain Singh’s version 1 describes bhagat Dhanna ji as a farmer and cowherd. He is depicted as a simpleton belonging to the Jatt Caste.

Dhanna ji is portrayed as lacking an understanding of God, and very un-informed about spirituality. One day – as the story goes – while tending to his cows, Dhanna passes by a mandir and watches a Brahmin clergy named Tirlochan performing the rituals of worship towards his deity.

Intrigued, Dhana summons the courage to question the Brahmin as to the nature of his activity. The Brahmin tells him that he is worshipping God. In his simpleton ways, Dhanna ji asks if he could do the same.

Thinking of Dhanna as a mere cowherd, the Brahmin picks up a piece of rock, wraps it in a cloth and tells Dhanna – this is your god. Wash and bathe it, feed it good food and its will serve all your needs.

The Bhagat Maal says Dhanna took the wrapped piece of rock home and did exactly what the Brahmin said.

He offered food to the stone and asked it to eat the offering. Seeing nothing happening, Dhanna tells the rock he himself will go hungry until and unless the rock eats his food. The story concludes in that the devotion and faith of the naïve Dhanna resulted in God appearing in person and consuming the offered food. Dhanna would repeat this ritual daily, and in return for the food God offers to take Dhanna’s cows for grazing every day. Dhanna thus freed himself from this task.

Sikh clergy who narrate this story argue that the moral of it is that faith and devotion can move mountains and in the case of Dhanna – allowed him to discover God out of a piece of rock.

Truth or Fake: God out of a Rock.

The questions that need answers are as follows. First, does this story relating to Dhanna ji have even an iota of truth to it? And is it being blindly narrated by our unthinking clergy?

Second, does the story propagate Gurbani and Gurmat principles or is the story a concocted tale to tarnish the spiritual standing of bhagat Dhanna ji because he – just like the other 14 bhagats in the SGGS – refused to acknowledge the Benares based Brahmin Clergy as his spiritual guide.

As bhagat Kabir ji says on Page 1377 of the SGGS:

ਕਬੀਰ ਬਾਮਨੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਜਗਤ ਕਾ ਭਗਤਨ ਕਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਅਰਝਿ ਉਰਝਿ ਕੈ ਪਚਿ ਮੂਆ ਚਾਰਉ ਬੇਦਹੁ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ Kabeer, Bahman Guru Hai Jagat Ka Bhagtn Ka Gur Nahe. Arjh Urjh Kay Pach Mua Charon Bedho Mahey.

Kabeer, the Brahmin, even if he is Guru or the spiritual guide for the world out there, he is not the Guru of bhagats. That’s because He, the Brahmin, got entangled with the four Vedas and has succumbed to spiritual death.

Bhagat Kabir jis rejects the Brahmin again on Page 324:

ਗਉੜੀ ਕਬੀਰ ਜੀ ॥ ਗਰਭ ਵਾਸ ਮਹਿ ਕੁਲੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਤੀ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬਿੰਦੁ ਤੇ ਸਭ ਉਤਪਾਤੀ ॥ ੧ ॥ Gauree Kabir Ji. Garbh Vas Meh Kul Nahi Jati. Bhrm Bind Tey Sabh Utpati.

There are no caste distinctions for the fetus within the mother’s womb. All humans are created equal from the one material at conception.

ਕਹੁ ਰੇ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਬਾਮਨ ਕਬ ਕੇ ਹੋਏ ॥ ਬਾਮਨ ਕਹਿ ਕਹਿ ਜਨਮੁ ਮਤ ਖੋਏ ॥ ੧ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Kaho Ray Pandit Bahman Kab Kay Hoey. Bahmn Keh Keh Janum Mut Khoey.

So, tell me O Brahmin, at what point did you become a Brahmin? Realize that living in false pride as a Brahman results in squandering of one’s life.

Bhagat ji continues:

ਜੌ ਤੂੰ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਣੀ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਤਉ ਆਨ ਬਾਟ ਕਾਹੇ ਨਹੀ ਆਇਆ ॥ ੨ ॥ Jao Tu Brahman Brahmni Jaya. Tao Aan Batt Kahey Nahi Aiya.

O Brahmin, since you consider yourself a Brahmin born out of a Brahmin mother. Then why didn’t you enter the world through some other process, some other way (as the rest of us humans)?

ਤੁਮ ਕਤ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਹਮ ਕਤ ਸੂਦ ॥ ਹਮ ਕਤ ਲੋਹੂ ਤੁਮ ਕਤ ਦੂਧ ॥ ੩ ॥ Tum Kat Brahman Hum Kat Sood. Hum Kat Lohu Tum Kat Dhoodh

O Pandit, how did you become a Brahmin and how did I become a Shuder. Since when did milk run in your veins while mine have blood?

