GURU NANAK DEV
(1469 - 1539 A.D.)
Guru Nanak was born in 1469 1 at Rai Bhoeki Talwandi now known as Nankana Sahib situated in Punjab province of West Pakistan. This place is about 55 miles north-west of Lahore. His father, Mehta Kalu was a Patwari- an accountant of land revenue in the government. Guru’s mother was Mata Tripta and he had one older sister, Bibi Nanki. From the very childhood, Bibi Nanki saw in him the Light of God but she did not reveal this secret to anyone. She is known as the first disciple of Guru Nanak.
GURU’S SCHOOLING :
At the age of seven, Guru Nanak was sent to school, which was run by teacher, Pandit Gopal Das, at his village. As usual the teacher started the lesson with an alphabet but the teacher was wonder-struck when the Guru asked him to explain the meanings of the letters of the alphabet. However at the helplessness of his teacher, the Guru wrote the meanings of each and every letter of the alphabet. This was the first Divine Message delivered by Guru Nanak.2 This was an explanation of deeper truth about human beings and God and the way to realize God in terms of the alphabet. The teacher stood abashed before the Divine Master and bowed to him. He then took him back to his father and said, “Mehtaji, your son is an Avtar (prophet) and has come to redeem the victims of Kalyug (the age of Falsehood). He is destined to be a world Teacher, there is nothing that I can teach him.” Many writers believe that Guru Nanak was first sent to different schools belonging to the Hindus and Muslims to learn about Vedas (Hindu Scriptures) and Quran (Muslim Scripture), and only after obtaining the knowledge from those scriptures, he started his religion. According to Malcolm, Guru Nanak is said to have learnt all earthly scenes from Khizr -the Prophet Elias. “There is a reason to believe,” writes Cunningham, “that in his youth he made himself familiar with the popular creeds both of Mohammadans and the Hindus and that he gained a general knowledge of the Quran and Brahmanical Shastras.”
It seems that all these scholars of history have not grasped the basic fundamental fact about the divinity of Guru Nanak. He was born with divine status, thus, his teachings were heavenly. These writers seem to be very much ignorant of the fact that Guru Nanak was an Embodiment of Divine Light. He was a celestial being and his divine attributes put him above mankind and its schools. Historians have failed to visualize the splendor in Guru’s Jot. Heavenly Spirit does not learn from man-made institutions. He was a heavenly messenger and a born world teacher who taught the mankind the path of righteousness and truth. Guru Nanak’s divinity is above all earthly institutions and their teachings. The Message that Guru Nanak gave to this world, came to him direct from God as he confirms himself :
“O Lalo 3 as comes the Divine Word from God to me
So do I narrate it.”
(Tilang Mohalla 1, p-722)
“I am saying what He commandeth me to say.”
(Wadhans Mohalla 1, p-566)
It is also mentioned in the Janamsakhi (biography) that many times Guru Nanak said to his companion Mardana 4, “Mardana, play the rebec, the Divine Word is coming.” This confirms the fact that education from the Hindu and Muslim religious institutions, had no bearing at all on the Divine Word that Guru Nanak received from God and delivered to this world. To say that Guru went to different institutions to learn, is violating the sanctity of Guruship.
CEREMONY OF SACRED THREAD :
Guru Nanak was nine years old and according to the custom among the higher castes of Hindus, he was required to invest himself with the sacred thread called ‘Janaeu’. Great preparations were made by his father for this ceremony. The family priest named Hardyal, started chanting Mantras (Hindu hymns) and was ready to put the thread around Guru’s neck when he refused to wear it. The whole assembly was astonished. They tried to persuade him every way to wear the Janaeu but in vain. Then the Guru uttered the following Sabad 5:
“Though men commit countless thefts, countless adulteries, utter countless falsehoods and countless words of abuse ;
Though they commit countless robberies and villainies night and day against their fellow creatures ;
Yet the cotton thread is spun, and the Brahman cometh to twist it. For the ceremony they kill a goat and cook and eat it, and everybody then saith ‘Put on the Janaeu’.
When it becometh old, it is thrown away, and another is put on, Nanak, the string breaketh not if it is strong.”
(Asa di Var, Mohalla 1, p-471)
The priest in utter despair asked, “What kind of sacred thread
O Nanak, would you wear?” The Guru replied,
“Out of the cotton of compassion
Spin the thread of contentment
Tie knots of continence,
Give it twist of truth.
That would make a Janaeu for the soul,
If thou have it, O Brahman, put it on me.
Such a thread once worn will never break
Nor get soiled, burnt or lost,
The man who weareth such a thread is blessed.”
(Asa di Var, Slok Mohalla 1, p-471)
COBRA SERVES THE DIVINE MASTER :
As usually is the case in villages, the father sent his son to graze the buffaloes in the pastures. One day while the Guru was grazing the buffaloes, he fell asleep under a tree and the herd destroyed the crops in the neighboring fields. When the owner saw his crops damaged, he became furious and lodged a complaint with Rai Bular, an officer-in-charge of that area. Rai Bular sent for the son and his father to adjust the quarrel. The Guru told them that no damage was done to the crops; rather it was blessed by God. Rai Bular sent his messengers to inspect the fields. But to everybody’s surprise the investigators could not find any damage in the fields rather the crops were doubly blossoming. The field where this miracle happened is now known as Kiara Sahib. On another day the Guru was sent to graze the buffaloes in the pastures and he fell asleep under the shade of a tree. As the sun rose higher, the shadow moved away. A big cobra came out of its den and provided shadow with its hood over the face of the Divine Master. Rai Bular happened to pass by that side with his attendants. When he saw this strange scene, he was convinced that the boy was a man of God. Upon seeing the people, the cobra retreated to its den and Rai Bular touched Guru’s feet in great reverence and thus became Guru’s disciple.
GURU SITS IN SECLUSION :
As he grew a little older, he avoided company and sought seclusion. For days he would sit silent in solitude and spent his time in meditation. Parents became anxious about his health and to them his unworldliness appeared insane. One day they sent for their physician Hari Das. The physician came and began to feel Guru’s pulse. He withdrew his arm and asked, “O physician, what art thou doing?” The physician replied that he was diagnosing his disease. Upon this the Guru laughed and then uttered the following Sabad :
“They have sent for the physician for me!
He taketh my hand and feeleth my pulse.
What can a pulse disclose ?
The pain lies deep in the heart”.
(Malar ki Var, Mohalla 1 p-1279)
Hari Das was familiar with such cases of deranged mind and thus asked, “So you think that I am sick too and need a cure.” The Guru replied, “You suffer from the sickness of your soul. Egoism is the disease. It separates us from the source of life, God Himself.” Hari Das asked if there was any remedy. The Guru replied,
“When man shall possess the Name of the Bright One,
His body shall become like gold and his soul be made pure ;
All his pain and disease shall be dispelled,
And he shall be saved, Nanak, by the true Name.”
(Malar Mohalla 1, p-1256)
After a good deal of discussion, Hari Das bowed before the Divine Master and told his parents to leave anxiety about their son as he was born ‘A healer of the world’s sickened souls.’
TRUE BARGAIN :
In spite of the accumulating evidence about the spiritual greatness of the Guru, Mehta Kalu was not convinced and thought that his son was wasting time in profitless contemplation. So he wanted to put him to trade. He gave the Guru twenty rupees (Indian currency) and sent him to the nearest town- Chuharkana, to buy goods of common use and then sell them at a profit. The family servant Bala was also sent with him.
On his way the Guru met a group of faqirs (ascetics) who were hungry for several days. The Guru spent all the money in feeding the faqirs and called it a true bargain. He realized the nature of his act and did not go home but sat under a tree outside his village. Bala went home and he narrated the whole story to his father. The father became very angry but the Guru explained to him that he could not think of a more profitable bargain. The aged tree under which he sat is still preserved. It is called Thumb Sahib or the holy tree in memory of the Guru.
All this failed to have any effect on Guru’s disinclination towards ordinary world affairs and he remained deeply immersed in meditation.
GURU’S MARRIAGE :
In order to bring him around the worldly affairs, the next step came the marriage. The marriage date is given different in different Janamsakhis (birth stories), and it is presumed that he was between 14 to 18 years of age when he got married. His wife, Sulakhni, was the daughter of Bhai Mula, a resident of Batala in Gurdaspur district. She gave birth to two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. His father soon found out that even the married life did not divest him of his pre-occupation with matters pertaining to his Divine mission. As a matter of fact, his concept of duty was not to serve himself and his family rather to transcend it so that the self might participate in the divine scheme of things and spiritualize the world around him. Humanity was his family and serving the humanity was the service of the Lord. Bhai Gurdas writes that the Guru saw the whole world in flames; flames of falsehood, tyranny, hypocrisy and bigotry. He had to go and extinguish that fire with eternal love, truth and dedication. He had the divine mission to teach to humanity, the lesson of the brotherhood of mankind and the fatherhood of God. “The Primal Being created the Light; all men are the creation of Providence: all human beings have sprung from one Light. Who, then, is bad and who is good? ”
GURU NANAK COMES TO SULTANPUR :
Jai Ram, Guru’s brother-in-law was serving as Dewan (steward) to the governor, Nawab Daulat Khan Lodhi of Sultanpur. It is said that both Jai Ram and Rai Bular were of the opinion that Nanak was a saint ill-treated by his father; and thus Jai Ram promised to find a job for him in Sultanpur. Guru’s sister was deeply devoted to her younger brother. On their annual visit to Talwandi, when she noticed her father’s impatience at her brother’s indifference towards worldly activities, she decided to take him to Sultanpur. Her father gave his consent.
Jai Ram got the Guru the post of a store-keeper of Nawab’s state granary where the grain was collected as a part of land revenue and later sold. The Guru carried out the duties of the store-keeper very efficiently. The minstrel Mardana subsequently joined the Guru and other friends too followed. Guru Nanak introduced them to the Khan, who provided them suitable jobs in his administration. Every night there was Sabad-Kirtan (singing divine hymns).
One day he was weighing provisions and was counting each weighing as ‘one, two, three.........ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen’. When he reached the number thirteen (13)- ‘Tera’ (in Punjabi language Tera means number 13, and Tera also means ‘thine’, that is ‘I am Thine, O Lord’), he went into ecstasy. He went on weighing by saying, “Tera, tera, tera, .......” The customers did not know how to carry the bountiful gifts of this store-keeper. They could not understand the bounties of the Lord. Ultimately the situation reached its climax when a charge was levied against the Guru that he was recklessly giving away the grain. The Nawab ordered an inquiry which was conducted very carefully. The Guru’s detractors were surprised when the stores were found full and the accounts showed a balance in favor of the Guru. After that the Guru sent in his resignation to the employer to embark on his divine mission.
GURU’S DISAPPEARANCE :
The Janamsakhis narrate that one morning, Guru Nanak went to bathe in the neighboring river called Baeen. While bathing he disappeared in water and remained as such for three days.6 During that period he had a vision of God’s presence where he was entrusted by the Almighty with the task of preaching the Divine Name (NAM) to the world. The Almighty gave him a goblet brimming with nectar of ‘NAM’ which Master Nanak drank and then Almighty commanded :
“Thou art welcome, O Nanak, that hath absorbed thyself in Nam. Do go hence and do the work for which thou wast born. People of Kalyug have adopted horrible practices and are extremely degraded in mind. They worship a variety of gods, have forsaken the Name and are immersed in sin. Go thou, spread Love and Devotion to the Name, and lighten the burden of the earth. Go thou, and glorify the name of God and destroy hypocrisy.” The Guru then sang the following Sabad :
“Were I to live for millions of years and drink the air for
my nourishment ;
Were I to dwell in a cave where I beheld not sun or moon, and could not even dream of sleeping ;
I should still not be able to express Thy worth; how great
shall I call Thy Name ?
O true Formless One, Thou art in Thine Own place -
As I have often heard I tell my tale- if it please Thee, show
Thy favor unto me.
Were I to be felled and cut in pieces, were I to be grounded
in a mill ;
Were I to be burned in a fire, and blended with its ashes,
I should still not be able to express Thy worth; how great
shall I call Thy Name ?
Were I to become a bird and fly to a hundred heavens ;
Were I to vanish from human gaze and neither eat nor drink,
I should still not be able to express Thy worth; how great
shall I call Thy Name ?
