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Historical Dimension
In the Guru Granth Sahib, Bhagat Ravidas (1376-1491 CE) made a mention of Bhagat Sadhna along with other bhagats:
nāmdev kabīru tilocanu sadhnā sainu tarai.
kahi ravidāsu sunahu re santahu hari jīu te sabhai sarai.2.1. -Guru Granth Sahib 1106.

Bhai Gurdas (1551-1636 CE) has also mentioned Bhagat Sadhna along with earlier bhagats like Dhru, Prahlad, Ambrik, Bali, Sankadik, Balmik, and bhagats who contributed to the Guru Granth Sahib such as Beni, Jaidav, Trilochan, Namdev, and Dhanna in his writings:

gurmukhi sukh phalu pāiā sādhsaṅgati gursarṇī āe.
dhrū prahilādu vakhāṇiani ambrīku bali bhagati sabāe.
sankādik jaideu jagi bālmīku satisaṅg tarāe.
beṇu tilocanu nāmdeu dhannā sadhnā bhagat sadāe. -Bhai Gurdas, Var 23 Pauri 15.

Like most of the Bhagat contributors to the Guru Granth Sahib, no authenticated information is available about the life of Bhagat Sadhna. There are many discrepancies in the information given by various scholars about him.

From Bhagat Namdev (1270-1350 CE) to Guru Nanak Sahib (1469-1539 CE), three different personalities named Sadhna have been considered to be Bhagat Sadhna by various scholars. The question arises, of these three, who is the contributor to the Guru Granth Sahib?

Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Max Arthur McAuliffe, Bhai Jodh Singh, Giani Pratap Singh, Sukhdev Singh Shant, and the authors of Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji have considered Bhagat Sadhna to be a contemporary of Bhagat Namdev (birth 1270 CE) and a resident of Sehwan, a city in the Hyderabad region of Sindh province (currently in Pakistan).
Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Mahan Kosh, page 152; Max Arthur McAuliffe, Sikh Dharam, Guru Sahiban, Pavitar Rachnavan Te Rachnakar (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji De Yogdani Bhagat), Dr. Dharam Singh (translator), volume six, page 39; Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, part three, page 858; Bhai Jodh Singh, Bhagat Namdev Tatha Hor Bhagat: Jivni Te Rachna, page 81; Giani Partap Singh, Bhagat Darshan, page 138.
Except for Sukhdev Singh Shant, no other scholar has given any details about the birth date of Bhagat Sadhna. Sukhdev Singh Shant has given an estimated birth year of 1270 CE. According to him, Bhagat Sadhna existed before Bhagat Ravidas. Bhagat Sadhna died after 1351 CE in Sirhind (Fatehgarh Sahib, Panjab). There is also a memorial or shrine of Bhagat Sadhna in Sirhind.
Sukhdev Singh Shant, Pandra Bhagat Sahiban, page 112.
The city of Sirhind was colonized by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in 1355 CE. Perhaps with the help of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, Bhagat Sadhna began living in Sirhind in his later years.
Harpreet Singh Naaz, Bhagat Sadhna Ji, Jini Nam Likhaia Sach, Balwinder Singh Jaurasingha, Simranjit Singh (editor), pages 136-137.


Dr. Raijasbir Singh has given the birth year of Bhagat Sadhna as 1180 CE (1237 Samvat).
Dr. Raijasbir Singh, Bhagat Sadhna Ji, page 158.
If this date is compared with the birth year of Bhagat Namdev, the contemporary of Bhagat Sadhna, then Bhagat Sadhna would be ninety years at the time of Bhagat Namdev’s birth. Therefore, Bhagat Sadhna and Namdev do not seem to be contemporaries.

Parshuram Chaturvedi has mentioned the existence of another Bhagat Sadhna along with Bhagat Sadhna of Sehwan (mentioned by the above scholars). However, according to him, the birthplace of this Sadhna is not known. It is also believed that Bhagat Namdev mentioned this Sadhna in his work. But Chaturvedi did not find any authentic writing of Bhagat Namdev in this regard, so he did not confirm this view.
Parshuram Chaturvedi, Utari Bharat Ki Sant Parampara, page 77.


