Who could be worse off than Sajjan Thug?

dhharam saethee vaapaar n keetho karam n keetho mith
You have not traded in righteousness and Dharma; you have not made good deeds your friends.
-Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 75

Sajjan Thug was an opportunist, preying on travellers who stopped by his lodging, robbing and killing them as they slept in the night. One such moment, our revered Guru Baba Nanak dropped by Sajjan’s abode and checked in with Bhai Mardana to pass the night before moving on the following morning. In the evening Guru Nanak Dev sang a shabad while Bhai Mardana played on the rebeck. The shabad explained that if a person is bad at heart, an outward show of good acts means nothing. God knows our mind and no one can bluff Him. The true friends (sajjan) are actually the good deeds of a man. These good deeds help the man not only here in this world but also after death in the next life. By evil acts man makes his own mind dirty, because of which he not only suffers here in this world, but also his soul remains dirty even after death.

Sajjan Thug, who had been earlier on been planning to plunder the two travellers, was scant aware of the person of Guru Baba Nanak. As the sounds of the kirtan filled his ears, he was magnetically drawn to not only the heavenly music, but to the words that spoke to him. Sajjan Thug had been listening to this shabad attentively. As the shabad went into his ears, his mind started “seeing” the truth. He realized he was an evil man. He was taking away the belongings of innocent travelers to whom he was supposed to provide comfort and service. Sajjan Thug went to the Guru, folded his hands and confessed before the Guru that he was Sajjan only by name. Actually, by his deeds he was a Thug. Sajjan Thug sincerely repented and promised to lead a holy life in the future. Thus, a Sajjan by name, a thug by profession, became a Sajjan by his deeds as well, after meeting Guru Nanak.

Sajjan was lucky for had no idea that Grace walked up to his door to redeem him, but we are unfortunate indeed. We are the real thugs and worse off than Sajjan. Sajjan fell at the feet of the Guru the moment he heard the Divine Word and that is why he was liberated of his misdeeds. But our misdeeds continue to dog us, even when we have the ambrosial Shabad of Nanak in the form of Guru Granth Sahib Ji – the Living and Eternal Guru of humanity. We have taken the Divine Word for granted and choose to continue dwelling in darkness even when the Light was revealed to us as Sikhs of Guru Nanak. If a single verse sung by Guru Nanak was enough to emancipate and reform Sajjan, we have an entire 1430 angs filled with liberating verses, yet we depart from this world robbed because we never paid attention to the message and redemption contained in Gurbani. We continue to live lives of Sajjan while Sajjan Thug remained a thug no longer and came to be known as ‘Sajjan – The True Friend’ because he awakened to Truth and reformed his being and deeds.

Our fate will be worse off than Sajjan’s would have been had Guru Baba Nanak not altered his destiny. Our destinies are awaiting alteration – from the darkness of death, to the Light of Truth. We are all guilty of the misdeeds of Sajjan – we have not reformed even when Guru Nanak continues to speak to us though his Gurbani. We still continue to lie, hurt, indulge in vices, slander, laze and roll in ignorance even when we have Guru Nanak sitting within us telling us to awaken. Our continued slumber will rob us of Guru Nanak – the man of God who came to redeem a world that is still on fire.

I pray, O my beloved Nanak, my deeds are worse off than those of Sajjan. I’m the real thug, guilty of misdeeds against the House of Nanak – I fall at Thy feet, like Sajjan did. Redeem me, too, O my Nanak! Bless me with Naam that libererated Sajjan. I am a fool, aloof of the treasures of Gurbani . . . teach me, hold my hand, and hug me close in your embrace and lead me unto my Beloved Lord Waheguru. My eyes are dry of tears and my breaths are running out moment by moment, if you shower your Mercy, I will be as free as Sajjan – The True Friend. O Nanak, this age’s Sajjan has come to your feet to seek Thy Blessings, please, O my Nanak, emancipate me, too. Life without Naam is indeed worse than death, so O my Nanak, take me out of my darkness and pull me into the Light of Akaal Purakh, where you are now immersed in. This is Lakhvir Thug’s fervent prayer, bless me to, with Naam, the True worth of life.

