June 30, 2021 | By Prof. Puran Singh
NANAK AND GOD’S HOUSE – Nanak the Master was at Mecca. The Master slept out of doors with his feet turned inadvertently towards the Qaaba, the House of God. The chief priest of the place came and said, “0 forgetful stranger! awake and see your feet are turned towards the House of God !”
The Guru replied, “Is it so? Pray, tum my feet yourself in the direction where the House of God is not.” It is here they asked the Guru, “Pray, tell us what does your God eat and wear.” “Music is His food, and the colours of life are His garment,” replied the Guru.
NANAK AND Two CITIES – Once Nanak was the guest of the City of Light, where lived good people. At the time of departure thence, the Guru cursed them, “Be ye scattered, and may there be no city here.” After a while the Guru was the guest of the City of Darkness, where lived evil-minded persons. Nanak, on leaving the city, blessed them, “May this be your settlement for a long time to come !”
NANAK AND THE FOOLS – Once he was at Multan. Many false hermits lived there, and they were all afraid of some true one coming and disillusioning the crowds that assembled and worshipped them. They thought Nanak had come to deprive the of their living. It is said they sent Nanak a bowl of milk too full to have another drop, meaning thereby there was no
room for him. Mardana wished the Guru to accept it, for he was thirsty and hungry after a long dusty tramp. He smiled, and returned the bowl, placing a little flower of jessamine on the surface of the milk. “There is room for me everywhere,” said the jessamine flower.
NANAK AT HARDWAR – Some people were throwing water towards the Sun while they bathed in the Ganges. “0 men! what are you doing?” said the Guru. “We are offering water to our dead ancestors living in the Sun,” said they.·At this, the Guru began throwing waterin the oppositedirectionwith both his hands. When they asked what strange thing he was doing, he replied, “I am watering my fields of wheat in the Punjab.” The priests of Hardwar collected round him and said, “Of what caste are you, and of what town ?” “My caste is the same as that of wind and fire, and 1come from a town whence come both day and night.”
NANAK AT KURUKSHETRA – During a great fair, the Guru was at Kurukshetra. He asked Mardana to go and get fire to cook his meals, and Mardana went and touched the fire of an “orthodox”. The orthodox cried out in a rage, and fell upon Mardana; whereupon the Guru said:
“The evil is still in his mind, hatred resides in his heart; And yet his Cooking Square is pure! Of what use are these lines of the Square when lowcaste thoughts still sit with him in his mind ?”
NANAK AND EMPEROR SIKANDAR LODI – Lom It was Sikandar LocH, then Emperor of unfortunate India, who, along with others, put Guru Nanak in prison where he had to labour on the hand-mill. He did the labour; but the music flowed from him in the prison, and all came to listen, and all stood to listen in awe and wonder. Sikandar Lodi also came and stood listening, and asked forgiveness of the Master. The gates were opened, and for the sake of the Master everyone was set at liberty.
NANAK AT JAGANNATH – The priests ofthe temple began their hymn to their God. In a huge salver they put many little lamps of ghee, the pearls of the temple, and the offerings and incense; and all stood to offer it to God. There were priests that held each one a feathery ,chowrie (a ceremonial fan used for sacred rites, etc.) in his hand and stood at the back of the enshrined god to fan it. The priests began the ceremony, but the Guru paid no heed. After the ceremony, the priests were very angry with him. Then came Guru Nanak’s voice like the voice of God, and all stood listening dumb as cattle. Here Nanak sang his famous hymn, when the night was rich with her stars in full glow.
(Hymn of Praise)
The whole Heaven with its myriad lights goes round and round my Beloved !
The little stars are as pearls !
The winds fan him, And there rises in His temple the incense from the hearts of a million flowers,
The endless music of creation resounds!
A million eyes hath my Beloved !
And yet no mortal eyes !
A million Lotus-feet are His,
And yet no mortal feet !
I die with joy of the perfume of His presence !
His Flesh emits a million perfumes !
And yet He hath no scent!
