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Introduction
‘Vanjara’ literally means a trader or merchant. Generally, a person who walks around the streets of villages and cities and sells women’s cosmetic products is called a vanjara. Even till the late twentieth century, they were commonly seen on the streets, but now, this occupation has almost entirely disappeared. When the vanjaras loaded their goods and traveled to sell them, they used to sing songs for their entertainment on the way. It appears that a genre of folk poetry called ‘Vanjara’ emerged based on the tunes of these songs.

According to Gurmat (Sikh principle), the being is born into this world to unite with IkOankar (the Divine) by trading in the Nam of IkOankar, that is, contemplating the Nam. For this purpose, the being’s guide is the Wisdom (Guru), which inspires the being to connect with IkOankar. Many poetic or folk poetic forms (like Pahare, Ruti, Thiti, Alahani, Ghoria, etc.) have been used as the medium for the revelations in the Guru Granth Sahib. ‘Vanjara’ is also another such medium. Piara Singh Padam is of the opinion that this composition titled ‘Vanjara’ has been revealed based on the tunes of the songs of the vanjaras.
Piara Singh Padam, Sri Guru Granth Prakash, page 259-60.


This composition is revealed by Guru Ramdas Sahib (1534-1581 CE) in Rag Sirirag and is recorded on pages 81-82 of the Guru Granth Sahib. It has six stanzas of five lines each. With every stanza, there is an additional stanza of rahau of two lines.

In this composition, the seeker has been affectionately addressed as a merchant friend (vaṇjāriā mitrā). They have been made aware that they have come to this world to trade in the Nam. They are, therefore, instructed to engage in this true trade so that their face may be radiant in the court of IkOankar, and their cycle of birth and death may be ended.
Bhai Joginder Singh Talwara, Bani Biura, part 1, page 63.


The vocative term vanjara also appears in a composition named Pahare. On this basis, the addressing style of this composition resembles that of Pahare. Based on the style of folk songs, the Vanjara composition can be associated with public life. Its language is in accordance with the common understanding of the mid-sixteenth century. In this composition, it is conveyed that IkOankar Own-Self creates the universe, Own-Self runs it, and Own-Self entangles it in the deceit of Maya. The minds of the seekers who take support of the Wisdom remain illuminated with Divine awareness. The seeker who remembers and contemplates the Nam always makes their life fruitful.
Dr. Ratan Singh Jaggi, Bhav Prabodhani Tika Sri Guru Granth Sahib, part one, page 276.