Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sikh Sakhis 89 : ( Guru Nanak and Babur)

Guru Nanak and emperor Babur



While returning from his travels from the West, Guru Nanak Dev Ji paid a visit to Saidpur, now known as Eminabad to meet his devotee Bhai Lalo. Guru Sahib Ji write about these times of upheaval :


"The age is like a knife. In the dark night of falsehood I cannot see where the moon of truth is rising."(Majh ki Var). And again : "Modesty and religion have disappeared because falsehood reigns supreme. The Muslim mullha and the Hindu pandit have resigned their duties, the Devil reads the marriage vows. Praises of murder are sung and people smear themselves with blood instead of saffron."(Tilang). Guru Ji writes about the Mughal invasions : "They who had beautiful locks with vermilion dyed the parting of their hair, have their tresses shorn with scissors and dust thrown on their heads. They who dwelt in palaces cannot find a place in the streets." (Asa)


During this period the Emperor Babur attacked Eminabad and captured Guru Ji with his companions and imprisoned them. The captured were given grinding mills and put to grind corn. While grinding the corn Guru Ji went into contemplation and sang the glories of God. While Guru Ji sang about the creator the grinding mill continued to grind without any visible means of power, all who observed bowed their heads for surely they were in the presence of a great soul. This news was carried to the ears of Babur. Babur came down to the dungeons and waited until Guru Ji had finished singing. When his eyes met with the Guru's he folded his hands and bowed and begged forgiveness.


Babur requested that Guru Ji accompany him to his tent. Guru Ji asked Babur to release all the prisoners as they had committed no crime, and then he accompanied Babur to his tent.


The emperor offered Guru Ji refreshments but Guru Sahib replied " My cup is full. I have drunk the cup of my Lord's love which fills me for all time."


"Listen O King, go and survey the scene of destruction that has been caused by your army. Take a warning from those who have defeated others. He who is victorious today may suffer defeat tomorrow. Where are those kings who ruled here yesterday ? Where are those games, those stables, those horses ? Where are those bugles, those clarions ? Where are those who buckled on their swords and were mighty in battle ? Where are those scarlet uniforms ? Where are those mirrors that reflected fair faces ? Where are those houses, those mansions, those palaces ? We see them no longer here. O Lord, this world is Thine. In one moment, Thou create, in another moment, Thou destroy Thy Creation."


On hearing the words of the Guru, Babur remained in deep thought for a long time and then asked Guru Ji humbly "What can I do for you ?"


"Nothing," said the Guru "The soul supreme Being has Himself commissioned me to spread His message of Naam, and I enjoy His grace and gifts. Those who forsake Him and attach themselves to others lose all. He makes emperors and kings, and He turns them into dust."


Babur bowed before Guru Ji and begged for counsel for a better life.


"Be just to all, and never do injustice to anyone,"said Guru Ji. " Never depart from the path of truth. Be merciful and forgive others as you would wish to be forgiven. Do not covert that which belongs to others. Do not sow the seeds of cruelty. He who is cruel, suffers."


These words Babur took to heart and from then on endeavoured to be a just ruler.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sakhi Series : 88 (The Sakhi of Sacred Thread )

The Sakhi of Sacred Thread

(Article taken from . "Bedtime Stories" written by Santokh Singh)

When Guru Nanak attained the age of nine, the day was fixed for him to wear the sacred thread prescribed by Manu, the originator of Hindu rituals and the caste system. After worship and recitation, Pandit Hardial started to put the sacred thread around Guru Nanak's neck. Guru Nanak stopped him and asked, "Dear Pandit, what is the use of putting this thread around my neck ? What authority is attained by wearing it ? What special deeds of faith one can perform by wearing it in addition to those which are already performed without it ?"

Pandit Hardial replied, "O Nanak, one gets spiritual birth by wearing it. you get the liberty to go to the kitchen upon wearing it. you get the freedom to participate in the religious rituals of the world. Brahmins and Kshatris are impure without wearing it and cannot take part in religious rituals and ceremonies. They do not have the right to perform the Saradh—feast of serving food every year to Brahmins so that it may reach the dead ancestors. Without this their ancestors face the pangs of hunger and thirst in the next world.

Guru Nanak further asked, "If one gets spiritual birth by wearing it, the thread should be put around the soul. What is the use of wearing it if the wearer continues to tell lies, back-bite and do other lowly deeds after wearing it like the Brahmin administering it. The sacred thread should be such that its wearing may make the wearer compassionate, contented, celibate and truthful in his dealings. Dear Pandit, if you have a thread of this type, I am ready to wear it. This type of thread will not be broken, nor soiled or burnt when the body is cremated. That True Thread will always remain with the soul even when the body is burnt.

