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Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, set up a record for travelling unsurpassed by any of his nine successors. For over twenty years he was continuously on the move He traversed practically every part of India. He also journeyed in several foreign lands including Ceylon, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Arabia. Unlike him his immediate successor Guru Angad Dev remained stationed most of his time at his headquarters, Khadur. The chief reason for that is said to be the festering sore on one of his feet. Unlike him his successor Guru Amar Das was an indefatigable traveler. Before he entered into the discipleship of Guru Angad Dev he had made as many as twenty trips to the Ganga on foot. On some occasions he had even accomplished two trips within the same year. The series finally ended with his shifting over to Khadur Sahib. Henceforth his attention was completely absorbed in the service of Guru Angad Dev. When he ascended the gurgaddi in 1552 A.D., he was already past 70 years and hence somewhat too advanced in age to undertake any long and arduous journeys. All the same, he was not oblivious of the usefulness of missionary tours and despite all difficulties attendant upon old age undertook one long journey and a number of short journeys.

The long journey was undertaken to visit Kurukshetra, the Jamuna and the Ganga. They are all well-known sacred places of the Hindus. Naturally, one may be tempted to ask: what was the Guru's purpose in visiting the Hindu tirathas? The question assumes special importance because he attached no value to pilgrimages. For instance he himself writes:

He in whose heart is the filth of sin,

May wander on pilgrimages through the countries of the world:

Yet, O Nanak, it is only when he associateth with the True Guru

That the obst cles in the terrible ocean shall break for his passage. (Basant Rag, Mahalia 3)

The world is in trouble from the impurity of egoism; The impurity is caused by love of the other.

The impurity of egoism is not washed off, even though a hundred tirath-baths are performed. (Sri Rag, Mahalla 3, Adi Granth, 39)

The self is rendered impure by love of the other.

The impurity of the egoist is enhanced even though he wanders far and wide in the world performing tirathas.

If he serves the True Guru, is dead while alive and ever remembers God,

Only then is his impurity removed.

God is the unalloyed Truth: He who holds it is saved from impurity. (Majh, Mahalla 3, Adi Granth, 116)

This world is impure with egoism.

Even though one performs tirath-bath every day, His egoism remains with him. (Gauri, Mahalia 3, Adi Granth, 230)

The above quotations from Guru Amar Das's own writings should leave no doubt in our minds about his thinking on the subject. According to him the right place of pilgrimage is within one's self and not without. Therefore it is unthinkable that he visited the holy places of Kurukshetra and Hardwar for the sake of pilgrimage.

Sarup Das Bhalla, Santokh Singh and Macauliffe have stated that the journey was undertaken at the instance of Emperor Akbar. For instance, Sarup Das Bhalla1 writes that after the Emperor had dismissed the complaint of the Brahmins and Khatris at his court at Lahore, he made a suggestion to Bhai Jetha for the consideration of Guru Amar Das to this effect:

"Then the King said to Jethaji, 'You accept what I say. Tell Guru ji respectfully that I suggest one thing in great humility. Your love for the Ganga is very great. Also your habit of love is ever salubrious. You visit the Ganga for once and remove the false notions of the foolish people. You are a great saint, unique in the world, a benefactor and lover of the world. These fools do not realize your greatness."

Bhai Vir Singh however finds no substance in the above view and repudiates it on the following grounds:

(i) Both Mehma Prakash and Suraj Prakash are guilty of self-contradiction. On the one hand they state that the pilgrimage was undertaken in compliance with the Emperor's suggestion and on the other that it was intended for public welfare, parupkar (Mehma Prakash Wartak), for the salvation of the world, sansar udharan (Mehma Prakash, p. 146) or for cleansing the filth of sins at centres of pilgrimage (Suraj Prakash, Ras I, Ansu 45).2

(ii) Guru Ram Das has said in categorical words that it was undertaken in the interest of people's good (Tukhari Chhant, Adi Granth, 1116).

