Bhagat Dhanna Ji
Bhagat Dhanna Ji was a Sikh Bhagat born in Dhuan village in Tantr state, Rajasthan, present day North West India in about 1415. He was a simple Indian farmer. He worked hard on his farm all day tending his crops. He used to go past the house of this Clever Pundit everyday on the way to his work on the farm. Dhanna Ji used to listen to the Pundit singing religions verses and carry out various ritualistic acts, which were beyond the understanding of this simple Jatt (farmer). He found these acts intriguing but never asked the religious man about any of the things that he had observed in the many years that he had gone past the Pundit’s house.
One day, Bhai Dhanna ji was passing the pundit’s house and noticed that the religious man was feeding his Thakur – a stone idol. Bhai Dhanna ji was quite puzzled by what he was observing. On this occasion as he had some free time, he went and asked the Pundit. Dhanna Ji asked “Pundit Ji, What are you doing?”
The Pundit was very hungry and wanted to get this feeding over as soon as possible and really wasn’t in a mood for Bhai Dhanna ji’s simple inquiries. He replied, “Oh, nothing, I just feeding my Thakur. Now if you will excuse me…”
Bhai Dhanna ji found that incredibly funny, “What is the use of feeding a stone?”
Pundit, “That is not a stone, it is God. It’s Thakur!”
Dhanna, “Really? What happens if you feed the Stone…. I mean, what happens when you feed the Thakur?”
Pundit: “The Thakur gives you everything!! If you can please God, you will get everything. Now, I really must ask you to leave…I have a lot to do”
Bhai Dhanna ji liked this idea of giving a little food to this small God and getting back everything. So Bhai Dhanna ji asked the pundit if he could also have a Thakur.
At this time, the pundit’s stomach was audibly complaining about lack of food. So he hastily picked up the nearest stone off the ground and said, “Here. First feed Thakur, then you eat. Understood! Goodbye.” Saying that the pundit dived into the food left over by Thakur. “Lovely I really could not have waited any longer!”
Bhai Dhanna ji held the stone closely to his chest and hurried home. As soon as Bhai Dhanna ji got home, he first carefully and loving washed the stone. Having bathe the Thakur, Dhanna then cooked the best meal he knew for dinner. He placed it in front of Thakur and said, “Here Thakur ji, please eat this food, I have made it lovingly for you. Afterwards, I want to discuss many things with you. I need a new cow for example, and a few other simple request – but for now, please eat.”
Saying that Bhai Dhanna ji sat in front of Thakur and waited. And waited. And waited. After a while, Bhai Dhanna ji said, “Look Thakur, I really have no time for your play. Come and eat at once! I have many things to do.”
After several hours, Bhai Dhanna ji thought perhaps Thakur ji was annoyed at him – May be he has done something wrong. So Bhai Dhanna ji tried to persuade Thakur ji to forgive him: “Look here Thakur, I haven’t eaten in a while. Now it is entirely possible that I have done something to annoy you but believe you me, we can discuss this much better after this Roti is in our stomachs.” Still nothing happened. Slowly the night deepened. It was now pitch dark outside and the Thakur was showing no signs of eating the delicious food.
Bhai Dhanna ji was now getting angry and said, “Look Thakur, I have one nerve left and you are dancing on it. Either eat your food or I will….”, Bhai Dhanna ji couldn’t really think of anything else to say so he bust out in anger. Still nothing happened! The angry outburst had no effect on the Thakur.
Pretty soon, Danna ji could see light skies in the East and soon it was going to became daylight. Bhai Dhanna ji felt quite disoriented and confused. Sometimes Bhai Dhanna ji would curse the Thakur, sometimes Bhai Dhanna ji would hug the Thakur and sometimes Bhai Dhanna ji would start crying.
Two long and hungry nights and days passed in this manner. Dhanna ji tried every way to convince the Thakur to take the food. He tried with all the tricks that he knew, with all the love that he could muster, with all the pleadings that he knew, with all the anger – But nothing appeared to work. Dhanna Ji was a stubborn farmer but he was failing miserably here. However, his conviction had not faltered. He kept working on his begging and pleadings.
Then at amrit vela (early dawn) on the third day, when Dhanna ji was too weak to curse any more, Waheguru decided to intervene. To stop Dhanna from going mad, Waheguru gave Bhai Danna a vision in form of a young man. It was the most beautiful body of a young man. Dhanna ji lost all his anger and just stared at the young man.
Speaking through the young man Waheguru said, “Dhanna ji, Sorry, I am late…” Dhanna ji interrupted and said, “I will warm up the food. Thakur Ji you must eat the food – You must also be very hungry” Dhanna Ji feed the young man and eats food himself after staying hungry for over 2 days.
