THE BHAGATS OF THE GRANTH SAHIB
There have lived in India from time immemorial saints and thinkers who were dissatisfied with the superstitions and religious vagaries of the Hindus. They gradually evolved a belief in one God and preceded Guru Nanak as the dawn before sunrise. Abrupt indigenous alterations of religion have rarely, if ever, been presented to human experience. Some of the writings of the Guru's immediate precursors called Bhagats, or saints, are preserved in the Granth Sahib compiled by Guru Arjan. He selected for inclusion therein, with equal impartiality the writings of both Hindus and Musalmans, as they suited his purpose, and contributed to the great cause of religious reformation. We find in the sacred volume compositions of Jaidev, Namdev, Trilochan, Parmanand, Sadhna, Beni, Ramanand, Dhanna, Pipa, Sain, Kabir, Rav Das, Sur Das, verses of at least two Musalman saints, Farid and Bhikan; and one recension of the sacred volume called Banno's Granth, preserved at Mangat in the Gujrat district of the Panjab, contains a hymn composed by Mira Bai, Queen of Chitaur. It is believed that Guru Arjan did not give it a place in his collection because the lady lived and died an idolater.
The Hindu Bhagats for the most part began life as worshippers of idols, but by study and contemplation arrived at a system of monotheism which was appreciated by Guru Arjan. The Muhammadan Bhagats lived in Hindu centres, and became largely imbued with Hindu modes of thought, while they
- The word Bhagat comes from the Sanskrit bhakti, which means devotion, love, &c.