Nanak, had I hundreds of thousands of tons of paper and a desire to write on it all after the deepest research ;
Were ink never to fail me, and could I move my pen like the wind, I should still not be able to express Thy worth ; how great shall I call Thy Name? ”
(Sri Rag Mohalla 1, p-14)
Then a voice was heard, “O Nanak, to him upon whom My look of kindness resteth, be thou merciful, as I too shall be merciful. My name is God, the Primal Brahm, and thou art the Divine Guru (Mei aad Parmeshar aur tu Gur Parmeshar). ”
This has been the revelation of the Puratan Janamsakhi. The Guru himself confirms that the Almighty asked him to go to the world and sing His praises. The Guru says that after he had done his duty in this world, the Almighty called him again :
“Me, a minstrel out of work, God applieth to His work ;
Thus spake the Almighty unto me
Night and day, go and sing My praises.
The Almighty again did summon this minstrel to His most
On me He bestowed the robe of Honor of His praise and prayer,
On me He bestowed the goblet brimming with Nectar of His Holy Name,
Those who at the bidding of the Guru Feast and take
their fill of the Lord’s Holiness attain Peace and Joy.
Thy minstrel spreadeth Thy Glory by singing Thy Word ;
Nanak, he who uttereth true praises obtaineth the Perfect
(Majh di Var-pauri 27, p-150)
It is said that after three days when he reappeared, some people saw hallow around his head. Some people say that Guru Nanak’s Guruship started with his reappearance from the water. It should be pointed here in this respect that there are Three Entities in Sikhism- God, Guru, and Gurbani (Divine Word). According to Sikhism there is One but One God; He sends His emissary called Guru, who is embodiment of Divine Light. God then delivers His message (Gurbani) through His emissary, the Guru. Without the Guru, there can be no Gurbani. Guru is a channel through whom Gurbani is delivered. Therefore, when at the age of seven, Guru Nanak delivered the first Divine message to his teacher (Rag Asa Mohalla 1, Patti Likhi, p-432), he had to be and he was the Guru. Before disappearing in the river, a lot of Gurbani was already delivered by the Guru. He was, thus, born as Guru and his Guruship started from the very birth.
Bhai Gurdas, a Sikh apostle writes that first the Almighty bestowed His blessings on Baba (Guru Nanak) and then He sent him to this world to spread the Divine Word :
“Pehlan babei paya bakhash dar, pichhon dei phir ghal kamaee.”
(Bhai Gurdas- Var 1, pauri 24)
Who was Guru Nanak’s Guru? When he was asked, who his Guru was, Guru Nanak replied that God Himself was his Guru :
“Unfathomable and Infinite is God Who acted as Guru of Nanak.”
(Sorath Mohalla 1, p-599)
The Guru remained silent for a day after the reappearance and then he made this announcement, “There is no Hindu and no Musalman.” This meant that there was no difference between man and man. (But some interpret that both Hindus and Muslims had forgotten the precepts of their religions). This declaration made Nawab Daulat Khan and his Qazi very mad. The Nawab asked the Guru to explain whether his Qazi was not a true Muslim. The Guru described the traits of a true Muslim :
“He who is firm in his faith,
Has a right to be called a Muslim.
His acts must be in accord with his faith in Prophet,
He must clean his heart of his pride and greed,
Not troubled by the two impostors- life and death,
Resigned to the Will of God;
Knowing Him as the Doer,
Free himself from the self, and
Be compassionate towards all beings, O Nanak,
Such a one may call himself a Muslim.”
(Majh ki Var Mohalla 1, p-141)
The Nawab then asked the Guru, “If there is no difference between the Hindus and the Muslims, why don’t you join us in our Namaz (Muslim prayer)?” The Guru agreed to join them to take part in their prayer in the mosque where Qazi led the Namaz. When Namaz was offered, the Qazi and the Nawab both stood, kneeled and bowed in their prayer but the Guru remained standing. After the Namaz was over, the Qazi said,“ W hy did you not take part in the prayer?” The Guru replied, “ I did take part in the prayer but both of you did not.” Then he explained, “ While the Qazi performed the service, he remembered that there was a well in his courtyard, and his mind was filled with apprehension lest his newly-born filly should fall in the well. The Qazi’s mind was, therefore, not present in the prayer. Also while the Nawab was pretending to pray, his mind was set on purchasing horses in Kabul.”
Both admitted the truth of Guru’s statements and the Nawab cried aloud to the Qazi,” Thou seest not Khuda (God) speaking to us through Nanak? ”
The Muslims perform five Namaz at five different times a day. The Guru addressed the meaning and virtue of Namaz :
“Five prayers thou sayest five times a day,
With five different names ;
But if Truth be thy first prayer,
The second to honestly earn your daily living,
The third to give in God’s name,
Purity of mind by thy fourth prayer,
And praise and prayer to God thy fifth ;
If thou practiseth these five virtues,
And good deeds be thine Kalma- the article of faith,
Then thy can call thyself a true Muslim.
By mere hypocrisy, O Nanak,
A man is deemed false through and through.”
(Majh ki Var Mohalla 1, p-141)
Guru Nanak never asked a Muslim or a Hindu to become his disciple to get a place in heaven after death. He told the Muslim to become a true Muslim and to a Hindu to become a true Hindu in order to get salvation.
TRAVELS OF GURU NANAK :
Guru Nanak Dev saw the world suffering out of hatred, fanaticism, falsehood and hypocrisy. The world had sunk in wickedness and sin. So he set out for the regeneration of humanity on this earth. He carried the torch of truth, heavenly love, peace and joy for mankind. He embarked on his Divine Mission and went towards east, west, north and south and visited various centers of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jainis, Sufis, Yogis and Sidhas. He met people of different religions, tribes, cultures and races. He travelled on foot with his Muslim companion named Mardana, a minstrel. His travels are called Udasis.7
In his first Udasi (travel)8, Guru Nanak covered east and south of India and returned home after spending a little more than eight years. He started from Sultanpur in August, 1507 and went to his village Talwandi to meet and inform his parents about his long journey. The old parents wanted comfort and protection from their young son in their old age and so they asked him not to go. But there were thousands and thousands others waiting for the Divine Master for comfort, love and salvation. The Guru, therefore, told his parents, “There is a call from Heaven, I must go whither He directs me to go.”
FIRST STOP AT EMINABAD :
Accompanied by Mardana, the Guru embarked on his mission and left his family behind. He made his first stop at Saidpur, now known as Eminabad, and there he met a poor carpenter named Lalo. The Master looked at poor Lalo graciously and he was blessed with Divine love and lo, he was a blessed man. The Guru chose to stay with Lalo for sometimes as a guest. The news reached Malik Bhago, the chief of the town, that a holy person was staying with Lalo.
Malik Bhago was a corrupt man and he had amassed wealth through unfair means. He held a big gathering and invited all holy men including the Guru. The Guru, however, did not accept his invitation. The Malik then made a special arrangement for the Guru and requested him to come and eat at his residence. At last the Guru went there and Malik Bhago said, “O holy man, I have prepared so many dishes for you, but you are staying with a poor carpenter and eating his dry bread. Please stay with me.” The Guru replied,“ I cannot eat your food because your bread is ill-begotten and has been made with money sucked from the poor through unfair means, while Lalo’s bread is made from the hard-earned money.” This made Malik Bhago very mad and he asked the Guru to prove his point. The Guru then sent for a loaf of bread from Lalo’s house. In one hand the Guru held Lalo’s bread and in the other that of Malik Bhago’s, and when he squeezed both, milk came out from Lalo’s bread and blood dripped from Malik Bhago’s bread.
Malik Bhago was completely shaken by his guilt and asked for forgiveness. The Guru asked him to distribute his ill-gotten wealth among the poor and henceforth live an honest life. Malik Bhago was re-born with the Guru’s blessing.
SUJJAN THUG :
According to Puratan Janamsakhi, before Guru Nanak turned towards east, he went to Tolumba (now known as Makadampur in west Pakistan) and met Sajjan Thug.9 Sajjan always wore a white dress, displayed his rosary and thus posed to be a holyman. He had built a Hindu temple and a Muslim mosque at the courtyard of his residence. He would invite wayfarers to his residence to rest for the night. But at night, he would take away their goods and money and sometimes kill them. The Guru went and stayed with him for the night. At night the Guru did not go to bed early which made Sajjan a bit too nervous to perform his nefarious act of robbing. Sajjan asked the Guru to take rest and sleep but the Guru replied, “God’s minstrel does not go to sleep, till God sends word that he should retire.” The Guru then asked Mardana to play the rebec and he sang the following Sabad :
“Bronze is bright and shining, but, by rubbing, its sable
Which cannot be removed even by washing a hundred times.
They are friends who travel with me as I go along,
And who are found standing ready whenever their accounts
are called for.
Houses, mansions, palaces painted on all sides,
When hollow within, are as it were crumbled and useless.
Herons arrayed in white dwell at places of pilgrimage ;
Yet they rend and devour living things, and therefore should
not be called white.
My body is like the simmal tree; men beholding me mistake me.
Its fruit is useless: such qualities my body possesseth.
I am a blind man carrying a burden while the mountainous way is long.
I want eyes which I cannot get; how can I ascend and traverse
the journey ?
Of what avail are services, virtues, and cleverness ?
Nanak, remember the Name, so mayest thou be released from thy shackles.”
(Suhi Mohalla 1, p-729)
When Sajjan listened the Divine melody, he realized that the Guru’s words were actually addressed to him. Upon this he made his obeisance and fell at the Guru’s feet, and prayed to him to pardon his sins. The Guru said, “Sajjan, in the Sovereignty of God, grace is obtained by two things, open confession and reparation for wrong.” Sajjan stood in submission. The Guru asked him to give all his ill-gotten wealth to the poor. He obeyed the mandate and became a follower of the Guru after receiving Charanpauhal.10 It is said that the first historical Sikh temple was constructed on the spot where this conversation was held.
GURU NANAK AT HARIDWAR :
Haridwar is one of the Hindu pilgrimage places on the bank of river Ganges. It was a Baisakhi day and the pilgrims got up early in the morning and bathed in the river. As the sun came out, they started throwing water towards the sun. When Guru Nanak asked them as to what they were doing, one priest replied,” We are offering water to our dead ancestors in the region of Sun to quench their thirst.”
Upon this the Guru started throwing water towards the west. The pilgrims laughed and asked what he was doing. The Guru replied, “I am watering my fields in my village in the Punjab.” The priest asked,“How can your water reach such a distance?” The Guru retorted,“How far your ancestors are from here?” One of them replied,“in the other world.”
The Guru stated,“If the water cannot reach my fields which are about four hundred miles away from here, how can your water reach your ancestors who are not even on this earth?” The crowd stood in dumb realization. The Guru preached against superstitions and false rituals, worship of gods and goddesses, penances and renunciation. He stressed that only One God, the Formless, was to be glorified. In this way he showed the path of truth and enlightenment. There is a Gurdwara called Nanakwara in Hardwar on the bank of the river Ganges where the Guru had stayed.
GURU AT GORAKHMATA :
After Hardwar, the Guru took his route towards Gorakhmata, about twenty miles north of Pilibhit, and reached there via Joshi Math and Almora. Almora was ruled by the rulers of Chand family and they used to do their offerings of human beings to please their goddess Chandi. The Guru showed them the path of truth and thus stopped them from massacring innocent people to please their goddess.
From there he reached Gorakhmata which was the abode of Jogis of Gorakhnath clan. These Jogis had powers of Ridhi-Sidhi (supernatural powers). Their blessings were eagerly sought by the family men. People avoided their curses at all costs. Public from far and near had heard about these Jogis and their popularity was widespread. It is said that these Jogis (Yogis) had also heard about the Guru. When he reached there, they received him with great courtesy and invited him to adopt their cult, wear their garb and join them as a Yogi. The Guru explained to them that the life of seclusion which was not in the service of their fellow beings, was worthless. The Guru uttered the following Sabad :
“Religion consisteth not in a patched coat, or in a Jogi’s
staff, or in ashes smeared over the body ;
Religion consisteth not in earrings worn, or a shaven head,
or in the blowing of horns.
