Today is Guru Nanak’s birthday, a great saint and reformist who taught
us conduct of life by following Hard work, Honesty, Dedication, Humility
and above all faith in Divine. He was born on this day in 1469. Guru preferred to eat food in the house of an honest poor carpenter Bhai Lalo rather than a corrupt rich man Malik Bhago. He reformed many bad, corrupt and wicked persons during his journey on our planet notably amongst them was the Sajjan thug ( A deceiver who would provide shelter to travelers and later rob and kill them). Guru’s teachings are even more pertinent in today’s materialistic world where emphasis is on making more and more wealth, by any means. On this auspicious day let us resolve to follow Guru’s teachings and adopt these in our daily life. I take this opportunity to compile some of the stories associated with Guru Nanak to pay my humble tribute to a great reformist.
Reforming a Thief
Once Guru Nanak, met one person and asked him as to what his profession was. The person replied that he was a thief. Guru Ji advised him to quit thieving. The person replied that he knows only this profession and nothing else as it had been passed down to him by his ancestors. He stated that he has to earn his livelihood and feed his family and since he knew no other trade he perforce has to keep stealing. Baba then told him to continue with his profession but suggested the following conditions for committing theft.
A. Do not steal from a poor person.
B. Do not steal if you have eaten someone’s salt.
C. Let others who are not guilty be punished for the crimes committed by him.
Keeping these in mind, the thief attempted burglary in a king’s house. He rounded up jewels, ornaments, coins and made bundles so that he could carry the loot. Just as he was doing this, he felt hungry and went to king’s kitchen. Thinking that he had found lumps of Sugar he put these into his mouth. To his horror he realised that it was salt. He remembered Guru’s advise and quietly left the palace without taking any bundle of treasure with him.
Next day the King discovered that someone had attempted theft in his house but had taken nothing from there. He called his police chief who rounded up all the small time criminals in his area. These poor guys were beaten black & blue and tortured. Since none accepted having committed theft, in a fit of rage, the king ordered that all should be hanged. The thief came to know about it and remembered Guru’s third advise that no body else should suffer for his fault. So considering his moral responsibility, he went to the king and accepted that he was the culprit and others be left free being innocent. The king was impressed and asked him the reason for not taking anything from his treasure. Upon that he narrated the advice of Baba Nanak to him. The king forgave him and offered him a job in his court. The king also became disciple of Baba Nanak. Thus due to Baba Nanak’s advice a thief was reformed.
Duties and Obligations of a Servant
Sikh scriptures (Gurbani) bring out many lessons both for conduct/behavior of our life as well as management issues. I was reading a story where First Sikh Guru and great reformer Baba Nanak had an interaction with a young servant boy Lala. He asked various questions from him on his duties and obligations. The answers from the servant were so good that these could be applied to today’s government servants as well as those in the corporate. The summary is as under.
As a servant one’s duty is towards his master and no effort should be spared in carrying these out. A servant goes by the dictate of the instructions of his master truthfully. He is content with what his master provides him as the compensation and does not seek illegal gratification. Many of us are either public servants or the employees of the government and many serve in the corporate. In fact we are all servants of the Lord, and thus should follow his instructions faithfully and do what is just and right (as the light of the lord resides in all of us).
But it is seen that today’s public servants at whatever level they may be try and exploit the public itself. Public servants are in fact not masters but servants of the public and should work selflessly towards them as per the instructions of the government and their inner Voice. However we see, that even very lowly officials dealing with public have created enormous wealth and properties and thus behave in an unfaithful manner to the Master (Public as well as the Lord); this is more pertinent in the developing countries of the world. Wish we could have the temperament of the servant boy the Guru spoke of and the world would be a better place free of greed and corruption.
