Bhagat Nam Dev ji
Main Teachings : Even having received everything a person should say, “Nothing is in my control. What ever is done, is done by God only.” The pleasure of God can be achieved only by living in His will. God dwells in the heart of a man, who is true and pious in his actions. As said on page 1162 :
One who stays away from others' wealth and others' spouses the Lord abides near that person.
Creator should be worshipped not the creation. As stated on page 874 :
I take only the Name of the One Lord I have given away all other gods in exchange for Him.
We should pray to one and only one God Almighty. As stated on page 1292 :
Please do not forget me; please do not forget me, please do not forget me, O Lord.
Bhagat Nam Dev ji was born in the village Narsi Bahmini, Distt. Satara, Maharashtra(India) in the year 1270. His father was Daam Shetty and mother was Gona Bai. Since Childhood, Nam Dev ji was very religious minded. He always involved himself in singing the praise of Almighty. His parents sent him to study for worldly education from a teacher(Paadha), but he was interested more in spiritualism and less in worldly affairs. So he used to go to the Beethal Mandir in Pandharpur daily, in the morning and evening with his father to worship Thakur (Stone idol of God). He got his religious teachings from a great saint Gianeshvar(Giani Dev ji). After worshipping Thakur, he used to earn his livelihood from cloth printing. He used to do two things at a time, that is earning a livelihood and meditating. In Gurbani, he himself gives the description of a dialogue with Bhagat Tirlochan ji. Once he was very busy in his work of printing design on clothes and deeply meditating at the same time, when Bhagat Tirlochan ji came to see him. Bhagat Nam Dev ji did not pay any attention to him. He kept on meditating and working on the piece of cloth. Tirlochan ji waited for some time, and then said sarcastically,” O Nam Dev! I heard a lot about you, including, that you meditate a lot. I came to see you, but after seeing you I find you are totally engrossed in earning money. You are printing colored designs on people’s clothes day and night. Bhagat Kabir ji has described this dialogue on page1375 :
Trilochan says, O Naam Dayv, Maya has enticed you, my friend. Why are you printing designs on these sheets, and not focusing your consciousness on the Lord ?
And the answer which Bhagat Nam Dev ji gave is also mentioned by Kabeer Ji on page 1376 :
Naam Dayv answers, O Trilochan, chant the Lord's Name with your mouth. With your hands and feet, do all your work, but let your consciousness remain with the Immaculate Lord.
Bhagat Nam Dev ji loved God Almighty very intensely. His parents got him married to a very kind and gentle lady Raja Bai daughter of Gobind Shetty. He was blessed with four sons(Narayan, Mahandev, Gobind, Bithal) and one daughter Limba Bai. He performed his family duties honestly but even in his family life, he gave utmost importance and priority to recitation and meditation of naam(pray). By nature and temperament, Bhagat Nam Dev ji was simply very innocent, docile, kind hearted and free of any kind of crookedness. He used to go to the temple daily with his father and see his father offering milk to the Thakurs. He never knew that his father left the milk pot behind the curtains and then picked it up after some time. Nam Dev ji had firm belief that Thakur (stone idol of God) does drink the milk. One day his father had to go out of town for a certain task. He called his son Nam Dev ji and said,” My dear son, I am going out of town, so you will offer milk to Thakurs tomorrow.” So after giving directions to his son about doing his duty carefully, he went out of town. Next day Bhagat Nam Dev ji got up with full of enthusiasm, took a bath, milked the cow(Kapil cow) and went to Beethal Temple. He prayed from the core of his heart thinking Thakur ji was about to appear. God Almighty was pleased with his innocence and deep love and revealed Himself in a physical form to take the milk from Bhagat Nam Dev ji. This whole incident is described by Bhai Gurdas ji in his vaar 10, pauri 11 as followed :
Namdev's father was called to do some work so he called Naamdev. He told Namdev to serve Thakur, the Lord, with milk After taking bath Namdev brought the milk of black-teat cow. Having bathed the Thakur, he put the water used to wash the Thakur, on his own head. Now with folded hands he requested the Lord to have milk. Becoming steadfast in his thoughts when he prayed, the Lord appeared before him in person. Namdev made Lord drink the full bowl of milk. On another occasion God brought a dead cow to life and also thatched the hut of Namdev. On yet another occasion, God rotated the temple (after Naamdev was not allowed entrance) and made all the four castes (varnas) bow at the feet of Namdev. The Lord accomplishes whatever is done and desired by saints
And Bhagat Nam Dev ji himself tells this in his Bani which is entered in Sri Guru Granth Sahib on page 1163 :
Naam Dayv milked the brown cow, and brought a cup of milk and a jug of water to his family god. "Please drink this milk, O my Sovereign Lord God. Drink this milk and my mind will be happy. Otherwise, my father will be angry with me." Taking the golden cup, Naam Dayv filled it with the ambrosial milk, and placed it before the Lord. The Lord looked upon Naam Dayv and smiled. "This one devotee abides within my heart." The Lord drank the milk, and the devotee returned home Thus did Naam Dayv come to receive the Blessed Vision of the Lord's Darshan.
