Guru Amar Das ji – Langar Seva [New Painting]

Guru Amardas ji, Langar, Seva, Simran, Mata Mansa Devi, Art of Sikhism by Bhagat Singh Bedi

“Those who die to the World and become alive in the Presence of Ram, merge into the Formlessness of Ram. Those who remain Pure – Truthful, Responsible and Blissful – in this world, they never fall into the terrifying ocean of Meaningless Suffering. My Ram, this is the Milk we ought to churn! Through the Guru’s teachings, we can cultivate a steady mind, a concentrated mind, free from distractions, and in this way, we can have a drink of the Amrit, the Timeless State of Consciousness.”

– Sant Kabir Das ji (Guru Granth Sahib, 332)

Guru Amar Das ji, Waheguru, Langar, Mata Mansa Devi, Bibi Bhani, Bibi Dani, Guru Ram Dasji,Guru Nanak Dev ji, Sikh Art by Artist Bhagat Singh Bedi
Guru Amardas ji – Langar Seva

Bhagat’s unique painting has depicted Guru Amar Das ji’s physically serving the people around him, the rich, the poor, and everyone in the middle. Guru Amar Das ji’s sikh art prints look beautiful in your living room or prayer room, and bring peace and tranquility. This piece is an inspiration for developing seva bhawana within.

Artist’s Notes
In this painting, Guru Amar Das ji stirs the milk in pure devotion to Hari, while Mata Mansa Devi ji brings forth the rice to add to the milk, to make kheer (pudding). Guru Pita ji provides the spirit and Mata ji provides the material, and together this results in something beautiful.

Stirring the Ocean
Waheguru stirs the Ocean of Milk. From this stirring, come various elements.

One of these elements is Amrit, that Timeless Quality of Consciousness.

The wicked ones try to steal it from the Saints however Waheguru makes sure to steal it back from those who have Enmity within their Hearts and perform Actions laced with Anger, Greed and Lust. He gives Amrit to his Saints, who chant the name of Hari and perform Pure Actions, actions that are Truthful, Responsible and Blissful.

Langar Tradition
Langar is an old Indian tradition. But in the Sikh tradition, it has a very special and significant place. Many stories of the Gurus revolve around Langar, the process, the devotion, the servitude and the pureness of Being, that goes into cooking Langar.

Guru Nanak Dev ji
It is said that when Pita Kalu ji gave Guru Nanak Dev ji a whole bunch of funds to start his own business, the Master of Seli and Topi spent all of it on feeding and clothing Sadhus, the Saints of the Lord.

In this painting, Guru Nanak Dev ji brings Dal (lentil soup) to the congregation, to the Sadhus.

Guru Angad Dev ji
Guru Lehna ji (later Guru Angad Dev ji) demonstrated his devotion, dedication and divinity through Langar. Prior to meeting Guru Nanak Dev ji, Lehna ji was a Guru himself and commanded a following of his own. Despite having such status, he became a mere Servant in Guru Nanak Dev ji’s kitchen. When no one would do the job, he was there in the thick of it, doing the grueling and messy work of collecting materials for Langar. The former Guru became a servant and a part, angad, of Guru Nanak Dev ji, and thus, he was given leadership of Guru ji’s own following.

In this painting, Lehna ji (Guru Angad Dev ji) hands out Chapatis (bread) to the congregation.

Guru Amar Das ji
Bhai Amar ji (also Bhai Amru ji, later Guru Amar Das ji or Guru Amar Dev ji) followed in the footsteps of Guru Angad Dev ji. He meditated on Ram, and performed Responsible Actions, and became a complete servant of the Guru. Guru Angad Dev ji became so impressed by Bhai Amru’s devotion, his dedication and the divinity shining from within him, that he made him the next Guru of the Sikhs.

Guru Ram Das ji
In the time period of this painting, Bhai Jetha ji (later Guru Ram Das ji) has not yet been given Guruship. In the painting, Jetha ji is seen standing in front of the Guru’s house. He collects the Chapatis from Bibi Bhani ji, his wife, the daughter of Guru Amar Das ji, who is cooking them on the hot plate.

Langar Amplified
When Guru Amar Das ji attained the Throne of the Guru, he amplified the Langar tradition and made it a regular part of the community. He required that everyone who wanted to see him, join the langar first before joining the congregation.

Guru ji made everyone, belonging to different social class, caste and religion, sit together and eat together and pray together. He eliminated the tensions between groups and created a heavenly atmosphere.

