Bhagat Sadhna demonstrates that everyone has the potential to connect with IkOankar at their disposal, inclusive of birth, social status, wealth, or perceived learning. Here, Bhagat Sadhna pleads before IkOankar (the Divine) to save his mind from vice-full desires.
bāṇī  sadhne  kī   rāgu  bilāvalu  
ikoaṅkār  satigur  prasādi.  
nrip  kanniā  ke  kāranai   iku  bhaïā  bhekhdhārī.  
kāmārathī  suārathī    kī    paij  savārī.1.  
tav  gun  kahā    jagat  gurā   jaü  karamu  na  nāsai.  
siṅgh  saran  kat  jāīai   jaü  jambuku  grāsai.1.  rahāu.  
ek  būṁd  jal  kārane   cātriku  dukhu  pāvai.  
prān  gae  sāgaru  milai   phuni  kāmi  na  āvai.2.  
prān  ju  thāke  thiru  nahī   kaise  birmāvaü.  
būḍi  mūe  naükā  milai   kahu  kāhi  caḍhāvaü.3.  
mai  nāhī  kachu  haü  nahī   kichu  āhi  na  morā.  
aüsar  lajā  rākhi  lehu   sadhnā  janu  torā.4.1.  
-Guru  Granth  Sahib  858  
Literal Translation
Interpretive Transcreation
Poetical Dimension
One of the 15 bhagats (devoted beings) whose composition is included in Guru Granth Sahib, Bhagat Sadhna, shares a unique moment in his relationship with the Divine here. Using the Rag Bilaval musical mode, he perfumes the composition, a kind of supplication, with a sense of excitement and accomplishment invoked as the seeker turns their face towards the Nam (Identification with IkOankar), the culture of Oneness.

Although some facts about Bhagat Sadhna’s life remain unclear, it is generally agreed upon that he was a butcher by trade who became oriented toward the Divine path. Historically, butchers were marginalized by society and treated as if they were “low” in status: in South Asia, they were often subjected to social exclusion and violence. Unfortunately, the situation today is not dissimilar. And yet, Bhagat Sadhna gives us insight into the nature of IkOankar (One Universal Integrative Force, 1Force, the One), using a personal, conversational style that speaks of the heart and to the heart—an insight believed impossible for someone of his caste background.

The creative and all-pervasive IkOankar is One that is unparalleled. IkOankar is realized through the grace of eternal Wisdom (Guru). Bhagat Sadhna’s Sabad commences with the invocation to the Divine, which further clarifies there is a direct connection between the Guru’s grace and the attainment of omnipotent IkOankar. It is an invitation, a grounding reminder, perhaps even a call to action, urging seekers to center the Divine grace in their remembrance.

What good is entering Your sanctuary if the jackal-like negative deeds of the past will not leave me? Bhagat Sadhna focuses our minds on the nature of surrendering to the Divine. In the Bani, we can see that the lion, the symbol of all things kingly, may represent the Divine, but what of the jackal? And what is the Bhagat suggesting here? Other parts of the composition make this clearer: the jackal, which can devour us, represents actions that distract us from seeking the One with joy and haste. Nevertheless, this is a rhetorical question; Bhagat Sadhna seems to be asking, can I be saved by the One from these deeds? What is the use of even seeking entry into the sanctuary of the all-Capable IkOankar, if our misdeeds are not first tackled at their root, our desire? Bhagat Sadhna reveals a fear here that the Bilaval rag can help to carry us persist through with anticipation. How long will we remain in the shelter of IkOankar if our internal jackal of misdeed circles us hungrily, pressuring us to pursue any range of worldly and destructive pleasure?

What good is entering Your sanctuary if the jackal-like negative deeds of the past will not leave me? The jackal, an animal associated with bestial ferocity commenting on the gracelessness of our negative actions, represents a significant mental obstacle to overcome. In the first couplet, Bhagat Sadhna gives us another example of an extreme figure, referring to a popular mythical tale of a man who, surrendering to his lustful desire, disguised himself as the Hindu god Vishu to trick a princess into marriage. The essential point is that he concealed who he is, deceiving both others and himself to gain something he lusts after, regardless of the effect on others. Bhagat Sadhna tells us that the Divine even bestowed grace on this man. Even the jackal of his selfishness and desire is defeated by a thirst for IkOankar. What is the Bhagat asking us to reflect on with this story? Perhaps, we are all disguising ourselves, masking the internal battle between remembrance and desire that wages inside us all. Are we masking ourselves to find shelter in IkOankar before we have even addressed the many manifestations of our desire?

If the pied cuckoo dies while waiting for a single drop, it would be useless even if it were to find an ocean of water. Bhagat Sadhna highlights immediacy by invoking the symbol of the pied cuckoo—a portrayal of patience and yearning. This bird is said to await a specific raindrop that descends within a particular constellation. This mythical bird cries in patient anticipation for the touch of this raindrop to satisfy its thirst. The pied cuckoo’s cries echo its restlessness until that raindrop arrives; seekers, too, find no tranquility without the essence of Nam. Bhagat Sadhna presents the pied cuckoo as an illustration of a seeker immersed in longing yet steadfastly patient. This mirrors the state of the mind without Nam— a state of anguish devoid of serenity. Nevertheless, we can acquire the art of nurturing patience in our yearning for Nam and the Divine. However, a crucial question remains: Can we yearn like the pied cuckoo if the jackal of our misdeeds, fueled by desire, rampages unchecked? If this one drop is not received with dedication and speed, an ocean will be useless to that yearning bird. Bhagat Sadhna cautions that allowing our negative deeds’ jackal-like tendencies to overpower us renders even subsequent grace of little avail. The Bhagat suggests that we must make haste and focus on the now as the time to yearn for IkOankar.

O IkOankar! I am nothing without You; I have no existence. You are my only support. The final couplet brings us from a place of obstacles to one of awareness that we can gain the grace of the lion and defeat the jackal. Bhagat Sadhna, addressing IkOankar, acknowledges his own insignificance in the presence of the Divine. It encapsulates a profound sentiment of surrender and connection. This humbleness reflects an awareness of the vast transcendent force of IkOankar and conveys a deep understanding that human life is intricately tied to the Divine. It is not mere humility; it’s a recognition that the very essence of our being finds its source and sustenance in IkOankar. This goes beyond prevailing notions of self-effacement by describing the surrender of ego and dissolution of the self into the greater whole. Here, the seeker perceives their individuality as an illusion compared to the eternal and boundless nature of IkOankar. This composition prompts seekers to let go of the jackal of misdeeds by realizing that we are all within the Command. When we feel that we ourselves do not exist without IkOankar, our jackal disappears.

Far from being severed from the divine knowledge by his profession, in his desire to grab the opportunity for Oneness with the Divine afforded to him by this human life with both hands, Bhagat Sadhna demonstrates that everyone has this potential at their disposal, inclusive of birth, social status, wealth or perceived learning. Even a lustful person’s honor can be graced; even the jackal of our negative deeds can be chased away when we, as seekers, realize our own weaknesses and dedicate ourselves to IkOankar. In fact, many of us today let our mistakes define us. We carry the burden of our negative deeds around in a way that shapes our personalities and, in a way, feeds our egos, too. Why wait to take the shelter of the lion when the jackal is even now prowling at your door? If one’s life ends engrossed in vices without Nam, what impact will the grace of IkOankar have? Can we reflect on how truly freeing it is to face IkOankar with the joy of Bilaval and realize that we only exist with that grace?