He is the Light of Life.
By the beams of His face the stars burn bright,
And He is the soul of everything,
My Arti is my waiting for things to be as He willeth. When the master comes and stands by, the Divine Light is revealed !
The Moon of His lotus-feet draws me like a thirsty sarang whose thirst daily increases.
o God! come and bend on me Thy saving glance, And let me repose for ever in The Holy, Holy Naming Thee.
NANAK AND NUR SHAH OF ASSAM – Guru Nanak was in Assam in the city of Nur Shah, a woman of black magic, who exercised strange powers over all that locality. She fascinated and subordinated many by her spells, compelling them to dance to her tunes. She owned the whole country around, and many a mystic and many a celibate and Yogi had fallen into her snare.
Mardana went into the city to get some bread for himself, and he fell a victim to the machinations of the slaves of Nur Shah. They fed him, worshipped him, but “made him a lamb”. They put him under their spell, and he drank without water and he ate without bread. Mardana was thus imprisoned in the spell of black magic of Nur Shah, and could not return to the Guru. Guru Nanak went to search for his Mardana, and found a lost disciple in Nur Shah also. She came at last and renounced her magic at the feet of the Guru. All her slaves were set free, and she obtained her freedom in the song of Nam.
NANAK AND THE KING OF SANGLADIP – The Master went to the city of King Shivnabh. Shivnabh had been pining to see the Master. A disciple Mansukn had already gone there from Guru Nanak’s Punjab, and his personality had stirred the surrounding country. The whole royal family, after the King’s years of sadness, entered the path by the kindness of the Master. The mystic words once uttered by the Master, here, are not fully understood as the chronicles put them, but they are clear and most significant. Shivnabh said, :’Sir! What do you eat ?” “I eat of men.” Shivnabh brought a man to him. “No, I eat of the son of the king, not of a poor man.” The king brought his own son. The family collected together; the Master would verily eat the prince-such was the wild thought they had of the Master. The wife ofthe prince was addressed by the Master, “He is yours, not of the king who gives him to me. Do you agree to give him up ?” “Yes,” said the princess; “with all my heart if the Master wants him for his service.” Nanak closed his eyes, and all sat together in the sweetest rapture of Nam. All were there and remained there, but when they opened their eyes Nanak had gone’! He had “eaten” of the prince; who was thenceforward a disciple, and not a king.
NANAK AND BABER’S INVASION OF INDIA – (Sung at Bhai Lallo’s hut long before the invasion of Baber.)
Listen, Bhai Lallo !
Lallo! I say, as He says to me,
The daTkness of Sin has spread around. Both the Mohammedan and the Hindus are masks of Sin,
The Lie is sitting on the throne !
I see the Bridal Procession of Sin start from Kabul, and engulf the country in sorrow !
Lallo! There will be sung a wedding song red with blood. And human blood will fall on the hands of new brides!
He alone knows how things come about; But, Lallo ! a great calamity cometh!
The heaps of flesh-clothes will be tom into shreds! They will come in Seventy-eight, and in Ninety-three they will go,
When He will rise-the Mard ](a Chela-the disciple of Man And scatter the hosts of darkness, And strike the False with Truth, and the Truth shall triumph at last!
Nanak saw the massacre of Saidpur. Baber was marching through the Punjab, and was ruthlessly destroying everything before him. We have in Guru Granth, Nanak’s lament for his people and country, which he uttered on that occasion:
“Save Thy people, my Lord!
Save them at any of Thy doors,
The soul of the people is on fire,
Send down Thy mercy, Lord
Come out to them from any direction as it be Thy pleasure,
Save Thy people, my Lord,
At any of Thy numerous doors !”
“0, Master Divine! Ta.day Khurasan is thine! why not India?
The Moghal, cometh as Yama towards India, and who can blame Thee ?
We only ,say it is the Moghal, the Yama, coming towards us!
o Beloved! How many of Thy people have been brutally slain ?
Is it not all pain inflicted on Thy heart ?