Even the Emperor of India, Akbar, had to take part in Langar before seeing Guru Sahib. In this painting, the Emperor sits amongst the poor and the Sadhus, the Hindus and the Muslims, and eats off a simple leaf-plate and patiently awaits more servings.

The advancements made by Guru ji made Langar a critical part of Sikh discipline.

Performing Seva, selfless service, in Langar and not being afraid to get yourself dirty in the process, is of great spiritual value, which was demonstrated strongly by Guru Angad Dev ji and Guru Amar Das ji.

Sikhs took this technology that their Gurus brought to them and amplified it even further. Today Sikh Panth is feeding millions of people daily with free meals. This is one of the greatest achievements for not only Sikh community but the whole of mankind itself.

Artistic Process
I started this painting of Guru Amar Das ji back in 2010!

As I painted and re-painted it, it went through many many changes. A big change was the change of setting.

Originally I had imagined the Langar Kitchen set in a building akin to modern kitchens in old Gurudwaras. But later I stumbled upon some resources that suggested that the the setting would be very different from where we cook langar nowadays.

The kitchen would have been built outside, and the langar would have been cooked in the open air, at least for a large congregation.

So I imagined the kitchen under the shade of a large tree, with the sangati eating the langar on one side and buffalo on the other.

There is the creation of the langar (the buffalo), the people who process the langar (the sevadars) and those who consume it (the congregation).

Guru Amar Das ji is cooking kheer, and is flanked by his sikhs, who are preparing the dough and creating chapatis.

Behind Guru Amar Das ji, we see important figures, one of whom is Mata Mansa Devi ji who is bringing rice in her jholi.

I imagined this scene like the scene of Vaisakhi, where Guru Gobind Singh ji stirred the water and his wife, Mata Sahib Devi brought the patashay in her jholi, to add to the water.

In this way, Guru Amar Das ji stirs the kheer while his wife, Mata Mansa Devi ji brings the rice to add to it.

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Meditations on the Martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev ji – 2

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We have no idea what strength it takes to be able to play the game of life at such a high level, where you are organizing free kitchens, holding congregations, and generating such influence by your ability to speak the Truth, that the Emperor of the whole of India, finds you threatening and decides to shut you down and torture you.

We have no idea of what practice it takes to constantly access high states of being, where you able to write such beautiful hymns that resonate in the hearts of the Indian people, not just during your time but 500 years after that.

Guru Arjun Dev ji – Martyrdom

My painting shows Guru Arjun Dev ji peacefully meditating while being tortured.

The Mughal executioners lit a fire and created hell under Guru Arjun Dev ji and yet he remained present with it.

Gurudev was forced to sit on a hot plate and had hot sand poured over his head and body. Even though he was put through immense pain, he was in profound peace with it, with the pain he was experiencing.

Guru ji did not pull back from what was happening to him. He did not recoil and shrivel up. He felt the pain to his core, and hugged his suffering to death.

It is the highest act of bravery to able to face the worst pain imaginable, and look it in the eyes and shake hands with it, until your body crumbles to dust.

Guru Sahib voluntarily accepted his pain.

That’s what we can learn from Guru ji’s example – to voluntarily accept the pain in our lives as a gift.

When we do that correctly, we get a new perspective on life and paradoxically, we become strong enough to face harder challenges and play the game of life at a higher level.

Guru Arjun Dev ji – Meditating

Guru Arjun Dev ji’s heavenly poetry in Guru Granth Sahib, his efforts to write down and compile the hymns of Vaishnav saints from all over India to preserve their legacy, the building of Harimandir Sahib, his influence all over northern India, which led to his martyrdom, and then his martyrdom itself. All his efforts during his life till the very end, fill me up with inspiration and appreciation to this day.

Guru Sahib’s spirit lives on in his hymns in Guru Granth Sahib and he continues to inspire millions who recite his hymns and meditate on him.

As I sit here writing this, I, once again, feel rejuvenated by his spirit.

ਜਪ੍ਯਉ ਜਿਨ੍ ਅਰਜੁਨ ਦੇਵ ਗੁਰੂ ਫਿਰਿ ਸੰਕਟ ਜੋਨਿ ਗਰਭ ਨ ਆਯਉ ॥੬॥
Those who meditate on Guru Arjun Dev ji will never have to suffer again.

– Kavi Mathura ji (Guru Granth Sahib, 1409)

Guru Arjun Dev ji – Spiritual Blossoming (New Painting)

Guru Arjun Dev ji Spiritual Blossoming Bhagat Singh Bedi Sikhi Art

“Whatever speaketh the animals, the fish and the birds, other than Hari they speak of no one else.”