Due to his devotional meditation, Nam Dev ji had reached such a status in spiritualism that he viewed Almighty God in every creature. One day a dog came and took his cooked chappatti(Indian tortilla). Bhagat Nam Dev ji saw the presence of God in the living dog, ran after him saying,” O God! I desired to apply butter on the chapatti’s for you to eat, but you have carried them without butter. Please stop and let me apply butter to these dried chapatti’s. You can have them after that. “ Another day a Mughal ordered him to carry a foal( newborn baby horse). Bhagat Nam Dev ji again thinking about the presence of God in that Mughal was pleased to do that task for no pay. He talked to his God in very loving and sweet language as mentioned in Raag Tilang on page 757 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji :
Hello, my friend, hello my friend. Is there any good news ? I am a sacrifice, a devoted sacrifice, a dedicated and devoted sacrifice, to You. Slavery to You is so sublime; Your Name is noble and exalted. Where did you come from ? Where have You been ? And where are You going ? Tell me the truth, in the holy city of Dwaarikaa. How handsome is your turban And how sweet is your speech. Why are there Moghals in the holy city of Dwaarikaa ? You alone are the Lord of so many thousands of worlds. You are my Lord King, like the dark-skinned Krishna.You are the Lord of the sun, Lord Indra and Lord Brahma, the King of men. You are the Lord and Master of Naam Dayv, the King, the Liberator of all.
According to the historical writings, Bhagat Nam Dev ji met Almighty God 72 times. The Brahmins of high caste were very jealous of his high spiritual status. One day Nam Dev ji went to the temple with small cymbals ( a circular brass percussion instrument). He began to sing praises of God in a very blissful mood by dancing and enjoying worship in this particular state of mind. How could proud Brahmins tolerate a low caste person praying in the same temple? They snatched the cymbals out of Nam Dev’s hands and pushed him out of the temple saying,” To worship Thakurs is the right of Brahmins only. NO body who belongs to the low caste can worship Thakurs in a temple.” So being helpless, Bhagat Nam Dev ji went to the back of the temple placing his small blanket on the shoulder and he began to sing hymns there. Now in order to protect and provide shelter to his true devotee, Almighty God rotated the concrete temple in such a way that it began to face Bhagat Nam Dev ji and proved that God is not the monopoly of a particular person or a caste. God wants only pure love and pious feeling. "Bhagat Ravidas" ji has stated that on page 658 in Sorath Ravidas ji as :
The Lord, our King, is father to no one, except those who love Him
Nam Dev ji has described this incidence of his biography on page 1164 as :
Laughing and playing, I came to Your Temple, O Lord. While Naam Dayv was worshipping, he was grabbed and driven out. I am of a low social class, O Lord; why was I born into a family of fabric dyers ? I picked up my blanket and went back, to sit behind the temple. As Naam Dayv uttered the Glorious Praises of the Lord, the temple turned around
And on page 1292 :
The Lord turned the temple around to face Naam Dayv; He turned His back on the Brahmins.
Nam Dev ji was always indifferent to money matters and lived a very care free life. A rich merchant once offered him a gold embedded bed but he had it thrown in a river. Nam Dev ji’s Divine sight turned a dead man into a living body if he happened to glance at it. Nam Dev ji had attained such a status that there was no difference between him and God( Naamay Naryan nahi Bhaidh). God himself fulfills the needs of His true devotees. Once the hut where Nam Dev ji used to live, caught fire and burned down, The Almighty appeared in the form of a carpenter and built a beautiful hut for Nam Dev ji to live in. The Neighbors began to ask about the carpenter from whom Nam Dev ji had the new house built after seeing the beauty of the house. His answer is mentioned in his Bani on page 657 :
The woman next door asked Naam Dayv, "Who built your house ? I shall pay him double wages. Tell me, who is your carpenter ?" O sister, I cannot give this carpenter to you. Behold, my carpenter is pervading everywhere. My carpenter is the Support of the breath of life. This carpenter demands the wages of love, if someone wants Him to build their house. When one breaks his ties with all the people and relatives, then the carpenter comes of His own accord. I cannot describe such a carpenter, who is contained in everything, everywhere. The mute tastes the most sublime ambrosial nectar, but if you ask him to describe it, he cannot. Listen to the virtues of this carpenter, O sister; He stopped the oceans, and established Dhroo as the pole star. Naam Dayv's Lord Master brought Sita back, and gave Sri Lanka to Bhabheekhan.