Bhai Randhir Singh, a history researcher, has presented another opinion about Bhagat Sadhna. With his proposition, the idea of a third Bhagat Sadhna emerges. According to him, Bhagat Sadhna, whose Bani is recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib, was a resident of Sehwan and a contemporary of Guru Nanak Sahib. The scholars who identified this Bhagat Sadhna as the one born in 1180 CE seem to be mistaken.
Quoted in, Giani Gurdit Singh, Itihas Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Bhagat Bani Bhag), page 492.


Giani Gurdit Singh also agrees with Bhai Randhir Singh and considers Bhagat Sadhna a contemporary of Guru Nanak Sahib. According to him, Bhagat Sadhna was a companion of those bhagats who met Guru Nanak Sahib at Ayodhya (Uttar Pradesh, India). These bhagats included Namdev, Jaidev, Kabir, Trilochan, Ravidas, Dhanna, Beni, and Sadhna. To confirm his view, he has also quoted Meharban Wali Janamsakhi associated with Guru Nanak Sahib, in which there is a mention of the above bhagats coming together to meet Guru Nanak Sahib as per the command of the Divine:
‘tab srī pārbraham kī āgiā sāth bhagat milai, mil kar āe, nāmā, jaideu, kabīr, trilocan, ravdās, sadhnā, dhannā, beṇī avar ji koī bhagat thā, sabh milkar gurū bābe nānak pahi āe.’

Giani Gurdit Singh has also mentioned the memorial related to Bhagat Sadhna. But, according to him, Bhagat Sadhna was bricked in a minaret by the order of King Sikandar Lodhi (1458-1517 CE) of Delhi. This minaret is famous as ‘Sadhne Bhagat Vala Burj’ (minaret of Bhagat Sadhna).
Giani Gurdit Singh, Itihas Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Bhagat Bani Bhag), pages 492-493.


From the above views, it appears that there have been three distinct personalities named Bhagat Sadhna:
  • The first is said to be a contemporary of Bhagat Namdev and a resident of Sehwan.
  • The second, Parshuram Chaturvedi called the resident of Sehwan but whose description differs from the first one.
  • The third one is mentioned by Bhai Randhir Singh and Giani Gurdit Singh.
It is worth noting that Bhai Randhir Singh and Giani Gurdit Singh presented their views on Bhagat Sadhna by quoting text from outside the Guru Granth Sahib, among other facts. This text has many similarities with the Sabad recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib. Therefore, their view seems more accurate. But more research is needed on this.
Bhagat Sadhna’s compositions outside the Guru Granth Sahib
Giani Gurdit Singh has given details of Bhagat Sadhna’s work outside the Guru Granth Sahib in his book ‘Itihas Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Bhagat Bani Bhag)’ from pages 493 to 495. In the book, he has included some couplets (dohe) collected by Bhai Randhir Singh and the text of two Sabads found in the collection of Bhagat Bani at the ‘Jodhpur Prachin Pratishthan’ (Rajasthan). The text of the couplets is as follows:

“ikoaṅkār satigurū prasādi.
surṭhā:
jā kaü kahīāṁ pīu, tāsiu kachu nā duhrāīai.
je vahu māṁge, tan mahi, tanaku na rākhīai.1.
doharā:
ham piāre tere darasi ke, prītam mujh darsan dehi.
andhale kerī ṭohaṇī, hāi chīn matu lehi.2.
pirī mahinḍe pātshāhu, maiṁ pirīā vājīru.
pirī vichoṛā kiu sahin, jin sir nānak pīru.3.
pirīāṁ sandā mohaṇā, mathe te likhomu.
jinhāṁ mastaki likhiā, nānak tin milion.4.
kūṛī kāri karediā, nikal vaisī jīu.
asī jalu koilā thīe, tūṁ kadī asāḍā thīu.5.
bhavrā re badesīā, bedan pūchaü tohi.
sabhu tanu tairo sāvaro, mukh kiuṁ pīaro hoi?
dukhīani ke mukhi pīare, daradu nā jāne koi.
hamrī bedan so būjhe jau ham sā dukhīā hoi.
prītam iu mati jānīo, jo bichrat prīti ghaṭāi.
biyāpārī ke biāj jiu, dinu dinu baḍhtī jāi.9.
prītam tumre daras kaü, hamre nain adhīn.
taraph taraph jīu det hai, jiu bichre jal mīn.10.”