Bhagat ji concludes:

ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੈ ॥ ਸੋ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਕਹੀਅਤੁ ਹੈ ਹਮਾਰੈ ॥ ੪ ॥ Kho Kabir Jo Bhram Bicharey. So Brahmin Kaheyat Hai Hmarey.

In Kabeer’s spirituality, a Brahmin is someone who contemplates on and realizes the Creator.

Kabeer is thus representative of what the bhagats are rejecting- TOTALLY AND ABSOLUTELY. They are rejecting the spiritual dominance of the Brahmin and Benares oriented Bhramanical thought. The Brahmin is entirely irrelevant in the spiritual journeys of the bhagats. The Brahmin stands squarely outside the sphere of spirituality of the bhagats.

Herding the Bhagats Back into Brahmanism

The questions that arise are then as follows. Is this the reason why the Bhagat Maal – the voluminous text containing the “life stories” of the bhagats of the SGGS ji – came into being? To herd the bhagats –all of whom had rejected Brahmanism BACK into the Brahmin fold?

To put them squarely under the subjugation if the Brahmin? To put them back in the same fold that they had liberated themselves from and soundly rejected? By making them look like they really depended on the Brahmin for their spiritual discoveries?

We know that all the bhagats that sit in the SGGS ji wrote of their spiritual discoveries. Seven hundred and fifty-two of their shabds are in the SGGS ji – collected by Guru Nanak ji himself.

The Brahmin could never alter or change the writings of the bhagats. He could not take the bhagats out of the SGGS. He could not remove them from the mindsets of SGGS believing Sikhs. So the only way to subjugate them was to create fake stories pertaining to the bhagats relying on the Brahmin, Brahmin related rituals and Brahmin institutions for their spiritual discoveries.

Sikhs would then have two conflicting sources – the writings of the bhagats in the SGGS, and the stories of the bhagats in the dubious Bhagat Maal.

Is this also the reason why bhagat Dhanna ji has become victim to the story that he found God from within a rock handed to him with worship instructions by a Brahmin? The best answer can only come from bhagat Dhanna Ji himself. And we have the answers in writing – in the form of Gurbani.

In Bhagat Dhanna’s Own Words

So lets look at bhagat Dhanna ji’s shabd on Page 487 of the SGGS ji.

ਆਸਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਭਗਤ ਧੰਨੇ ਜੀ ਕੀ॥ Asa Bhagat Dhanney Ji Ki.

ਭ੍ਰਮਤ ਫਿਰਤ ਬਹੁ ਜਨਮ ਬਿਲਾਨੇ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਧੀਰੇ ॥ Bharamat Firet Bho Janum Bilaney Ta Man Dhan Nahi Dheeray.

Life is squandered in worldly pursuits; the physical body exhausts itself, the mind gets devoid of peace, and spiritual wealth does not get accumulated.

ਲਾਲਚ ਬਿਖੁ ਕਾਮ ਲੁਬਧ ਰਾਤਾ ਮਨਿ ਬਿਸਰੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਹੀਰੇ ॥ ੧ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Lalach Bikh Kam Lubdh Rata Mun Bisrey Prabh Hiray

The vice of greed keeps the mind absorbed in the poison of worldly desires; denying a rightful place to invaluable Godly realization.

ਬਿਖੁ ਫਲ ਮੀਠ ਲਗੇ ਮਨ ਬਉਰੇ ਚਾਰ ਬਿਚਾਰ ਨ ਜਾਨਿਆ ॥ Bikh Fal Meeth Lagey Mun Baorey Char Bichar Na Janeya

The pull of worldly desires, O demented (insane) mind, makes me devoid of elevating discourse of Godly virtues and their beautiful adoption.

ਗੁਨ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਬਢੀ ਅਨ ਭਾਂਤੀ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਨ ਫਿਰਿ ਤਾਨਿਆ ॥ ੧ ॥ Gun Tey Preet Badhi Un Bhanti Janum Maran Fir Taneya

Rejecting Godly virtues and their adoption, O Mind!, you are instead weaving me a web of spiritual death.

ਜੁਗਤਿ ਜਾਨਿ ਨਹੀ ਰਿਦੈ ਨਿਵਾਸੀ ਜਲਤ ਜਾਲ ਜਮ ਫੰਧ ਪਰੇ ॥ Jugt Jan Nahi Ridey Nivasi Jalt Jal Jum Fandh Prey

O mind, you never understood the method (of Godly virtues and discourse); my wasteful life is nearing its end.

ਬਿਖੁ ਫਲ ਸੰਚਿ ਭਰੇ ਮਨ ਐਸੇ ਪਰਮ ਪੁਰਖ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਮਨ ਬਿਸਰੇ ॥ ੨ ॥ Bikh Ful Sanch Bhrey Mun Aisey Parm Purakh Prabh Mun Bisrey.