Abide pure amid the impurities of the world; thus shalt thou find the way of religion.
Religion consisteth not in mere words;
He who looketh on all men as equal is religious.
Religion consisteth not in wandering to tombs or places of
cremation, or sitting in attitudes of contemplation ;
Religion consisteth not in wandering in foreign countries,
or in bathing at places of pilgrimages.
Abide pure amid the impurities of the world; thus shalt thou
find the way of religion.
On meeting a true Guru doubt is dispelled and the wanderings
of the mind restrained.
It raineth nectar, slow ecstatic music is heard, and man is
happy within himself.
Abide pure amid the impurities of the world; thus shalt thou find the way of religion.
Nanak, in the midst of life be in death; practice such
religion. When thy horn soundeth without being blown,
thou shalt obtain the fearless dignity -
Abide pure amid the impurities of the world, thus shalt
thou find the way of religion.”
(Suhi Mohalla 1, p-730)
On hearing this, the Yogis made Guru Nanak
obeisanceeisance. The Guru’s teaching became so
effective that Gorakhmata became Nanakmata.
REETHA SAHIB :
There were forests around Gorakhmata. About forty miles from there, the Guru met another group of Yogis. He sat under a soapnut tree and told them that by discarding family life and living in the forests away from worldly life, could not bring salvation. The inner change for attainment of peace and everlasting joy and happiness, could be obtained anywhere by contemplating on God’s name. The Yogis asked,“Master, the fire of desire is not quenched even by endless subjection of the body to discipline. Pray tell us a way to quench it.” The Guru replied,
“Destroy the feeling of egoism
Destroy the sense of duality and attain oneness with Lord,
The path is hard for ignorant and egoistic;
But those who take shelter in the Word and absorbed in it,
And he who realizes that He is both within and without,
His fire of desire is destroyed by the Grace of the Guru,
(Ramkali Mohalla 1, Sidh Gosht-46, p-943)
The shrewd mind of the Yogis wanted to test the Guru still further. Knowing that the Guru did not have anything to offer, they asked him to give them something to eat. The Guru was sitting under the soapnut tree and soapnuts are always bitter. He gave them soapnuts to eat. To the utter surprise of the Yogis, the soapnuts were very sweet. By the Grace of God, the soapnuts of half-side of the tree where the Guru was sitting, became sweet and the other half of the same tree had bitter soapnuts. The same is true even to-day. That place is called Reetha Sahib and there is a Gurdwara in the memory of the Guru.
GURU AT BANARAS :
After Gorakhmata, the Guru took southernly route and passing through Gola, Ayudhya and Prayag (Allahabad), reached Banaras, also called Varanasi- which was said to be the seat of Hindu religious learning and abode of Lord Shiva. The Guru and his companion Mardana encamped in a public square of the city. Pandit Chatur Das was the chief Brahman of the city. Guru’s dress was neither of a family man nor of a Sanyasi (ascetic). Seeing this Pandit Chatur Das held a long discussion with the Guru. The Guru asked the Pandit what did he read, what did he teach to the people and what type of knowledge did he impart to his disciples? The Pandit replied,“By the will of God I teach the people the fourteen sciences- reading, swimming, medicine, alchemy,astrology, singing the six rags and their raginis, the science of sexual enjoyment, grammar, music, horsemanship, dancing, archery, theology, and statesmanship.” The Guru explained that better than all these was the knowledge of God. Upon this the Guru uttered the fifty-four stanzas of Ramkali Mohalla 1- Dakhni Onkar. The true God is superior to all other gods. The first two stanzas are as follows :
“It is the one God who created Brahma ;
It is the one God who created our understanding ;
It is from the one God the mountains and the ages of the
world emanated ;
It is the one God who bestowed knowledge.
It is by the Word of God man is saved.
It is by the name of the one God the pious are saved.
Hear an account of the letter O - 11
O is the best letter in the three worlds.
Hear, O Pandit, why writest thou puzzles ?
Write under the instruction of the Guru the name of God, the Cherisher of the world.
He created the world with ease; in the three worlds there is one Lord of Light.
Under the Guru’s instruction select gems and pearls, and thou shalt obtain God the real thing.
If man understand, reflect, and comprehend what he readeth,
he shall know at last the True One is everywhere.
The pious man knoweth and remembereth the truth- that without the True One the world is unreal.”
(Ramkali Mohalla 1- Dakhni Omkar, p-929)
On hearing the Sabad of Ramkali, Pandit Chatur Das fell at the feet of the Guru, and became a Sikh, and did much to spread Sikh religion in that area. The place where the Guru stayed, is now called as Guru ka Bagh Gurdwara.
GURU AT GAYA :
After Banaras he reached Gaya which is a famous Hindu pilgrimage place situated at the river Phalgu (Sarju). The Hindu priests had declared that any offerings made at Gaya especially at the time of Baisakhi would secure salvation for seven generations of those who had departed from this world. The simple minded people made huge offerings and the priests fed the piters (ancestors) by offering rice balls, lighted up little lamps to illuminate their paths in the high heavens. The Guru started laughing which made the priests very angry. At that point the Guru explained that those who left their bodies on earth, did not need any food nor a glow of lamp to see. If this body could not go to the other world, obviously it was not possible for any material substance of this world to reach the other side. So the Guru enlightened the people and asked them to worship One God, the Formless.
GURU TO KAMRUP :
After Gaya he passed through the area where modern city of Patna stands and reached Hajipur. Passing through Kantnagar he reached Malda. The town of Malda was situated at the confluence of rivers Ganges and Mahanadi. It is reported that a local merchant of Malda did a great service to the Guru for which he received Guru’s blessings. The next stop was Dhubri in Assam. After Dhubri he proceeded along the Brahmputra river on to Kamrup, a place near the modern city of Gauhati. This whole route is marked by many old historical Gurdwaras bearing association with the Guru. The city of Kamrup was ruled by a woman of black magic. She had assumed the name of Nurshah, the name of one from whom she had learnt this art. She and her female companions practiced black magic and exorcised strange powers in that locality. She owned the whole country around and many a mystic, yogi etc. fell prey to her magical schemes.
The Guru stayed under a tree outside the city while Mardana went into the city to get something to eat. On his way he met some women and fell victim to their machination, who made a lamb of him. Under mesmeric influence Mardana did all what they commanded him to do. He was thus imprisoned by the witchcraft of Nurshah and could not return to the Guru. The Guru knew what had happened to his minstrel and he started to rescue him from his captors. Nurshah saw the Guru coming and tried to captivate him with her charms but her art of magic failed. She found out that her spells were of no avail. On their fruitless efforts, the Guru uttered the following Sabad on Kuchaji or the woman of bad character :
“I am a worthless woman; in me are faults; how can I go to
enjoy my spouse ?
My spouse’s wives are one better than the other; O my life,
who careth for me ?
My female friends who have enjoyed their Spouse are in the shade of the mango.12
I do not possess their virtues; to whom can I attribute blame ?
What attributes of Thine, O Lord, shall I blazon abroad ?
What names of Thine shall I repeat ?
I cannot even attain one of Thy many excellences: I am
ever a sacrifice unto Thee.
Gold, silver, pearls, and rubies which gladden the heart -
These things the Bridegroom hath given me, and I have fixed my heart on them.
I had palaces of brick fashioned with marble.
In these luxuries I forgot the Bridegroom and sat not near Him.
The Kulangs cry in the heavens, and the cranes have come to roost.
The woman goeth to her father-in-law’s; how shall she show
her face as she proceedeth ?
As morning dawned she soundly slept, and forgot her journey.
She separated from Thee, O Spouse, and therefore stored up grief for herself.
In Thee, O Lord, are merits; in me all demerits: Nanak
hath this one representation to make,
Every night is for the virtuous woman; may I though
unchaste obtain a night also.”
(Rag Suhi Mohalla 1, p-762)
The Guru also uttered the following Sabad on this occasion :
“In words we are good, but in acts bad.
We are impure-minded and black-hearted, yet we wear the
white robes of innocence.
We envy those who stand and serve at His gate.
They who love the Bridegroom and enjoy the pleasure of His embraces,
Are lowly even in their strength, and remain humble.
Nanak, our lives shall be profitable if we meet such women.”
(Sri Rag ki Var Mohalla 1,2-7,p-85)
After the Guru uttered these Sabads, Nurshah thought that she would tempt him with wealth. Her attendants brought pearls, diamonds, gold, silver and laid down before him. She then prayed,” O great magician, accept me as thy disciple and teach me thy magic.” The Guru rejected all the presents and uttered the following Sabad :
“O silly woman, why art thou proud ?
Why enjoyest thou not the love of God in thine own home ?
The Spouse is near; O foolish woman, why searchest thou abroad ?
Put surma needles of God’s fear into thine eyes, and wear
the decoration of love.
Thou shalt be known as a devoted happy wife if thou love the Bridegroom.
What shall a silly woman do if she please not her Spouse ?
However much she implore, she may not enter His
chamber. Without God’s grace she obtaineth nothing,
howsoever she may strive.
Intoxicated with avarice, covetousness, and pride, she
is absorbed in mammon.
It is not by these means the Bridegroom is obtained; silly
is the woman who thinketh so.
Go and ask the happy wives by what means they obtained their Spouse -
‘Whatever He doeth accept as good; have done with cleverness and orders,
Apply thy mind to the worship of His feet by whose love what is most valued is obtained.
Do whatever the Bridegroom biddeth thee; give Him the body and soul; such perfumes apply.’
Thus speak the happy wives: ‘O sister, by these means
the Spouse is obtained.
Efface thyself, so shalt thou obtain the Bridegroom; what other art is there ?’
Only that day is of account when the Bridegroom looketh with favor; the wife hath then obtained the wealth of the world.
So who pleaseth her Spouse is the happy wife; Nanak, she is the queen of them all.
She is saturated with pleasure, intoxicated with happiness, and
day and night absorbed in His love.
She is beautiful and fair to view, accomplished, and it is she alone who is wise.”
(Tilang Mohalla 1, p-722)
On hearing this Sabad, Nurshah and her companions fell at the feet of the Guru and asked for forgiveness and blessing to obtain
salvation. The Guru told them to repeat God’s Name
conscientiously, perform their domestic duties, renounce
magic and thus they would secure salvation. It is said that
they became Guru’s followers.
After a short stay he departed leaving behind the awakened souls,
to carry on his Divine mission.
KAUDA RAKHSHASH :
The Guru travelled many miles in the wilderness of Assam. His minstrel Mardana was very hungry and tired, so they sat under a tree. After sometimes Mardana went to get something to eat. On his way he met Kauda, the cannibal. Kauda took Mardana by surprise and bound him hand and foot by a rope and then carried him to the spot where he had kept a big pan full of oil for frying the flesh of his victims. Kauda started to lighten fire under the pan. When Mardana saw that, he was very frightened and prayed to the Guru to come to his rescue. The Guru already knew and was on his way to get him released.
Kauda was trying to light the fire when the Guru appeared. This bewildered Kauda completely. The Guru looked at him compassionately and graciously and said,“Kauda! See-est thou not what thou dost, wilt thou cast thyself in the burning fire of hell?” The very gracious and holy sight of the Divine Master made such people realize their guilt and they fell on his feet and begged for mercy. Kauda whose conscience was dead with heinous crimes, suddenly came to realization and was overwhelmed with repentance. He fell on the feet of the Master and prayed for mercy.
The gracious Master blessed him with the Name. Kauda was completely a changed man and thereafter lived as a devout disciple of the Guru.
GURU AT JAGAN NATH PURI :
After Golaghat Nagar and Dhanasri valley where cannibals inhabited in large numbers, the Guru went back to Gauhati. From there he proceeded to Shillong and to Silhet where an old Gurdwara stands in his memory. He then went to Dacca and on the way he passed through Calcutta and Cuttack and finally reached Puri.