In the Bhagat Bani collection at ‘Jodhpur Prachin Pratishthan,’ the rag title of the first Sabad by Bhagat Sadhna is given as Ramkali. No separate information is given about the rag of the second Sabad. Since the rag of the first Sabad is Ramkali, the following Sabad should also be considered under the same rag. In the Guru Granth Sahib, this Sabad is in Rag Bilaval. The text of both the Sabads outside the Guru Granth Sahib is as follows:

Rag Ramkali
Sabad 1
man madhū kīrtan māṁn sarodin, ubhai pahuptā māhī.
ek halāhal ek amīras, doī subhāv nahīṁ jāhī. ṭek
amī kāl pari je caṛ baiṭhe, te sahaj samādhi babekā.
jo kabahū man bishai so rāt, to dīp pataṅg kā lekhā.1.
sahaj kaval khimādal jākai. santosh tās akhāṇī.
ānand prakāsh nāli guṇ satigur, tah āsthit kāhe jāṇī.2.
jah maraṇ biādhi bal nāhī, pāiā shubh asthānā.
kahai sadhnā so sab ghaṭi viāpak, birlai kāhū jānā.3.

Sabad 2
tum guṇ kahā jagat gurā, jo karam na kāsai.
siṅgh saran kat jāīe jau jambak grāsai.ṭek 858.
pairat pairat bhojalā, kāhū thāh nā pāuṁ.
būḍi muvai nokā milai, te kāhi caṛāuṁ.
savāti būṁd kai kāranai, cātrik dukh pāvai.
prān gae sāgaru milai phun kām na āvai.
nirap kanniā ke kārane, ek bhaïuṁ bhekh dhārī.
kām lubadhi pākhanḍ raciuṁ tākī paij savārī.3.
maiṁ ho karmī tūṁ meṭanā, auguṇ sab merā.
kūṛā kapṭī rām jī, sadhnā jan terā.4.2.

It is worth noting that the Sabad of Bhagat Sadhna, recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib, has Bilaval as the assigned rag and differs in the order of lines and some phrases. The Sabad recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib is as follows:

bāṇī sadhne kī rāgu bilāvalu
ikoaṅkār satigur prasādi.

nrip kanniā ke kāranai iku bhaïā bhekhdhārī.
kāmārathī suārathī vā kī paij savārī.1.
tav gun kahā jagat gurā jaü karamu na nāsai.
siṅgh saran kat jāīai jaü jambuku grāsai.1. rahāu.
ek būṁd jal kārane cātriku dukhu pāvai.
prān gae sāgaru milai phuni kāmi na āvai.2.
prān ju thāke thiru nahī kaise birmāvaü.
būḍi mūe naükā milai kahu kāhi caḍhāvaü.3.
mai nāhī kachu haü nahī kichu āhi na morā.
aüsar lajā rākhi lehu sadhnā janu torā.4.1.
-Guru Granth Sahib 858

According to Giani Gurdit Singh, this Sabad of Bhagat Sadhna in the Guru Granth Sahib is a supplication. This supplication has been made to Guru Nanak Sahib, the Guru of the world. Bhagat Sadhna revealed this Sabad considering Guru Nanak Sahib as his spiritual guide. Bhagat Sadhna has made a supplication before the same Guru of the world here, whose description has appeared in the above-given couplets.

According to Giani Gurdit Singh, it is clear from these stanzas of Bhagat Sadhna that it is not pointing toward any tragic event. He was in a stable state, and he had complete faith in Guru Nanak Sahib.

