BHAṬṬ BĀṆĪ, recorded under the titleSavaiyye, is the name popularly given to the compositions of the Bhaṭṭs as included in the Gurū Granth Sāhib (pp. 1389-1409). Bhaṭṭs were bards or panegyrists who recited poetry lauding the grandeur of a ruler or the gallantry of a warrior. Bhaṭṭ was also used as an epithet for a learned Brāhmaṇ. In the Sikh tradition, Bhaṭṭs are poets with the personal experience and vision of the spirituality of the Gurūs whom they celebrate in their verse. According to Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth, "They were the Vedas incarnate" (p. 2121). The Bhaṭṭs are said to have originally lived on the bank of the River Sarasvatī which is also the name of the Indian mythological goddess of knowledge. They were thus called Sārasvat, i. e. the learned Brāhmaṇs. Those living on the other side of the Sarasvatī were called Gauṛ. They showed little interest in learning and contended themselves with alms given them by their patrons whose Baṅsāvalīnāmās or genealogies they recorded in their scrolls called vahīs. They are still found on the bank of the Sarasvatī in the Talauḍā (Jīnd), Bhādsoṅ (Lāḍvā) and Karsindhū (Safīdoṅ) villages in Haryāṇā. Some of these families shifted over to Sultānpur Lodhī, now in Kapūrthalā district of the Punjab, and settled there. Bhikhā and Ṭoḍā of these families embraced the Sikh faith during the time of Gurū Amar Dās. Bhāī Gurdās also gives in his Vārāṅ, XI. 21, a brief account of these Bhaṭṭs. What was the number of Bhaṭṭs whose compositions are included is a question not yet firmly answered. According to a tradition, Kalb, a leading Bhaṭṭ poet, took it upon himself to note down some of the verse of the Bhaṭṭs from the vahīs and passed it on to Gurū Arjan at the time of the compilation of the Holy Book. As for the number of Bhaṭṭ contributors to the Gurū Granth Sāhib, Sāhib Siṅgh, Tejā Siṅgh, Tāran Siṅgh and other modern scholars count 11 of them, whereas Santokh Siṅgh (Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth), Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh (Gurū Granth Kosh) and some others among the traditional scholars count 17, and Paṇḍit Kartār Siṅgh Dākhā puts the figure at 19. This variation in numbers is owed to the fact that the Bhaṭṭs 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 Bhaṭṭs whose compositions figure in the Gurū Granth Sāhib, Bhikhā, son of Rayyā, was a resident of Sultānpur Lodhī and had been a follower of Gurū Amar Dās. Of the total 123 savaiyye in the Gurū Granth Sāhib two are of his composition, both in praise of Gurū Amar Dās. Of the remaining sixteen Bhaṭṭ contributors, four are his sons; Kalh, also called Kalsahār or Kal Ṭhākur, who is reckoned to be the most learned of all the Bhaṭṭs, has 53 savaiyye, 10 in praise of Gurū Nānak, 9 each in praise of Gurū Aṅgad and Gurū Amar Dās, 13 in praise of Gurū Rām Dās and 12 in praise of Gurū Arjan; Jālap who had migrated to Goindvāl with his father has four savaiyye, to his name all of which are in praise of Gurū Amar Dās; Kīrat (d. 1634) has eight savaiyye four each in praise of Gurū Amar Dās and Gurū Rām Dās; and Mathurā 12, all in praise of Gurū Rām Dās. Salh who has three savaiyye extolling the pre-eminence of Gurū Amar Dās (1) and Gurū Rām Dās (2), and Bhalh who has one savaiyyā in praise of Gurū Amar Dās were the sons of Sekhā, a brother of Rayyā. Balh who has five savaiyye stressing the spiritual oneness of the Gurūs was the son of Tokhā, another brother of Rayyā. Haribaṅs, the eldest son of Gokhā, a brother of Rayyā, has two savaiyye both in praise of Gurū Arjan. Nalh has five savaiyye all in praise of Gurū Rām Dās. Dās, also spelt as Dāsu or Dāsi, has composed ten savaiyye including one written conjointly with Sevak who, in addition to this one, has four savaiyye of his own. Parmānand's five savaiyye are in praise of Gurū Rām Dās, Ṭal's single one in praise of Gurū Aṅgad. Jalan has two savaiyye, both in praise of Gurū Rām Dās, Jalh one in praise of Gurū Amar Dās and Gayand five which glorify Gurū Rām Dās. Of the total 123, ten each pay homage to Gurū Nānak and Gurū Aṅgad, 22 to Gurū Amar Dās, 60 to Gurū Rām Dās and 21 to Gurū Arjan.

        The main purpose of these savaiyyās is to acclaim the Gurūs, not as individuals but as the revelation they embodied. The Bhaṭṭs see the Gurūs as one light, as one spirit passing from one body to the other. Bhaṭṭ Kīrat, for instance : “Just as (Gurū) Aṅgad was ever the part of Gurū Nānak's being so is Gurū Rām Dās of (Gurū) Amar Dās's" (GG, 1405). Again, Bhaṭṭ Kalh: "From Gurū Nānak was Aṅgad; from Aṅgad, Amar Dās received the sublime rank. From Gurū Rām Dās descended Gurū Arjan, the great devotee of God" (GG, 1407). This concept of all the Gurūs being one light, one voice has informed all along the Sikh belief and development and constitutes today a fundamental principle of the faith.


  1. Tāran Siṅgh, Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib Jī dā Sāhitik Itihās. Amritsar, n. d.
  2. Sāhib Siṅgh, Bhaṭṭāṅ de Savaiyye Saṭīk. Amritsar, 1972
  3. Gurdit Siṅgh, Giānī, Itihās Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib, Delhi, 1990
  4. Kohli, Surindar Singh, A Critical Study of Adi Granth. Delhi, 1961

Gurdev Siṅgh