” ਮੁਲ ਖਰੀਦੀ ਲਾਲਾ ਗੋਲਾ ਮੇਰਾ ਨਾਮ ਸੁਭਾਗਾ , ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਚਨੀ ਹਾਟ ਬਿਕਾਨਾ ਜਿਤ ਲਾਯਾ ਤਿਤ ਲਗਾ ||
ਤੇਰੇ ਲਾਲੇ ਕਿਯਾ ਚਤੁਰਾਈ , ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕਾ ਹੁਕਮ ਨਾ ਕਰਣਾ ਜਾਈ||
ਰਹਾਉ || ਮਾ ਲਾਲੀ ਪਿਉ ਲਾਲਾ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਉ ਲਾਲੇ ਕਾ ਜਾਯਿਆ|| ਲਾਲੀ ਨਾਚੇ ਲਾਲਾ ਗਾਵੇ ਭਗਤ ਕਰੁਓ ਤੇਰੀ ਰਾਏਯਾ|| ਪਿਆਹ ਤ ਪਾਣੀ ਆਣੀ ਮੀਰਾ ਖਾਹਿ ਤ ਪੀਸਣ ਜਾਊਂ|| ਪਖਾ ਫੇਰੀ ਪਾਓ ਮਲੋਵਾ ਜਪਤ ਰਹਾ ਤੇਰਾ ਨਾਉ||
ਲੂਣ ਹਰਾਮੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਾਲਾ ਬਖਸਿਹਿ ਤੁਧ ਵਡਆਯੀ|| ਆਦਿ ਜੁਗਾਦ ਦਯਿਅਪਤਿ ਦਾਤਾ ਤੁਧ ਵਿਨ੍ਨ ਮੁਕਤ ਨਾ ਪਾਯੀ ||” (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Page No 991)
Reward and Punishment as per Karmic Deeds
Sometimes even Good and well meaning people get into trouble, where as Evil, Mean and Crooked persons get rewarded. Such a Karmic effect is difficult to explain. Reminds me one of the stories of Guru Nanak, a great Sikh saint: it runs like this.
There were two persons having shops in a small town. One was very pious, helpful to others and a God fearing person, let us call him a Gurmukh, where as the other person was mean, wicked, corrupt and took undue advantage of others, we can call him a Manmukh. After finshing their day’s work, every evening Gurmukh would visit Guru Nanak’s place and listen to Gurbani and Manmukh would visit a prostitute every day. They would occasionally exchange notes. One evening these two went about their usual routine. When Gurmukh was walking to the temple his foot stepped on a big thorn which pierced his foot. He was injured and his foot started bleeding. Manmukh while moving towards the house of the prostitute, saw a shinning object on the street and picked it up. The shining object was a Gold coin. The talk of this incident spread like a wild fire in the town. Gurmukh wanted to find out the reason and therefore he took Manmukh along and went to Guru Nanak and asked him the the cause for for such an imbalance where the evil one got rewarded and he got injured. Surely such cannot be the justice of the Divine.
Guru Nanak explained to him. ” Look the person who found the Gold coin had done very noble actions in his past life and he was to be rewarded with a huge Gold treasure. However in his present life he nullified all that by his bad deeds. Anyway he had to be rewarded for his past Karma therefore the award got reduced to just one Gold coin. As far as the Gurmukh was concerned, he had done very bad deeds in his previous life and was to be hanged in his present life. Since he chose the path of goodness and virtue, his punishment kept on getting reduced with every kind act and finally he got away with a minor punishment of a thorn piercing his foot.”
It is perhaps this phenomenon that we get reward or punishment in our present life as per our Karmic actions of the past. Such a cycle continues till all repayments are done and then one achieves Nirvana (Mokush or Supreme Bliss) The following lines from Japuji Sahib in Shri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) the holy
Sikh scripture explain and sum it up.
“ਪੂੰਨੀ ਪਾਪੀ ਆਖਣ ਨਾਹਿ II
punnee paapee aakhan naahi.
Virtue and vice do not come by mere words;
ਕਰਿ ਕਰਿ ਕਰਣਾ ਲਿਖਿ ਲੈ ਜਾਹੁ II
kar kar karnaa likh lai jaahu.
Actions repeated, over and over again, are engraved on the soul.
ਆਪੇ ਬੀਜਿ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਖਾਹਿ II
aapay beej aapay hee khaahu.
You shall harvest what you plant.
ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੀ ਆਵਹੁ ਜਾਹੁ II”
naanak hukmee aavhu jaahu.
O Nanak, by the Order of God’s Command, we come and go in reincarnation. (Page 4 SGGS)
Goodness must spread in the World
Sometimes Good people are blessed in a way which appears to be a curse and bad people are cursed in a way that appears to be a blessing. Today I read a story from the life of great Saint Guru Nanak which runs as under.
