Bhagat Beni Ji
BENI, BHAGAT is one of the fifteen saints and sufis some of whose compositions have been incorporated in the Guru Granth Sãhib. Very little is known about his personal life except that he spent most of his time in prayer and contemplation. Nabhãji ‘s Bhagatmãl, which includes him in its roster of well-known bhaktas or devotees, narrates a popular anecdote about how Beni absorbed in meditation often neglected the household needs and how the Deity himself intervened and physically appeared to help him. Bhãi Gurdãs ( Vãrãñ, X. 14) has referred to Beni’s single-pointed meditation in solitude enriched by moments of spiritual edification.
Beni’s three hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib are marked by an intense spiritual longing. They also indicate the various paths tried by him in his quest, his practical experience of life and his mastery of religious lore of diverse traditions. His five-stanza Iabda in Sri Raga, in terse and elliptical form, traces the gradual spiritual degeneration of man from the time of his birth to the end. It so closely resembles Guru Nãnak’s Pahire hymns in the same rãga that Guru Arjan, when compiling the Holy Book, recorded the instruction that Beni’s hymn be sung in the same tune as Pahire. In his hymn in Rãga Rãmkali, Beni, using allegorical expressions of the yogis, dwells upon the gradual process leading to the highest spiritual knowledge which is also the ultimate bliss. This hymn, too, has close similarity with several of Guru Nãnak’s verses in the same measure. It reveals Beni’s knowledge of the practices and terminology of hatha yoga as well as his rejection of them in favour of the cultivation of the Divine Name. In the hymn in Rãga Prabhãti, Beni censures in the general tone of the Gurus’ bani the hypocrisy of the Brãhman who practises outward piety while harbouring evil in the heart. He adds in conclusion that without the true Guru’s instruction way to liberation will not be found.