PIPA, one of whose hymns is incorporated in the Guru Granth Sãhib, was a prince who renounced his throne in search of spiritual solace. He was born at Gagaraun, in present-day Jhalawar district of Rajasthãn, about AD 1425. He was a devotee of the goddess Bhavãni whose idol was enshrined in a temple within the premises of his palace. The goddess, it is said, once told him in a dream to visit Kãshi (Vãrãnasi) and receive initiation from Rãmãnand. Pipã went to Kãshi, but Ramãnand refused to see him in his gaudy robes. Pipã cast off his royal apparel and put on a mendicant’s garment. He returned home after initiation and began to live like an ascetic. At his invitation Ramãnand visited Gagaraun, and the raja lent his shoulder to the palanquin carrying him in a procession. Pipa now finally decided to give up his throne and retire to a life of seclusion and meditation. He wept to Dwarkã (Gujarãt) where Lord Krishna, after the Mahãbhãrata war, had spent the last years of his life. All the twelve wives of.Pipa insisted on accompanying him, but he took along only one, named Sitã, who was of a pious temperament. He selected a cave for his residence from where he daily walked through a tunnel to the temple of Krsna on the sea coast. The temple is still a popular place of pilgrimage. and a fair is held there annually in Pipa’s memory. After what he thought was a personal encounter with the Lord, he gave up idol-worship. He and his companion-wife started living in a jungle. After a period of penance, he set out roaming about the country to serve the common people. He, along with his wife, sang hymns and prayers of his own composition and collected money to be distributed among the poor. He fed the mendicants and treated them as God’s chosen ones. From an idol-worshipper (saguna bhakta) Pipã became a worshipper of the Formless One (nirguna devotee). As he says in his hymn in the Guru Granth Sãhib, the body itself is the Supreme Being’s temple (káiau deval). One need not make stone images of Him and burn incense or light candles in front of them.
Two collections of Pipa’s sayings are known to exist, namely Shñ Pipa ji Bani and Sarab Gutaka, both in manuscript form. Pipã Math, a monastery in Dwãrkã, honours his memory.
Shabad by Bhagat Pipa
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. || 1 ||
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. || 1 || Pause ||
The One who pervades the Universe also dwells in the body;
whoever seeks Him, finds Him there.
Pipa prays, the Lord is the supreme essence;
He reveals Himself through the True Guru.
Guru Amar Das, in his composition Anand (Stanza 14) has acquainted us about the nature of Bhagatas i.e God’s devotees. He says:
Such description of the unique way of life of the saints are found at several places on the pages of history. There we read that these holy-men in their deep devotion & dedication to God kissed the red hot iron-plates; embraced the equally hot pillars; discarded the crown and throne in favour of an austere life in jungles dedicated to Divine worship; and retained the tie of love with God intact even after sacrificing everything. In the long list of the devotees of God there is a name known as Pipa. He was a king of Gagron garh, situated at about 50 miles to the east of Kotanagar in the present-day Jhalawar district of Rajasthan State. He was born in a Chauhan rajput family in AD 1426 (1483 Samvat). According to the British historian of Sikhism, J.D. Cunningham, he was the ninth descendant of Raja Jaitpal. However, Giani Gian Singh, Twarikh Guru Khalsa (Part-1, p. 143) gives 1462 Bikrami as the year of his birth. It is also stated in this work that Pipa was born at Jhala, and spent his entire life at Patan in meditation of God: this Patan town is situated near Jodhpur in Rajasthan. Since Pipa came of a royal family, he enjoyed all the pleasures and comforts of a royal life and his life were full of all sorts of physical enjoyments. In the true royal custom, he married a dozen beautiful maidens who lived with him in his palace as his queens. Inspite of all this, a spark of Divine love was still alive in his heart. He was a devotee of goddess, Durga, the deity in which he perceived the divine reflection. He also took time from courtly cares and pleasures of flesh to spend it in the company of the holy persons. These later persuaded him that the special efforts need to be made to realize God. So he resolved to go to Ramanand to seek spiritual guidance.
At that time Ramanand was held in high esteem in the religious circles. Pipa set out for Kashi in company with several of his queens and attendants. But Ramanand refused to see him and accept him as his disciple saying that those desirous of seeking the company of the saints must first discard their ego of worldly position, power and pelf. That is the only means by which distinction of high and low could be obliterated. Pipa realized his lapse. So he sent the caravan consisting of his wives and servants back to his palace and presented himself before the saint with all humility. Thus was he able to seek the discipleship of Ramanand. Then under the influence and guidance of Ramanand, Pipa dedicated himself with renewed devotion to the worship of God. The Vaishnava cult was gaining popularity in those days, and naturally Pipa was also inclined towards this trend. As the love for God gained in its intensity, the pomp and show of royalty, seemed faded and jaded to him, At last he renounced the crown and set out on pilgrimage in the company of his youngest wife, Sita. Gradually he became totally indifferent to worldly position and self. It is said that one early morning as he was going for a bath in the river he saw on the way an urn full of gold coins. The following day Pipa took another route to reach the river saying maya (wealth) has occupied that path. Thus, he never allowed maya to dominate over his heart,, and also he never lost humility of heart. This had, in fact, become a peculiar trait of his temperament. There still exists in Dwarka a famous math (monastery) called Pipa Vatt in memory of Pipa where discourse is daily given on the life and teachings of Pipa.
There is only one hymn of Pipa included in the Guru Granth Sahib, under Dhanasri musical measure, on page 695. This hymn has made the saint immortal. In this hymn Pipa has denounced the dualism, and instead he advises man to realize the ultimate Reality. For this purpose one need’ not wander in forests. If that ultimate Reality (God) is in the forest, He is in the human heart as well. Therefore, it becomes easier for a person to discover Him from within. It becomes obvious therefore that man must peep into his innerself. This can be possible only through the grace of God. However, this is possible to achieve while living in this world and carrying out one’s filial and social obligations.
With the help of his hymn Pipa showed the true path to humanity lead astray in its ignorance. He says that a peep inside can help man realize his true self. He has been bold enough to say that instead of worshipping the idols or deities in temples by burning lamps or incense and making offers, one should remember and worship God residing within him, and he should offer prayer to Him. His hymn would read as follows:
Two collections of Pipa’s sayings are known to exist, namely Shri Pipa Ji Bani and Sarab Gutka, both in manuscript form. (ref. the encyclopaedia of Sikhism Vol. Ill, page 342)
Not much biographical information about Pipa is available. It is, therefore, not possible to specify the place of his demise. It is, however, believed that he died in 1562 AD at the ripe old age of 136 years. This was the time when Guru Amar Das, the third descendant on Guru Nanak’s throne, shed spiritual light to lead mankind on the way to spiritual and moral progression.
There is no exaggeration in the belief that devotees of God never die with their physical death. They are immortal as they remain ever alive through their pious utterances and noble deeds in the hearts of well-wishers of humanity.