This game of love can be understood only by souls drenched in love. The person who lacks the passion of love and devotion can not understand these feelings. Nam Dev ji’s reputation and fame continued capturing human hearts and spread in every corner of the earth. This resulted in the negative emotions of jealousy, rivalry and hatred in the minds of narrow minded people. As it is known that the fire of jealousy destroys even the good and noble qualities in a person. So the jealousy dominated person does not hesitate to use the cheapest and the meanest method to harm a noble soul. In the times of Baba Nam Dev ji, fanatic Mullahs(priest of a mosque of Muslim religion) and vain and proud ritualistic Brahmins were jealous of Baba Nam Dev ji. They were searching for a particular time when they could complain against him to the king and get him involved or tangled in such a case ( fake or true) so that he be killed. Once, when Bhagat ji was staying at Delhi with his devotees, the congregation began to gather around him. A wave of jealousy and hatred began to rise in the minds of jealousy stricken people. At the same time period, the cow of king Mohammad Bin Tuglak died all of a sudden. The king used to have its milk daily. The instigator Mullahs(Muslim priest) told the king,” Lord! a low caste Hindu( Bhagat Nam Dev Ji) talks about high spiritual and divine powers. Order him to put new life in your dead cow.” The king summoned Bhagat Nam Dev ji to his court. He was offered two conditions. Either he bring the cow back to life or he had to embrace Islam. Also, if Nam Dev did not embrace Islam then he would be killed. Bhagat Nam Dev ji answered the King’s ultimatum very politely, as mentioned in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji page 1165 :
I cannot do anything by my own actions. Whatever the Lord does, that alone happens."
The answer of Nam Dev ji to the king was that “ Life and death is in hands of Almighty God. Nothing is in my hands. Secondly, as you love your religion, so do I. This human body is to perish, the Soul is immortal. You can finish my body at any time you like“. The King became very angry after hearing this and he ordered that Nam Dev should be hand cuffed , tied properly and thrown before a wild elephant to be crushed. The wild elephant hurt him several times but he unwavered. Now the king gave him a time limit of seven and half pehar( unit of measuring time, 8 pehar is 24 hours). After 7 pehars(23 hours), Almighty God came in person to Baba Nam Dev ji. God not only protected and sheltered Nam Dev ji but also raised his status in every way. This is described in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji on pages 1165-1166 :
The Sultan said, "Listen, Naam Dayv: let me see the actions of your Lord." The Sultan arrested Naam Dayv, and said, "Let me see your Beloved Lord." "Bring this dead cow back to life. Otherwise, I shall cut off your head here and now." Naam Dayv answered, "O king, how can this happen ? No one can bring the dead back to life. I cannot do anything by my own actions. Whatever the Lord does, that alone happens." The arrogant king was enraged at this reply. He incited an elephant to attack. Naam Dayv's mother began to cry, and she said, "Why don't you abandon your Lord Raam, and worship his Lord Allah?" Naam Dayv answered, "I am not your son, and you are not my mother. Even if my body dies, I will still sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord." The elephant attacked him with his trunk, but Naam Dayv was saved, protected by the Lord Three hours passed, and even then, the Lord of the three worlds had not come. Playing on the instrument of the feathered wings, the Lord of the Universe came, mounted on the eagle garura He cherished His devotee, and the Lord came, mounted on the eagle garura. The Lord said to him, "If you wish, I shall turn the earth sideways. If you wish, I shall turn it upside down. If you wish, I shall bring the dead cow back to life. Everyone will see and be convinced." Naam Dayv prayed, and milked the cow. He brought the calf to the cow, and milked her. All sorts of troubles and pains afflicted the slanderer. There is no difference between Naam Dayv and the Lord.
No doubt, idol worshipping played a vital role in the meditation of God in the earlier life of Bhagat Nam Dev ji, but he opposed it strongly when he achieved Unison with God Almighty. He described constant meditation of God’s name as the only means of achieving Him. About idol worship, Bhagat Nam Dev ji orders on page 525 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji :
One stone is lovingly decorated, while another stone is walked upon. If one is a god, then the other must also be a god. Says Naam Dayv, I serve the Lord.
Satguru Arjun Dev ji has also mentioned about achieving the degree of unison by Baba Nam Dev ji through meditation of naam on page 487 :
Naam Dayv's mind was absorbed into God, Gobind, Gobind, Gobind. The calico-printer, worth half a shell, became worth millions.
Bhagat Nam Dev ji roamed and preached the truth of religion throughout India with his group of true devotees. During his visit to Punjab in 1350 A.D. he left for his heavenly abode at village Ghumaan Distt. Gurdaspur(Punjab) and mingled with the Almighty as a wave of water mingles with water. As mentioned on page 633 :
O Nanak, he merges with the Lord of the Universe, like water with water.
There is a Dehura (place of worship) established in his memory. Sixty one shabads of his bani are entered in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. Bhagat Nam Dev ji has given us a message through these shabads to avoid treachery, lies, falsehood and to truly love one God, who is omnipotent and all pervasive, through meditation of naam.