The above arguments no doubt carry weight and deserve careful consideration. But there is one big snag in them. Even if we accept them, it may not be possible on their basis alone to rule out the possibility of the original prompting for it having come from the Emperor as affirmed in many of our chronicles. For example, it may be argued with a degree of justification that though the Guru did not believe in the principle of pilgrimage he carried out the suggestion of the Emperor not as a Hindu pilgrim but with a motivation of his own i.e., the idea of bringing the misguided to the right path.

If these arguments alone cannot solve the problem fully, when reinforced by other arguments they may. It is definitely known3 that this journey was undertaken by Guru Amar Das at a time when the pilgrimage tax was yet in vogue. Akbar abolished this tax in 1563 A.D. From this it follows that the time of the journey must be prior to 1563. This should eliminate all possibilities of the journey being inspired by the Emperor because, as discussed earlier, the occasion on which the Emperor is said to have made the suggestion was provided in 1567 when Bhai Jetha appeared before him at Lahore as his Master's nominee to answer the charges levelled by a section of Brahmins and Khatris against Sikhism. For good and obvious reasons it is unbelievable that the complaint of the Brahmins and Khatris could be heard by Akbar before 1563. Prior to that he had visited Lahore only twice, in 1557 and 1560. On both these occasions he was more of an onlooker than of a real wielder of authority, because being a minor he had not yet assumed regal power directly. Secondly, the liberalism of religious views reflected in his disposal of the above complaint appeared after 1563 and not earlier.

The above discussion leads us to the following conclusions:

(i) The journey was not undertaken at the instance of the Emperor.

(ii) It was also not undertaken in the spirit of a Hindu pilgrimage.

(iii) Its underlying purpose was the same as had led Guru Nanak to visit Hindu centres of pilgrimage i.e., to deliver Sikh message to vast crowds of people visiting important religious centres.

The next question to be examined is: what was the year in which Guru Amar Das made his visit to the Hindu tirathas? Kesar Singh Chhibbar has mentioned Samvat 1614 B.K. (1557 A. D.), Giani Gian Singh 1615 B.K. 1558 A.D.) and Giani Thakar Singh 1613 D.K. (1556 A.D .) as its year of occurrence.4 Bhai Jodh5 Singh has put it in 1623 B.K. ( 156 6 A . D.) but on what basis he has arrived at this view has not been explained. Bhai Santokh Singh and Macauliffe are silent about it and so are many other writers, old and new. Bhai Vir Singh has cited the views of Kesar Singh Chhibbar and Giani Gian Singh but gives no clear indication as to what opinion he holds about them though his inclination to agree to them (the difference between the two being just minor) is implied in the manner of his reference to them.

But none of these dates can be taken as correct because none accords with the most authentic evidence available on the subject-the account of Guru Ram Das given in Adi Granth, 1116. The following statement in this account is most significant and deserves to be examined carefully:

ਹਰਿ ਆਪਿ ਕਰਤੈ ਪੁਰਬੁ ਕੀਆ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਕੁਲਖੇਤਿ ਨਾਵਣਿ ਗਇਆ ॥

ਨਾਵਣੁ ਪੁਰਬੁ ਅਭੀਚੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਦਰਸੁ ਭਇਆ ॥੧॥

Dr Balbir Singh6 has rendered these lines into English on the basis of the Faridkot commentary as follows:

This auspicious day was brought into being by the great Creator Himself. It was then that the Satguru had gone to Kurukshetra for bathing. In Kurukshetra on the occasion of Nakshatra Abhijit7 at the auspicious time of bath the congregation drawn from the three worlds had the sight of the revered Satguru Amardas.

