Bhagat Sain was a disciple of Bhagat Ramanand and consequently lived in the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth century of the Christian era. He was a barber at the court of Raja Ram, king of Rewa, then called Bandhavgarh. The tendency of the age was towards devotion and religious composition, and Sain found leisure in the midst of duties to study the hymns of Ramanand, shape his life on the principles inculcated in them, and successfully imitate their spirit and devotional fervour.
The accomplishments and duties of an Indian court barber at the time of Sain were and are still of a miscellaneous character. He is something of a surgeon and ordinarily a marriage or match-maker, he oils the king’s body, shampoos his limbs, pares his nails, shaves his face and head, if he be a Hindu, and clips his moustaches, if he be a Musalman; amuses him with gossip and tales; often plays the rebeck and sings his own compositions, which deftly combine flattery of his master with social satire or pleasentry.
God is said by the Hindu chronicler to have cherished Sian as a cow her calf. He frequented the society of holy men and was very happy in their company. He performed for them all menial officies, for he believed that serving saints was equivalent to serving God himself.
The Bhagat Mal contains a legend which at once illustrates Sain’s devotion to saints and the estimation in which he was held for his piety.
Bhai Gurdas Ji has also recorded this sakhi in his Waars:
sun parathaap kabeer dhaa dhoojaa sikh hoaa sain naaee
Hearing of glory of Kabir, Sain also turned to be a disciple.
praem bhagath raathee(n) karai bhalakae raaj dhuaarai jaaee
In the night he would immerse in loving devotion and in the morning he would serve at the door of the king.
aaeae sa(n)th paraahunae keerathan hoaa rain sabaaee
On one night some sadhus came to him and the whole night was spent in singing the Lord's praises
shhadd n sakai sa(n)th jan raaj dhuaar n saev kamaaee
Sain could not leave company of the saints and consequently did not perform the king’s service the following morning.
sain roop har hoeikai aaeiaa raanae no(n) reejhaaee
God himself took the form of Sain. He served the king in such a way that the king was overjoyed.
saadhh janaa(n) no(n) vidhaa kar raajadhuaar gaeiaa sharamaaee
Bidding fairwell to the saints, Sain hesitantly arrived at the palace of the king.
raanae dhoorahu(n) sadhakai galahu(n) kavaae kholh painhaaee
The king From a distance the king called him nearby. He took off his own robes and offered them to Bhagat Sain.
vas keethaa hou(n) thudhh aj bolai raajaa sunai lukaaee
‘You have overpowered me’, said the king and his words were heard by one and all.
paragatt karai bhagath vaddiaaee aa
God himself manifests the grandeur of the devotee.
When going one day to perform his usual ministrations for King Raja Ram, he met some holy men on the way. He thought it was his first duty to attend to them, He took them with him, and began to render them with the customary services. With the greatest mental satisfaction to himself he gave them consecrated and secular food to relieve their souls and bodies. In acting this way Sain disregarded his duty to the king and braved his displeasure.
The legend states that God himself, in order to avert the king’s wrath and save Sain from punishment, assumed his appearance, and having gone and performed the customary duties for the king, took his departure. Soon after Sain arrived and began to apologise for the delay.
The king said, “You have only just gone after the usual services to me; why apologise?”
Sain replied, “ I have not been here. Perhaps your majesty says this so to excuse my absence.”
The Raja then knew that a special providence had intervened and performed for him the usual tonsorial duties.
He uttered the words, "You have overpowered me" and was at once converted, fell at Sain’s feet, worshipped him as his guru, and thus sought an asylum in Akaal Purakh.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh