Bhai Kanhaiya, Bhai Ghanaiya, Guru Gobind Singh, Dashmesh Pita, Mughal, Sikh, Bhagat Singh, Sikhi Art, Sikh Art, Punjab, Battle of Anandpur Sahib

New and Improved Painting – Bhai Kanhaiya ji

Bhai Kanhaiya ji is famous for doing seva of injured soldiers by feeding them water and bandaging their wounds. He did not differentiate between Sikhs and Mughals. When asked why he served the Mughals, he responded that he saw the Guru in all beings.

From the Beginning
Five years ago, in 2011, I painted a speed painting, a sketch, known as “Bhai Kanhaiya feeds a Mughal in the midst of a Battle (2011)”

People would read the title –
Bhai Kanhaiya ji feeding water to a Mughal in the middle of a Battle?

Then they would ask –
Where’s the Mughal?
Where’s the Battle?
That looks like Guru Gobind Singh ji.
What’s going on here?

I would just smile while they tried to figure it out.

Today I will reveal the secret to you.

Bhai Kanhaiya, Bhai Ghanaiya, Guru Gobind Singh, Dashmesh Pita, Mughal, Sikh, Bhagat Singh, Sikhi Art, Sikh Art, Sikh Painting, Art, Punjab, Punjabi, Battle of Anandpur Sahib

Bhai Kanhaiya ji

Who is Bhai Kanhaiya ji?
Bhai Kanhaiya ji is famous for doing seva of injured soldiers by feeding them water and bandaging their wounds. He did not differentiate between Sikhs and Mughals. When asked why he served the Mughals, he responded that he saw the Guru in all beings.

This becomes the basis for my painting of Bhai Kanhaiya ji.

There is a gruesome battle going on around Bhai Kanhaiya ji and amidst the chaos, he is feeding water to an injured Mughal soldier. The ground is covered in his blood.

However my painting of Bhai Kanhaiya ji departs from the realism of a battlefield and instead depicts the spiritual experience of Bhai Kanhaiya ji, his internal state, where he is witnessing Waheguru alone, even inside the Mughal soldier. The soldier appears to him as Guru Gobind Singh ji, who is a physical representation of Waheguru.

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Spiritual Mission
Bhai Kanhaiya ji’s father was a wealthy trader, however Bhai Sahib was looking for something other than material wealth. He left home and sought after the company of Sadhus and Saints, of those who possessed spiritual wealth. Eventually he met Guru Tegh Bahadur ji and stuck with him. Selfless service became Bhai Kanhaiya ji’s main mission. He opened a centre in current-day Pakistan for helping people regardless of their background.

Battle of Anandpur
In 1705, he was visiting Anandpur in Punjab, when Anandpur was under attack by the Mughals and Hill Chiefs. During the Battles of Anandpur, Bhai Kanhaiya ji would go around and serve water to all fallen soldiers, to the wounded and dying men in the battlefield, regardless of who they were. Guru Gobind Singh ji’s sikhs complained to the Guru that Bhai Kanhaiya was reviving the enemy soldiers. Guru Sahib called Bhai Sahib and asked him to explain himself. Bhai Kanhaiya ji responded that he saw no friends or foes, he only saw the Divine shining through. Guru ji approved of his actions and gave him bandages to further his mission.

Dumalla
In this painting, Bhai Sahib and Guru Sahib are wearing a puratan dumalla. You’ve probably noticed how different their turbans look from the turbans we see today. This due to the fact that in 1700s Punjab, Sikhs tied their turbans very differently from how we tie our turban nowadays. Their dumalla looked very different from how our dumalla looks today.

Dumalla or Dumballa means ‘two turbans’. One turban was wrapped around the head, where the larhs/folds were wrapped in a way that it covered the whole head. The second turban was used to tighten the first turban and secure it on the head. A small bit of the second turban was pulled up and fanned to form the farla, and a protruding bit on the kalgi could be tucked easily into the second turban to hold the kalgi upright. In this manner, the dumalla was decorated.

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