Religion and Profession of Bhagat Sadhna
Many scholars have described Bhagat Sadhna as a Muslim and some as a Hindu. Parchiya Bhai Darbari Das, Pandit Tara Singh Narottam, Faridkoti Tika, and Sampardayi Satik of the Guru Granth Sahib have all described him as a Muslim. According to them, Bhagat Sadhna later became a Hindu, left his profession as a butcher, and started engaging in devotion.
Gurcharan Singh Sek (editor), Bhai Darbari Das Rachit Parchiya Bhagtan Kian, page 481; Giani Gurdit Singh, Itihas Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Bhagat Bani Bhag), page 495; Guru Granth Sahib Ji Satik (Faridkot Vala Tika), part three, page 1769; Sant Kirpal Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Da Sampardayi Tika Sri Amir Bhandar, part six, page 625.
Scholars of Shabdarth, Giani Haribans Singh, and Dr. Ratan Singh Jaggi have only described him as a butcher, not as a Muslim or Hindu.
Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, part three, page 858; Giani Haribans Singh, Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darshan Nirnay Satik, part eight, page 728; Dr. Ratan Singh Jaggi, Guru Granth Vishvakosh, page 143.


Prof. Sahib Singh has described Bhagat Sadhna as a Hindu based on the language of his Sabad recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib.
Prof. Sahib Singh, Satik Bhagat-Bani, part one, page 110.
Expressing surprise at the above views, Prof. Sahib Singh has challenged it and asked how could Bhagat Sadhna, who was born and brought up in a Muslim home, completely forgot the Muslim language after becoming a Hindu and suddenly become a scholar of Sanskrit. There is not a single word of Urdu-Persian in Bhagat Sadhna’s Sabad. There are no words from the Sindhi language either. The entire vocabulary is either Sanskrit or Hindi. It is completely against the law of nature that he became a Hindu from a Muslim, forgot his language, and learned a new one within days. The usage of the Muslim language would not have made any difference in his devotion. This shows that Bhagat Sadhna was born into a Hindu family.

From the above views, it is not clear whether Bhagat Sadhna was a Hindu or a Muslim. Therefore, the views of Prof. Sahib Singh seem closer to the truth. Still, this aspect of Bhagat Sadhna’s life requires more research.

Regarding Bhagat Sadhna’s life and religion, it is almost universally accepted that he was a ‘butcher’ by profession. People engaged in this profession were considered to be of low caste according to the so-called social classification. Bhai Gurdas has mentioned the same regarding the occupation of Bhagat Sadhna: dhannā jaṭu vakhāṇīai sadhnā jāti ajāti kasāī. -Bhai Gurdas, Var 25 pauri 5.

It is particularly noteworthy here that the caste, religion, and occupation of the bhagats have to be mentioned for the sake of information, but according to the Guru Granth Sahib, there is no caste of bhagats. The Divine and the Nam of the Divine are their identification:
hari bhagatā kī jāti pati hai bhagat hari kai nāmi samāṇe rām. -Guru Granth Sahib 768
bhagatā kī jati pati eko nāmu hai āpe lae savāri. -Guru Granth Sahib 429

No one asks who touched silk or a vessel full of ghee. Similarly, no one asks the caste of a bhagat, no matter which caste they are born in: ghia paṭ bhāṁḍā kahai na koi. aisā bhagatu varan mahi hoi. -Guru Granth Sahib 721.

Composition in the Guru Granth Sahib
Max Arthur McAuliffe has written that once a king turned against Bhagat Sadhna because of his religious views. One night the king ordered Bhagat Sadhna to bring meat, but he did not fulfill the king’s order, and, as a punishment, the king ordered Bhagat Sadhna to be bricked alive. At the time of being bricked into the wall, Bhagat Sadhna uttered this Sabad.

Regarding the mythological reference in this Sabad, McAuliffe has written that a king’s daughter had vowed that she would marry Vishnu. A carpenter disguised himself as Vishnu and cheated that girl into marriage. After some time, another king attacked the first king’s kingdom. The king asked his son-in-law for help. The impersonator son-in-law, knowing himself to be powerless, prayed to the Divine. His prayer was accepted, and the king was victorious.
Max Arthur McAuliffe, Sikh Dharam, Guru Sahiban, Pavitar Rachnavan Te Rachnakar (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji De Yogdani Bhagat), Dr. Dharam Singh (translator), volume six, page 41.
Almost all commentators have mentioned this story.