Nakshatra has been defined as an asterism in the moon's orbit. There are 28 such Nakshatras occupying relatively fixed positions in the sky and lying in the monthly circumambulatory course of the moon. Nakshatra Abhijit is one of them. The other twenty-seven are as follows :

1. Asvini, 2. Bharani, 3. Krittiki, 4. Rohini, 5. Mrigasira, 6. Ardra, 7. Punarvasu, 8. Pushya, 9. Aslesha, 10. Magha, 11. Purva Phalguni, 12. Uttar Phalguni, 13. Hasta, 14. Chitra, 15. Svati, 16. Visakha, 17. Anuradha, 18. Jyeshtha, 19. Mula, 20. Purva Ashadha, 21. Uttar Ashadha, 22. Sravana, 23. Sravishtha or Dhanishtha, 24. Satabhisaj or Satatarka, 25. Purva Bhadrapada 26, Uttar Bhadra Pada, 27. Revati.

Now let us find out how many solar eclipses occurred during the pontificate of Guru Amar Das, 1552-74. In this connection Swamikannu Pillai's work An Indian Ephemeris8 is most helpful to us. According to it the phenomenon of solar eclipse occurred on the following nineteen occasions:

January 14, 1553, June 18, 1555, November 14, 1555, May 9, 1556, November 2, 1556, October 22, 1557, April 18, 1558, February 26, 1560, August 21, 1560, February 14, 1561, August 10, 1561, December 15, 1563, June 8, 1564, April 9, 1567, September 21, 1568, February 5, 1570, July 21, 1571, January 15, 1572, July 9, 1572.

Out of these 19 there were only two occasions, January 14, 1553 and January I 5, 1572, when the conjunction of Abhijit Nakshatra occurred. From this it follows that it was on one of these two occasions that Guru Amar Das visited Kurukshetra. Of them the second occasion can easily be ruled out because it falls after the abolition of the pilgrimage tax in 1563 whereas the visit was made when this tax was yet in vogue. So there is only one possible date left to us and that is January I 4, 1553, which may be accepted9. All other dates mentioned in this context automatically stand invalidated.

As regards the details of the journey, the most-authentic source, as has already been hinted, is the writing of Guru Ram Das, or Bhai Jetha of those days. He was with the Guru throughout and what he wrote after his return from the trip was based on his personal observations. Here is its English translation10:


During the bath of the Abhichu Purb11 people had sight of the True Guru,

The filth of evil inclinations was cleansed and the darkness of ignorance dispelled.

The ignorance of those who saw the Guru was dispelled and light beamed on their hearts.

The pains of transmigration vanished in a moment, and men obtained God, the imperishable Lord.

God the Creator Himself made this auspicious time, when the True Guru went to the fair at Kulkhet (Kurukshetra).

During the bath of the Abhichu Purb people had sight of the True Guru.


Sikhs travelled with the True Guru on his journey.

Every day, every hour, and every moment service was held;

God's service was held and all people came to behold the Guru.

God blended with Himself those who obtained sight of him.

The True Guru made the toil of pilgrimage in order to save all people;

And Sikhs travelled with the Guru on his journey.


First, the Guru arrived in Kulkhet and his visit made it a real auspicious time.

When it was known, the beings of the three worlds came to behold him.

All the demigods, munis and saints of the three worlds came to behold him.

The sins of those who touched the perfect True Guru were all erased.

Jogis, Digambars12 Sanyasis and men of the six schools conversed with him and made him oJferings.

First the Guru arrived in Kulkhet, and his visit made it a real auspicious time.


Secondly, the Guru proceeded to the Jamuna where he caused people to repeat God's name.

The tax-gatherers met the Guru with offerings and allowed his followers to cross over.

All those in the Guru's train who meditated on God were exempted from toll.

Death the tax-gatherer approacheth not those who walk in the true way according to the Guru's instruction.

Everybody took the Guru's name, and by taking it all the pilgrims were excused toll.

Secondly, the Guru proceeded to the Jamuna where he caused people to repeat God's name.


Thirdly, he went to the Ganges and there was a marvelous scene.

All were entranced on seeing the saintly Guru, and there too no one took half a dam13 from him.

No one paid half a dam or put any money into the toll-box; the toll-collectors~ mouths were sealed.

They said, 'Brethren, what shall we do? Of whom shall we ask? Everyone is escaping under cover of the Guru.'

