Bhagat Dhanna’s hymns are included in the Guru Granth Sahib under Asa and Dhanasari measures.
Have you ever approached the “supreme being” with the innocence of a child? Is your faith in “him” soaked in love and only love? Is the almighty your friend as well as a provider? For Bhagat Dhanna, the Lord was “all in all” and hence he says, “Lord thy servant am I in affliction, those that to thee are devoted, thou their objectives dost fulfil. I beg for lentils, flour and some ghee, whereby may my heart be delighted. Seek I also shoes and good clothing, and grain grown over fertile land. A cow and a buffalo in milk I seek, as also a good Arab mare. Thy servant Dhanna then begs also for a wife, a good housekeeper.”
This verse by Bhagat Dhanna is recited everyday in the gurdwara to remind the Sikhs of the basic tenets of Sikhism — to live an active life full of abundance and to have faith in only one “Karta-Purakh”. Sikhism, being a practical religion, denounces renunciation and believes in householder’s way of salvation. Bhagat Dhanna was a devotee who performed all his worldly affairs but at the same time his mind was ever imbued with the colours of devotion. Bhagat Dhanna’s faith and dedication was admired by Guru Arjan Dev — the fifth Sikh guru — who says that like Bhagat Dhanna he too wants his mind to become the Lord’s slave.
Bhagat Dhanna was born in Dhuan Kalan village in 1415 in the Tonk, Rajasthan. He was born into a farmer family and was a simple, hardworking and illiterate man who loved the company of saintly persons. One day he saw one brahmin offering prayers to an idol. When he questioned the brahmin, he replied that the idol would fulfil all the desires. To get rid of Bhagat Dhanna, brahmin wrapped one random stone in a paper and gave it to him. It is believed that with his deep, childlike innocence and dedication, Bhagat Dhanna could realise the almighty even in a stone. Bhai Gurdass, while narrating the incident, writes, “Dhanna first bathed the stone, then offered food and butter-milk, he prayed with folded hands, and prostrated to persuade it to accept the offer. I will not eat a morsel, food I relish not if you are annoyed.” God appeared before Dhanna, accepted the offering he made; innocent love of Dhanna, thus united him into the Lord!
Bhagat Dhanna’s journey of realisation began with idol-worship but soon he realised the futility of rituals and superstitions and thus came a shift from sargun (with attributes) to nirgun (formless) form of devotion. Bhagat Dhanna says, “I wandered through countless incarnations but mind, body and wealth never remain stable... The guru has given the wealth of spiritual wisdom practicing meditation, the mind becomes one with him. Embracing loving devotional worship for the Lord, I have come to know peace, satisfied and I have been liberated... Dhanna has obtained the Lord, the sustainer of the world, as his wealth; meeting the humble saints, he merges in the Lord.” Bhagat Dhanna became a disciple of Ramanand who was also the guru of other Bhakti saints like Kabir, Pipa, etc.
Bhagat Dhanna’s hymns are included in the Guru Granth Sahib under Asa and Dhanasari measures. His bani emphasises on Nam-simran and selfless devotion. There is a gurdwara near Jaipur, Gurdwara Bhagat Dhanna, with a well where “Dhanna Jat” had meditated and ultimately realised the “divine truth” — Satnam.