Guru Nanak and his companions while travelling visited a village which had bad and mean people who ill-treated them; while leaving this village Guru blessed them that they should remain in that village forever. Guru’s entourage then entered another village where the people were good and friendly. Those guys looked after the Guru very well. Next morning while leaving the village Guru proclaimed that this village should be deserted by all and the inhabitants should scatter away.
Guru’s disciple Mardana was perplexed and asked Guru about this injustice. Guru Nanak explained that let bad people continue to stay in their village so that peace is maintained elsewhere; if they were to be displaced they would affect everyone where ever they go. So better is that these guys remain contained in a small area. Good people must be scattered in various parts of the world and would induce peace, prosperity and goodness where ever they go.
How true is this lesson even in the present day world. Evil must be contained and not allowed to spread., where as Goodness must scatter and spread to all parts of the world to make it a better place.”
Value of Life
Most people do not realize the true value of Life, a Human life is the biggest Gift that one can get on this earth’ said Guru Nanak to his disciple Mardana.
Mardana was perplexed and replied that ‘ Surely every one can see the value of life, what is so big about it.’
Baba Nanak explained that each man places own value on things according to what he thinks or perceives. To highlight his point he gave Mardana a Stone and told him to go to the nearest market and try selling it to different people.
Mardana goes to a local market and tries selling it to a petty shopkeeper, who tells him not to waste his time, the stone is of no use to him. Then he approaches a farmer to sell this stone. Farmer is disinterested and just to ward him off offers one onion for the price of the stone and also tells him that may be he can use the stone as a weight.
Mardana then travels further down the road and shows this stone to a jeweler and a gem dealer who takes deep interest and closely looks at the stone. The stone as per him is an unpolished diamond. The jeweler explains that value of this stone is in thousands of Rupees. Much that he would like to possess it he does not have the cash to buy and given a reasonable time frame would surely buy it. He even offers Rupees one hundred as a token amount for the deal.
Mardana understands Guru’s statement and returns.’
Indeed this precious gift of Life is perceived differently by different people. Some consider it a useless stone, others have limited utility and only a few treat it like a Gem.
Some Frauds who claim to be God-Men
Once First Sikh Guru Baba Nanak while on his travels came across a Yogi, who claimed to see everything and could even predict future. There was a huge congregation sitting around him. Many of them had problems at their home. Each person would walk to the God man and offer him money or gifts and pay respect. Thereafter the suffering person would ask him solution to his problems. The Yogi would close his eyes and chant some Mantars and then declare as to what would happen in future and how the problems of that person would get resolved. We often see these kind of shows on Indian TV channels where some of the Godmen exactly behave in this manner. They have very high earnings, I wonder what they advise bring any succor to suffering people.
Baba Nanak told his disciple Mardana that all this is fake as no one except God himself knows what may happen in future. Also no one can predict or peep into others lives unless he has acquired the status of a Braham Gyani ( Extremely learned Saint). Mardana was quite perplexed and asked Babaji as to how such a crowd had gathered there. Baba Nanak told Mardana to see what happens and walked towards that Yogi. Yogi asked as to what was his problem. Guru asked him to find out as he claimed to see and know everything. Yogi then closed his eyes and started chanting Mantras. Guruji signalled to Bhai Mardana to hide Yogi’s Karmandal ( a pot like utensil) behind a bush. When the Yogi opened his eyes, he saw that his utensil was missing. He started shouting profanities and said that he would cast a curse on the person who had done this. Saint Nanak asked him as to why was he getting angry. If he could see everything including Future, he should know where his utensil was. Yogi realised his folly and admitted to Baba that he had no such powers and he was only earning his bread by cheating the gullible people.
It is true that none can predict your future, alone He ( Lord ) knows it. It is clearly stated in Gurbani.
“Thit war Na Jogi Jaane, Rut Mah Na Koi,
Ja Karta Sirsthi Ko Saaje, Aape Jaane Soi.”
Means, ” No Yogi knows about the Day, Date, Month or Season,
He who has created the Universe alone Knows it” ( Pg 4 SGGS)
Present day, so called God men are making business out of predicting future and deceiving innocent and gullible people.
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