Thou art the husband of all, Thou feelest for all !
If power strikes power, it must be witnessed in dumb helplessness;
But I do complain when the tigers and wolves are let loose as now, upon the herds of sheep,
o Beloved! Thou canst not endure the tyrant of a conqueror that wasteth the jewels of life thus, and prith himself on his power, seeing not his death nor what cometh after death.
o Master! It is all Thy strange dispensation!
Thou bringest us together, and Thou severest us; in Thee we meet, and in Thee we separate from each other!
They call themselves kings, and they do as it pleaseth them;
But Thou seest, my Lord!
Thou seest even the little insect that crawleth, and Thou
countest the com he swalloweth with his little mouth!
A hundred blows of death come and strike, and yet the tyrant knoweth not Thy will !”
THE MASSACRE OF SAIDPUR – III – “There lie, rolling in dust, the honoured heads of the beautiful women of the palace; their hair-dressing still moist with perfumed wax, and the sacred vermilion-mark still wet on their foreheads! The swords of Baber have clipped their heads without a thought, and their tresses lie scattered in dust, no one can say whose heads are these !
How strange is Thy dispensation, Lord! How strange Thy visitation ! These women adorned the bright halls of pleasure once, and new brides sat with their bridegrooms. And they were once swinging in swings of love, the lucky ivory bangles shook on their arms, and their feet made music as they walked.
There was a day when the old mothers of the families came and drank water after having touched the heads of the new brides with their golden vessels; drinking health and joy to their wedded life, and drinking all evil from off their heads-so great was the welcome given to them! They ate dried grapes and nuts and dates, and their homes were resplendent with the leisure of passion and youth!
Today the same brides walk along the highways; their pearl necklaces broken, and halters round their necks; as poor mean captives led !
Youth and Beauty are deemed foes!The mere slaves of Baber march them forth in utter disgrace and filth ! It is Thy will, Lord! Thou givest and thou takest away Thou rewardest and Thou chastisest as Thou willest.
o people! Ifye had not cheated yourselves in pleasure !
o people! If ye had not turned your back on Truth!
The Baber’s cohorts are rolling over the land now, and there is no escape !
The people cannot eat in peace, nor can they bathe nor offer food to their gods !
No women can sit and cook, nor anoint themselves with tiIak on their foreheads !
There is no leisurely}ife now; it is all confusion and death! They only see their ruined homes, their widowhood and orphaned life, they weep and cry and wail !
Ah ! what can the people do if such be His·will ? And who can be spared if it be not His will !
THE MASTER AND THE COHORTS OF BABER – The cohorts of Baber had razed Saidpur to the ground; and, as the Mastersays, there lay in the dust, the fairy heads of the beautiful women, with their dressing of that morning still moist with perfumed wax. He saw the sacred vermilion parting on their foreheads-the auspicious sign of wedded life-with feeling of a wounded father. He was unwilling· to leave the people that Baber’s mad soldiery had taken captive. He, too, was caught by them, and pressed into service. They put a heavy load on his head, and his minstrel was made a groom. The Guru called him and said, “Touch the strings of your rebec, Mardana ! for the song comes from Heaven. Let go the horse.” The horse followed Mardana, and Mardana followed the Guru, and the music came as the shower of cooling rain to the thirsty people. The miserable crowd heard the celestial hymns, and everyone forgot his distress.
Baber came and listened and said, “I see God in the face of this holy man !”
The would-be Emperor of India approached, and asked if he could do anything for the Guru. “I need nothing from you,” said the Guru, “set at liberty, if you please, these people, who have been wantonly oppressed.” All were set at liberty forthwith.
NANAK AND THE EMPEROR BABER – Baber took Nanak to his tent and offered him a glass of wine. “My cup is full,” said Nanak, “I have drunk the wine of His love !” And these winged words of Nanak carried Baber away to the celestial realms. The would-be Emperor of India saw in His presence the true Empire of Pure Beauty. Never did a prince or a peasant meet Guru Nanak in vain !