Worldly desires are accumulated to the brim; On mind! the Creator is completely abandoned.

ਗਿਆਨ ਪ੍ਰਵੇਸੁ ਗੁਰਹਿ ਧਨੁ ਦੀਆ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਮਾਨੁ ਮਨ ਏਕ ਮਏ ॥ Gyan Parves Gureh Dhan Deea Dhian Maan Eyk Maye

My Guru blessed me with invaluable enlightenment by way of which I realized the Creator within.

ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਭਗਤਿ ਮਾਨੀ ਸੁਖੁ ਜਾਨਿਆ ਤ੍ਰਿਪਤਿ ਅਘਾਨੇ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਭਏ ॥ ੩ ॥ Prem Bhagat Mani Sukh JaneyaTript Aghaney Mukt Bhaey

My mind became satiated in the Creator’s Love and became emancipated from all entanglements.

ਜੋਤਿ ਸਮਾਇ ਸਮਾਨੀ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਅਛਲੀ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਪਹਿਚਾਨਿਆ ॥ Jot Smaye Smani Ja Kay Achli Prabh Pehchaniya.

Consciousness of the Creator came to reside in my enlightened mind; realization of the non-illusory (real) Lord got attained.

ਧੰਨੈ ਧਨੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਧਰਣੀਧਰੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਜਨ ਸੰਤ ਸਮਾਨਿਆ ॥ ੪ ॥ ੧ ॥ Dhanney Dhan Paiya Dharnidhar Mil Jun Sant Smaneya

Dhanna obtained invaluable Godly enlightenment; and become one with the Lord as the result of my communion with spiritual seekers of the Creator (Sant Junn).

Three points come clear from the above shabd. Firstly, within the parameters of his honest labor as a farmer, bhagat ji comes across both as spiritually enlightened. He comes across as educated and having an intellect. We can see this from bhagat ji’s competent vocabulary, from his spiritually rich verses and from his poetic prowess.

The spiritually enlightened individual that bhagat Dhanna ji is; it is inconceivable that he would go to a Brahmin for Godly realization. It is equally unthinkable that the spiritually enlightened Dhanna ji would fall for the trickery of a village Brahmin; and allow the Brahmin to fool him into accepting a piece of rock wrapped in cloth as worthy of worship

The second thing that comes across from Dhanna ji’s shabd is that there is no mention whatsoever of bhagat ji worshipping a rock or statute. There is no mention of his faith and devotion towards such. In fact, there is not a single mention of Dhanna ji discovering God through worship of a stone.

Thirdly, bhagat Dhanna ji says in the clearest of terms the real source of his Godly realization. The final two verses are crystal clear in that Dhanna ji’s source of Godly realizations is his Guru and the sangat of other enlightened souls.

There may however remain a doubt in the Gurbani reader’s mind regarding the contents of the following two verses. The first is:

ਗਿਆਨ ਪ੍ਰਵੇਸੁ ਗੁਰਹਿ ਧਨੁ ਦੀਆ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਮਾਨੁ ਮਨ ਏਕ ਮਏ ॥ Gyan Parves Gureh Dhan Deea Dhian Maan Eyk Maye.

Meaning: My Guru blessed me with the wealth of enlightenment by way of which I realized the Creator within.

The doubt is regarding “who is the Guru that bhagat Dhanna ji is referring to? Is bhagat Dhanna ji referring to the Brahmin who gave him the rock wrapped in a cloth – as his Guru?

Similarly, there may arise some doubt from the final verse:

ਧੰਨੈ ਧਨੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਧਰਣੀਧਰੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਜਨ ਸੰਤ ਸਮਾਨਿਆ ॥ ੪ ॥ ੧ ॥ Dhanney Dhan Paiya Dharnidhar Mil Jun Sant Smaneya

Meaning: Dhanna obtained invaluable Godly enlightenment; and become one with the Lord as the result of my communion with spiritual seekers of the Creator (Sant Junn).

Dhanna become one with the Lord as the result of spiritual sangat of ENLIGHTENED seekers of the Creator (Sant Junn).

The doubt in this verse is regarding the words “sant jan”. Who were these sant jan ? Whose sangat did Dhanna ji do? Is bhagat Dhanna ji referring to the Brahmin who gave him the rock wrapped in a cloth – as his sant? As his sant jan? Was the Brahmin Dhanna ji’s spiritual partner of his sangat? We thus need to answer both these questions. Let us take the second question first.

Who are the “sant jan” that Dhanna Ji is talking about?

In the Words of Guru Arjun Ji

As if anticipating such a question, Guru Arjun ji provides the answers in the shabd immediately following the above shabd of Dhanna ji. It on the same page – page 487. It follows Dhanna ji’s shabd immediately. It is titled Mehla 5 even though the main title of the three shabds is Asa Banee Bhagat Dhaney Jee Kee.

