Guru Nanak was born in 1469 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.
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-stuck 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. 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: It is also mentioned in the Janamsakhi (biography) that many times Guru Nanak said to his companion Mardana, “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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In his first Udasi (travel), 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.
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. 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.” 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. It is said that the first historical Sikh temple was constructed on the spot where this conversation was held.
GURU NANAK AT HARDWAR:
Hardwar 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 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 Omkar. The true God is superior to all other gods. 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.
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 sandal 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?
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. After staying there for some time the Guru started in the southerly direction and reached Katargama. Then he reached Sita Eliya, a place where Sita spent her period of captivity. At the time of Guru Nanak’s visit, this place was in the Kotte kingdom of Raja Dharma Prakarma . The inscription discovered by Dr. Karuna Ratna and Parana Vitana in the famous museum of Anurodh Pura , furnishes a brief account of the encounter of Jnanakacharya (Nanak) with the Buddhist Bhikshu, Dharma Kirt-sthavira. This inscription also informs that the Raja Dharma Prkramabahu had promised to embrace Guru Nanak’s creed if he won in the debate. Guru Nanak won. But before he could embrace the Guru’s creed, the Brahmans very cleverly arranged another public debate, this time between the Guru and Dharma Dvajapandita and maneuvered the result in favor of the latter. In this way they did not let the ruler fall under the influence of the Guru.
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 Kurukshetra, 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 Singh. 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.
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.
After starting the habitation of Kartarpur, the Guru started his second travel towards north. He made his first stop at Sialkot , 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.
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. The Guru convinced them that instead of wearing empty forms and doing hard penances, they should exert themselves in the service of mankind.
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 .
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 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, Jiwan 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-stuck 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, 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”
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 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 Kirtan Sohila 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
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.
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.
The Guru once passed through Lahore. A millionaire, Duni Chand of that place, was performing Shradh 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
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 complained,”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
Unfearful, Without Hate and Enmity,
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)
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)
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 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.