The toll-collectors by their skill and cleverness saw it was best to close their boxes and go away.

Thirdly, he went to the Ganges, and there was a marvelous scene.


The leading men of the city went in a body and took shelter in the True Guru.

They asked the True Guru concerning God, and he proved His existence from the Smritis.

(He said) The Smritis and Shastras all established God's existence; Sukdev, Prahlad, and Sri Ram uttering God's name meditated on Him.

In the city of the body is the fort of the soul which the five deadly sins would rob, but the Guru hath destroyed their abode.

The Puranas everywhere contain praises of charity, but it is from Guru Nanak's words that God's service is obtained.

The leading men of the city went in a body and took shelter in the True Guru.

The following significant points emerge from the above account of Guru Ram Das:

  1. The visit covered three places, namely, Kurukshetra, the Jamuna and the Ganga.
  2. The visit to Kurukshetra coincided with the solar eclipse occurring during the conjunction of the Abhijit Nakshatra.
  3. The Guru was accompanied by a large number of followers on the trip. As he went along, this number grew larger and larger.
  4. At Kurukshetra there was a long discussion on religious subjects between the Guru on one side and jogis and sanyasis and holy men of other Hindu orders on the other.
  5. The Guru was exempted from the pilgrimage tax. His followers and several other people who joined his party were also not charged anything.
  6. At Hardwar many prominent men of the city came along and had a talk on some important religious issues with the Guru.
  7. The Guru preached the Lord’s Name wherever he went. God's service was held constantly. The result was a marvelous impact on the people all around.

Out of these points, No. 2 has already been discussed at some length and No. 7 is self-evident and needs no elucidation. Regarding the rest of them a few comments seem to be necessary. In regard to No. 1, it may be pointed out that both Kurukshetra and Hardwar have gurdwaras built in honour of the memory of the Guru's visit to these places. One is at Thaneshwar and the other is at Kankhal near Hardwar. There is no shrine, however, marking the spot where the Guru crossed the Jamuna. Even the exact point at which the river was crossed is not yet known. Also, no information is available about the route by which Guru Amar Das and his party travelled from Goindwal to Kurukshetra and then from Kurukshetra to Hardwar. But one may venture a conjecture that the Guru followed for Kurukshetra the Grand Trunk Road on which both Goindwal and Kurukshetra were situated.14 Both Bhai Santokh Singh and Macauliffe have stated that the Guru did not go straight to Kurukshetra but first went to Pehova where he stayed for some days. Pehova too was a sacred place being situated on the bank of the holy river Saraswati. Both of these writers say that, "the Pundits and Brahmins of the place (Pehova) were well pleased to see the Guru and they went and sat in his court."15 Now, if this view is accepted, then in all probability the Guru left the G.T. Road after passing the city of Sirhind and took a side road leading to Kara and Pehova. At the same time, it is possible to say that the visit to Pehova if at all made (because it has not been mentioned by Guru Ram Das), followed the fair at Kurukshetra rather than preceded it.

For the onward journey from Kurukshetra to Hardwar, most probably the much frequented pilgrims route was adopted. On the way the river Jamuna, also of great sanctity to the Hindus, had to be crossed. In the absence of any definite information it is impossible to identify the exact point at which it was done. But following the general hints available in the account of Guru Ram Das, we may hazard the surmise that the place where the Jamuna was forded was also an important place of pilgrimage where tax-gatherers were posted to collect taxes from the visitors. Such a place could well be identified with the present town of Yamuna Nagar, now situated close to Jagadhari. There is no other important place of religious significance, either downwards towards Delhi or upwards, that comes even near it in public estimation. On reaching Hardwar, the Guru was encamped at the place called Kankhal.

