“The Fragrance of Bhai Vir Singh” – Eye First or Glimpse? - January 2018 - Sikh Research Institute

“The Fragrance of Bhai Vir Singh” – Eye First or Glimpse? - January 2018

SikhRI introduces “The Fragrance of Bhai Vir Singh” a monthly series devoted to his writings.


In the words of Prof. Puran Singh:

“Bhai Vir Singh is the representative poet of those old Sikh poets who revolved round the Beloved’s throne in wonder and worship.

His art is of the eyewitness; he writes what he sees; draws his poems from the melody of his soul.

His writings are spiritual in effect. They do not stimulate intellect so much as the soul. He is like a virgin, hiding his passion in the deepest recesses of his heart.

He is invisible to the vulgar eye; now and then we have a glimpse of the poet, when he pours out his passion suddenly, in the memory of his beloved Guru, in the bosom of a river, or the heart of a rock, and makes them sing aloud his secret pain.

He is the true poet of the East, who opens our eyes to see the Beloved.

And we see,

And we are drenched, deluged with God.

Lo, a silent, profound man of God with a presence that inspires joy of life, love of God and goodness of man.”


Eye First or Glimpse?

People come and ask this crazy one,

The one who has forgotten worldly ways.

The one who is perpetually immersed within.

Tell us about that Kalgian Vala1, O’ Maiden!

Tell us your mysterious secret, O’ Maiden!


We have heard Beloved is beautiful,

gives comfort and removes pain,

Utterly sweet and mind-Enticer.

Grace us the gift of this glimpse, O’ Maiden!

We unworthy have come to sit by your door, O’ Maiden!


Our yearning is to see the Dearest,

That loveable Kalgian Vala.

A pull to see his Unique face.

How can we get this glimpse, O’ Maiden?

Please grant us this favour, O’ Maiden!


We will not ask you any other question,

We will not tire you again and again.

One glimpse will cool us.

You have seen. Now show us, O’ Maiden!

Grant this glimpse and elate us, O’ Maiden!


I listen and laugh repeatedly,

then my eyes cry profusely.

My core is spinning in the grindstone.

Flock of friends gather to unite, O’ Maiden!

What can the River Shahu tell, who itself meanders, O’ Maiden?


Then amongst all the sensible ones,

I say, listen O’ intelligent one.

Why are you asking me, the ignorant one?

Go ask a pandit, or a scholar, O’ Maiden?

Ask the jogi2 in the jungle, O’ Maiden?


I am foolish and crazy,

I have forgotten all paths and ways.

I am silly and spinning,

continuously repeating “Beloved, Beloved, O’ Maiden!”

With one Kalgian Vala in mind, O’ Maiden!


I am searching for those eyes.

If I find them, then Friend can be seen.

Without those eyes, how can I get this glimpse?

Before this glimpse, comes those eyes, O’ Maiden!

Without those eyes, glimpse is withheld, O’ Maiden!


That Light Himself is lovable,

He puts the sparkle in the eyes.

Without eyes, how can glimpse be received?

Search for eyes able to hold this glimpse, O’ Maiden!

Don’t desire, just this glimpse, O’ Maiden!


He gives this glimpse to the seeing,

No splendour for the unseeing.

Light cannot be seen by worldly-eyes.

First find those eyes, O’ Maiden!

Then ask for this gift-glimpse, O’ Maiden!


1. Kalgian Vala – Plume-Adorned (Guru Gobind Singh Sahib)

2. Jogi – Ascetic






The Fragrance of Bhai Vir Singh is a audio series exploring the legacy of the seminal poet presented by Sikh Research Institute.

Known as the Sixth River of Panjab, Bhai Vir Singh gave style, rhythm, and flow to the modern Panjabi language. His writings, spiritual in nature, stimulate the soul and open our eyes to the Beloved.

The purpose of the series is to introduce poems, letters, and essays of Bhai Vir Singh in new translations as a way of connecting his work with the audience at large.

The translator Inni Kaur is the CEO of the Sikh Research Institute. She is also the author of ‘Journey with the Gurus’ series, ‘Sakhi-Time with Nani ji’, and ‘Thank You, Vahiguru.

This series is supported by the generosity of an admirer of Bhai Vir Singh’s writings.

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