BRAHMGIĀNĪ (Skt. brahmajñānīn), lit. the knower of Brahman or one possessing the knowledge of Brahman. The knowledge (giāna, jṅāna) of the Universal Spirit (Brahman) consists not in the mere recognition of His existence, but in a continuous consciousness about Him - His realization in the heart or rather the realization of a total identity of the individual soul (ātman) with that Universal Soul (Brahman), which makes the former transcend joy and sorrow and life and death. This total identity signifies, in essence, the oneness of the Universe with that Universal Soul and of the latter with the individual souls which a Brahmgiānī realizes as the Ultimate Reality. The concept of Brahman in Sikhism delineates the Universal Spirit in theistic terms as the Absolute, the Creator and the Ordainer of the Universe which is, as it were, His visible form. The concept of Brahmgiānī in Sikhism is elaborated in sublime poetry of Gurū Arjan, Nānak V, in his Sukhmanī (GG, 272-74). According to him Brahmgiānī is one who has realized, in his life, the One Supreme Spirit as well as his identity with the individual selves. Such a person has also been called gurmukh, sādhū or sant. The Brahmgiānī enjoys the highest spiritual status and he is accorded the highest veneration. The Brahmgiānī in Sukhmanī is postulated as being unattached (nirlep) like the lotus in water. He is endowed with Divine realization; he is deeply humane and compassionate. To all is he gracious casting an equal glance on all like the sun, and indifferent to praise or dispraise like the earth. He has humility and is ever anxious to do good to others. In a moment of exaltation, Gurū Arjan pronounces him the Supreme Being Himself-such is his merit, such his Holiness : "Nānak Brahmgiānī api parmesur" (GG, 273). He is compared to the earth to whom he who is digging it with the shovel and he who is plastering it with sandalwood are alike. Brahmgiānī is gracious, compassionate to all. From all bonds is he free. On God is solely his reliance and on Him are all his hopes centred. Ever is he awake in Spirit. To all does he bring liberation by his counsel.

        Brahmgiānī is the creator of all, immortal, dying never.

        Brahmgiānī is the conferrer of the way of liberation, the perfect being, rewarder of deeds.

        Brahmgiānī is the succourer of the helpless;

        Brahmgiānī affords protection to all.

        All creation is Brahmgiānī's image;

        Brahmgiānī himself is the Supreme Being.

        Brahmgiānī alone is deserving of his high repute;

        Of all is Brahmgiānī the overlord, sayeth Nānak.

                                                        (GG, 273-74)


        Brahmgiānī looks on all beings equally and impartially - Brahmgiānī sadā samdarsī (GG, 272). He showers the nectar of love and affection of all (GG, 373). An embodiment of compassion, he does good to others and helps those in distress. A model of piety and righteousness, he is the repository of all ethical virtues and a shunner of all vices and sins (GG, 272, 273). He is unaffected by the pleasures and enjoyments of the world just as the lotus leaf remains untouched by water. He is fully in control of his mind and is pure and blemishless (GG, 272-73). He takes pleasure and pain, profit and loss alike. A Brahmgiānī leads others to the path of holiness and piety. He commands their spontaneous respect and reverence by virtue of his great glory and profound spiritual influence over them (GG, 273). He is a serene and sublime soul and an ideal human entity of ineffable greatness, who, in his supreme spiritual attainment, eminently commands the vision of the Universal Soul in himself and who has even been exalted by Gurū Arjan to the position of the Supreme Being, in the eighth aṣṭpadī or canto of Sukhmanī : "Brahmgiānī Pūran Purakhu bidhātā. . . Brahmgiānī āpi niraṅkāru (GG, 273-74).


  1. Winternitz, M. , History of Indian Literature. Tr. S. Ketkar. Calcutta, 1927
  2. Sher Singh, The Philosophy of Sikhism. Lahore, 1944
  3. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990
  4. Jodh Siṅgh, Bhāī, Gurmati Nirṇaya. Lahore, 1932

Dharmendra Kumār Gupta