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Based on my khoj, gurbani mentions three different context of satguru:

a) Akaal Purkh in bhagata bani.

B) Satguru Nanak dev ji by bhats as well as sri guru arjan dev ji- aad gureh nameh, jagud guru nameh, satguru nameh, sri gurdev eh nameh(sri guru ram das ji).

c) Bhagat di bani/Bhai Gurdas Ji varan reffering satguru to avtars, bhagat ramanand by his shish(disciple-bhagat kabir). just like gurbani uses sant to Paratma(Vahiguroo), Guru Maharaj(Guru Arjan Dev Ji to Guru Ram Das Ji- Bhag Hoya Gur Sant Millaya), Sant who have got bhramgyan.

Here is first gurbani quote by bhai gurdas ji regarding context of guru/satguru:

Here bhai gurdas ji talking about bhagit kabir ji encounter with his guru ramanand ji. The line in bold, bhai gurdas talks about that the wondrous sargun form of guru- referring to bhagat ramand ji, even turns even animals and ghost into angels. Look at the theme of this shabad, its starts with bhagat kabir encounter with his guru- ramamand, just read just line before the bold one, its talk about in metaphoric language, when iron touches stone becomes gold just like guru- reffering to bhagat ramamand ji samaratha turns even animals and ghost into angels, kabir is after all human, and line after- Meeting the wonderous Guru the disciple wonderfully merges into the great wonderous Lord. the disiple- bhagat kabir and guru being his vidya gurdev. 2nd last line distincation is directly made - meeting wonderous guru and merges into wonderour lord. And last line- after merging- Bhai Gurdas ji says- Ram and Kabir became indentical

hoe birakath banaarasee rehi(n)dhaa raamaana(n)dh gusaaee||

Being detached from the world, Brahmin Ramanand lived in Varanasi (Kasi).

a(n)mrith vaelae out(h)akae jaa(n)dhaa ga(n)gaa nhaavan thaaee||

He would rise early in the morning and go to the Ganges to bathe.

ago(n) hee dhae jaaeikae la(n)maa piaa kabeer thithhaaee||

Once even before Ramanand, Kabir went there and lay in the way.

pairee(n) ttu(n)b out(h)aaliaa bolahu raam sikh samajhaaee||

Touching with his feet Ramanand awakened Kabir and told him to speak ‘Ram’, the true spiritual teaching.

jiou(n) lohaa paaras shhuhae cha(n)dhan vaas ni(n)m mehikaaee||

As the iron touched by philosopher’s stone becomes gold and the margosa tree (Azadirachta indica) is made fragrant by sandal.

pasoo paraethahu(n) dhaev kar poorae sathigur dhee vaddiaaee||

The wondrous Guru turns even animals and ghosts into angels.

acharaj no acharaj milai visamaadhae visamaadh milaaee||

Meeting the wonderous Guru the disciple wonderfully merges into the great wonderous Lord.

jharanaa jharadhaa nijharahu(n) guramukh baanee agharr gharraaee||

Then from the Self springs a fountain and the words of the gurmukhs shape a beautiful form

raam kabeerai bhaedh n bhaaee ||aa||

Now Ram and Kabir became identical.

2nd gurbani quote regarding context of satguru/guru.

taken from faridkoti teeka:


This one, kabir ji being in mukht state: saying if jaigaso/i(student) finds an satguru(stating lashkhan of true satguru) who is - a)bhram surarti - satguru who has his surati with bhram B) bhram nesta- satguru who have full faith that without bhram(vahiguroo) there is nothing, there will be nothing. If jaiagaso/i finds that kind of satguru and satguru becomes happy with that jaigaso and gave that jaigaso final atam updesh then this jaiagaso find its very easy to get gyan mukhti and through this jaigaso goes to sehaj saroop and spent his time in ever lasting bliss.

In this quote, bhagat kabir talks about lachan of satguru and its milap benefits according to shaastar. In this context,ge is referring to anyone prani who have quality that was stated- bhram nesta/bhram surarti as satguru.

3rd gurbani quote regarding context of satguru taken from faridkoti teeka:


Again in this quote, satguru is not reffered to nirgun paratma but reffered to sargun saroop of vahiguroo, since he had guru ramamand which gave him bairaag, to enforce importance of guru- he is saying without satguru updesh, bairaag is not possible. With porbale karam(good karams from previous), you get to meet satguru- possibly explaining the state- that he did. At the last, kabir is giving updesh to bairaagi to beg to vahiguroo - with grace of satguru and with help of satguru, may i across worldy ocean. I shall follow discourse of satguru.

4th gurbani quote regarding satguru context from faridkoti teeka


Again this quote, gurparsad is referred to sargun saroop of vahiguroo, by his parsad(kirpa). Jaiagaso have through guru kirpa(sargun saroop), he has (desire to meet god/asa), and he is niras(from duniya, padaratha). For him, he is seeing real truth.

Jaigaso who has tasted raam naam, that person helps other to cross ocean.

In conclusion, there are three contexts of satguru in gurbani, in above four quotes of satguru- first refers to bhagat ramanand, second refers anyone who has the qualities above, third refers to sargun saroop of vahiguroo- satguru, fourth also refers to sargun saroop of vahiguroo.

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what is the role of the Bhagats, if they are not "sikhs" of the Guru?

I always thought that, even though Maharaj had not manifested yet, Bhagat Kabir, Bhagat Ramanand, Baba Fareed etc were all Sikhs of GUru Nanak in the sence that he enlightened them by his powers, as the sun also warms up the earth even though it is hidden by the clouds

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