The third point refers to the large numbers of people flocking to the Guru in the course of his journey. What were the factors responsible for this phenomenon? Answering this question Macauliffe has given his view as follows16: "It had become publicly known that he and his retinue were exempted from the ordinary pilgrim-tax, so people flocked to him in numbers. They would have a sight of the Guru, they would perform their pilgrimage with singing and music, they would live on the Guru's kitchen, they would be exempted from the pilgrim-tax, they would be protected from robbers and they would have the advantage of bathing with all due ceremonial and observances at the renowned place of pilgrimage." Though broadly acceptable, this view of Macauliffe suffers from two rather serious snags: one, it assumes that the government had granted to the Guru prior exemption from the payment of pilgrim-tax, which is difficult to accept; two, it makes no reference to the importance of the great occasion on which the Guru was proceeding. The fair to be held at Kurukshetra was no ordinary occasion. It was connected with the conjunction of the Abhijit Nakshatra, which takes place after a long span of 19 to 25 years. Therefore, there was great keenness among the people to go on pilgrimage on this occasion. The charisma of the Guru, the deeply spiritual atmosphere surrounding his congregation and the privileges of being associated with his camp furnished strong additional factors of attraction to the people of the areas through which the Guru and his retinue passed.

Regarding the subject at point No. 4, it is clear that the presence of Guru Amar Das at Kurukshetra was a huge draw and vast crowds of pilgrims assembled to behold and listen to him. Among them the most conspicuous were ascetics drawn from different religious denominations and scholars well-versed in various schools of ancient Hindu philosophy. On realizing the great popularity of the Guru's teachings, they held a long discussion17 with him on matters of religion and philosophy. Macauliffe18, on the basis of Suraj Prakash, has mentioned two principal issues discussed between them. One of them related to Sanskrit language versus spoken dialects as the vehicle of spiritual writing and the other pertained to the position of women and Shudras in respect of the sacred Hindu lore. Regarding the first the Guru was asked why he had abandoned Sanskrit and composed hymns in a "vulgar" tongue. The reply of the Guru19 was to the following effect: 'Well-water can only irrigate adjacent land, but rain-water the whole world. On this account the Guru hath composed his hymns in the "vulgar" dialect and enshrined them in the Gurmukhi character so that men and women of all castes and classes may read them. A Brahman protested20: 'Clouds rain on the earth, but is there not water enough in the earth already'? To this the Guru responded, 'There is, it is true, water in the earth, but water only appeareth when the clouds rain.'

The second issue was linked with the first and as a matter of fact emerged from the discussion on it. A Pandit observed that religious instruction ought not to be communicated to everyone, it being forbidden to instruct Shudras and women in the sacred lore. In reply to this the Guru read him a homily on the equality of all created human beings.

The above two points raised by the orthodox Hindus taken together reveal a very critical malady of the then Hindu society. They show, in no uncertain terms, how the Brahmanical priest-hood tried to make their religion a close preserve of a small elite group at the helm of the society. It was a hierarchical structure in which all women and Shudras, constituting the bulk of the population, had been driven beyond the pale of civilization and denied parity with the upper castes and classes in matters of religion and social life. The Sikh Guru's concept of egalitarian society being fundamentally opposed to this kind of social framework was naturally anathema to the champions of the tradition-bound, ritual-infested and caste-ridden Hindu society.

Likewise at Hardwar (sixth point) the Guru was met by a multitude of people. The most prominent among them were the city's leading men who held a long discourse with the Guru. Among the various issues that came under discussion, Macauliffe has highlighted that of varnashram, the matter about which these high-caste people felt most concerned. One of them asked the Guru: "Why he caused the four castes of Hindus to do him homage when he himself did homage to no one" 21. The Guru's reply22 to this was that "Brahmans were already very proud, and if he paid them homage, their pride would only increase the more. And as regards the homage paid to him by the four castes, he remarked that neither he nor his predecessors required it from any one. It was only when the earth overladen with the burden of sin, raised its protest to heaven, that Guru Nanak appeared to point out the easy path of salvation and not to obtain the praise or homage of human beings."