NANAK AND MARDANA – Mardana was his Mohammedan minstrel. He first met Guru Nanak at the time of the latter’s marriage. Mardana came and asked the bridegroom for a gift. The Master gave him the gift of Divine Song, and said, “Wait till I call you.” Mardana was called, and he never left the presence of the “Bridegroom”. When he died, his children took his place in
the service of’the Guru. To this day his offspring sing the Master’s songs in the Sikh temples. But old love is passing; its place is not ‘filled !
Mardana is the Master’s rebec-player and companion, with all the wit and honour of the Punjabi Minstrel. Mardana is a blunt philosopher, “0 Guru! You live on Heaven’s breath and whispers, but we men need food and raiment. Please leave these forests, and let us go to the haunts of men, where we may get.something to cure hunger.” The daily accounts of his hunger and thirst, related with all the confidence of his supreme love for the Guru, are genuine items of prayer which a child of man can utter to his God. After all we need no more than a loaf of bread now and then. The name Mardana was so much on the Master’s lips that we cannot think of Guru Nanak apart from Mardana, playing by his side on his rebec. “Mardana, play the rebec, the music of Heaven cometh.II This is the first line of almost every hymn of Guru Nanak.
Under the stars, under the trees, on the roadside, in forests, and on the eternal snows of the highest mountains in Central Asia, the Guru sang his hymns. In his discussions with the countless varieties of Indian and Eastern mystics and faqirs, the Hindu and the Moslem, the Yogi and the ascetic, the royal and the poOr, in a thousand different studies of man and nature, in a deep association of silence with life and labour and love with death, the Guru sang his soul out, as the rebec of Mardana played trembling beyond itself. When Mardana is afraid, Nanak smiles and says, “Mardana ! have faith. Keep calm, see the works of the Beloved! Wait and thou shalt see what God does.”
NANAK AND HIS WHEAT FARMS AT KARTARPUR – Guru Nanak started wheat farms at Kartarpur, the town of Kartar (Creator) as he called it. His people came and worked with him in the fields. The Guru took keen delight in sowing wheat, and reaping the golden harvests: he was of the people. Once again his stores were open to them. The bread and water were ready for all at all hours of the day, and crowds came and freely partook of the Guru’s gifts. All comers were filled from the Guru’s treasury of thought and love and power; the diseased and distressed were healed by him.
He was an old man then; and he loved to see the crowds of God’s disciples coming from the distant Kabul and Central Asia and Assam and Southern India-all the places where he had been in his younger days. In the trackless world of that time, the old Father of his people travelled on foot, singing his Hymns Of Nam, and gathering every trace of love. The Afghan and the Biloch,
the Turk and the Tartar, the Sufi and the Brahman, the white and the dark races, mingled in his great heart. The disciples, both men and women came from all directions, and took part freely in the song of the Guru.
So great was the reverence of his own country for him, that Pir Bahauddin, the great Sufi teacher who counted his followers by thousands, one morning suddenly turned his back on Qaaba (which no Moslem would do), and began bowing in his Namaz in the direction of Kartarpur.
“Why so ?” cried his faithful followers, in alarm.
“This morning I see the light of God in this direction, my friends !” said he.
NANAK AND BROTHER LEHNA- (Lehna in our language means “the dues to be collected,” and it also happened to be the name of a great man of the Punjab.)
Lehna was a flame-worshipper. There was a flamewithin his soul, so he loved nothing but flame. He would go up the Kangra hills to worship flame-the flame of the volcano: called, by the primitive villagers, the Goddess Durga, i.e., the lion-riding goddess of the great Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses. The flame, as it came up from the vol~ano, seemed to leap into his soul, he burned more than ever with love of the Divine Flame. He was beautiful and godlike, a leader of the Durga-worshippers in those days. He would light for himself, while in the privacy
of his sanctuary, a little lamp of ghee, and would watch the little flame for hours devotedly, and then, slowly rising, go round it in sacrifice, and suddenly begin to dance in rapture round the little flame. One day he heard of Guru Nanak, and the name fascinated him. He was on his way to Kangra, when he stopped to see the Master at the Town of God. Nanak asked him his name; and, when he replied that his name was Lehna, the Guru said: “Welcome, Lehna! You come at last, I am to pay your lehna.” After that Lehna never left Nanak. His companions, worshippers of goddess, went on their way, beating their cymbals and ringing their bells as usual. The flame of his little lamp in the silver plate waited for him at home, and departed with the night.
