Sacred Texts  Sikhism  Index  Previous  Next 


Mardana had by this time had enough of travel, hardship, and. hunger, and thus addressed his master: 'Blessings on thy devotion and thy deeds! Thou art a holy man who hast abandoned the world, who neither eatest nor drinkest, and who never enterest a village. How can I remain with thee?' The Guru asked him on what conditions he would change his mind and continue to accompany him. He replied, 'I will remain with thee if thou satisfy my hunger in the same way as thou satisfiest thine own; and if thou also promise not to take notice of anything I do.' The Guru agreed to these conditions, and told him he should be happy in this world and the next. Mardana then fell at his feet.

It would appear however, that Mardana soon represented to the Guru the duty and propriety of returning home, and seeing his parents after twelve years' wandering. The Guru adopted his suggestion, and they both directed their steps towards Talwandi. They halted in the forest some three miles from the village. Mardana asked permission to go home and inquire if his people were dead or alive. The Guru replied, 'Since thou desire it, go and see thy people. Go also to my father Kalu's house, but mention not my name. Return quickly.'

When Mardana reached his house he found several persons assembled there. They all affectionately greeted him, and said he had grown like Nanak. He was a great man now, and no longer the humble person he had been before. Mardana, having seen his people, proceeded to the house of Kalu, and sat down in his courtyard. The Guru's mother, on

{p. 96}

seeing him, arose, embraced him, and wept for joy. She asked for some account of her son Nanak. By that time a great crowd had assembled, and every one wanted to hear about him. Mardana evaded all inquiries, only telling people that he had been with Nanak. He then went away. The Guru's mother at once suspected that he must have had some object in departing so quickly, and that her son could not be far off. She again arose, and taking some clothes and sweets for Nanak, followed Mardana and overtook him. She earnestly requested him to take her to her son. Mardana made no answer, but went on his way, she following.

Nanak arose on seeing his mother, and respectfully saluted her. She kissed his forehead and began to weep, saying, 'I am a sacrifice unto thee. I am a sacrifice unto the ground thou treadest on. Seeing thy face hath made me happy. Now I desire that thou shouldst abandon thy wanderings, abide with us, and turn thine attention to commerce for thy livelihood.' The Guru, who was in turn delighted to see his mother, called on Mardana to play the rebeck while he himself sang the following:--

Drunkards abandon not stimulants, nor fishes water:
So God is pleasing beyond all others to those who are imbued with their Lord.[1]
I am a sacrifice, I would be cut in pieces, O Lord, for Thy name.
The Lord is a fruit-bearing tree whose name is ambrosia.
They who have partaken of it are satisfied; I am a sacrifice unto them.
Why appearest Thou not unto me, O Lord, since Thou abidest with all?

[1. These two lines are also translated--

If drunkards obtain not stimulants, and fishes, water, they are pleased with nothing else,
So all who are imbued with their Lord are content with none but Him.


{p. 97}

How shall my thirst abate when there is a screen between the Tank[1]and me?
Nanak is Thy dealer; Thou O Lord, art his capital.
Illusion leaveth my mind when I praise and pray to Thee.[2]

His mother placed before Nanak the new clothes and sweets she had brought for him, and asked him to eat. He said he required no food. His mother inquired where he had eaten. He again called on Mardana to play an accompaniment to the following hymn:--

To obey God's word is all sweet flavour; to hear it is salt flavour;
To utter it with the mouth is acid flavour, and to sing it is spices.
The love of the one God is thirty-six dishes[3] for those on whom He looketh with favour.
O mother, other viands afford ruinous happiness
By eating them the body is pained, and sin entereth the mind.

His mother asked him to take off the faqir's jacket he wore, and put on the new becoming clothes, she had brought him. His reply was the following:--

To be imbued with God is as red, truth and charity as white clothing;
To cut away the blackness of sin is blue, to meditate on God's feet is the real raiment;
Contentment is the waistband Thy name, O Lord, is wealth and youth.
Mother, other dress affordeth ruinous happiness
By putting it on, the body is pained and sin entereth the mind.

By this time his father Kalu had heard of Nanak's arrival, and went on horseback to meet him. Nanak

[1. God.

2. Wadhans.

3. Indian gourmets enumerate thirty-six palatable dishes.]

{p. 98}

bowed to him, and fell at his feet. Meantime Kalu continued to weep for joy. He asked his son to mount the horse on which he had come, and go home with him. Nanak replied that he had no need of a horse, and then sang the following:--

To know Thy way, O God, is as horses with saddles made of gold.
To pursue virtue is as quivers, arrows, bows, spears, and sword-belts.
To be honourably distinguished is as bands and lances Thy favour, O God, is as caste for me.
Father, other conveyance affordeth ruinous happiness
By mounting it the body is pained, and sin entereth the mind.