The above reply of the Guru deals with two different aspects, both of which are of great significance. The first dealing with the arrogance of the Brahman was indeed a pointer to the chief cause of all ills in the Hindu-society e.g., caste-pride, contempt for lower castes, scholasticism, social and religious barriers etc. The second point referred to Guru Amar Das's inheritance of the mission of Guru Nanak, which transcended all such barriers and sought to promote the good of all men, irrespective of their caste, creed, social status, occupation and sex.

Guru Ram Das in his account of the discourse at Hardwar makes no direct reference to the aspect of varnashram but concentrates on issues closely linked with the second point. It has been stated by him that when asked about God, Guru Amar Das remarked that the idea of the One God was basic to the ancient Hindu religious texts and that all those people who achieved spiritual realization, such as Ram, Sukhdev and Prahlad, were only able to do so by devotion to God. This simple and straightforward reply indicated that the popular Hindu ideas of worship (by idols or otherwise) of many gods and goddesses or of reincarnation of God had no value in the eyes of the Guru. He held that even the highest avtar like Lord Rama was God's creation and not God Himself. When the Guru was questioned about the importance of charity, an essential part of Hindu karmkand (ritualism), so highly estimated in the Puranas, he observed that what had real value was not charity of the Puranic conception but subjugation of the five evils (lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride) in man and sincere service of God.

It has been mentioned that Guru Amar Das in the course of his onward journey was met by teams of tax-collectors twice23: (i) on the bank of the Jamuna, (ii) at Hardwar (fifth point). But at both of these places nothing was charged from him and his followers. Different explanations have been offered about this phenomenon. Macauliffe, Bhai Santokh Singh and Dr Balbir Singh Dil have stated that the Guru had been granted by the Mughal government prior exemption from the payment of the pilgrim-tax.24 Some others like Giani Kartar Singh Peekhan hold that the Guru refused to pay this unju st tax. Both of these positions are, however, untenable. When the journey was commenced in January 1553, the head of the Delhi Sultanate was Islam Shah, son and successor of the famous Sher Shah Suri. He had come to power in 1545 and continued to rule up to October 1553. There is nothing on record, not even an oral tradition, to show that he had any sort of contact with the panth of Guru Nanak. Similarly, there is no possibility of the view of the Guru refusing to pay the pilgrim-tax being true. For one thing, there is no support for this contention available in any earlier writing. Secondly, it does not quite fit in with the general tenor of the Guru's thinking. It is, in fact, a modern notion being projected back into the past.

The correct position seems to be very much like the one put forth by the writer of Mehma Prakash.25 When the Guru reached the Jamuna, or later, the Ganga, the tax-collectors who had taken contract for collection of tax on condition of payment of a stipulated sum of money to the government, approached him and his followers with a view to realizing the tax. But they were so deeply moved by the holiness of the Guru and the saintly atmosphere around him that of their own free will they decided not to charge anything from him and his followers. Since the code word by which his followers were to be identified was utterance of God's name, a large number of people who were not included among his followers also took advantage of the situation and passed through without having to pay any toll. This was particularly true at Hardwar where the tax-collectors felt so helpless as to wind up their work temporarily and go away.

Let us now turn to the short-distance journeys of the Guru. References are available only to three of them: (i) to Dalla, (ii) to Kasur-Khem Karan and, (iii) to a village not far away from Goindwal. Of these three, the most important was the Guru's visit to Dalla, a village now situated three miles to the east of Lohian railway station in Kapurthala district.26 Originally founded by Bhai Paro, the Sikh congregation of Dalla registered rapid strides and in due course acquired the honour of having 72 prominent Sikhs in its ranks.27 Of them those whose names have been particularly mentioned are Bhai Paro, Lallu, Khana Chhura, Deepa, Malu Shah, Kidara, Prithi Mal, Tulsa, Malhan, Ramu, Ugarsen, Mohan. Mehta, Amru, Gopi, Gangu, Saharu and Bula.28 The Guru had great regards for his Dalla devotees and visited them more than once. Several interesting incidents have been associated with his visits by our chroniclers. Only a few of them are being mentioned here.