These facts make it plain that Guru Arjun ji was aware of the issue of Dhanna ji’s producing God-out-of a rock – story. And Guru ji wanted to make clear the reality and truth by placing his shabd immediately after Dhanna ji’s shabd. Let.s look at the shabd in full.

ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥ Mehla 5

ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸੰਗਿ ਨਾਮਦੇਉ ਮਨੁ ਲੀਣਾ ॥ ਆਢ ਦਾਮ ਕੋ ਛੀਪਰੋ ਹੋਇਓ ਲਾਖੀਣਾ ॥ ੧ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Gobind Gobind Gobind Sung Namdeo Mun Linna. Aadh Dam Ko Chipro Hoeyo Lakhinna. Rahao.

Namdev immersed his mind in Gobind and realized the Creator. A low caste human considered worth half a dime (by the Brahmin clergy) became worth millions (through the acquisition of Godly virtues).

ਬੁਨਨਾ ਤਨਨਾ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਕੈ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਚਰਨ ਕਬੀਰਾ ॥ ਨੀਚ ਕੁਲਾ ਜੋਲਾਹਰਾ ਭਇਓ ਗੁਨੀਯ ਗਹੀਰਾ ॥ ੧ ॥ Bunena Tanena Tyag Kay Preet Charan Kabeeya.

Discarding the entanglement of vices and immersing himself in the love of Godly messages; the low caste (as declared by the Brahmin Clergy) weaver Kabir got transformed into an ocean of Godly virtues (Gunee Gaheera).

ਰਵਿਦਾਸੁ ਢੁਵੰਤਾ ਢੋਰ ਨੀਤਿ ਤਿਨਿ ਤਿਆਗੀ ਮਾਇਆ ॥ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਆ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਿ ਹਰਿ ਦਰਸਨੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥ ੨ ॥ Ravdas Dhovanta Dhor Neet Tin Tyagi Maya. Pargat Hoa Sadhsang Har Darsan Paya.

Ravdas the lowly carcass collector (as declared by the Brahmin Clergy) freed himself from the shackles of material. He realized the Creator through the Sangat of seekers.

ਸੈਨੁ ਨਾਈ ਬੁਤਕਾਰੀਆ ਓਹੁ ਘਰਿ ਘਰਿ ਸੁਨਿਆ ॥ ਹਿਰਦੇ ਵਸਿਆ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਭਗਤਾ ਮਹਿ ਗਨਿਆ ॥ ੩ ॥ Sain Nayi Butkariya Oh Ghar Ghar Suniya. Hirdey Vasia Parbhram Bhagtan Meh Ganiya.

Sainn the lowly (as decreed by the Brahmin clergy) who earned a living going from house to house delivering messages; Realized the Creator within and got counted among the Bhagats.

Note Nayee has been associated with the barber community. In the original sense, Nayees earned a living carrying messages and material from house to house. The word Butkareeya means a messenger.

ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਸੁਨਿ ਕੈ ਜਾਟਰੋ ਉਠਿ ਭਗਤੀ ਲਾਗਾ ॥ ਮਿਲੇ ਪ੍ਰਤਖਿ ਗੁਸਾਈਆ ਧੰਨਾ ਵਡਭਾਗਾ ॥ ੪ ॥ ੨॥ Eh Bidh Sun Kay Jatro UIth Bhagti Laga. Miley Partakh Gosaiyan Dhanna Vadbhaga.

Knowing of the method (of the above mentioned seekers namely Namdev, Kabir, Tirlochan & Sainn), Dhanna the Jatt awakened into adopting the devotion of the Creator. He became blessed with manifest and actual realization of God.

Three points come clear from the shabd of Guru Arjun ji.

Firstly, the enitre Shabd is a clarification of bhagat Dhana’s final verse: ਧੰਨੈ ਧਨੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਧਰਣੀਧਰੁ ਮਿਲਿ ਜਨ ਸੰਤ ਸਮਾਨਿਆ ॥ ੪ ॥ ੧ ॥ Dhaneey Dhann Paiya Dharneedhar Mil Junn Sant Smaneya.

It particularly answers the issue of who were the sant jan that bhagat ji came into contact with in his spiritual journey. Guru Arjun ji makes clear they were – Namdev, Kabeer, Ravdas and Sainn Ji. Guru Arjun ji also makes clear that all four of them were enlightened and Godly realized beings themselves.

Only an enlightened being can bring about enlightenment to others. Only a lit candle can light the fire in another candle. The candle of Godly realization within Dhanna ji was lighted by the enlightened souls of Namdev, Kabir, Ravdas and Sainn ji,

Secondly Guru Arjun’s shabd makes clear the Brahmin had absolutely zero role in the Godly realization of Dhanna ji.

