In Hinduism and Sikhism, Bhagats (Punjabi: ਭਗਤ, from Sanskrit Hindi: भक्त) were originally holy men of various sects. Members of a community that gives prominence to the religious teachings of Kabir are also known as Bhagats, and the Hindu and Sikh religions both have numerous Bhagat communities in Punjab.
Bhagat is a Punjabi word derived from the Sanskrit word Bhagavata, which means: a devotee of the Lord (Bhagvan). Many such Hindu and Sikh devotees are followers of the bhakti tradition, who adhere to a prayer-led path of realization. Bhagat is also a Hindu and Jain surname, most commonly in northern states of India.
Sikhism's central scriptural book, Guru Granth Sahib, has teachings of 15 Bhagats, along with bani of Sikh Gurus, Bhats and Gursikhs. Because Sikhism believes in one human creed (no one belongs to a higher or a lower social status or caste) and that accounts to adding Bani of various authors, a total of 36, in Guru Granth Sahib irrespective of many belonging to religions other than Sikhism and even some Bhagats who were considered as low, untouchables or Shudras, as per the Hindu caste system, based on the caste they were born into. Religious writings of those Bhagats were collected by Guru Arjan. Some of them lived before Guru Nanak, but came to have a monotheistic as opposed to a polytheistic doctrine.
Broadly speaking, therefore, a Bhagat is a holy person or a member of a community whose objectives involve leading humanity towards God and highlighting injustices in the world.
- Bahri, H.; Bansal, G.S.; Puran, B.; Singh, B.; Singh, B.; Buxi, L.S.; Chawla, H.S.; Chawla, S.S.; Das, D.; Dass, N.; et al. (2000). "4. Bhagats and Saints" (PDF). Studies. 63 (2): 169–93. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
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