Two persons Prithi Mal and Tulsa living at Dalla belonged to the Bhaila caste. When the Guru was at Dalla, they came to see him. They seated themselves beside him and said29 with much familiarity, "Thou and we are of the same caste." The Guru who attached no value to the caste system replied in the words of Guru Nanak:30

Caste hath no power in the next world; there is a new order of beings.

It is the good whose accounts are honoured. (Var Asa, Mahalla I)

"This body," continued the Guru, "is composed of five elements. It is subject to hunger, thirst, joy, sorrow, birth and death. It perisheth, and no caste goeth with the soul to the next world. They who are honoured and exalted in God's court are those whose minds are humble, who have renounced falsehood, fraud, slander, deceit, hypocrisy and ingratitude and who have repeated the Name and benefited others. If the high caste on which people plume themselves in this life be not recognized in the next, of what advantage is it? The Guru recognizeth no caste."

Similarly, on another occasion Ramu, Deepa and Ugarsen came to see the Guru and asked him,31 "We are all householders. How can we be saved?" The Guru replied, "Every day keep company with the good for a short time, ponder the Guru's writings and utter the Name." On this one of them said, "Will a short time suffice?" The Guru citing the example of a boat remarked, "If it remains a few inches above the water level, it will cross over but if it does not, it will be sunk. The same is true of householders. If they are completely engrossed in worldliness, there is no hope for them but if on the other hand they can transcend it, even for a short time, they will be saved."

Another batch visiting the Guru consisted of Mohan, Ramu, Mehta, Amru and Gopi. They prayed to the Guru to cut off their bonds of attachment. The Guru advised them to be humble, tolerant, and well-disposed towards all people who came in contact with them. He told them, "Egoism is the root cause of all evils. The only remedy for this is remembrance of the Lord's Name (nam simran)."

Two persons living in Dalla, Gangu and Saharu, used to worship graves, smadhs, cremation points and the dead. When they came to see the Guru, they were advised to give up worship of the dead and to undertake service of the living. Similar lessons of social service were read to Khana Chhura, Malhan and Saharn (washerman).

One of the people who waited upon the Guru at Dalla was a Brahman, Bula by name. According to Macauliffe,32 he laid before the Guru a scheme for the compilation of the Guru's hymns and mooted the question of remuneration for his labour. The Guru replied, "Make a careful collection of the Guru's hymns and give it to the Sikhs in God's name. If anyone offers thee money, accept it for thy maintenance but beg not and great shall be thy gain." Bhai Vir Singh's version of this story33 is however different from this. He writes that the Brahman complained to the Guru that as he was a Pandit, nobody was willing to be served by him. Therefore, he could not do any social service as was enjoined by the Guru. The Guru told him to write out the hymns of the Gurus and to distribute them among the needy Sikhs without asking for any remuneration. However, he could accept money if it was offered to him voluntarily. He could also render service by explaining the meaning of the Guru's hymns to the people.

Another short-distance journey undertaken by the Guru was to Kasur and Khem Karan which lay to the west of Goindwal. Both are important places nowadays. Before partition (1947) both were in the province of undivided Punjab but now Kasur is in Pakistan and Khem Karan in India. The purpose of the Guru's journey to these places was obviously missionary. When the Guru approached the city of Kasur, it being the summer season, he set up his camp in a garden belonging to a Khatri of the Puri branch. As soon as the proprietor of the garden came to know of this, he objected to the Guru's staying in his garden. In the words of Macauliffe,34 he spoke to this effect: "I know the Guru; he is a Khatri of the Bhalla tribe. "Only yesterday he lived in Basarke, and today he is Guru. He hath attached to him men of all castes, high and low. They sit in a line and eat with him and with one another. If he chooses to be a Guru of outcastes, he can please himself but I will not allow him to approach my dwelling." Hearing these haughty-remarks, the Guru left the garden immediately. When he was in search of a new camping site, a poor Patban inhabitant of the place approached him and offered his services to him. The Guru was mighty pleased with him and blessed him (so goes the tradition) with sovereignty of Kasur.35 After staying there for some days, the Guru returned to Goindwal delivering his message of love, humility, and service through the countryside.

