Guru Nanak Dev ji on the “Holy” Ganga
(Guru )Nanak’s first journey was towards the east. On the way he visited many holy places of the Hindus. He stayed amongst the people and saw the way they lived and worshipped. Whenever he disagreed with them, he argued gently and showed them that they were wrong.
One day, while (Guru) Nanak was at Hardwar, he saw a large crown bathing in the river Ganga. Some people were throwing water towards the sun.
“What are you doing?” (Guru) Nanak asked them.
“We are offering water to our ancestors,” they replied.
“Where are you ancestors?” (Guru) Nanak asked again.
“Many millions and billions of miles away,” the people replied.
“But will the water get there?” He asked them.
“Our holy books tell us it will,” they answered.
On hearing this, (Guru) Nanak turned in the opposite direction and started throwing up handfuls of water. The people were bewildered by this and asked, “What are you doing?”
(Guru) Nanak replied, “I have a farm in the Punjabi which is always dry; I am watering it.”
Everyone began to laugh. “How do you think the water will reach your land in the Punjab which is hundreds of miles from here?” they asked.
Then Guru Nanak Dev Ji restarted, “your ancestors are even farther away and yet you say that the water you are throwing will reach them. Why should not this water reach my farm which is so much nearer?” he continued, “You can only honor the memory of your dead by doing good deeds. In this way you truly magnify their name…”
The people looked at (Guru) Nanak with respect. “He is quite right,” they murmured amongst themselves. “He must be a great man.”
Life by Good Deeds
On his travels, Guru Nanak Dev Ji met many holy men. They had given up the society of men and lived alone in forests and caves. They said they were devoted to God and tried to prove this in various ways. Some refused to eat till they were almost dead with hunger. Others stood on one leg until it was swollen with pain and the other leg was a shriveled stick. Some buried themselves alive for days, without air or food or water; while others went about almost naked, exposing their bodes to the heat of the sun and cold of winter nights. Nanak even met a yogi who always kept his ears and eyes closed: “By doing this I can think about God without anything disturbing me,” he explained.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent many hours thinking about the different ways these men had of showing their love for God. After much though he concluded that they were misguided. “How can fasting or making the body suffer prove a man’s love for God, or make him kind and truthful?” Nanak asked. “And surely, in order to do good for people, one has to live with them and not all alone in forests and caves.” Nanak finally decided he would live amongst the people. Then he could teach them the right way to love God.
Gold cannot be Taken to Heaven
After his journey to the east, (Guru) Nanak returned to the Punjab. He stayed at home for a short while and then went to Lahore, the capital city.
One day a very rich man named Dunni Chand asked (Guru) Nanak to come and dine with him. after the meal Dunni Chand asked, “Is there anything I can do for you? I am very wealthy and should be glad to grand you a favor.”
(Guru) Nanak thought for a minute and then pulled out a needle from his pocket. “I should be grateful if you would give me this needle when we meet in the next world after we are dead,” he said.
Dunni Chand looked at (Guru) Nanak with surprise. “But how can I take a needle to the next world?” he asked.
Then Guru Nanak Dev Ji replied, “If such a small thing as a needle cannot be taken to the next world, how do you think you will take all your jewelry? Only good deeds go with you when you die. Money is worthless unless it can be used for the good of other people.”
Dunni Chand realized the wisdom of (Guru) Nanak’s words. He gave away all he possessed and spent the rest of his life helping the poor.
A King Pays Homage to Guru Nanak Dev Ji
While (Guru) Nanak was in the Punjab talking and arguing with people about God and how they could best show their love and devotion for Him, a Mughal chief, Babar, invaded India. He brought a large army of Turks who burnt the Crops, destroyed homes, and killed men, women and children by the thousands. There was misery and unhappiness everywhere.
The people saw all their plans for the future destroyed before their eyes, lost hope and said, “it is fate. God must have willed this on us for our many sins. We cannot do anything about it. “ Nanak, on hearing them, replied, “You cannot blame hope. You must try and start a fresh and build your future again.” And whenever (Guru) Nanak saw the people in despair he would repeat encouragingly “with you own hands make your own future.”
It was about time that an office of Baba captured the town where Nanak was staying and imprisoned everyone. Nanak and Maradana were among those taken prisoner. Everyone was put in chains and made to grind corn. In the evening (Guru) Nanak began to say his prayers as was his lifestyle. The people warned him, “if you stop grinding corn even for a minute, the guards will have you whipped.” (Guru) Nanak paid no attention to them and continued to pray. It is said that while (Guru) Nanak was lost in prayer the wheel of the mill continued turning on its own.
Babar’s heart was touched and he ordered that all the prisoners should be set free and their property given back to them. He said, “if I had known that this city contained such a holy man I would never have harmed it.”
The Rich Man and the Poor Carpenter
Once on his journeys, Nanak happened to come to a large city. He was little tired and decided to spent a few days there. A poor carpenter, Lalo, who was known to be a good and kind man, asked (Guru) Nanak to stay with him. a few days later a very wealthy man, Malik Bhago, who belonged to the highest Hindu Caste, gave an enormous feast and invited Nanak to be his guest. It was considered a great honor to be asked to dine with a man as rich and powerful as Malik Bhago. Over a hindered people went to the feast. But (Guru) Nanak did not go. Malik Bhago noticed Nanak’s absence and went to see him, the next day. “you eat the coarse breed of a poor, low-caste carpenter,” he said, “and yet you insult me by refusing to come to my feast. However I have brought some specially prepared cake for you.”
(Guru) Nanak did not reply. He took the cake from the man. He asked the poor carpenter to bring some bread from the kitchen. Then he held the rich man’s specially prepared cake in one hand, and the poor, low-caste carpenter’s bread in the other, and squeezed them.
From Lalo’s bread flowed milk and from Malik Bhago’s cake there poured a stream of blood.
Malik Bhago looked horrified. “Why is there blood coming form my make and milked from Lalo’s coarse bread?” He asked.
“Lalo’s bread was earned by honest hard work. But your cake and the riches you have collected have all been gained by robbing and cheating the poor.” Guru Nanak Dev Ji replied.
Malik Bhago admitted that (Guru) Nanak had spoken justly. He felt ashamed of his evil deeds. Thus, Nanak changed yet another man from his sinful ways to a life devoted to helping the poor and needy.