The Brahmin had no role in the Godly realization and enlightenment of Namdev, Kabeer, Ravdass and Sainn ji as well. In fact, Guru ji makes clear, that the role of the Brahmin clergy was negative.

The Brahmin in fact worked to prevent the bhagats from moving in the direction of Godly realization. He did so through his actions of broadcasting the castes of the bhagats, in order to declare them as lowly human beings and thus unfit for spiritual journeys.

Thirdly, Guru Arjun ji, in making no mention whatsoever of Dhanna ji worshipping a rock or statute – makes it crystal clear that bhagat Dhanna’s Godly realization did NOT come from any piece of rock given to him by any Brahmin. It also did not come from Dhanna ji’s so called devotion towards that rock, and had nothing to do with any Brahmin in the first place.

It is worth stating that Guru Arjun’s verses are not the only one that state the true manner of bhagat Dhanna ji’s Godly realization.

Let’s look at one verse from Guru Ramdas ji. This is from Page 835 of the SGGS ji.

ਬਿਲਾਵਲ ਮ: ੪॥ ਨਾਮਾ ਜੈਦੇਉ ਕੰਬੀਰੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਲੋਚਨੁ ਅਉਜਾਤਿ ਰਵਿਦਾਸੁ ਚਮਿਆਰੁ ਚਮਈਆ ॥ Bilawal M: 4. Nama Jaideo Kabir Trilochan Aujat Ravdas Chamiar Chameya.

Naam Dev, Jai Dev, Kabeer, Trilochan, Ravi Daas the low-caste leather-worker – all realized the Merciful Creator.

ਜੋ ਜੋ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਾਧੂ ਜਨ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਧਨੁ ਧੰਨਾ ਜਟੁ ਸੈਣੁ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਦਈਆ ॥ ੭ ॥ Jo Jo Miley Sadh Jun Sangat Dhan Dhanna Jutt Sainn Miliya Har Dyeaya.

Dhanna and Sainn, the blessed, Realized the Creator from coming together in Sadh Sangat.

It is clear as day light by now that going by the Gurbani shabds of Guru Arjun and Guru Ramdas ji – the story of bhagat Dhanna ji discovering God out of a piece of rock and then making God take care of his cows is patently false and baseless. It is a crafty concocted tale – one which is insidiously created but thoughtlessly repeated by Sikh clergy in the form of our kirtanias, ragis and kathakaars.

But the final nail in the coffin will be hammered by bhagat ji himself through his third shabd on page 695 of the SGGS ji.

ਧੰਨਾ ॥ ਗੋਪਾਲ ਤੇਰਾ ਆਰਤਾ ॥ ਜੋ ਜਨ ਤੁਮਰੀ ਭਗਤਿ ਕਰੰਤੇ ਤਿਨ ਕੇ ਕਾਜ ਸਵਾਰਤਾ ॥ ੧ ॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ Dhanna. Gopal Tera Aarta. Jo Jun Tumri Bhagat Karantey Tin Kay Kaj Swarta. Rahao.

O Creator and Protector God, I come before you as a beggar. In the knowledge that those who come before you in bhagtee and immersed in your love get their spiritual tasks resolved. Rahao.

It is worth noting that the word AARTA in Gopal Tera Aarta means a beggar. It has nothing to do with the word Artee –even if its sounds like the masculine version of Artee. It is certainly not.

This point is being made here because Sikhs who are in the habit of doing the ritualistic lamp lit flower throwing type of Artee of the SGGS are heard singing this shabd of bhagat Dhanna ji in their ritual. The ritual of Artee is not part of Sikh spirituality. And this shabd of bhagat Dhanna ji is not connected to the notion of Artee even in the remotest sense.

The question that remains to be answered is: “Who is bhagat Dhanna ji Guru? The second last verse of his shabd that we are discussing is as follows:

ਗਿਆਨ ਪ੍ਰਵੇਸੁ ਗੁਰਹਿ ਧਨੁ ਦੀਆ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਮਾਨੁ ਮਨ ਏਕ ਮਏ ॥ Gyan Parves Gureh Dhan Deea Dhian Maan Mun Eyk Maye.

Meaning: My Guru blessed me with the wealth of enlightenment by way of which I realized the Creator within.

The doubt that may exist in the mind of the readier is: “Who the Guru that bhagat Dhanna ji is referring to? Is bhagat Dhanna ji referring to the Brahmin who gave him the rock wrapped in a cloth – as his Guru?

