BHATT BANIBHATT BANI, recorded under the title Savaiyye, is the name popularly given to the compositions of the Bhatts as included in the Guru Granth Sahib (pp. 13891409). Bhatts were bards or panegyrists who recited poetry lauding the grandeur of a ruler or the gallantry of a warrior. Bhatt was also used as an epithet for a learned Brahman. In the Sikh tradition, Bhatts are poets with the personal experience and vision of the spirituality of the Gurus whom they celebrate in their verse. According to Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri” Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, `They were the Ved`as incarnate” (p. 2121).
The Bhatts aresaid to have originally lived on the bank of the River Sarasvati which is also the name of the Indian mythological goddess of knowledge.They were thus called Sarasvat, i.e. the learned Brahmans. Those living on the other side of the Sarasvati were called Gaur. They showed little interest in learning and contended themselves with alms given them by their patrons whose bansavalinamas or genealogies they recorded in their scrolls called vahis. They are still found on the bank of the Sarasvati in the Talauda (Jind), Bhadson (Ladva) and Karsindhu (SafTdon) villages in Haryana.
Some of these families shifted over to Sultanpur Lodhi, now in Kapurthala district of the Punjab, and settled there.Bhikha and Toda of these families embraced the Sikh faith during the time of Guru Amar Das. Bhai Gurdas also gives in his Varan, XI. 21, a brief account of these Bhatts.What was the number of Bhatts whose compositions are included is a question not yet firmly answered. According to a tradition, Kalh, a leading Bhatt poet, took it upon himself to note down some of the verse of the Bhatts from the vahis and passed it on to Guru Arjan at the time of the compilation of the Holy Book.
As for the number of Bhatt contributors to the Guru Granth Sahib, Sahib Singh, Teja Singh, Taran Singh and other modern scholars count 11 of them, whereas Santokh Singh (Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth), Bhai Vir Singh (Guru Granth Kosh) and some others among the traditional scholars count 17, and Pandit Kartar Singh Dakha puts the figure at 19.This variation in numbers is owed to the fact that the Bhatts used to sing in chorus and sometimes the chorus sung by a group went in the name of the leader and at other times individually in the names of the members of the group. From among the 17 Bhatts whose compositions figure in the Guru Granth Sahib, Bhikha, son of Rayya, was a resident of Sultanpur Lodhi and had been a follower of Guru Amar Das. Of the total 123 savaiyye in the Guru Granth Sahib two are of his composition, both in praise of Guru Amar Das. Of the remaining sixteen Bhatt contributors, four are his sons; Kalh, also called Kalsahar or Kal Thakur, who is reckoned to be the most learned of all the Bhatts.
has 53 savaiyye, 10 in praise of Guru Nanak, 9 each in praise of Guru Arigad and Guru Amar Das, 13 in praise of Guru Ram Das and 12 in praise of Guru Arjan; Jalap who had migrated to Goindval with his father has four savaiyye, to his name all of which are in praise of Guru Amar Das; Kirat (d. 1634) has eight savaiyye four each in praise of Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das; and Mathura 12, all in praise of Guru Ram Das. Salh who has three savaiyye extolling the preeminence of Guru Amar Das (1) and Guru Ram Das (2), and Bhalh who has one savaiyya in praise of Guru Amar Das were the sons of Sekha, a brother of Rayya. Balh who has five savaiyye stressing the spiritual oneness of the Gurus was the son of Tokha, another brother of Rayya. Haribaris, the eldest son of Gokha, a brother of Rayya, has two savaiyye both in praise of Guru Arjan.
Nalh has five savaiyye all in praise of Guru Ram Das. Das, also spelt as Dasu or Dasi, has composed ten savaiyye including one written conjointly with Sevak who, in addition to this one, has four savaiyye of his own. Parmanand`s five savaiyye are in praise of Guru Ram Das, Tal`s single one in praise of Guru Arigad. Jalan has two savaiyye, both in praise of Guru Ram Das.Jalh one in praise of Guru Amar Das and Gayand five which glorify Guru Ram Das.
Of the total 123, ten each pay homage to Guru Nanak and Guru Angad, 22 to Guru Amar Das, 60 to Guru Ram Das and 21 to Guru Arjan.The main purpose of these savaiyyas is to acclaim the Gurus, not as individuals but as the revelation they embodied. The Bhatts see the Gurus as one light, as one spirit passing from one body to the other. Bhatt Kirat, for instance: `Just as (Guru) Arigad was ever the part of Guru Nanak`s being so is Guru Ram Das of (Guru) Amar Das`s” (GG, 1405). Again, Bhatt Kalh: “From Gu.`u Nanak was Arigad; from Arigad, Amar Das received the sublime rank.
From Guru Ram Das descended Guru Arjan, the great devotee of God” (GG, 1407). This concept of all the Gurus being one light, one voice has informed all along the Sikh belief and development and constitutes today a fundamental principle of the faith.
1. Taran Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji da Sahitik Itihas. Amritsar, n.d.
2. Sahib Singh, Bhattan de Savaiyye Satik. Amritsar, 1972
3. Gurdit Singh, Giani, Itihas Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Delhi, 1990
4. Kohli, Surindar Singh, A Critical Study of Adi Granth. Delhi, 1961