– Guru Arjun Dev ji (Guru Granth Sahib, 262)

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Guru Arjun Dev ji – Spiritual Blossoming

Sikh paintings of Guru Arjan Dev ji Maharaj have never radiated with so much spiritual energy as Bhagat’s original painting. Buy prints to express your love for Guru ji.

Artist’s Notes

This painting developed over time as the result of reading Guru Arjun Dev ji’s bani and feeling the emotions expressed therein. I was moved to tears by the love Guru Maharaj expressed for Akal Purakh Sahib so I just had to create this portrait of my Gurudev.

ਹਉ ਨਾ ਛੋਡਉ ਕੰਤ ਪਾਸਰਾ ॥ ਸਦਾ ਰੰਗੀਲਾ ਲਾਲੁ ਪਿਆਰਾ ਏਹੁ ਮਹਿੰਜਾ ਆਸਰਾ ॥1॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
I will never leave the intimacy of my Husband God. My Beloved Lover is always and forever colourful. He is my vital support. ||1||Pause||

– Guru Arjun Dev Ji, 761

ਨੈਣ ਅਲੋਇਆ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਸੋਇਆ ਅਤਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਪ੍ਰਿਅ ਗੂੜਾ ॥
With my eyes I have seen him, resting within each and every heart; my Beloved is the sweetest ambrosia.

– Guru Arjun Dev Ji, 924

ਹਮਰੀ ਗਣਤ ਨ ਗਣੀਆ ਕਾਈ ਅਪਣਾ ਬਿਰਦੁ ਪਛਾਣਿ ॥
He did not count any accounts of my past actions, after seeing my current nature.

ਹਾਥ ਦੇਇ ਰਾਖੇ ਕਰਿ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਰੰਗੁ ਮਾਣਿ ॥੧॥
He gave me his hand, saved me, and made me his own; forever and ever, I am enjoying happiness.
– Guru Arjun Dev ji, 619

I found myself listening to these shabads over and over as I painted. They filled me up with joy, peace and inspiration.

ਸਭ ਦਿਨਸੁ ਰੈਣਿ ਗੁਣ ਉਚਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਉਰਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੁ ॥
All day and night I chant the qualities of Hari, and in my heart, I become focused on the name of Hari, Hari, Hari.

ਸਭੁ ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਹਰਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ ਮਨੁ ਖਿੜਿਆ ਹਰਿਆ ਬਾਗੁ ॥
Meditating on Hari, my body and mind are totally rejuvenated, and the garden of my mind has blossoms forth in lush abundance.
– Guru Ramdas ji, 849

Inspired by Guru Ram Das ji’s hymn, I painted a lush, flowering, garden, with free-flowing birds, as a metaphor for the state of Guru Arjun Dev ji’s mind.

Each element of the garden and each article that Guru Arjun Dev ji is wearing, has spiritual significance and is a symbol of spiritual ideas and of hymns from Guru Granth Sahib.

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Meditations on the Teachings of Guru Nanak Dev ji

Adi Guru, Guru Nanak Dev ji, Portrait Painting, Meditation, Dhyan, Sikh Art Punjab Painting Bhagat Singh Bedi

My salutations to the Adi Guru, to the Guru of all ages, to the True Guru, to the Guru Lord and Master.

Last week, on November 4th, Sikhs all over the world, celebrated Guru Nanak Dev ji’s arrival on the Earth.

I celebrated his birthday by contemplating his teachings and by meditating on his virtues.

This week I wanted to share my meditations and also some of my paintings and sketches of Guru Nanak Dev ji that I have created over the years.

When Guru Nanak Dev ji was Born, the Haze of Ignorance was Gone

The birth of Guru Nanak Dev ji was a blessing to the world. Guru Sahib came to the Earth to dispel the darkness of Falsehood and guide mankind towards the light of Truth.

He taught that world is full of suffering, which can only be dispelled by following the light of Truth.

Pita Kalu ji Holding Baby Nanak, Mehta Kalu ji, Guru Nanak Dev ji,Bhagat Singh, Sikhi Art
Pita Kalu ji Holding Baby Nanak (2016)
Guru Nanak Dev ji’s Father, Mehta Kalu ji, looks at his newborn child in a peaceful and serene trance state, holding him in his hands for the first time.

Adi Guru, the First Guru

The first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev ji was born in Punjab, in what is now known as Nankana Sahib, situated in modern day Pakistan.

From a young age, he meditated a lot and in adulthood he set out to fulfill his purpose on Earth.