Some scholars, as mentioned above, consider Bhagat Sadhna to be a Muslim. According to them, Bhagat Sadhna later converted to another religion, left his profession, and followed the path of devotion. Therefore, both Muslims and Hindus were against him. This is because Hindus considered Muslims as ‘malech’ (impure), and Muslims considered Hindus as ‘kafirs’ (infidels). Adopting each other’s religion was not considered good by either side. Qazis complained against Bhagat Sadhna to the emperor, and he was arrested. In Faridkoti Tika and Sampardayi Satik, the place of arrest is written as Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh, India). Sampardayi Satik has dramatically described Bhagat Sadhna’s arrest. According to Sampardayi Satik, the emperor was getting the wall of Allahabad constructed at that time. The wall used to collapse in the night. When this happened several times, the king asked the Qazi how this wall would be built. The Qazi said that if a butcher named Sadhna is bricked in the wall, then the wall can be built. Bhagat Sadhna was captured and taken to the emperor. He was asked for his name and occupation, and orders were given that he be bricked into the wall. According to Pandit Tara Singh Narottam and Faridkoti Tika, Bhagat Sadhna was bricked into a minaret instead of a wall. According to the above commentaries, this Sabad was uttered in the form of a plea to the Divine when Bhagat Sadhna was being punished.
Borrowed, Prof. Sahib Singh, Satik Bhagat-Bani, part one, page 122; Guru Granth Sahib Ji Satik (Faridkot Wala Tika), part three, page 1769.


From the above stories, it seems that Bhagat Sadhna had to pay for his occupation and conversion to another religion. But the Sabad under consideration from the Guru Granth Sahib is not about his occupation or conversion. This Sabad gives guidance that when it comes to the realization of the Divine, no occupation becomes an obstacle in the path of the seeker. From the above reference given by Bhai Gurdas, it is also known that although Bhagat Sadhna was a butcher, he was counted among the bhagats, and his composition was recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Prof. Sahib Singh has analyzed the above discussions after long consideration of this Sabad. He writes that the age of stories does not last forever. He further states that according to Pandit Tara Singh Narottam, Bhagat Sadhna was a Muslim who started worshipping the Divine due to the influence of a Hindu saint. The Muslims did not like this. At that time, Muslims ruled the state. In such a situation, someone abandoning their religion and becoming a follower of another religion, naturally, would have been a problem. Therefore, the Muslims must have immediately issued an order to brick him in the minaret. But due to the absence of Urdu-Persian words in the Sabad of Bhagat Sadhna recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib, it seems that he was born in a Hindu family. Additionally, there is no indication in the Sabad of Bhagat Sadhna, which proves that he prayed for his life for fear of being bricked in a minaret. All this is the work of story-makers.
Prof. Sahib Singh, Satik Bhagat-Bani, part one, page 122.


Giani Haribans Singh also agrees with the views of Prof. Sahib Singh. But regarding the story used in this Sabad, he is of the opinion that it is good to remove elements that are fictitious and against the Sikh thought (Gurmat) from the fabricated story and present the rest of the story in service of the readers.
Giani Haribans Singh, Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darshan Nirnay Satik, part eight. Pages 728-731.


Stories related to Bhagat Sadhna’s life
Dr. Raijasbir Singh has written a sourcebook on Bhagat Sadhna. It mentions the sources spanning from the 15th to 19th centuries. Source authors include Dadu Panthi, Vaishnavas, Handals (a sect that originated from Baba Handal 1573-1648 CE; they are also called Niranjanias), Minas (descendants of Prithi Chand, brother of Guru Arjan Sahib), and a few Sikh scholars. They all praised Bhagat Sadhna. Some stories based on these sources are as follows:

According to the story of ‘Gosht Sadhne Gosai Ki’ Bhagat Sadhna was a Vaishnav Brahmin in his first birth. One day he went to his guru, who was non-vegetarian. The guru’s cook asked Bhagat Sadhna to bring meat, but Bhagat Sadhna, being a Vaishnava, did not touch the meat and returned home. When the cook informed the guru about this, the guru cursed Bhagat Sadhna that in his next life, he would become a butcher and kill and sell animals with his own hands. Due to the guru’s curse, Sadhna was born into a butcher clan. One day, while bringing goats for slaughter, night fell. When he asked his wife for food, she replied that there was bread but no meat with it. He asked her to cut the leg of a goat. When she went to the herd with a knife to cut the leg of a goat, the goat said your husband and my enmity is limited to cutting the throat. So why are you creating new enmity by cutting off my leg? The wife told Bhagat Sadhna about this. After hearing his wife’s words, when Bhagat Sadhna went to that goat, the goat repeated the same words. Because of this, Bhagat Sadhna left the occupation of butcher and took the path of Divine remembrance.