Pandit Hardial,in a bid to make Guru Nanak understand, said further, "O Nanak, we are not starting this sacred thread ritual for the first time today. This ritual has been performed for a long time. Nobody has refused it before you." In order to expose Brahmins' greed to eat and get offerings behind the facade of this ritual, Guru Nanak recited:

A thread of cotton is spun and the

Brahmin twists it, a goat is slaughtered

and eaten and everyone is asked to wear the thread. (Guru Granth Sahib, Ang. 471)

Pandit Hardial came to understand this hymn and was convinced that Guru Nanak would not wear that cotton thread around his neck. He also saw that if the common people grasped the meanings of what Guru Nanak had said, they would stop wearing the thread. He would be deprived of the goat and other offerings for performing this ritual from them also. On account of this fear he put the thread in his bag and returned home.

ho ho karae thai aap janaaeae

Practicing egotism and selfishness, they try to impress others by showing off.

bahu karam karai kishh thhaae n paaeae

They perform all sorts of rituals, but they gain no acceptance.

thujh thae baahar kishhoo n hovai bakhasae sabadh suhaavaniaa 5

Without You, Lord, nothing happens at all. You forgive those who are adorned with the Word of Your Shabad. 5

(Guru Granth Sahib, Ang. 127)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bhai Mardana Ji And Charity

Bhai Mardana ji and charity

For forty-seven years Bhai Mardana ji went wherever Guru Nanak went. Whether it was bitter cold of the hills or the heat of the deserts he did not leave him. Fear of wild animals or hunger and thirst in the wilderness or even the love of home did not change his mind from the five vices- lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride. He replaced them with the five virtues - truth, contentment, patience, compassion and faith. He was given the honor to be saint and a brother to all.

Bhai Mardana was nine years older to Guru Nanak. His father was a 'Mirasi' Muslim who did odd jobs in the
village of Mir Badra. There was no postal system of sending mail in olden days, so 'Mirasis' use to perform this duty. They would take messages of the village people to their relatives and bring back their replies. Their work was of great importance. Those who took their help had to look after them well. They were always on the move and so were used to bearing hardships. As they moved alone, they made it their hobby to sing and play instruments to amuse themselves and they took pride in being honest and truthful.

Bhai Mardana too was gifted with many things, one of them being playing the Rabab - a musical instrument on which he sang the hymns composed by Guru Nanak in nineteen different melodies. Guru ji who was working as a storekeeper at Modi Khana gave up his job. He chose Mardana as his companion and started going places to spread the word of God. They were going on foot from Sultanpur to
Lahore. On their way they stopped for the night then woke up at dawn, bathed and Mardana played his instrument and Guru ji recited a hymn in praise of God.

Then Mardana took Guru ji's permission to go to a nearby village to get something to eat and drink. The village people gave him some clothes too as they use to give other hermits and fakirs. When Guru ji saw the bundle of clothes with Mardana he said "Bhai Mardana, distribute these clothes among the poor, by gathering things offered in charity one becomes greedy. A greedy man entangled by this urge can never do any good to mankind." So acting upon the command of Guru Nanak, Bhai Mardana gave away all the clothes to the poor as well as the extra food.

lobhee an ko saevadhae parr vaedhaa karai pookaar

The greedy people serve others, instead of the Lord, although they loudly announce their reading of scriptures.

bikhiaa a(n)dhar pach mueae naa ouravaar n paar 3

They are burnt to death by their own corruption; they are not at home, on either this shore or the one beyond. 3

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sakhi Series : 86 ( Sukhdev Muni and King Janak )

Sukhdev Muni and King Janak
Sukhdev Muni was a renunciate right from his birth, and whenever he used to ask his father, Ved Vyas, about Initiation, Ved Vyas would tell him, "King Janak is the only perfect Saint nowadays, but He is a King. You may think that He is a worldly person, but He is not, and He is the only one who can connect you with the Naam [and give you the] Initiation."

But Sukhdev Muni used to think, "How can a worldly person become the Master of a renunciate ?" – So whenever Sukhdev Muni would think about going to King Janak to get Initiation his mind would bring up this question, "How can a worldly person become the Master of a renunciate?" that is why, for many years, he did not go to see King Janak. But later on, when he realized that there was no other substitute for him, that he would have to go to the king to get Initiation, he finally went to see King Janak. On his way up to see Him he left his clothes and a metal cup in the courtyard of the king's palace.

It so happened that When Sukhdev Muni and King Janak were talking with each other, an attendant came to King Janak and told Him that the cantonment [the army barracks] of that city was on fire. When King Janak heard that He did not react sharply. He didn't do anything; He was not confused. He said, "It is the Will of God"; and that attendant went away.

Sukhdev Muni thought, "This person is not fit to be a king because the army is like the heart of the king. He should have gone to rescue the people who are in the fire; he should have done something to save them, but he doesn't care. So that is why he is not fit to be the king."

After some time, when they were still talking, another person came and told King Janak, "Now the city is on fire." King Janak again remained calm and quiet; He only said, "It is the Will of God." Sukhdev Muni again had that negative thought. He thought, "He is the king and he must have a lot of things in his palace so that is why he thinks, `Why should I worry about the city and the people of my kingdom?' But it is very bad that he doesn't care for the other people. He is only bothered and concerned about his own self. That is why he is only saying, `It is God's Will,' and doing nothing to save the other people."

After some time another person came and said, "Your Highness, now even the palace is on fire. The courtyard of the palace is on fire." But this time before King Janak could say/do something, Sukhdev Muni jumped up to save his clothes and his metal cup. Then King Janak held him by his hand and said, "Now you tell me - who is the renunciate ? You left some clothes and some trivial things in my courtyard, and you are afraid that you will lose them if you don't rush to take them.

Then Sukhdev Muni learned that in reality he was attached to the world and King Janak was not. Even though King Janak who used to live like a worldly person, was a King and had many obligations, many responsibilities, He was not attached to all those things. He was just performing His duty. So when he realized that King Janak was a perfect One, and that he should take Initiation from Him, he requested, "Master, now You should give me Initiation."