Man is valued by the deeds he does. True friends are our good deeds. They remain with us even when our body dies.



  1. Puneet Kaur said,

    September 8, 2006 at 1:54 pm


    Beautiful post Veerji. Thank you for sharing this sakhi.


  2. drsavi said,

    September 11, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    It is a wonderful story. By the way, during my Podcast (Sikhwithin) on Episode 6 we featured an audio of this story.
    Thay episode also includes: a section on meanings: Satnam, Sat Sri Akal and Waheguru followed by a Shabad translation of a wonderful shahbad called Suni-ia-listening sung by Snatam Kaur. I hope you enjoy it.
    All the best

  3. Upinder Kaur said,

    September 16, 2006 at 6:50 am

    Its so true!
    our condition is like this..
    ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਜਾਨੈ ਸਭ ਬਾਤ ਜਾਨਤ ਹੀ ਅਉਗਨੁ ਕਰੈ ॥
    Kabeer, the mortal knows everything, and knowing, he still makes mistakes.
    ਕਾਹੇ ਕੀ ਕੁਸਲਾਤ ਹਾਥਿ ਦੀਪੁ ਕੂਏ ਪਰੈ ॥੨੧੬॥ (੧੩੭੬-੪, ਸਲੋਕ, ਭਗਤ ਕਬੀਰ ਜੀ)
    What good is a lamp in one’s hand, if he falls into the well?

    We read, recite and listen to Gurbani every day and still we do not mend our ways…
    Only Guru Nanak can help us

    ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰੇ ਤਿਸੁ ਦੇਵੈ ॥
    The Lord bestows His Glance of Grace;
    ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰਤਨੁ ਸੋ ਲੇਵੈ ॥੨॥
    O Nanak, the Gurmukh receives the jewel. ||2||

    How many Janams go waiting for this glance of grace! we have to go on on till one one day he looks at us like the way he looked at Sajjan Thug. His one Glance will change every thing…

  4. September 28, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    I deeply touched by your realistic thoughts which are true verbatim of our situtation be it Sikh or any other human.
    Indeed its Gurus and Gurbani’s Grace has prevailed upon you to have courage to call your self a Thug and I have
    no hestitation to apply the same for my self when we fail to learn from Guru Granth Sahib our Master and Teacher.

    The question mainly that haunts me all the time is that how can one be True Gursikh while in today’s world and business
    one has to compromise and justify what he/she believes for the purpose of earning in which process one cannot be honest.
    I would appreciate your views on this aspect.While one does not in logical terms convince his conscience that nothing wrong
    has been done to justify himself but in true perspective of Gurmat and Gurbani it may not be right.A battlle continues within self
    the conscience how to analyse what is right and wrong from Gurmat and how to accomodate and adjust with it in day to day

    Sometimes I get a feeler that most of us are bound to have dual personalities because of the changes in society and in the
    name of modernism and at the end of day how long one can fool himself.

    Another thing that comes to my mind is Ardaas,the quest of Ardaas I believe since majority of us fail to understand the meaning
    of this and run to Sants and Masands for shorcuts to blessings and Maya.And if by act of Reality or coincidence if there is good
    result one becomes slave by accepting such a person as his mentor which is again wrong.

    I am looking forward to exchange of more views and comments on this aspect as we must face the Truth and correct ourselves
    within the teachings of Gurmat by Guru Granth Sahib.

  5. Davinderpal Singh said,

    November 15, 2006 at 6:31 am

    Excellent post paji just too good.

  6. Sajjan Singh said,

    May 19, 2009 at 3:59 am

    Excellent Story, very touching

  7. gholi kaur said,

    March 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    i read your post. just touch my heart.from birth to my this age i read and listen this story,but today it make myself a shameless human being.thanks a lot.i am 54 years old woman.i don’t know much english.

  8. April 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

    It was refreshment to my memory. I had in fact forgotten this saakhi.Can Thug Nirmaljit Singh Nirula the so called ,NIRMAL BABA learn some lesson from this.I pray he should.

  9. sukhwant said,

    November 27, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Galli Jog Na hoi

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