The temple of Jagan Nath, the Lord of the East, was one of the four most revered temples of the Hindus- the other three being Som Nath, Badri Nath and Vishwa Nath. It is said that Jagan Nath’s idol was sculptured by the architect of the gods and it was installed at the temple by Lord Brahma himself. It was the anniversary of installation of the idol when Guru Nanak reached the temple. The Guru visited the temple not to adore their Lord but to teach the people that the worship of God was superior to the worship of the deity. It was the evening time and the priests brought a salver full of many lighted lamps, flowers, incense and pearls and then all stood to offer the salver to their enshrined idol-god. The ceremony was called ‘Arti’, a song of dedication. The high-priest invited the Guru to join in the god’s worship. The Guru did not join their service which enraged the priests. On being asked the reason the Guru explained that a wonderful serenade was being sung by nature before the invisible altar of God. The sun and the moon were the lamps, placed in the salver of the firmament and the fragrance wafted from the Malayan mountains was serving as incense. The Guru, therefore, instead of accepting the invitation of the high-priest to adore the idol, raised his eyes to the heaven and uttered the following Sabad of Arti :
“The sun and moon, O Lord, are thy lamps; the firmament
Thy salver; the orbs of the stars, the pearls enchased in it.
The perfume of the sandal13 is Thine incense; the wind is
Thy fan; all the forests are Thy flowers, O Lord of light.
What worship is this, O Thou Destroyer of birth?
Unbeaten strains of ecstasy are the trumpets of Thy worship.
Thou hast a thousand eyes and yet not one14 eye ;
Thou hast a thousand forms and yet not one form ;
Thou hast a thousand pure feet and yet not one foot ;
Thou hast a thousand organs of smell and yet not one organ -
I am fascinated by this play of Thine.
The Light which is in everything is Thine, O Lord of Light.
From its brilliancy everything is brilliant ;
By the Guru’s teaching the light becometh manifest.
What pleaseth Thee is the real Arti.
O God, my mind is fascinated with Thy lotus feet as the
bumble-bee with the flower: night and day I thirst for them.
Give the water of Thy grace to the sarang15 Nanak, so that
he may dwell in Thy name.”
(Dhanasri Mohalla 1, Arti, p-663)
According to the Puratan Janamsakhi, the Guru ended his first Udasi with the visit to Puri and returned to Punjab. After some time he took his second Udasi to cover the south. If the Guru had returned from Puri, he must have visited some important places on his way back, but there is no mention of it in the Janamsakhi. However, the Meharban version of the Janamsakhi treats the eastern and the southern journeys as a single Udasi. Others argue that the geographical location of Puri is as such that a visitor planning to visit south India, would not return to Punjab and then start for the southern journey. Many writers therefore, believe that the Guru continued his southward journey from Puri.
GURU TO SANGLADEEP (CEYLON) :
From Puri the Guru went to Gantur of present Andhra Pradesh district, Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai and Tiruchchirupalli. All these places have Gurdwaras to mark the visit of the Guru. From Tiruchchirupalli he sailed down to Kaveri river and reached Nagapatnam, a very old port of south India. From there he proceeded to Sangladeep (Ceylon) and Betticola was the first place of his stay in the island. He went to Matiakalam (now known as Matalai) which was the capital of Sangladeep under Raja Shiv Nabh.
Bhai Mansukh, a trader from Punjab and a disciple of the Guru, had been to Sangladeep in connection with his business long before the Guru’s visit to the island. By reason of his trade, Bhai Mansukh had access to Raja Shiv Nabh and thus he had told the Raja all about Guru Nanak. The Raja inquired how he could meet the Guru. Mansukh told him,” Rise early in the morning and recite Moolmantar. If you earnestly pray, the Guru will respond to your prayers.” Every morning Raja Shiv Nabh meditated and prayed for the holy sight (darshan) of the Guru. Time passed on but the Guru did not appear. Many persons came and claimed to be the Guru but all were found to be the fake claimants. One day news was brought to the Raja that a holy man, with a rare glory beaming on his face (spiritual aura), had arrived in the old neglected garden, and as soon as he set his foot in the garden, the withered trees sprouted into green foliage.
Due to the previous fake claimants, the Raja devised a plan to test the visitors before he could bow his head to any one of them. The Raja, therefore, sent beautiful girls to seduce the new-comer with their beauty and charm. The report was sent to the Raja that the girls not only failed to seduce the visitor, but they themselves had been transformed under his spell. Hearing this, the Raja hurriedly came to see the holy Master. Spontaneously he fell at the feet of the Guru. The Guru placed his hand on his head and blessed him. Who could describe the ecstatic joy that had dawned upon Raja.
The whole city rushed to the garden to have holy sight of the Master. A dharamsala, a religious common place, was built where the Guru held daily religious congregations and preached his divine doctrine. People were enlightened with God’s Name and they became Guru’s followers.
RETURN FROM SANGLADEEP :
Worship of Shiv’s idol was very common in southern India at that time. There were twelve Shivling temples and six of them were situated in the south. Southern India was also ridden with caste system. Guru Nanak had to visit all such places to show the people the path of Eternal Truth i.e. the worship of Almighty, the Formless. This was superior and fruitful than the worship of the idols.
After staying for some time (may be a year) in Sangladeep, the Guru reached Cochin on his wayback journey. There is a Gurdwara at this place to mark the memory of the Guru. Delivering his divine doctrine he passed through Palghat, Nilgiri Hills, Rangapatan and then reached Pandharpur. Saint Nam Dev whose Bani is included in Guru Granth Sahib, passed most of his life at this place. From there he reached Barsi which was the native place of Saint Trilochan whose two Sabads are included in Guru Granth Sahib. From there he passed through Poona, Amarnath, Nasik, Aurangabad and reached Amreshwar where there was famous temple called Onkar Mandir. Here the worship of Shivling (Shiv’s idol) was considered as a worship of God. The people considered Sanskrit as the language of the gods and learning of Sanskrit language was considered as an act of holiness.
The Guru preached against the idol worship and stressed that one should only worship One but One God, the Formless. The gospel preached by the Guru at the Onkar Mandir, is included in Guru Granth Sahib as Ramkali Mohalla 1- Dakhni Onkar, page 929.
Then he proceeded to Indaur, Ujjain, Baroda and finally reached Palitana where there was a famous Jain temple. Jaini Sadhus would not take bath for many days thinking bathing killed some life in the water. Here he had discussion with a Jain Sadhu named Ambhi. He explained to the Sadhu that running away from water would not do any religious good but the worship of the Almighty was the only answer. The Guru went through almost all the famous Hindu pilgrimage places in the area and delivered his message of Oneness of God and to have belief in none other than One Supreme Being only. He visited Somnath, Sudhana, Puri and Dwarka. From Kathiawar through Kachh and Chataur, he reached Ajmer. There was a famous Muslim saint, Khawaza Mai-u-din Chisti, who propagated Islam for about seventy years at Ajmer. It was an annual Muslim gathering to celebrate Khawaza’s day when the Guru reached there. He forbade the Muslims from worshipping the Makbras (the tombs of their saints), but asked them to worship only One God. Passing through Pushker, he reached Gokal Mathura-Bindraban. People were in full preparation for celebrating Lord Krishna’s birthday. The Hindus placed Krishna’s idol (which they call Thakur) in a small cradle.They were swinging it and were putting all their offerings before the idol. The Guru exposed the futility of idol worship and preached them to worship God, the Formless.
After that he arrived at Delhi and stayed at Majnu da Tilla. There is a Gurdwara at this place at the bank of river Jamna. A Gurpurb of Baisakhi is celebrated at this place every year in April. Thence he went to Panipat where he met a Muslim saint Sheikh Sharf or Taher and urged him to worship only one God, the All Pervading Divine Spirit instead of worshiping the tombs of the saints.
Passing through Pehwa, he reached Kurukshetra16, a place where the famous battle of Mahabharat was fought between the Kauravs and the Pandavs. It was an occasion of solar eclipse when the Guru visited Kurukshetra. Thousands of people including a large number of Brahmans and saints had gathered there. Hindus consider it sacred to go to Kurukshetra at the time of solar eclipse, bathe in the holy tank and give alms to Brahman priests. According to Hindu belief, solar eclipse occurs when sun, the god, is harassed by its enemies, the demons. None is required to eat anything during the eclipse.
The Guru went there to draw attention of the erring Hindu community towards the fact that eclipse was nothing but only a natural phenomenon. The Guru took his seat near the sacred tank and when the sun was eclipsed he began to cook deer which was presented to him by Prince Rai Singh17. A big crowd gathered around the Guru, for it was a sacrilege to cook meat. The Brahmans led by Nanu besieged the Guru and were ready to club him to death. The Guru stood up and spoke. His words worked like a magic and the crowd stood spell-bound. The Guru uttered the following two Sabads on this occasion :
“Man is first conceived in flesh, he dwelleth in flesh,
When he quickeneth, he obtaineth a mouth of flesh ;
his bone, skin, and body are made of flesh.
When he is taken out of the womb, he seizeth teats of flesh.
His mouth is of flesh, his tongue is of flesh, his breath is in flesh.
When he groweth up he marrieth, and bringeth flesh home
Flesh is produced from flesh; all man’s relations are made
By meeting the true Guru and obeying God’s order,
everybody shall go right.
If thou suppose that man shall be saved by himself, he shall
not : Nanak, it is idle to say so.”
(Var Malar ki- Slok Mohalla 1- 25.1, p-1289)
The Guru continued :
“Fools wrangle about flesh (meat), but know not divine knowledge or meditation on God.
They know not what is meat, or what is vegetable, or in what
It was the custom of the gods to kill rhinoceroses, roast them and
They who forswear flesh and hold their noses when near it,
devour men at night.
They make pretenses to the world, but they know not divine
knowledge or meditation on God.
Nanak, why talk to a fool? He cannot reply or understand
what is said to him.
He who acteth blindly is blind; he hath no mental eyes.
Ye were produced from the blood of your parents, yet
ye eat not fish or meat.
When man and woman meet at night and cohabit,
A foetus is conceived from flesh; we are vessels of flesh.
O Brahman, thou knowest not divine knowledge or
meditation on God, yet thou callest thyself clever.
Thou considereth the flesh that cometh from abroad18 bad,
O my Lord, and the flesh of thine own home good.
All animals have sprung from flesh, and the soul taketh its
abode in flesh.
They whose Guru is blind, eat things that ought not to be
eaten, and abstain from what ought to be eaten.
In flesh we are conceived, from flesh we are born; we are
vessels of flesh.
O Brahman, thou knowest not divine knowledge or
meditation on God, yet thou callest thyself clever.
Meat is allowed in the Purans, meat is allowed in the books
of Musalmans, meat hath been used in the four ages.
Meat adorneth sacrifice and marriage functions; meat hath
always been associated with them.
Women, men, kings, and emperors spring from flesh.
If they appear to you to be going to hell, then accept not
See how wrong it would be that givers should go to hell and
receivers to heaven.
Thou understandest not thyself, yet thou instructest others ;
O Pandit, thou art very wise!
O Pandit, thou knowest not from what flesh hath sprung.
Corn, sugar-cane, and cotton are produced from water 19 ;
from water the three worlds are deemed to have sprung.
Water saith,’I am good in many ways’; many are the
modifications of water.
If thou abandon the relish of such things, thou shalt be
superhuman, saith Nanak deliberately.”
(Ibid, 25-2, p-1289)
GURU TO SARSA :
From Kurukshetra the Guru passed through Jind where there is Gurdwara in his memory and then reached Sarsa. Here he met a Muslim saint. The Muslim Pir had great influence over his disciples and he had given them the guarantee of securing a place in heaven for them. In return of such a guarantee, the disciples would bring big offerings in cash and kind to the Pir. The Guru explained to them that in order to get salvation, they should worship One God, the mere offerings would lead them no where.
TO SULTANPUR :
Sultanpur was about 135 miles north east of Sarsa and after eight years and covering more than six thousand miles on foot, the Guru reached Sultanpur. The elder sister, Bibi Nanki and her husband, and other acquaintances were overjoyed to see him back.
HOME COMING :
After staying sometimes at Sultanpur, the Guru started towards Talwandi. His father was about 75 years old. There was no postal service in those days. The old parents were waiting for their son to return. At last their son reached home and their joy knew no bounds. People from far and near came to have holy sight of the Guru. They started rejoicing his company again. At that time the Guru’s children and his wife were with his in-laws at Pakhokey, a place about 110 miles towards Lahore. So he proceeded to see his wife and children.
Ajita was the Chaudhry (chief) of that village. He had heard about the Guru but he had never met him before. Ajita was so much impressed with the first holy sight of the Guru that he immediately became his disciple.
