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Bhai Gurdas Ji's Test

One day a conversation arose in the presence of Satguru Sri Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji Maharaj as to the difficulties of Sikhi. Bhai Gur Das Ji admitted the fact, but said that at the same time men should have faith in their beloved religion. He then recited the twentieth pauri of his thirty-fifth War :—

If a mother become unchaste, how can her son disgrace her ?
If a cow swallow a gem, one would not tear open her belly and kill her.
Even if a husband visit several women, his wife should preserve her chastity.
Even if a ruler make current a leather coin, the subjects are powerless, and ought to accept it.
If Bruhmans drink wine, shall people burn them?
Even if the Guru become a play-actor, his Sikhs should not lose their faith.

Satguru Ji looked at the last verse, ‘Even if the Guru become a play-actor, his Sikhs should not lose their faith,’ and decided to test Bhai Gurdas Ji.

At the time he wanted two chargers, and was informed that Kabul alone produced horses worthy to bear him.

He therefore decided to send Bhai Gur Das Ji to Kabul, and gave him money to make the purchases. The horses were to be bought subject to Guru Sahib's approval. Bhai Gur Das Ji found two chargers priced at fifty thousand rupees each, and sent them to Satguru Ji. Guru Sahib approved and wrote to him to pay their price and then return to Amritsar.

When the owner went to Bhai Gur Das Ji for settlement, Bhai Gur Das Ji seated him outside his tent and went within to count the money. On opening the saddle-bags he found that they contained not money but brick­s. When he did not come out from his tent after a few hours, the horse merchant went in to see what the cause of his delay was.

When he entered the tent, he found out that Bhai Gur Das Ji had escaped by an opening in the back of his tent, and left the saddle-bags, which to the merchant now appeared filled with money. The Sikhs who had come with Bhai Gur Das Ji paid the merchant, and then returned with the balance to Amritsar, and in­formed Satguru Ji of Bhai Gur Das Ji's sudden disappearance.

Bhai Gur Das Ji was afraid to return to his beloved Guru, and sought refuge in Banaras, which he reached by a circuitous route after great hardship and suffering. Some Sikhs residing there received him with great respect. The Raja of the city heard from the Sikhs of the arrival of a very dis­tinguished member of their body, and went to do him honour.

The Raja used often to send for Bhai Gur Das Ji and listen to his expositions of Gurbani.

Once several pandits and Sanyasis said, 'Banaras is the city of Shiv, and he deala salvation there to his worshippers. Therefore abandon the teachings of the Guru and adore Shiv. What have you to gain from the Guru ?'

Bhai Gur Das Ji replied, 'As a vir­tuous woman does not leave her husband to go to another man, so will I not abandon me Guru to worship a Hindu god. A calf which leaves its mother and goes to a strange cow, only receives kicks. If a swan abandon Mansarowar, it will not elsewhere receive pearls as food. If a man leaves an emperor and goes to serve his sublets, he will feel his altered position. So the Guru's Sikhs can­not leave God or preserve their honour by wor­shipping the gods and goddesses of His creation'

The pandits represented, 'The great God in Sanskrit literature bore the names Shiv, Gobind, Ram, etc. Why did Guru Nanak Dev Ji introduce the custom of uttering Wahguru and what is the meaning of the words ?'

Bhai Gur Das Ji replied that Wahguru was the greatest of all names. 'Wah means congratula­tion, and guru means great. Both words combined, therefore, mean congratulation to the Great God. They also mean that God is marvellous, that is, beyond human comprehension.'

The pandits discussed with him the relative merits of Sanskrit and the vulgar tongue. They said that Sanskrit, which was a written language, was the language of the gods, and Hindi, which was a spoken language, the language of men.

Bhai Gur Das Ji replied, 'The Guru used the spoken language in order to communicate his ideas to men. Sanskrit was merely the language of priests. The current spoken lan­guage had preceded it and will succeed it. Sanskrit only holds an intermediate position. It was the current language Krishan used in his exhortations to Arjan. Whenever any one reads or preaches a Sanskrit discourse, he must explain it in the language of the people. Speech can only be uttered by a being with a body. God has no body, there­fore He speaks no language, nor was Sanskrit composed by Him. It is now found only in books and is therefore a dead language. It is a tree which bears no fruit, while the current language on the contrary is a tree with fruit-bearing branches. The Guru seeing that human life was limited, compiled the Granth Sahib in easy language. Sanskrit is so difficult that a whole life must be spent in acquiring it, wherefore we use the spoken language which children and women can read and understand. It is on this account the Guru has made the spoken language the vehicle for divine instruction. All persons of whatever caste may read it, not like your Sanskrit, a knowledge of which you deny to women and men of low caste.'

It is said that on this the pandits and Sanyasis of Banaras admitted the force of Bhai Sahib's argument and acknowledged them­selves vanquished. After a sojourn of two months in Banaras Bhai Gur Das Ji felt an inclination to return to the Guru and brave his ire.

Bhai Gur Das Ji wrote to Satguru Sri Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji, 'As a tethered calf cries for its dam; as a labourer who desires to go home, but is forced to work for another, passes his time in anxiety ; as a wife detained by her parents and separated from her spouse pines for him, so a Sikh desires happiness at the Guru's feet, but is kept in misery in a foreign land in obedience to his order.'

Guru Ji sent Bhai Jetha and some Sikhs to fetch Bhai Gur Das Ji, but not in the manner in which he had anticipated. Guru Sahib sent by Bhai Jetha a letter to the governor of Banaras to say that Bhai Gur Das had deserted him without his permission, and requested that he might be sent under arrest for punishment.

The governor was astonished on receiving Guru Ji's letter, and said that he knew no thief called Bhai Gur Das, or Guru's servant, but the Guru's messengers might arrest himself and take him to serve the Guru. On this Bhai Gur Das, who had just finished reading Japji Sahib, related to the governor and his staff the whole story of his journey to Kabul, and his flight from there, whereat there was further curiosity and astonishment.

Bhai Gur Das Ji's hands were then tied behind his back, but, at the same time, he was dismissed with great respect by the governor and his people, who fully believed in his innocence.

When the arresting party had proceeded about four miles on their homeward journey, Bhai Jetha Ji unbound Bhai Gur Das Ji, so that he might travel more comfortably. Bhai Gur Das Ji had not requested this favour.

When they arrived near Amritsar Bhai Jetha Ji again bound his prisoner as before for presentation to the king of kings, Satguru Sri Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji Maharaj. Guru Sahib ironically told Bhai Gur Das Ji that he was an excellent Sikh, and made several other cutting observations on his conduct.

Bhai Gur Das replied :—
If a mother poison her son, who is affectionate enough to save him ?
If a sentry break into a house, who is to guard it ?
If a guide take a traveller into a wilderness, to whom shall he complain ?
If a fence devour the field, there will be no one to look after it.
If the Guru become a play-actor and cause his Sikhs to doubt, what can the poor Sikhs do?

Maharaj smiled and pardoned Bhai Gurdas Ji and suggested that he might complete the compositions in which he had been engaged prior to his arrest.