Already trained as a trader, he travelled and traded, all the while spreading the Essential Teachings.

Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Nanak when he was young
Young Guru Nanak Dev ji

The Whole World is Suffering

Those who pay attention to the process of Life, realize that everyone Suffers in this process.

Life is full of Meaningless Suffering.

Guru Nanak Dev ji taught that Liberation from Suffering can only happen when one becomes Truthful. When one realizes the Truth and speaks it and acts on it.

In Jap ji Sahib, Guru ji says that in order to speak and embody the Truth, one must learn to walk in the way of The Order of God.

By walking in the way of God’s Order, one learns about the Truth and gains the strength to act out the Truth.

Adi Guru, Guru Nanak Dev ji, Portrait Painting, Meditation, Dhyan, Sikh Art Punjab Painting Bhagat Singh Bedi
Guru Nanak Dev ji – Shabad Vichar (2010)
Over his lifetime, Guru Sahib travelled all over India to spread the essential teachings, which are present in the roots of all religions.

The Order of God
Guru Sahib explains that the Order of God cannot be stated, you can only be with it.

He says that it is in the Order of God in which things take form, in which living beings come to life, in which greatness is obtained, in which one becomes high or low, in which pleasure and pain is received.

Everything happens inside the Order of God, there is nothing outside of it.

He adds that those who recognize that everything happens according to the Order of God, transcend their Worldly Identity.

In modern terms, we can say that the Order of God, or the Presence of God, is the Present Moment.

By aligning ourselves with the Present Moment, we come to realize the Truth.h.

Guru Nanak Dev ji, Guru Nanak, Bhai Mardana, sikh
Guru Nanak Dev ji – Flow with the Hukam (2015)

The World is Impermanent

The Truth is that the World is Impermanent, it is constantly changing.

Our environment constantly changes from moment to moment. Now we might be faced with the birth of a new baby, in the next moment we might be faced with the death of a loved one.

Our emotions, constantly change. One moment we are working seriously. Then we are laughing uncontrollably. Within seconds, our state can change and we can become very sad.

Our self, who we think we are, constantly changes from moment to moment. With some people we behave one way, with other we behave in a different way.

Our actions, our thoughts, our understanding changes all the time.

Guru Nanak Dev ji taught that those who cling to things that change all the time, they suffer meaninglessly.

Clinging to our Worldly Identity, the story of our lives, is the cause of our Meaningless Suffering.

Adi Guru, Guru Nanak Dev ji, Portrait Painting, Meditation, Dhyan, Sikh Art Punjab Painting Bhagat Singh Bedi
Adi Guru – Guru Nanak Dev ji (2017)

Rise Above Worldly Identities

When Guru Nanak Dev ji emerged from the river and claimed “na koi hindu, na koi musalman”, that no one is a Hindu or a Muslim, he wanted us to rise to the eternal Truth.

He wanted us to recognize that the True Self transcends the Worldy Identities.

The world is a play of God.

He has created it so that the mind creates Identities for itself and other minds, for many reasons.

We identify ourselves through relationships, such as mother, father, sister, brother.

We identify ourselves through our profession, such as Doctor, Lawyer, Plumber, Driver.

We also identify ourselves as the Sikhs of Guru Nanak Dev ji.

These Identities are very helpful in a practical way. However we must also follow Guru Sahib’s teaching and transcend these Worldly Identities and realize the eternal Truth, which is beyond identification.

Adi Guru in Meditation, Guru Nanak Dev ji, Portrait Painting, Meditation, Dhyan, Sikh Art Punjab Painting Bhagat Singh Bedi
Guru Nanak Dev ji – Sketch (2015)

Ignorance is the Hurdle

Guru Nanak Dev ji always said everyone follows Religions blindly without Understanding. So he tried to instill Understanding in everyone.

To Guru Sahib, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs, everybody was the same, they were all Ignorant of God.

To Guru Sahib, Religion was not a hurdle. It was Ignorance of God that was the hurdle.

That’s why Guru Sahib focused on deepening the Understanding of Religions that people followed. He focused on deepening their Understanding of God.

Adi Guru in Meditation, Guru Nanak Dev ji, Portrait Painting, Meditation, Dhyan, Sikh Art Punjab Painting Bhagat Singh Bedi
Seli Topi de Malak – Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji (2017)

Deepening People’s Faith

Guru Nanak Dev ji deepened the understanding of Religion and shed light into the Rituals that people performed.

He was not against any particular Rituals. He wanted people to bring the Order of God into their awareness when performing their religious Rituals and ceremonies.