Beyond all expression was the love on each side between Lehna and Guru Nanak. The heights Buddha attained by his almighty struggle, Lehna attained through love. Lehna entered Nirvana in his love of the Master. Everything else that can be thought or seen, was very small for Lehna beside his love for the Guru. Nanak in this divine statue of love, chiselled his own image. He saw in it his eidolon, his transfigured self and bowed down to it.
THE SAFFRON-ANOINTINGS – Lehna was the son of a very rich man, and he used to dress in yellow silk of Bukhara. One day he came from his native place to see the Guru, and went to the field where the Guru was working. The Guru put a heavy load of wet grass on head of Lehna; who then followed the Guru home, the mud dripping from the wet grass and staining his silken clothes. As they entered the house, the Guru’s wife said with great concern, “Sire’ see how his fine clothes are stained with mud ‘” Guru Nanak looked back and said, “Mud! Seest thou not good· lady’ He bears the burden of suffering humanity. They are not mud stains, they are the sacred saffron-anointings !The Heaven anoints him, He is a Guru.”
NANAK AND HIS DEPARfURE FROM THIS PLANET – The disciples and saints assembled. Bright was the day and beautiful the hour of his departure.
“Assemble, ye comrades,
And sing the Song of His praise ,
Anoint the Bride,
And pour oil on her forehead,
And pray together.
The Bride may meet her Lord’
Guru Nanak left the earth amid a chorus of song:
‘They search for the Master in vain .
who search him on this earth,
The old father of his people is not to be found,
Neither in the grav! nor in the cremation flame:
He is in the heart of Guru Angad.”
Brother Gurdas, a disciple sang:
“Heaven heard at last the prayer of the people,
Guru Nanak descends on earth!
The disciples meet him and d~the nectar of his lotus feet!
In Kaliyuga (this dark age) we realize the ~vine,
All the people are the people of God,
Guru Nanak makes all the castes one caste of man!
The rich and the poor combine in one brotherhood.
From this Founder of Humanity, a new race oflove goes forth;
Nanak bows down to his disciple,
The Master and the disciple are one!
He is the Father of His people,
His song of Nam is oUl: life for ages !
Nanak comes, the worlds are lighted.
Wherever the Guru goes, the golden temple of worship follows him ! ‘
Whatever mound or earth he puts his foot on is our Shrine.
The tree he sits under is our Temple.
The far-famed seats of Sidhas (Yogis and adepts) change
their names, and the yoga-houses become the Guru houses !
The temples of all the creeds seek refuge in him !
Humanity resounds with his hymns, and all is divine !
The Guru goes in all directions, seeking his own, all over the face of the earth;
He makes our hearts his gardens of love and peace And rivers flow in us singing his song !”
“The dead rose out of their graves As they heard the song of Guru Nanak.
He healed us all by showering on us the sparks of Divine Fire!
The veils were lifted up, and the disciples went freely in and out of the door of death, in concourse of song with the Immortals !”
Nanak the Master, sowed the seed of Nam in the hearts of men: And the fields are ripe with the golden corn, The harvests shall come, and the harvests shall pass,
But the seed is of God and is growing! He gave him His own love, His own face and name and soul.
He gave him His own throne in the hearts of men, Called him “Born of my loins,” and made another Nanak on this earth!
This is Nanak the Master; the Spirit of God, that
fashions Himself for ever in the image of man !
The harvests shall come, and the harvests shall pass,
But the seed is of God and is growing.
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