Joti Bigâs (Punjabi)

Though commonly held to be a versed Punjabi translation of the Persian Joti Bigâs, the Punjabi edition is by all means an independent and separate work. It consists of 44 verses and has a great deal of Braj Basha influence.

The poem is a eulogy of the Eternal Satguru and the attributes that the Guru possesses. While some of the attributes describe and praise the nirgun aspect of the Guru, others praise the sargun and manifest form of the Guru (click here to read more on the nirgun/sargun distinction of the Guru in the writings of Bhai Nand Lal). Examples of praise of the nirgun aspect of the Satguru is Wâh wâh Gur apar apâranan (Praise praise to the Guru who is beyond limits), Wâh wâh âd jugâdanan (Praise praise to the Guru who exists from the beginning to the end), while the sargun aspect is emphasised in lines such as Wâh wâh gur nayek sach gandhanan (Praise praise to the Guru who spreads truth and courage) and Wâh wâh Gur sach ârâdhanan (Praise praise to the Guru who worships Truth). Following a typical pattern of the Persian compositions of the poet, the composition goes on to praise the internal unity of the ten Gurus, all being one light in different bodies.

Nanak passed on the Guruship to Angad,
Then Amar Das served Hari, the Almighty.
Then Ram Das to Arjun,
And then Hargobind worshipped the Almighty.
So the Almighty blessed Har Rai,
Who made Har Krishna, infinite and inaccessible.
Then Tegh Bahadur who was the epitome of veracity was blessed.
As was Guru Gobind Singh, the embodiment of Hari.
All are one and one into all,
And there exists no distinction amongst them.

The concluding part is similar to verses found in both the Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth, in which the poet enlists a wide range of celestial beings and followers of mystical traditions, who are all under the protection of the eternal Satguru. These encompass venerated figures from the Puranic tradition including Râm, Krishna, celestial singers, yogis and siddhs. Interestingly, apart from one line, none are mentioned from the Islamicate world or history which is a prominent feature in the Persian compositions of the poet.

Joti Bigâs in Gurmukhi

Handwritten Gurmukhi calligraphy of the Joti Bigâs composition.

Back to top