Given that the Sadh Sangh or regular spiritual companions of bhagat Dhanna ji constitute Namdev, Ravdas, Kabeer, and Sainn ji – and that ALL of them had rejected the role of the Brahmin clergy in their spiritual processes and declared openly that

ਕਬੀਰ ਬਾਮਨੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਜਗਤ ਕਾ ਭਗਤਨ ਕਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਅਰਝਿ ਉਰਝਿ ਕੈ ਪਚਿ ਮੂਆ ਚਾਰਉ ਬੇਦਹੁ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ Kabeer, Bahman Guru Hai Jagat Ka Bhagtn Ka Gur Nahe. Arjh Urjh Kay Pach Mua Charon Bedho Mahey.

Kabeer, the Brahmin, even if he is Guru or the spiritual guide for the world out there, he is not the Guru of bhagats. That’s because He, the Brahmin, got entangled with the four Vedas and has succumbed to spiritual death.

It is therefore not conceivable at all that Dhanna ji would consider any Brahmin as his Guru. So the word Guru in bhagat Dhanna ji’s verse refers to the enlightenment that is contained within the messages of the shabd.

Bhai Gurdas ji’s Account

One other point needs to be made clear.

There exist Sikh clergy who – despite the overwhelming evidence within the SGGS – of the fakery of Dhanna finding God out of a rock story – insist that the story is indeed true. It doesn’t matter what Dhanna ji says, what Guru Ramdas ji says, or what Guru Arjun ji says. What matters is that Dhanna did worship a rock, and that God came out of the rock. These clergies rely on a pauree in Vaar 10 of Bhai Gurdas ji.

Or more accurately they rely on a wrong and twisted Vedic based understanding of Bhai Gurdas’s pauree. This article would strive to examine that pauree as its final endeavor. But first, a little about Bhai Gurdas ji.

We know that Bhai Gurdas wrote the entire Pothi Sahib as narrated to him by Guru Arjun. As such Bhai ji was completely aware of the 3 shabds of bhagat Dhanna ji in the SGGS. He also knew of Guru Arjun’ shabd as discussed above.

He also knew of Guru Ramdas’s shabd on how Dhanna ji realized God. Bhai ji was aware that Dhanna ji realized God through enlightenment obtained through sangat with bhagat Namdev, Kabeer, Ravdas, and Sainn ji

So Bhai ji obviously composed his pauree in full understanding of the reality and in complete understanding of Gurmat. It is within such as framework that we must look at the verses of Bhai Gurdas ji. His pauree is as follows:

ਬਾਮ੍ਹਣ ਪੂਜੈ ਦੇਵਤੇ ਧੰਨਾ ਗਊ ਚਰਾਵਣ ਆਵੈ॥ Bahman Pujei Devtey Dhanna Gau Chravan Avey

Dhanna ji made a living out of cow herding. The Brahmin made a living out of getting other people to make offerings (puja) to his idols.

It’s a comparison between two standpoints – an honest living as a farmer that Dhanna ji embraced, contrasted with a pooja da dhan or offerings-eating living style that the Brahman pujari adopted.

ਧੰਨੈ ਡਿਠਾ ਚਲਿਤ ਏਹ ਪੁਛੈ ਬਾਮ੍ਹਣ ਆਖ ਸੁਣਾਵੈ ॥ Dhanney Ditha Chalt Eh Puchet Bahman Aakh Sunnavey

Dhanna saw the irony and engaged the Brahmin in a debate.

The irony was of the Brahmin making a living out of getting people to make offerings, make fake promises to the people and then consume the offerings himself.

Dhanney ditha Chalat Eh – means Dhanna witnessed an ironical phenomenon. Puchey, Aakh Sunnavey means “questioned, spoke, and caused the Brahmin to listen.” It means Dhanna ji spoke out for the Brahmin to listen to.

In short, Dhanaa ji engaged the Brahmin in a debate on the issue of the irony.

What was the ironical phenomenon that caused the spiritually enlightened Dhanna to enter into a debate with the Brahmin. The worship of idols? Obviously not, since there is nothing ironical about this everyday occurrence.

The irony of making a living out of the spiritual needs of the people? Certainly. The irony is that the Brahmin accepts offerings of food from the people, puts it before the deity, and then goes ahead to feed himself and his family with the offerings.

This was the IRONY, as opposed to Dhanna ji’s honest labor as a farmer.

ਠਾਕੁਰ ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰੇ ਜੋ ਇਛੇ ਸੋਈ ਫਲ ਪਾਵੈ॥ Thakur Di Sewa Karey Jo Echay Soee Ful Pavey.

I am serving the Lord, and the people (who make offerings) get all that they wish for.

This verse is the Brahmin’s response to the enlightened Dhanna ji’s assertion that he (the Brahmin) was fooling the people.

This verse is the Brahmin defending himself in the IRONY that Dhanna ji pointed out.