The father again pressed the son to return with him, if only for once. He said he had built a new house which he should like to show him after his long absence. Nanak ought also to visit his wife, and then, if he felt so disposed, he might continue his wanderings. Nanak replied:--

The pleasure of the Name is as mansions and palaces; Thy favouring glance, O Lord, is as family for me.
To please Thee is mine empire; to say more were altogether useless.
Nanak, true is the King; He decideth without taking others' counsel.
Father, other intercourse affordeth ruinous happiness
By indulging in it the body is pained, and sin entereth the mind.'

Kalu again said: 'My son, tell me at what thou art offended. If thou desire it, I will find thee another wife.' The Guru replied as follows:--

He who made the world watcheth over it, and appointeth His creatures to their various duties.
Thy gifts, O Lord, are as light to the mind, and as the moon and lamps to the body.

[1. Sri Râg.]

{p. 99}

Thy gifts are as the moon and lamps to the body, by which the pain of darkness is dispelled.
The bridal procession of attributes which accompany the Bridegroom who hath chosen His bride, appeareth beautiful.
The marriage hath been performed with splendour to the accompaniment of the five musical instruments.[1]
I am a sacrifice to my unchanging companions and friends.
I have exchanged hearts with those to whom my body is attached.
Why should I forget those friends with whom I have exchanged hearts?
Let those whose sight giveth pleasure be clasped to the heart.
All merits and not one demerit is theirs for ever and ever.
If one have a casket of virtues, let him extract odour from it.
If our friends possess virtues, let us go and become partners with them.
Let us form a partnership with virtue and abandon vice.
Let us wear silk, go in state, and take possession of our arena.[2]
Wherever we go, let us sit down, speak civilly, and skim and drink nectar.
If one have a casket of virtues, let him extract odour therefrom.
It is God Himself who acteth; to whom should we complain? No one else acteth.
Go and complain to Him if He forget.
If He forget, go and complain to Him; but why should the Creator Himself forget?
He heareth, seeth, giveth His gifts without asking or praying for.
The Giver, the Arranger of the world giveth His gifts, Nanak, and true is He.

[1. The voice, stringed instruments, wind instruments, leather instruments, as drums, and metallic instruments as cymbals, bells, &c. Pânch sabd may also mean the five species of breath enumerated by Jogis.

2. That is, the company of saints.]

{p. 100}

When He Himself acteth, to whom should we complain? No one else acteth.[1]

Nanak continued to address Kalu: 'Father dear, it is God who arrangeth marriages. He maketh no mistake, and those whom He hath once joined He joineth for ever.' By these words the Guru perhaps meant to establish monogamy[2]. The Guru's mother then interposed, and asked her son to stand up and go with them, and cease his nonsense. He would obtain wealth by attending to his worldly duties. The Guru replied with the following hymn:--

In the end of the night call upon the name of the Lord,
And tents, umbrellas, pavilions, and carriages shall appear, ready for your celestial journey.
They are ever obtained by those who meditate on Thy name, O Lord.
Father, I am without good works and false; I have not meditated on Thy name.
My mind is blind, led astray by superstition.
The pleasures I have had have blossomed into pain by primal destiny, O mother.
The pleasure was little; the pain great; in much pain have I passed my life.
What separation is there from those who have separated from God? and what meeting is there with those who have met Him?
Praise that Lord who made and beholdeth this play.
By good destiny men meet God and enjoy pleasures even
in this life.
By evil destiny they who meet separate, O Nanak, but even so they meet again by God's favour.[3]

[1. Sûhi Chhant.

2. Bhâi Gur Dâs, so understood the Guru's words when he wrote-Be chaste with one wife (War, vi, 8). In the Prem Sumârag, a work containing the supplementary teaching of Guru Gobind Singh, is found the injunction: 'Be satisfied with one wife. That befits a good man.'

3. Mâru.]

{p. 101}

Kalu, finding his arguments vain, appealed to his son on the score of his health and safety, and pointed out how regardless of them he had been. The following was the Guru's reply:--

I have no anxiety regarding death, and I have no desire for life.
Thou, O God, art the Cherisher of all living things; our breathings[1] are taken into account.
Thou dwellest in the holy; as it pleaseth Thee, so Thou decidest.
O my soul, by uttering God's name the heart is satisfied.
Under the Guru's instruction divine knowledge is obtained, and the burning of the heart extinguished.[2]

The Guru again addressed his parents: 'Father dear, mother dear, I have returned home. I have been until now a hermit. Obey God's order and let me again depart.' His mother replied: 'My son, how shall I console myself, seeing that thou hast only now returned after an absence of twelve years?' Then the Guru urged, 'Mother, agree to what I say; consolation shall come to thee.' She then became silent, thinking it was useless to make further remonstrance.

Next: Life Of Guru Nanak: Chapter IX