When speaking about the path of an ascetic, Guru Sahib said –
ਪਤੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ਗਿਆਨ ਮਤਿ ਡੰਡਾ ਵਰਤਮਾਨ ਬਿਭੂਤੰ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਰਹਰਾਸਿ ਹਮਾਰੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪੰਥੁ ਅਤੀਤੰ ॥੩॥

Contemplation is my Cup. Spiritual Knowledge is my walking Stick. Dwelling in the Present Moment is the Ashes that I apply to my body. Praising Hari is my Tradition. To live as a Gurmukh, facing my Guru, is my Religious Path. (Guru Granth Sahib, 360)
Guru ji explained the Essential Teachings of Religion to people.

He says that the way an ascetic covers himself with ash, he must also cover himself with the Present Moment, meaning he must align his mind to towards the Order of God.

The Essential Teachings

When we live in the Order of God, we start to become Truthful.

When we become Truthful, then we overcome our Ignorance and transcend our Worldly Identity.

When our Ignorance is transformed into Understanding, then we stop Suffering Meaninglessly.

When we stop Suffering Meaninglessly, then our Faith Deepens.

When our Faith Deepens, our Rituals become more Meaningful.

When our Rituals become more Meaningful, Life becomes more Meaningful, and thus more enjoyable.

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My Purpose in this World

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I am a servant of the Supreme Personality.

Today I want to share something I have not shared with anyone. I want to share my purpose in this world and why I do the things I do, and paint the things I paint.

Ten years ago, when I was young, I saw that there weren’t many positive Sikh characters in the media. Bollywood movies were largely filled with Sikh caricatures and Sikh jokers.

Feeling the lack of positive representation in the media, I assumed the responsibility of creating powerful Sikh super heroes.

I created the Mutants – Born to Stand Out.

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Zora Singh (2007)

As I grew up I started painting ancients Sikh warriors from our history. I started painting the legendary warriors of the past, whose exploits I had heard about in sakhis told to me by my parents and grandparents.

I painted the fierce Mai Bhago ji, the fearless Sahibzada Ajit Singh ji and the legend of Baba Deep Singh ji.

Sahibzada Ajit Singh, Battle of Chamkaur Bhagat Singh Bedi Sikhi Art Heritage of Punjab, Sikh and Punjabi Paintings
Battle of Chamkaur – Sahibzada Ajit Singh ji (2009)

I was quite young at that time, still learning how to paint, but I was immersed in these paintings when I painted them. I was absorbed in each stroke of the brush and each dab of colour.

Sometimes I found myself watching a painting develop on its own. Sometimes I was the painting itself blossoming forth.

Painting had become part of my spiritual practice.

Guru Gobind Singh ji in Machhiwara Dasam Pita Sikhi Art History of Punjab Bhagat Singh Bedi Sikh Paintings
Guru Gobind Singh ji Machhiwara (2010)

As I opened up spiritually, I began to realize that God has given every person on earth a purpose in life. He has given everyone a task to do and he has created it so that the person derives a great sense of meaning and satisfaction by fulfilling their purpose; they are inherently rewarded by it.

I realized that Waheguru has given me a purpose as well, and that purpose is to spread his glory throughout the world.

He told me to spread his glory, not just through paintings but also through my own actions – working hard and working smart, sharing what I know and possess, and cleansing the mind with the detergent of Ram naam.

He told me to create Sikhi Art and paint the Essence of Warriors and Saints, to let the world know about the sacrifices made by Sikh Warriors and Saints, and that essence which drives them – God.

He told me to paint the Gods, Gurus and Guardians, to spread the universal message described in Guru Granth Sahib, and to spread the important message of Universal Brotherhood and Unity of God.

He told me to Meditate on him daily, and to create paintings of the Meditative Process. This was to emphasize the importance of Spiritual Practice in day-to-day life.

Golden Temple in Moonlight at Night, Harmandir Sahib, Harimandir, Hari Mandir, Meditating, Man, Naam Simran, Moon, Baba Attal Rai Gurudwara, Boonga, by Bhagat Singh, Sikhi Art, Wonders of Punjab, Sikh Paintings, Punjabi Art
Golden Temple – Meditations Under the Moonlight (2016)

He didn’t physically come to me to tell me this. He didn’t speak to me with an audible voice.

He did it automatically, by orienting my mind towards meditation, towards painting and towards this lifestyle, and by filling my life up with more meaning and satisfaction when I oriented my mind towards him.

He did it simply by making me feel internally rewarded for doing things he wanted me to do.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your love and support.

Bhagat Singh
Sikhi Art