FOUNDATION OF KARTARPUR :
Some writers say that the Guru founded Kartarpur (city of the Creator) after his third Udasi. Others believe that he started the habitation of Kartarpur in 1516 right after he came back from his first travel in 1515. Although wherever he went, he set up the missionary centers, yet he wanted to set up a central place to co-ordinate the efforts and activities of his mission. Therefore he chose this place near Pakhokey along the bank of the river Ravi. When he broke this news to Chaudhry Ajita, he immediately agreed with him. The Chaudhry and many other people of that village denoted their land for the new town. The foundation of Kartarpur was started immediately. The Guru brought his parents to Kartarpur and so did Mardana. Morning and evening religious congregations were started.
SECOND UDASI :
After starting the habitation of Kartarpur, the Guru started his second travel towards north. He made his first stop at Sialkot20, a city about 50 miles east of Kartarpur. After the Muslim invaders established their rule in India, many Muslim faqirs (saints and preachers) also came along with them and these faqirs set up their own centers at different places to preach Islam. Through their missionary work most of the Hindus were converted to Islam. Pir Hamza Ghons was one of those faqirs who set up his center at Sialkot. There lived a Hindu family in that city who did not have any children. Thinking that the Pir had miraculous powers, the head of this Hindu family begged the Pir to bless him with a son. He promised that if a son was born, he would offer him to the Pir. By the grace of God, a son was born, but the man shied away to keep his promise and did not offer his son to the Pir. This enraged the Pir so much that he branded the whole city as full of liars and wanted to destroy it in revenge. In order to accomplish the destruction of the city, he sat in seclusion and undertook a fast of forty days. The people became very frightened and his disciples would not allow any one to come near him.
The Guru sat nearby and asked Mardana to play his rebec and started the Divine Sabad. Upon this the Pir was so much shaken up that he was forced to break his fast. As he listened to the Divine praise and prayer, he calmed down and sat before the Guru. The Guru made the Pir understand that for the mistake of one person, there was no justification of destroying the whole city. Pir Hamza Ghons was touched with the reality and truth.Thus he abandoned his revengeful act of destruction. There is a Gurdwara in honor of the Guru in Sialkot.
From there the Guru proceeded to Jammu and the temple of Vaishnu Devi goddess. Preaching his doctrine of Truth, he passed through Vairi Nag, Kukar Nag and Anant Nag springs and reached Pehalgam and then Amarnath, a place about 90 miles east of Srinagar. The Hindus worshiped Shivling at Amarnath, but the Guru discussed the uselessness of idol worship and asked them to worship one and only one God. A few miles before Amarnath there is a Gurdwara called Matan Sahib.
There lived at Srinagar a very learned Pandit called Brahm Das who always had some camels following him, loaded with volumes of ancient wisdom. This meant that he had the mastery over the knowledge contained in that load of religious books. He learnt that a holy man and a great Teacher had arrived in the valley and that many people had gone to him for his blessing. He first decided to go to him (Guru), but then his pride of knowledge kept him away. One day however, he went to see his friend, Kamal and mentioned to him about a strange visitor (Guru Nanak) in the valley. Kamal was a devout Muslim and a seeker of Truth. He went to see the Guru without any hesitation. When Kamal got the glimpse of the Guru, he fell on Guru’s feet and fainted with joy. As he regained consciousness, he found in his own heart the Light he had been yearning for years. Kamal got the blessing and became Guru’s follower. The Guru asked him to settle in the valley of Kurram from where he spread Guru’s doctrine to Kabul, Qandhar and Tirah.
After that Brahm Das also came to see the Master. He entered into discussion with the Guru and boasted of his knowledge of ancient wisdom. Seeing his camels loaded with books, the Guru uttered the following Sabad :
“One may read cartloads of books,
One may read caravan-loads of books,
One may study boatloads of books
Or fill cellars with volumes of his study;
One may read for years and years
And spend every month in the year in study only;
And one may study all one’s life
Right up to his last breath;
O Nanak, only One word, God’s name, would be of account,
All else would be senseless discussion of pride.”
(Asa Mohalla 1- Slok Mohalla 1, 1.9, p-467)
On hearing this Brahm Das begged,“Forgive me, O holy Guru! I have read sacred books and have acquired academic knowledge of all the six schools of philosophy, but I must confess that I have attained no peace of mind. Pray tell me, how can I get it?”
The Guru explained,“Academic knowledge breeds pride and pride darkens man’s vision. Ego is the greatest barrier and unless a man gets rid of it, he cannot grasp the Truth, and there can be no peace of mind.” Brahm Das fell at the feet of the Guru and begged,“Save me O Lord! I was in the dark and I am a sinner; bless me with peace.” Brahm Das got the blessing and became Guru’s disciple. He was entrusted with the task of preaching Sikh faith amongst the people of Kashmir valley.
GURU TO KAILASH PARBAT :
From Amarnath the Guru entered into Tibet and then proceeded to the Mansarovar Lake and Kailash Parbat (also called Sumer Parbat). There he met many renowned Sidhas. They inquired of the Guru about the conditions prevailing in India. The Guru told them that falsehood overshadowed the land and the moon of truth was completely enshrouded in the darkness of ignorance. The kings were butchers and justice had taken wings and flown away. Then he further said,”Nathji, when the Sidhas (Yogis) are hiding themselves in mountain enclaves, who is left over there to lead the people in the right direction? ”
The Sidhas wanted the Guru to wear their garb and become a yogi, but they could not succeed. They had the supernatural powers which they tried upon the Guru. They asked him to bring water from the nearby spring. The Guru took a bowl and went to bring water. By their miraculous powers, the Sidhas turned the water into jewels and diamonds. They had thought that the Guru would be overwhelmed with the wealth. He did not care about the jewels and came back with empty bowl. They still tried many more tricks but failed to succeed. At last they acknowledged the super-powers of the Guru and sat around him in submission and the discussion ensued.21 The Guru convinced them that instead of wearing empty forms and doing hard penances, they should exert themselves in the service of mankind. A Sidh called Charpat asked the Guru,
“The world is an ocean, and is said to be difficult to cross ;
how shall man traverse it ?
Saith Charpat, O Audhut Nanak, give a true reply.”
(Ramkali Mohalla 1, Sidh Gosht-4, p-938)
The Guru replied,
“As the lotus floats in water, but remain unaffected by its waves ;
As the swan swims in it and is not drenched by water ;
So by meditating on the Word and repeating God’s name,
Shalt thou be able to cross safely ocean of the world.
Nanak is a servant to those who remain unattached in the
world, in whose hearts the one God abideth, who live
without desires in the midst of desires,
And who see and show to others the Inaccessible and
(Ibid, Sidh Gosht-5, p-938)
Another Yogi asked :
“What is the source of thy system
And when did it start?
Who is thy Guru, of whom thou art the disciple?”
The Guru replied :
“My system began
With the beginning of the breath of life.
Its source is the wisdom of the True Guru,
The True Guru is the Word,
And intentive consciousness is the disciple.”
Images of Guru Nanak are said to be present in some of the temples of this area. From Kailash Parbat, the Guru turned north-west and entered Ladakh area through the Chasul Pass and then reached Karunagar. A remarkable point of this place is that there are a few villages in the neighborhood where none except Guru Nanak is worshipped. At a short distance from Karunagar, there is a place called Gumpha Hemus which keeps the memory of Guru Nanak’s visit alive. The people here have preserved the stone on which the Guru is believed to have seated himself during his visit. He came to Skardu where there is a Gurdwara named after the Guru. From there he proceeded to Kargal, Pehalgam, Anant Nagar, Srinagar and Bara Mula and finally came back to Kartarpur. Kashmir had been the center of the learned Pandits (Brahmans). In view of that, this area was deeply involved in idol-worship and other related rites and rituals. The Guru professed the qualities of God emphasizing that one should worship none other than One Supreme Being. He further stressed that other rites and rituals were of no avail. Pandit Brahm Das who became Guru’s disciple, did great service in preaching the Guru’s doctrine in the valley of Kashmir.
THIRD UDASI :
The third Udasi was undertaken towards the west. Guru Nanak reached Pakpatan (Ajodhan) where he met Sheikh Brahm who was the eleventh in succession to Baba Farid, whose Bani is also included in Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru had wide range of discussion with Sheikh Brahm. The Guru stated,
“Thou art the tablet, O Lord, Thou art the pen, and Thou art also the writing ,
Speak of the one God; O Nanak, why should there be second.”
(Var Malar ki Mohalla 1, 28-2, p-1291)
The Sheikh asked the Guru to explain,”You say ,’There is only
one God, why should there be a second?’, and I (Sheikh) say :
There is one Lord and two ways ;
Which shall I adopt, and which reject? ”
The Guru replied :
“There is one Lord and one way ;
Adopt one and reject the other. ”
In a Var (like Asa di Var) there has to be two beings; and the Sheikh asked the Guru to let him hear a strain in praise of the One God. “My idea is”, said the Sheikh,“that adoration cannot be performed without two beings, that is, God and the Prophet. Let me see whom thou makest man’s intercessor.” Upon this the Guru asked Mardana to play the rebec and he uttered the first Slok and Pauri of Asa di Var :
“I am a sacrifice, Nanak, to my Guru a hundred times a day, Who without any delay made demigods out of man. Nanak, they who, very clever in their own estimation, think not of the Guru, Shall be left like spurious sesames in a reaped field - They shall be left in the field, saith Nanak, without an owner. The wretches may even bear fruit and flower, but shall contain ashes within their bodies.
God Himself created the world, and formed Himself into Name,
He created Nature by His power; seated He beheld His work with delight.
O Creator, Thou art the Giver; being pleased Thou bestowest
and practisest kindness.
Thou knowest all things; Thou givest and takest life with a word.
Seated Thou beholdest Thy work with delight.”
(Asa Mohalla 1, p-462-63)
The Sheikh then wanted a knife,“Give me such a knife that those who are killed with it, shall be acceptable to God. With the ordinary knife the lower animals are killed. If a man’s throat be cut with this knife, it becomes carrion.”
The Guru replied in affirmative :
“ Truth is the knife, truth is pure steel ;
Its fashion is altogether incomparable.
Put it on the hone of the Word,
And fit it into the scabbard of merit ;
If any one be bled with that, O Sheikh,
The blood of avarice will be seen to issue forth.
If man be slaughtered with it, he shall go to meet God,
O Nanak, and be absorbed in the sight of Him. ”
(Ramkali ki Var, Mohalla 1, 19.2, p-956)
On hearing this the Sheikh raised his head in amazement and said,“Well done. O Nanak, there is no difference between God and thee. Kindly bless me so that I too may be on good terms with Him.”
The Guru replied,“ Sheikh Brahm, God will cause thy ship to arrive safe.” The Sheikh requested the Guru to give him the firm promise of this. The Guru complied and blessed him with salvation. According to Puratan Janamsakhi, the first nine pauries (stanzas) of Asa di Var, were uttered by the Guru during the discussion with Sheikh Brahm and other fifteen pauries of Asa di Var were uttered for Duni Chand Dhuper of Lahore.
The Guru then proceeded to Multan, Uch, Sakhar and reached Lakhpat, where a Gurdwara stands marking the memory of the Guru. Then he reached Kuriani where a tank is called after Guru’s name. He visited Miani, about fifty miles west of city of Karachi and visited the temples of Hindus and the Muslims in the area. Near Hinglaj, there is a Dharmsala preserving the memory of the Guru’s visit to this place. From there he boarded a ship for Arabia.
GURU NANAK AT MECCA :
He disguised himself in the blue dress of a Mohammadan pilgrim, took a faqir’s staff in his hand and a collection of his hymns called ‘Pothi’ under his arm. He also carried with him like a Muslim devotee, a cup for his ablutions and a rug whereon to pray. Like a pilgrim he went inside the great mosque where the pilgrims were engaged in their devotions. When he lay down to sleep at night, he turned his feet towards the Kaaba. A priest, Jiwan22 kicked him and said, “Who is this infidel sleeping with his feet towards the House of God?” The Guru replied,“ Turn my feet in the direction in which God is not.” Upon this Jiwan seized the Guru’s feet and dragged them in the opposite direction. Whereupon, it is said, the Kaaba (temple) turned around, and followed the revolution of Guru’s body. Some say that when the Guru asked the priest to turn his feet in the direction where God was not, the priest came to realization that God was everywhere. But those who witnessed this miracle were astonished and saluted the Guru as a supernatural being.