ਧੰਨਾ! ਕਰਦਾ ਜੋਦੜੀ ਮੈਂ ਭਿ ਦੇਹ ਇਕ ਜੋ ਤੁਧ ਭਾਵੈ॥ Dhanna! Kardan Jodree Mein Bhi Deh Ek Ho Tudh Bhavey

Listeners need to note that the word (EK) in Gurmukhi is spelt without an aungkar. Ek with an aungkar is singular. Without the aungkar it is plural.

EK JO TUDH BHAVEY means ALL that you desire. The words Kardaan Jodree means “I am pleading”.

There are only two people here – a Godly enlightened honest living farmer named Dhanna, and a ritual consumed people-conning Brahmin clergy. One of them is pleading. Dhanna has NO reason whatsoever to plead. So the verse is NOT Dhanna Karda Jodree.

The Brahmin has every reason to plead – he is fake and he is losing the debate with Dhanna ji and faces public exposure of his folly. Hence it’s the Brahmin who is pleading. So the verse is Dhanna! Kardan Jodree Mein; with the pause at ਮੈਂ “mein”. the Brahmin is calling out to Dhanna ji in his pleading. The word ਮੈਂ “mein” refers to the Brahmin.

ਪੱਥਰ ਇਕ ਲਪੇਟ ਕਰ ਦੇ ਧੰਨੇ ਨੋਂ ਗੈਲ ਛੁਡਾਵੈ॥ Pathar Ek Lapeyt Kar Dey Dhanney No Gael Chudavey.

He wrapped a STONE and gave it to Dhanna to wriggle out of the situation.

ਗੈਲ ਛੁਡਾਵੈ Gael Chudavey – is to get out of a situation. The words ਧੰਨੇ ਨੋਂ (note nasal bindi) Dhannay No – means from Dhanna. Put together, the meaning of the words is “to get out of a situation from Dhanna ji.”

Again there are only two people here. There is no need for an enlightened Dhanna to get out of the debate from Brahmin. He is both enlightened and on the right side of spirituality. It is the losing Brahmin who has every reason to get out of it from Dhana. He is the one with a fake and un-defendable position.

So he tries to bribe or fool Dhanna ji by giving him a fake spiritual gift in the form of a worthless stone wrapped in a cloth. The Brahmin thinks Dhanna is like the common folk who would fall for his ritualistic charms.

Why would the enlightened Dhanna fall for such an attempt by the Brahmin and allow the pretentious Brahmin to wriggle out of the situation.?

That Dhanna did NOT fall for it, and did NOT give in, is evident from the following verses.

ਠਾਕੁਰ ਨੋਂ ਨ੍ਹਾਵਾਲਕੇ ਛਾਹਿ ਰੋਟੀ ਲੈ ਭੋਗ ਚੜ੍ਹਾਵੈ॥ Thakur No Nvahlkey Chehe Roti Lei Bhog Chravey.

I need to bathe my Lord IDOL and feed it with the offered Lasee and Roti.

The words are ਠਾਕੁਰ ਨੋਂ ਨ੍ਹਾਵਾਲਕੇ THAKUR no Nivalkey.

Dhanna ji never had a Thakur. He never was in possession of a Thakur. He was never given a Thakur (idol god). He was offered a rock wrapped in a cloth. A rock is NOT a Thakur. And he has NOT accepted the rock. There is no need for him to be fooled by the Brahmin.

So this is a further plead from the Brahmin. He gives Dhanna a rock to wriggle out. It does NOT work, Dhanna does not fall for the rock trick.

Dhanna does not give up. So the Brahmin tells Dhanna – I have work to do, please leave. I need to bathe my Thakur (Lord Idol) and feed it with the offered Lasee and Roti. The word ਭੋਗ ਚੜ੍ਹਾਵੈ “offer as bhog” makes it clear that the “I” here is the Brahmin because the function of ਭੋਗ ਚੜ੍ਹਾਵੈ Bhog Charavey is a ritual undertaken by the Brahmin.

But Dhanna is still not giving up. And this is evident from the next verse.

ਹਥ ਜੋੜ ਮਿੰਨਤ ਕਰੇ ਪੈਰੀਂ ਪੈ ਪੈ ਬਹੁਤ ਮਨਾਵੈ॥ Hath Jorr Minet Karey Pairee Pei Pei Bahut Mnavey.

With folded hands he pleaded, fell at the FEET, and attempted repeatedly to make him agree.

Who is falling at whose feet? There are only TWO people with feet here – the Brahmin and Dhanna ji. To say that Dhanna ji fell at the feet of the Brahmin raises the question: What for?

To argue that this is Dhanna ji falling at the feet of the rock makes no sense because the rock has no feet. Surely Bhai Gurdas ji is aware of such. The Brahmin has every reason to plead with Dhanna – to NOT EXPOSE his fraud of a ritual – which is to consume food offered to deities and lying to people that their needs would be met.

