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Bairag, Viraag - Austerity


An Aesthetic Nihang Warrior Renunciate

An Aesthetic Nihang Warrior Renunciate

Photo © [Jasleen Kaur]

Bairag, Biraag, Vairag, and Viraag are various phonetic spellings of a word meaning devotional austerity.

In Sikhism, bairag describes a forsaken feeling of separation which may manifest as penance, or renunciation, as in freeing the self from attachment, abandoning, or forsaking, worldly passions and pleasures. Bairaag (vairaag), or biraag (viraag), may refer to a devotee stricken with a kind of love lorn yearning for the divine beloved Lord.

Bairagi, (bairaagee) generally refers to an aesthetic, or detached devotee, who practices austerity and is free of attachment.

Pronunciation: The vowel in the first syllable may be pronounced with a short i as in big, or ai which sounds like a short a as in bag. The second vowel sound in the second syllable is along a sound as in aaah or awe.
Alternate Spellings: Birag, biraag, bairag, bairaag, virag, viraag, vairag, vairaag.

A variety Gurmukhi and phonetic English spellings and their various grammatical forms appear in Sikhism scriptures original Gurbani and English translations:

  • "So saadhoo bairaagee so-ee hiradai naam vasaa-ae ||
    That one is a saint and that one is a renouncer of the world, in whose heart God's name abides." SGGS||29
  • "Man bairaag bha-i-aa darasan daekhanai kaa chaao ||
    My detached mind has abandoned worldly desires in its ambition to behold sight of the Lord." SGGS||50
  • "Ban ban khojath phirath bairaagee ||
    Out into the woods and wilderness the renunciate goes searching for Him." SGGS||203
  • "Ma-ee dheer sahee pree bahut biraagio ||
    O Mother my serenity has gone, I am in love and long immensely for my [divine] spouse." SGGS||1203
  • "Man biraagaigee || Kojatee darasaar||1|| rahao||
    My mind is detached. I seek only a vision of the Beloved." SGGS ||1230
  • "Jo prabh kee har kathhaa sunaavai anadin phiro tis pichhai viraagee ||1||
    The godly one who preaches to me telling of my Lord, I pursue that one day and night forsaking all else." SGGS||204

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