Then the Qazis and the Mullas crowded round the Guru and asked whether he was a Muslim or a Hindu? The Guru replied that he was neither of the two. Then they asked, “Who is the superior of the two, the Hindu or the Muslim?” The Guru replied, “Without good deeds, both will repent. The superiority lies in deeds and not in mere creeds.”
The chief priest was a seeker of the Truth and he asked for Guru’s blessings. The Guru preached the doctrine of Nam. He then gave instructions to the priest in the art of true living, to practice to live in His presence day and night and to glorify the Lord and thereby to rub out the dirt of sins from the tablet of the mind.
GURU AT MEDINA :
In due time the Guru proceeded to Medina, another holy city of the Muslims where their Prophet Mohammad lived for many years and breathed his last. He reached at nightfall and stopped outside the town. It happened to be a place where lepers were segregated and no provision was made for their comfort or treatment. History states that the Guru healed them all and as a result, the people came in crowds to have holy glimpse of the Guru. After that he journeyed to Bagdad through Basra.
GURU AT BAGDAD :
There lived a very famous Muslim saint, Pir Abdul Kadar who died in Bagdad in 1166 A.D. He was also known as Dastgir and his successors were called Dastgirs too. The Muslim high priests did not like unethical and immoral musical verses. Instead of condemning the demoralizing poetry, they outrightly rejected the music (‘Rag’) itself. So according to Muslim Shariat (code of law), music was forbidden. The whole of Sikh scripture is in verse and in various different forms of Rags and Raginis. In the morning the Guru shouted the call for prayer, on which the whole population became rapt in silent astonishment. May be he did it differently than the Muslims. Then Mardana played the rebec and the Guru started the Sabad Kirtan (musical recitation of Gurbani). Whosoever heard was in ecstasy. The news spread in the city. The high priest Pir Dastgir, another holy man, Bahlol and others came to see the Guru.
According to the Mohammadans there are seven skies above the earth and seven nethers including earth itself. The Guru began to recite the Japji. When he repeated the twenty-second pauri (stanza) of Japji, the Pir got wonder-struck hearing something contrary to the authority of the holy Quran, that there were hundreds of thousands of nethers and upper regions, and that at last men grew weary of searching for them. The Pir then called upon the Guru to give a manifestation of what he said. Upon this it is said 23, the Guru laid his hand on the priest’s son and showed him upper and lower regions described in Japji- pauri 22. To prove whether the boy actually saw those regions, he brought Parshad (sacred food) from one of those regions and gave it to his father. Both the Pir and Bahlol bowed before the Guru and asked for his blessings.
Bahlol became Guru’s follower. It is said that he spent sixty years at the foot of the slab, where the sacred feet of the Guru had rested during their discussion. Later on a shrine was built there in the memory of the Guru. The English translation of the inscription on the slab inside the shrine is :
“In memory of the Guru, that is the Divine Master, Baba Nanak, Faqir Aulia, this building has been raised with the help of seven saints, and the chronogram reads. The blessed disciple has produced a spring of Grace year 917" (Muslim year). Swami Anand Acharya of Sweden mentions in his book ‘Snow Bird’, published by Macmillan & Sons, London, that during his visit to Bagdad, he found another inscription on the slab, dated 917 Hijri. The inscription reads :
“Here spoke the Hindi Guru Nanak to Faqir Bahlol, and for these sixty years since the Guru left Iraq, the soul of Bahlol has rested on the Master’s word like a bee poised on a dawn-lit honey rose.”
RETURN FROM BAGDAD :
From Bagdad the Guru passed through Iran, Turkstan and Afghanistan and then reached Kabul. Some writers believe that the Guru took the popular route from Bagdad towards Tehran, Kandhar and reached Kabul. On his way he passed through Mehds. Bhai Mani Singh’s Janamsakhi makes a reference of his visit to this place.
Since the visit of Guru Nanak to Kabul, the Sikh contacts had been carefully maintained. Sikh preachers were stationed there to disseminate the teachings of the Guru. At one time Bhai Gurdas also served as one of the Sikh missionaries at Kabul.
From Kabul the Guru proceeded to Jalalabad, Sultanpur and passed through Khyber Pass to reach Peshawar. There are Gurdwaras at Jalalabad and Sultanpur to mark his visit. There are springs of water associated with his visit. The Guru paid a visit to the Gorakh Hatri and had discourse with Jogis. He also went to Hassan Abdal, now known as Panja Sahib, and sat at the foot of the hill.
GURU NANAK AND VALI KANDHARI :
On the top of a small hill, there lived a Muslim Faqir called Vali Kandhari who was well-known in the area for possessing miraculous powers. Mardana needed water which could only be obtained from Vali. Mardana told Vali that Guru Nanak had arrived and he advised him to see the Guru, who was a great saint of God. Vali who claimed holiness exclusively for himself, became offended on hearing the Guru’s praises. He refused to give water saying that if the Guru were such a holy man, he could provide water to Mardana. When this reply was communicated to the Guru, he sent Mardana back to the Vali with a message that he (Guru) was a poor creature of God, and laid no claims to be a saint. The Vali paid no heed to this protestation and still refused to provide water.
Upon this the Guru picked up one stone and a stream of water immediately issued forth. In fact this water came out from the Vali’s tank which dried up. This naturally increased Vali’s rage and it is said that through his miraculous powers he hurled a small hillock upon Guru Nanak’s unoffending head. The Guru, on seeing the descending hillock, held up his right hand, and as it touched the hand of the Divine Master, the hillock came to a standstill. With the divine touch, the stone melted and softened like wax and left the mark of the Master’s palm indelibly deep into it. Vali Kandhari was very much astonished and at last fell at the feet of the Guru and begged for forgiveness. The Guru expressed, “ O friend, those who live so high, should not be hard at heart like a stone.” Vali was blessed by the Master.
The imprint of the Guru’s hand (Punja) is still visible on the stone and the pool of crystal clear water still flows from there. There stands a Gurdwara which is known as ‘Punja Sahib’. It is now situated in west Pakistan.
GURU AT SAIDPUR :
The Guru proceeded a second time to Saiyidpur or Saidpur, now known as Eminabad, where he again visited Bhai Lalo. Lalo complained to him of the oppression of the Pathans, who were leading a luxurious life caring little for others. The Guru replied that their dominion should be brief, as Baber was on his way for the conquest of India. Baber invaded the Punjab for the third time and it was the year 1521. He sacked the town of Eminabad and subjected it to massacre, loot and rape. It was a horrible scene, which Guru Nanak himself describes that there laid in the dust, the fairy heads of the damsels and beautiful women.
Most of the writers including many Sikhs say that seeing this horrible scene, the Guru appealed in anguish to the Almighty when he said:
‘Eti mar pai kurlane tai ki dard na aaya.’
(Asa Mohalla 1, p-360)
And they translate the above verse as :
‘When there was such slaughter and lamentation, didst not Thou,
O God, feel pain?’
Let us examine if these writers are correct. Did the Guru make such an anguished appeal to God or not ?
A. In the very first stanza (pauri) of Japji on the very
first page of Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Nanak says:
‘Hukam rajai chalna Nanak likhia nal.’
‘O Nanak thus runneth the Writ Divine,
The righteous path, let it be thine.’
Again in Asa Mohalla 5, page 394, it is stated :
‘Tera kia meetha lagei Har nam padarth Nanak mangei.’
‘Sweet be Thy Will, My Lord Nanak beseecheth the gift of nam.’
The above quotations mean that whatever happens in life,
should be willfully accepted. In the house of Guru Nanak,
there is no room for tears or cries.
There is no place for appeal before the Divine Writ.
One must embrace God’s Will as the sweetest gift of life.
This is the first lesson preached by Guru Nanak to the
humanity in Japji. How could then the Guru go into anguish ?
Does the Divine Jot also feel anguish?
B. The Guru assures that a true devotee’s prayers are always
answered by the Almighty and are accepted by Him :
‘Nanak das mukh te jo bolai eeha uha sach howai.’
(Dhanasri Mohalla 5, p-681)
‘Whatever God’s servant, Nanak, uttereth shall prove to be
true both in this world and the next.’
Being embodiment of Divine Light, if the Guru had appealed
to the Almighty, He should have accepted his appeal and
should have punished Baber. History reminds us that
Baber’s dynasty was rather blessed with a rule for seven
C. The Guru had reached Eminabad before Baber’s attack on
the city, and he uttered the Sabad given below in which he
told Lalo about the oncoming massacre. He had warned
some people to leave the city and they actually did :
‘As the word of the Lord cometh to me, so do I narrate it,
O Lalo, Bringing a bridal procession of sin, Baber has hasted from
Kabul and demandeth wealth as his bride, O Lalo ;
Modesty and religion have vanished, falsehood
marcheth in van, O Lalo ;
They sing the paean of murder, O Nanak, and smear
themselves with the saffron of blood.
Nanak singeth the praises of the Lord in the city
of corpses and uttereth this commonplace -
He who made men, assigned them different positions,
He sitteth apart alone and regardeth them.
True is the Lord, true His decision, true the justice
He meteth out as an example.
Bodies shall be cut like shreds of cloth;
Hindustan will remember what I say.
(Tilang Mohalla 1, p-722)
In view of the above analysis, it seems quite evident that the Guru did not appeal to God, but the dauntless Gur Nanak Jot addressed that Sabad to Baber, who then fell on the feet of the Guru and asked for forgiveness.
Baber wrote in his memoirs, “ The inhabitants of Saidpur were put to sword, their wives and children carried into captivity and all their property plundered.”
Many people were killed and most of the rest were taken as prisoners by the Baber’s army. It is said that the Guru along with his minstrel Mardana, were also taken to the concentration camp. The prisoners were given handmills to grind the corn. The Guru asked Mardana to play on his rebec and he then started kirtan. As the Divine Sabad was sung - all the prisoners came and sat around the Guru, every grinding mill started working automatically. On seeing this supernatural phenomenon, the guards stood spell-bound and they sent the word to Baber, who came and witnessed the whole scene with his own eyes. Baber was wonder-struck and asked the Guru if he could offer him anything. Boldly replied the Guru :
‘Hear, O Baber Mir Foolish is the Faqir
Who begs anything of thee Whose own hunger has not appeased.’
Baber said,“O holy man, I see God in thy face. I will do
anything you ask for. ”
The Guru then uttered the following Sabad and put most
of the blame of killings on Baber :
‘Thou ruled over Khurasan,
Now thou terrified Hindustan (India) ,
He has sent you the Moghal as a messenger of death,
Has slaughter and lamentations
Awakened no compassion in thee ?
The Creator is the Supreme Lord,
If a strong man beats another strong man
No feelings of resentment arise ;
But if a ravening lion falls on a herd, its master
should show his manliness.
(Asa Mohalla 1, page 360)
This is the Sabad which other writers have attributed to as Guru’s appeal to God. In actuality, this was Guru placing the blame on Baber.
The Guru asked Baber, when his army fell like a lion on these innocent men, women and children, did he feel any pain for them ?
Baber was overtaken by remorse. A new moral and spiritual consciousness was awakened in him, and he fell on the feet of the Guru. He asked the Guru to be gracious unto him. (History has revealed that kings were always afraid of the curses of the holy men).
The Guru replied,“If thou, O Emperor, desireth kindness, set all thy captives free.” Baber agreed on the condition that his empire should be blessed by the Guru and should be allowed to continue for generations. The Guru promised,“ Thine empire shall remain for a long time.” Upon this the Emperor ordered all the prisoners be set free. Baber then asked the Guru for instructions to rule. The Guru explained,“ Deliver just judgement, reverence for holy men, forswear wine and gambling. The monarch who indulgeth in these vices shall, if he survives, bewail his misdeeds. Be merciful to the vanquished, and worship God in spirit and in truth.”
Now the question is why was Baber blessed with kingdoms instead of being punished? The Gurbani (Divine Word) says :
‘Jo saran awai tis kanth lawai eho birdh swamy sanda.’