The Brahmin is actually afraid of Dhanna ji. His fraud is being exposed by an enlightened and God realized being. The Brahmin knows he is fraudulent. But it is clear that Dhanna ji is not giving in until the Brahmin accepts his folly.

That Dhanna ji is standing his ground is evident from the following verse where the Brahmin pleads even harder.

ਹਉਂ ਬੀ ਮੂੰਹ ਨ ਜੁਠਾਲਸਾਂ ਤੂੰ ਰੁਠਾ ਮੈਂ ਕਿਹੁ ਨ ਸੁਖਾਵੈ॥ Haon Bee Muh Na Juthalsa Tu Rutha Mein Keho Na Sukhavey.

I henceforth refuse to eat the food, you are dismayed, you are upset. How can I get my peace?

The issue of Dhanna ji refusing to eat the food is out of context. The issue of Dhanna asking to get his peace from the Brahmin is out of context too.

Why would he have lost his peace in the first place? He is an enlightened bhagat. It is the Brahmin who is in the process of eating. So the Brahmin saying “I will refuse to eat” is another way of pleading with Dhanna ji to NOT expose his folly. It is the Brahmin who has lost his peace.

It is the Brahmin who wants to end this debate and episode. So he is asking “how can I get my peace back; how can I end this debate? He is saying “OK I will stop eating this Pooja da food. Will that resolve it?

Dhanna ji responds to this question and tells the Brahmin; this is how to get his peace restored.

ਗੋਸਈਂ ਪਰਤੱਖ ਹੋਇ ਰੋਟੀ ਖਾਇ ਛਾਹਿ ਮੁਹਿ ਲਾਵੈ॥ Gosain Partakh Hoey Roti Khaye Chahey Muh Lavey.

The Creator and Protector God is Manifest; eat your bread and drink your lasee O Brahmin.

No need for you to NOT eat. Go ahead and eat and drink.

The meaning of the word PAERTAKH is manifest, real, evident, obvious, tangible, perceptible, veritable. Dhanna ji is contrasting the position of the Brahmin for whom God is a means to his livelihood. For whom God is a way to get offerings by making fake promises. For whom God is a ritual.

IT is clear the Brahmin offers no response to Dhanna ji on this point. The debate is thus resolved hence the second part of the verse: “Eat your bread and drink your lasee.”

ਭੋਲਾ ਭਾਉ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਮਿਲਾਵੈ ॥੧੩॥ Bhola Bhao Gobind Milavey

The Creator Lord is Realized through Unadulterated / Innocent Love.

This verse is the conclusion by Bhai Gurdas ji. It sides with the stand point of bhagat Dhanna ji. That God is realized through true love for the Creator.

This verse also critiques the stand point of the Brahmin – that God cannot be realized through ritual, offerings and making false promises.

The Creator cannot be realized through making Pooja a means of living – asking for items from worshippers in the name of the Creator – and consuming them instead.

This verse is also a statement of the outcome of the debate – that the position of the enlightened Dhanna ji prevailed.


In conclusion therefore, the following six points can be made. First, Dhanna ji obtainted his Godly realization from the sangat of fellow bhagats.

Second, all of these bhagats precluded idol worship, rejected the spiritual leadership of the Brahmin clergy and were highly critical of the Brahmin clergy.

Third, the reality of Dhanna ji’s Godly realization is supported by Dhanna ji himself in his shabd that we discussed above. It is further supported by the SGGS, by the Banee of Guru Arjun ji and Guru Ramdas ji – as discussed above.

Fourth, Gurdas jis’ pauree is absolutely and completely in line with this position. Bhai Gurdas ji is enlightened of the truth of Dhanna’s realization. His pauree must thus be read in that context. And certainly NOT in the context of the lie that is propagated in the Bhagat Maal.

Fifth, the story in Bhagat Maal about Dhanna ji is anti-Gurmat, in defiance of the bani of Dhanna ji, Guru Arjun and Guru Ramdas ji, and makes a mockery of a very enlightened and spiritually elevated bhagat Dhanna ji.

Sixth, Sikh pujaris and clergy who insist on misleading the sangat with this “God out of a Rock” story plucked from the Bhagat Mall (and countless other fake stories about the bhagats of the SGGS ji) are guilty of flouting Gurmat, guilty of defying Gurus Arjun and Ramdas ji; and guilty of twisting the writings of Bhai Gurdas ji.

Most critically, they are guilty of denying Dhanna ji his truth.

A Video version of this article can be accessed here:

(Note: This piece first appeared as the Editorial for The Sikh Bulletin Vol 2/2019. This publication can be accessed here:


Pandit Narain Singh, Sri Granth Guru Bhagal Maal Vaartik Sateek, Lahore: Dwarka Printing Press, 1938, pp. 67-70