After, eating the food, Dhanna Ji say to Waheguru, “As I said to you two days ago, I have a few things to discuss with you. First there is the work on the farm and then….”
Bhai Dhanna ji fell head over heels in love with the young man (through whom God spoke to him). He couldn’t resist being with the young man. They spent the next few days literally arm in arm. Even at night, Bhai Dhanna ji would listen to Waheguru songs – Waheguru sang a lot – and would drift off to sleep. A week later, the Pundit was passing Bhai Dhanna ji’s hut. Bhai Dhanna ji saw him and ran to him and said, “Oh, Pundit ji, you are the most wonderful man. I can never thank you enough for giving me that marvellous Thakur…”
Pundit, “What you on about??? OK, Oh, yeah, sure, anytime. Look, I am in a hurry. I am going to the big Pundit gathering…”
Bhai Dhanna ji: “But please come and drink some lassi (Milk Shake). Thakur ji makes the best lassi.”
Pundit: “What now? What are you saying? Thakur makes something?”
Bhai Dhanna ji: “Oh yes! It’s the best in the world. Just look at him, how handsome he is!”
Pundit ji looked and indeed he could see that someone was pushing the cows on the farm. And yet there was nobody to be seen.
Pundit ji: “Who is controlling the cows. Who is that?”
Bhai Dhanna ji: “Why, that is Thakur ji, of course. Can’t you recognise him. Oh, you should hear him sing…It’s out of this world!”
Pundit ji was quite intrigued by now. And kept repeatedly asking Bhai Dhanna ji about Thakur. After a while Bhai Dhanna ji realized that Pundit could not see Thakur ji. Dhanna ji promised that he would talk to Thakur about this.
The Pundit left. Bhai Dhanna ji went to Waheguru and said, “Thakur ji, how come Pundit ji can’t see you?”
Waheguru: “The Pundit really doesn’t want to see me. He is more interested in my maid – Maya and he is captivated in it entanglement. He has no real interest in me only in my creation”
Dhanna ji: “But I don’t understand. Why can I see you and others cannot? How can one begin to see you?”
Waheguru: “One has to become pure. And in this age, Dhanna ji, the only way to become pure is by reciting Naam.”
Dhanna ji: “Naam?”
Waheguru: “Naam is the magic of this age. Even a few minutes of Naam Simran will bring the magic that is needed to see me.”
Dhanna ji: “But, I haven’t recited Naam. How come I can see you?”
The young man, touched Bhai Dhanna ji ‘s forehead. Bhai Dhanna ji’s surat went inside. Inside he saw that he, Bhai Dhanna ji, had done heavy tapasaya for over many lifetimes. He had stood in water all night and in the hot sun all day. He had hung upside down for several lifetimes. He had been a celibate in one lifetime and a moni (ones who don’t talk) in another. But he had progressed spiritually very little.
Then in his previous life, he had met the holy saints (sangat) who had given him Naam. And by doing Naam Simran for just one lifetime, Bhai Dhanna ji had become pure. Seeing Waheguru ji was the reward for his Naam from previous life.
Bhai Dhanna ji fell at the young man’s feet and cried. Saying, “Please forgive this fool, I treated you as an equal…”
The young man ji picked him and held him close, singing songs of comfort, “Bhai Dhanna ji, now the time is right to leave. The way you see me now is the superficial way of meeting me. The real way is inside. Now you must start Naam Simran again and then I will meet you inside.”
Saying that the young man vanished into thin air. Bhai Dhanna ji was enlightened now. He restarted his Naam Simran with each breath. Within days, Bhai Dhanna ji had parkash (sighting) of Waheguru ji within his mind and through this enlightenment; we today have the benefit of Dhanna Bani in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
When we bow to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, we are not just acknowledging the advice and lives of our ten Gurus but also the lives and Bani of 15 Sikh Bhagats.
God is within us all and pervades throughout his creation (there is universe beyond universe…Japji Sahib). So if we want vision of God then we need to meditate on his name (he has innumerable names, as told to us by Guru Gobind Singh Ji). It is important to note that God DOES NOT take any form, but for our purpose he can give us a vision in any form. For example, Waheguru was inside the young man as much as he was inside bhai Dhanna but for Bhai Dhanna’s experience, God spoke through the young man. Guru Granth Sahib tells us that in Sach Khand, where the light of God dwells, blessed saints merge with God (as Guru Gobind Singh Ji did in his previous incarnation). Therefore when a christian wants to “see God” he may get vision of Jesus, a Muslim that of Mohammed and so on. If you vision God as a radiant light which pervades throughout the universe, then if you are blessed this may be the vision you will see. An important concept in Sikhism is that God does not take form (Guru Grnath Sahib and Dasam Granth), he is formless and pervades throught his creation.