(Bihagra Mohalla 5,p-544)
‘God embraces him who seeketh His protection ;
This is the characteristic of the Lord.’
The Guru tells us that the characteristic of his Master (God) is such that whosoever begs His pardon, falls on His feet for forgiveness, He embraces him. Since Guru Nanak himself was the embodiment of Divine Spirit, he pardoned Baber when he sought for forgiveness, and he blessed him with a boon of Moghal dynasty which continued for a long time (some say he blessed him that his dynasty would rule for seven generations).
GURU AT KARTARPUR :
After the third and the last Udasi the Guru returned to Kartarpur. He travelled all over to preach the gospel of Nam and communicating new awakening in the people’s mind to realize Truth. In order that his work should last, he established a network of centers which were called Manjis, side by side with the centers of all other faiths. When he finished his long travels, he settled down at Kartarpur for the rest of about twenty years of his life. He knew that unless he centralized the activities of his new faith, he could not expect it to survive. There were now Sikh centers all over India, Ceylon, Tibet and the Middle East. No founder of any religion had built such a vast organization, breaking all provincial, national, international and cultural barriers, during his life time. When he went abroad on his missionary tours, he put up the robes of religious orders of the holy places he visited. Holiness in those places was inseparable from the holy garbs. When he came back to Kartarpur, he doffed his pilgrim’s dress, and wore worldly garments in order to show that he did not desire his followers to devote themselves to an ascetic life. At the same time he sat on his religious throne, and started preaching to the people.
FORMATION OF SANGAT :
First he formed the holy communion which was called Sangat, and the place where the holy communion was held called Gurdwara (House of the Guru). Emphasis were laid on religious instructions and strict discipline. The Japji was recited at the ambrosial hour of the morning, the Sodar (Rehras) in the evening and Sohila (Kirtan) at night before going to bed. Divine measures (Kirtan) were sung in his presence in the morning as well as in the evening. Regular religious instructions were imparted by the Guru. Such instructions could be given to the individual followers and also in the regular gathering. In order to be the Sikhs of the Guru, the followers were baptized by receiving Charanpauhal (also called Charanamrit). This was the form of initiation administered by drinking the water in which the Guru’s feet (generally toe) had been washed, the preamble of Japji was read at the same time, and the ceremony was inaugurated by the Guru himself. The emphasis was laid on the greatness of God, upon His gracious self-revelation, upon the perils of human condition, and upon the paramount necessity of meditation on Divine Name. Those who took pride in their status of caste or wealth, would be sternly admonished, and any one who depended on religious hypocrisy would be soundly condemned. The Guru enunciated an integral view of the spiritual and moral life and those who imbibed it, tried to realize its essence in their own daily conduct. The Guru’s teachings emphasized on two things in particular ; against limiting of the spiritual and moral conduct to ritual actions, and against confining the moral action to the individual self, or to such narrow confines as one’s tribe, race or denomination. His teaching had great effect on the people and many of them embraced his religion. Bhai Buddha, Bhai Lehna (later Guru Angad), Taru Poput, Prithi, Kheda, Ajita Randhawa, Sheikh Mallo and Ubre Khan are some of the examples of conversions at first sight to the faith of the Guru.
LIVING BY HONEST MEANS :
Emphasis were laid on honest hard labor for living. Asceticism was explicitly rejected and instead a disciplined worldliness and family life was set forth as the proper course for the believer. Earnest living through honest hard labor and then out of that hard earned money, giving in the name of the Lord, was the moral way to bring up the family. The Guru himself set up this example by working with his hands in the fields for the remaining about 18 to 20 years of his life at Kartarpur. He emphasized this course in the following Sabad :
“Men without divine knowledge sing hymns.
The Hungry Mulla maketh a home of his mosque.24
One who earneth nothing slitteth his ears 25 ;
Another becometh a beggar and loseth his caste.
Touch not at all the feet of those
Who call themselves gurus and pirs, and go begging.
They who eat the fruit of their labor and bestow
something in the name of Lord,
O Nanak, recognize the right way.”
(Sarang ki Var, Slok Mohalla 1, p-1245)
COMMON FREE KITCHEN- GURU KA LANGAR :
Every one worked for his living and gave a part of his earning for the free kitchen called Guru ka Langar. All people, the Brahman or the Sudra, the king or the commoner, the Muslim or the Hindu, had to sit in the same row and eat the same food.
COMPOSITION AND COLLECTION OF BANI :
These were the years when most of the Guru’s disciples received religious instructions from him and who recorded what they received. Many devotees, it is said, copied the daily prayers and hymns. These collections were called ‘Bani Pothis’ (books of hymns). The Bani Pothi compiled during his life time was passed on to the second Guru, Guru Angad Dev.
FURTHER TRAVELS FROM KARTARPUR :
Although the Guru had settled down at Kartarpur, but he still took small tours within the radius of 100 to 200 miles around Kartarpur. He went to many places and preached his gospel of Nam. At many of these places, the people became Guru’s followers and they set up Gurdwaras in his honor.
GURU AT ACHAL BATALA :
About 25 miles from Kartarpur, there was a place called Achal Batala where on the occasion of Shivratri festival, hundreds of Jogis used to come to take part in the festival. The Guru also went to Achal Batala to preach his doctrine. Thousands of people came from far and near to see and hear him. There were three camps- one of the Jogis, another of the Guru and the third one of a party of musicians. More and more people gathered around the Guru’s camp than that of the Jogis. This made the Jogis very angry and jealous and they were determined to humble the Guru. Whatever the money the musicians were getting from the audience, they put it in a bowl. Somehow the Jogis stole their bowl full of money and hid it someplace thinking that the musicians would go to the Guru for help and if the Guru was unable to locate the bowl, he would be humbled.
Knowing about the greatness of the Guru, the musicians went to the Guru for help to find their bowl of money. The wonderful Guru told them about the mischief of the Jogis and recovered their bowl from the hiding place. Thus the Jogis suffered a tremendous defeat.
Next attack from the Jogis came through a discussion. As mentioned before the Guru after his travels, laid aside the pilgrim’s apparel and had put up ordinary dress of a family man.
The Jogis said, “O Guru, you are a holy man but you are wearing the garb of a family person. Why does a holy man lead a family life? ”
Jogi Bhagarnath26 further asked the Guru,“When the milk becomes sour, no butter is produced by churning it, why have you cast away your hermit’s dress and donned ordinary clothes? ”
The Guru replied, “O Bhangarnath, your mother was an unskilled woman. She knew not how to wash the churn, and so spoilt the butter in producing thee. Thou hast become an anchoret after abandoning thy family life, and yet thou goest to beg to the houses of family men.”
Upon this reply the Jogis were enraged and through their miraculous powers, they started to harass the Guru. One Jogi became a cobra to frighten the Guru, the other became wolf and other started rain of fire. The powerful Guru sat calmly unperturbed and unharmed. When the Jogis were beaten badly, Bhangarnath asked the Guru that he exhibited miracles to the world, why he was slow to exhibit the same to them ?
The Guru replied that he had no miracles except the True Name, and he uttered the following Sabad :
“Were I to put on a dress of fire, construct a house of snow and
eat iron ;
Were I to turn all my troubles into water, drink it, and drive the earth as a steed ;
Were I able to put the firmament into one scale and weigh it with a tank 27;
Were I to become so large that I could be nowhere
and were I to lead every one by the nose ;
Had I such power in myself that I could perform such things
or cause others to perform them, it would be all in vain.
As great as the Lord is, so great are His gifts ;
He bestoweth according to His pleasure.
Nanak, he on whom God looketh with favor obtaineth the glory of the True Name.”
(Majh di Var, Slok Mohalla 1, p-147)
The Jogis then finally complimented the Guru on his success and said,” Hail, O Nanak, great are thy deeds! Thou hast arisen a great being, and lit a light in this age of falsehood (kalyug) in the world.”
BHAI BUDDHA :
The Guru initiated Kirtan at the early hours of the morning at Kartarpur. A boy seven years of age started to come to listen Kirtan and stood behind the Guru as a mark of respect. One day the Guru asked the boy,“O boy, why do you come so early while your age requires to eat, play and sleep.” The boy replied,“Sir, one day my mother asked me to lit the fire. When I put fire on the wood, I observed that the little sticks burned first than the big ones. From that time I am afraid of the early death. I am doubtful whether I will live to be old and so I attend your holy communion.” The Guru was very much pleased to hear these words of wisdom from the lips of the boy and said,“Although you are only a boy, yet you speak like a ‘buddha’ (an old man).”
From that day the boy was called Bhai Buddha. He was held in such high esteem that he was commissioned to impress the saffron tilaks or patches of Gurudom on the foreheads of the first five successors of Guru Nanak.
Bhai Buddha’s original name was Ram Das, and a village was named after him. The word Bhai means brother. Guru Nanak who disregarded caste and preached the doctrine of the brotherhood of mankind, desired that all his followers should be deemed brothers, and thus be addressed so. The title ‘Bhai’ is now bestowed on Sikh priests also.
DUNI CHAND :
The Guru once passed through Lahore. A millionaire, Duni Chand of that place, was performing Shradh28 for his father. When Duni Chand heard the arrival of the Guru, he invited him too. The Guru reached his residence and inquired of the occasion. Duni Chand replied that it was his father’s Shradh and he had fed one hundred Brahmans in his name. The Guru said,“It is now two days since your father had eaten anything and you claim that you have fed one hundred Brahmans in his name.” Duni Chand asked,“Where is my father?” The Guru replied,“Your father when he was alive, had coveted meat which a Sikh was cooking, and had died in that desire. So after death his soul had entered a wolf. That wolf is in a clump of trees about six miles from here and he has not eaten for two days.” Duni Chand realized that anything sent to our forefathers via priests, would never reach them. Such rites were mere customs under blind faith.
Duni Chand had amassed wealth and was always after adding more to it. The Guru gave him a needle saying,“Duni Chand, keep this needle with you and give it back to me in the next world.”
Duni Chand asked,”How can we carry a needle with us beyond death?” The Guru replied,”If such a small needle cannot go to the next world, how can thy wealth reach there?”
Upon this Duni Chand fell on the Guru’s feet and prayed for enlightenment. The Guru told him,”Give some of your wealth in God’s name and feed the poor.” Duni Chand became Guru’s disciple and began to repeat the Name. The Guru uttered the following Sabad on the occasion :
“False are kings, false their subjects, false the whole world ;
False are mansions, false palaces, false those who dwell
False is gold, false sliver, false he who weareth them;
False husbands, false wives, they pine away and become dust.
Man who is false, loveth what is false, and forgetteth the Creator.
With whom contact friendship? The whole world passeth away.
False is sweetness, false honey, in falsehood shiploads are drowned - Nanak humbly asserteth- Except Thee,
O God, everything is thoroughly false.”
(Asa di Var- Slok Mohalla 1, p-468)
BHAI LEHNA :
Jodha was a disciple of the Guru who lived in a small town, Khadur, about 50 miles away from Kartarpur. Bhai Lehna was a son of a rich trader and was also living in Khadur. Bhai Lehna was a devotee of Durga - a Hindu goddess of energy, and he used to go every year to the temple of Durga in the Kangra Hills.
One morning, when Bhai Jodha was reciting Japji, Bhai Lehna heard him and was touched at heart by the ecstasy of Divine Word. He asked Jodha whose composition it was. Bhai Jodha explained in detail about his Guru and so Bhai Lehna was inspired to see the Guru.
On the annual occasion while his fellow devotees went on to the temple of Durga, Bhai Lehna stopped on his way to see Guru Nanak. On seeing the Guru, he was completely overtaken by love and compassion of truth. When Bhai Lehna told his name, the Guru said,“Thou Lehna is here, where else can it be found?” In Punjabi language Lehna means to pay dues or to receive. The Guru meant,“What thou desirest to receive - salvation, is here, and nowhere else.” After receiving some religious instructions from the Guru, he began to repeat God’s Name.
It is said that Bhai Lehna in a vision saw a female in red dress serving the Guru’s house. Lehna asked who she was. She replied that she was Durga (goddess), and that she came once a week to do the service for the Guru. On this Bhai Lehna became convinced of the Divine Glory of Guru Nanak.