According to the tale of ‘Pothi Prem Amboh,’ a saint came to Bhagat Sadhna. Bhagat Sadhna cut the testicles of a goat to feed the saint. The goat laughed and said, earlier we used to slit throats, now you have started a new thing. When Bhagat Sadhna narrated this to the saint, the saint gave him instructions from the Gita. Sadhna committed himself to devotion. When the king came to know about this, he asked Bhagat Sadhna to perform a miracle. When Bhagat Sadhna refused, he was punished by being bricked in a minaret, but the minaret exploded. Finally, the king apologized.

According to the stories given in the commentary by Priadas, which he wrote on ‘Sri Bhagat Mal,’ a composition by Nabha Das, there was a black stone with white stripes, known as ‘gandok,’ among the stones that Bhagat Sadhna kept for weighing meat. Such a stone is considered an idol and is worshipped in temples. This stone was seen by a Brahmin, and the Brahmin told Bhagat Sadhna about its significance. Bhagat Sadhna said that if it is an idol, then take it. The Brahmin brought the idol home but had a dream in which he was ordered by the idol to take it back to the place he took it from. On the second day, while returning the idol to Bhagat Sadhna, the Brahmin said that the idol loves you (Bhagat Sadhna) so much, but you still use it as a weighing stone. Hearing this, Bhagat Sadhna gave up his profession as a butcher. According to another story from this text, a woman was charmed by Bhagat Sadhna. She killed her husband to build a relationship with Bhagat Sadhna. When Bhagat Sadhna refused her, she accused him of her husband’s murder. The ruler ordered that Bhagat Sadhna’s hands be cut off as a punishment, but the Divine protected him.

‘Harijas,’ a book by Darbari Das, mentions that in his previous life, Sadhna was a devotee and a disciple of a guru who ate meat. Sadhna refused to bring meat for his guru. The guru cursed Sadhna to be born as a butcher. As a result, Sadhna was born as a butcher. The book also mentions Bhagat Sadhna cutting off the goat’s testicles, the goat talking to Bhagat Sadhna, and Bhagat Sadhna becoming a saint after hearing from the goat.

Apart from these, many other stories which mention Bhagat Sadhna’s pilgrimages, meetings with other bhagats, and uttering composition outside the Guru Granth Sahib are a part of the sources mentioned in this book.
Dr. Raijasbir Singh, Bhagat Sadhna Ji, page 30-157.


It is clear from the above discussion that most of these stories have come into existence to emphasize Bhagat Sadhna changing his life and behavior and becoming a devotee. However, there is a lack of consistency in their structure and thoughts. For example, the story of Bhagat Sadhna being a Vaishnava and becoming a butcher after being cursed by the guru and the story of having an age-old animosity with a goat seem contradictory. Apart from this, most of the attention of the old commentators seems to be directed toward showing Bhagat Sadhna as a Muslim. Most of the commentators of the Guru Granth Sahib, especially the Nirmala scholars, were more influenced by Hindu scriptural commentary and mythological references. Therefore, stories related to bhagats associated with the Bhakti movement also came into the commentaries of the Guru Granth Sahib because of the inclusion of the works of these bhagats in the Guru Granth Sahib.

As far as the authenticity of the stories is concerned, one can agree with the views of Dr. Piar Singh that for the seekers, the important question is not the facts but the narrated story or its impact. If a story seems to confirm seekers’ belief, they are keen to derive advantage from it.
Dr. Piar Singh (editor), Shambu Nath Wali Janam Patri Babe Nanak Ji Ki Prasidh Na Ad Sakhian, page 93-94.
By understanding this point that the story and its impact are more important than the facts, the significance of the stories written about Bhagat Sadhna becomes clear.