As the time went on, Bhai Lehna became more and more immersed in meditation and so became more and more close and obedient devotee of the Guru.
As the time of Guru’s departure (from the world) was drawing near, it was becoming clear to Mataji (Guru’s wife) that there would be succession to Guruship. As is the custom in the world, she always thought that her sons should be the heir of their father’s property, the Guruship. One day she said,“My Lord, keep my sons in mind.” This meant that the Guruship should be passed on to one of her sons. The Guru said,“ Bring your sons.” Both the sons were brought before the Guru. He then threw a bowl in a tank of muddy water, and asked his eldest son, Sri Chand, to go and recover the bowl from the tank. Sri Chand replied,“ Why did you throw the bowl, if it had to be brought back?” So he refused to do the job. In the same way the younger son declined to act. Then the Guru turned to Bhai Lehna and said,“Lehnaji, go and bring the bowl.” Bhai Lehna said, “Sat bachan (Yes Sir).” Bhai Lehna went and recovered the bowl without caring for his clothes getting soiled with mud.
One day the Guru asked Bhai Lehna to go home and settle his affairs. After some time when he returned from his home and arrived at the Guru’s house, he was told that the Guru was in his fields and would be home by evening. Bhai Lehna went straight to the fields to see the Guru. The Guru had three bundles of grass for his cows and buffaloes and wanted to take them home. As the grass was wet and full of mud, his Sikhs shied away from the task. He then asked his sons to carry the bundles and they too evaded the duty. Bhai Lehna who had just arrived, made his obeisance and said,“ Sir, give me this job.” Bhai Lehna took all three bundles and walked in the company of the Guru to his house. When they arrived home, the Guru’s wife complaine, “It is not proper to impose such a menial labor on a guest, his clothes from head to foot are fouled with mud which has been dripping from the grass.” The Guru replied,“ This is not mud; it is the saffron of God’s court, which marketh the elect.” On looking again the Guru’s wife observed that Bhai Lehna’s clothes had really changed to saffron. The three bundles are considered by the Sikhs to symbolize spiritual affairs, temporal affairs, and the Guruship.
The Guru now began a systematic trial of the devotion of his Sikhs. One winter night, as heavy rain was falling, a part of the wall of Guru’s house fell. The Guru desired that the wall must be repaired immediately. His sons refused to do the job right away saying it was cold and also mid-night but they would send for some masons in the morning who would do the job. The Guru stated that there was no need for masons as Guru’s work should be done by his Sikhs. Bhai Lehna stood up and started to repair the wall. When he had finished the work somewhat, the Guru said,”That wall is crooked, pull it down and build it again.” Bhai Lehna did it so but the Guru again professed not to be satisfied. Lehna again obeyed the Master’s orders; but the Master again was not pleased.
Upon this the Guru’s sons told Lehna that he was a fool to obey unreasonable orders. Bhai Lehna humbly replied that a servant should make his hands useful by doing his Master’s work. After that the Guru and his disciple grew close to each other and thus more pleased with each other. The Guru’s sons grew jealous of the devoted disciple. They took no pains to conceal their dislike of him.
One day a Jogi came and congratulated the Guru on the large number of converts he had made. The Guru replied that he had only a few real Sikhs, as the Jogi would himself witness. The Guru and the Jogi started towards the forest to try the Sikhs who accompanied them. As the party proceeded they found the road covered with copper coins. Some Sikhs grabbed them and departed.
A little further on, silver coins were found. Several Sikhs took them and returned home. As the party went ahead, they saw gold coins. Many of the remaining Sikhs took the gold coins and left the party. Only the Jogi, two Sikhs, the Guru and Bhai Lehna now remained.
On proceeding further they found a funeral pyre and four lighted lamps near the corpse. A sheet was covering the corpse which was emitting a foul smell. The Guru asked,“Is there any one who will eat this corpse?” The Sikhs recoiled at the frightening proposal, but Bhai Lehna remained firm in his faith in the Guru. Bhai Lehna with clasped hands asked the Guru,“Where should I begin to eat, the head or the feet of the corpse?” The Guru told him to begin at the waist. When Bhai Lehna lifted the sheet from the corpse, lo! Wonder of wonders, a dish of Parshad (sacred food) appeared instead of the corpse. Bhai Lehna offered the Parshad first to the Guru and said that he would partake of his leavings.
The Guru stated,“Thou hast obtained my secret. Thou art in mine image. I shall give you the real spell which is the essence of religion. By this spell you shall have happiness here in this world and in the next hereafter.” The following is the spell meant by the Guru, the preamble of Japji :
There is but One God Eternal Truth,
Unfearful, Without Hate and Enmity,
Immortal Entity, Unborn, Self-Existent,
By His Grace, shalt thou worship
The One Who was True before the creation,
The One Who was True in the beginning of the creation,
The One Who is True now, and O Nanak,
The One Who shall be True for ever.
Upon this the Jogi said,“O Nanak, he shall be the Guru, who is produced from thy ‘ang’, body.” The Guru embraced Lehna and promised that he would be his successor.
The moral as the Guru enunciated here is that a Sikh must make a total unconditional surrender before the Guru. He must have total obedience for the Guru’s order, then and only then the Sikh reaches his goal i.e becomes one with Him. The Guru’s sons questioned him at every step, while Bhai Lehna submitted willfully without uttering even one word. The result being that Bhai Lehna was blessed with Guruship and became the embodiment of Divine Light. According to Guru’s mandate and code of conduct, a Sikh must lead spiritual and moral life while conducting every day’s business to earn Guru’s blessing. The Guru’s mandate is clear:
“Hukam maniai howai parvan ta khasmai ka maihal paisi.”
(Asa di Var- pauri 15, p-471)
“By obeying His order, man is acceptable
And shall then reach the Lord’s court.” (Translation of the above)
ASCENSION OF GURU NANAK :
The Guru, knowing that his time to depart was approaching, had to appoint his successor. His sons had not obeyed him and so they did not prove themselves to be worthy of Guruship.
On September 2, 1539 (2 Asu, 1596 Asu vadi 5) Guru Nanak placed five Paise (Indian currency) before Bhai Lehna and bowed to him in token of his succession to the Guruship. He placed the umbrella of Spiritual Sovereignty over Bhai Lehna’s head. Thus, he created another Nanak and called him GURU ANGAD DEV.
“Jot uha jugat sai seih kaya feir paltiai.”
(Ramkali ki Var- Rai Balwand, p-966)
‘Divine Light is the same The Way and Mode are the same
The Master has merely changed the body.’
(Translation of the above)
When Guruship was passed on to Guru Angad, people realized that Guru Nanak was soon to depart bodily from the world (As a Divine Light and Spirit, the Guru is always present). The Sikhs, the Hindus and the Muslims came from all over to have holy glimpse of Guru Nanak.
After the proclamation of Guru Angad, the sons asked their father, what provision he had made for them. Guru Nanak replied,“ O my sons, God is the Cherisher of His creatures; you shall obtain food and clothing in abundance, and if you repeat God’s name you shall be saved at last.”
Guru’s Muslim devotees wanted to bury him after his death. His Hindu followers desired to cremate his body. When the Guru was asked for his decision, he replied,“ Let the Hindus place flowers on my right and the Muslims on my left. Those whose flowers are found fresh in the morning, may have the disposal rights of my body.”
The Guru drew a sheet over him. When the sheet was removed next morning, body was not found underneath, but the flowers on both sides were afresh. The light blended with Light and the spirit went back and merged with the Master Spirit. It confirms that the Guru was not a body but it was the Divine Light.
The Hindus and the Muslims removed their respective flowers and cut the sheet into two. The former cremated the sheet and the latter buried it. It happened at Kartarpur on September 22, 1539 (23rd day of Asu, Vadi 10, Sambat 1596). He was about seventy and a half years of age.
The Sikhs built a Gurdwara and the Muslims a tomb in his honor on the bank of river Ravi. Both had since been washed away by the river, perhaps by a superact, so as to avoid idolatrous worship of the Guru’s last resting place.
Rituals and superstitions earned the sanctions of old times.Religion had degenerated into ceremonial acts only. The life and teachings of Guru Nanak offer consistent evidence of fruitlessness of rituals. He exposed their hollowness and exhorted human beings to rise above such customs. Guru Nanak’s religion excluded all senseless dogmas and meaningless rituals. With no sword or stick but armed with Divine Word, he preached that only Impersonal Absolute is to be worshiped. Any religion which does not guard its values indicates a lower level of development and is deemed to disappear in the long run.
1. The Puratan Janamsakhi (biography) and Bhai Gurdas give the birthdate as October 20 (Kartik) while others give it as April 15 (Baisakh) in 1469.
2. This is called Aad Bani (the first Divine Message). This refers to Rag Asa Mohalla 1-
Patti Likhi, page-432 of Guru Granth Sahib.
3. Lalo was Guru’s disciple.
4. Mardana was a Muslim minstrel and Guru’s disciple and constant companion.
5. Word ‘utter’ is used in this book when Sabad is said to have come to Guru direct from God while ‘recite’ is used when the existing Sabad was repeated.
6. Some writers say that after taking bath in the river, he went to the nearby forest.
7. The Janamsakhis use the word ‘Udasi’ for the Guru’s travels. Udasi ordinarily means with drawal from the world but the Guru never withdrew from the world.
8. Some writers say that the Guru came back home after covering the east (after Puri) and then took second Udasi towards the south.
9. Sajjan means friend and Thug means robber.
10. Also called Charanamrit. This was a form of initiation by drinking the water in which the Guru’s feet had been washed. The preamble of the Japji was read at the same time. The ceremony was inaugurated by the Guru.
11. The symbol of the Eternal God. Here it is used instead of the Name.
12. That is, they are fortunate. The mango is an evergreen, and its leaves always afford shelter.
13. Malianlo- wind from Malay tree- sandlewood tree.
14. All the eyes of the world are Yours but Thou has no material eye as being Formless. The manifestations are many, yet Thou hast no bodily form.
15. The sarang is a bird which is also known as Chatrik or Papiha. It is supposed to drink water only when moon is in the mansion of Arcturus, so when its time comes to drink it is naturally thirsty.
16. Some writers believe that the Guru went to Kurukshetra in the beginning of the first Udasi.
17. Bhai Mani Singh Janamsakhi.
18. The meat of animals.
19. Water assists the growth of vegetables, and on vegetables animals are fed.
20. Some writers
describe a different route of the second Udasi. They believe that it started
from Talwandi to Lahore, Sultanpur and passing through Jullundhur and
Hoshiarpur, the Guru reached the abode of Pir Budhan Shah, where later on, the
sixth Guru founded the city of Kiratpur. From there the Guru proceeded to
Bilaspur and then visited Mandi, Rawalsar, Jawalaji, and Kangra. Thence he
marched to Baijnath, Kulu and Sapiti Valley and stayed in a village called
Mulani. Some relics of the Guru are reported to have been preserved and
worshipped by the people of this village. Then passing through Prang Passes,
the Guru reached Tibet and thence proceeded to Mansarovar Lake and Kailash
Parbat (Sumer Parbat). Through the Chasul Pass, he entered Ladakh and then
through Skardu and Kargal, he reached Amarnath. After passing through Pehlgam,
Anant Nagar, he reached Srinagar and Bara Mula, and then wending his way to
Hasan Abdal, Tilla Bal Gudai and Sialkot, he returned to Talwandi.
21. This discussion with the Sidhas is given in Ramkali Mohalla 1- Sidh Gosht, page 938 of the Guru Granth Sahib. Some say that it was held at Achal Batala. One observation is that here the Guru was much younger and at Achal Batala it was almost his last year of life. In Sidh Gosht the Guru is referred to as ‘bala’ (boy - young ). Some say the discussion was held at both the places with Sidhas.
22. Bhai Gurdas, Var-1, pauri-32.
23. Bhai Gurdas- Var 1, pauri 35-36.
24. He spends all his time in the mosque, so as to receive more alms.
25. The Yogi.
26. Bhangarnath was a head Jogi.
27. Tank is
one weight measure in India. One tank is equal to the weight of 256 grains
of Rice. It means that
if he is able to perform such a miracle.
28. Shradhs are oblations of cakes and libations of water made to the spirits of deceased ancestors.