On another occasion, the Guru paid a brief visit to a village not far removed from Goindw31. When he was talking to the villagers, the headman of the village felt greatly impressed and sent for pen and ink for recording the Guru's words. This evoked the following reply from the Guru:

"Why send for pen and ink. Write my words in thy heart. If thou ever abide in the love of God, thine affection shall never be sundered from Him. Pens and inkpots shall perish-what they write shall go with them. Nanak, but the love of the True One which He bestoweth from the beginning shall not perish.”

On being asked what should be their attitude toward s those who harassed them, the Guru gave the reply as under:36

"The Guru will assist him who hath endurance; God is patient and patiently rewardeth. If anyone ill-treat you, bear it. If you bear it three times, God Himself will fight for you the fourth time, and extirpate your enemies."

This brings us to the end of Guru Amar Das's yatras. He might have made a few more short trips but in the absence of evidence we are not in a position to say anything definite regarding this aspect. However, it may be mentioned that the third Guru carried much further the work begun by his Master, Guru Angad Dev. As the result of his travels, Sikhism took its deep roots in the Majha territory, particularly in that portion of it which lay immediately to the north of the river Satluj and spread down to the precincts of Kasur and Khem Karan. The foundation had thus been laid on which later Gurus were able to raise a remarkable superstructure subsequently.


1. Mehma Prakash, p. 141.

2. They are also guilty of another self-contradiction. On the one hand they state that the journey was intended for the welfare of people and on the other they depict it as a pilgrimage. For illustration see Mehma Prakash, pp. 146-151.

3. See Guru Ram Das's account of it in Adi Granth, 1116-1117.

4. Bansavli Nama, p. 33; Twarikh Guru Khalsa (quoted in Bhai Vir Singh).

S. Life of Guru Amar Das Ji, Tracts No. 14 and IS (17 July 1919).

6. The Punjab Past and Present, October 1974-art: Date of the visit of Guru Amar Das to Kurukshetra.

7. The word abhichu occurring in the said composition of Guru Ram Das is the Punjabi equivalent of the Sanskrit abhijit and Prakrit abhijit.

8. ibid., Vol. V, pp. 308-51.

9. For details see the article of Dr Balbir Singh published in Punjab Past and Present, October 1974, pp. 342-345.

10. For this I am mostly indebted to Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. H, pp. 112-114.

11. The significance of this special religious festival has been explained earlier.

12. They are Jain saints who go about stark naked.

13. It was a well-known copper coin of the Mughal period. Forty Dams made one Mughal Rupia, a silver coin which had a weight of 172 grains during the time of Emperor Akbar. (Ashraf, K.M., Life and Condition of the people of Hindustan (New Delhi, 1969) p. 289)

14. We have definite evidence that the Mughal Emperors followed this road when they travelled from Delhi to Lahore. For instance, in 1567 Akbar left Lahore on 23 March 1567 and was at Thaneshwar (Kurukshetra) in April 1567.

15. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 109.

16. ibid.

17. Mehma Prakash, p. 148.

18. Macauliffe, Vol. II, op. cit., p. 109.

19. ibid., pp. 109-110.

20. ibid., p. 110. In this allegory the water in the earth refers to the recondite Sanskrit literature; the water from the clouds to the Guru's instruction which is continually poured down for the benefit of the world.

21. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 112. Mehma Prakash (p. 152) has also referred to this point.

22. ibid., p. 112. According to Mehma Prakash (p. 153) the Guru's reply was: "You Pandits, you only depend on scholarship. You are ignorant of devotion to the Guru (Gurmehma). Only he knows it practices devotion."

23. There is no reference to the Guru meeting any tax post at Kurukshetra. The absence of any such indication is a mystery which cannot be solved until some fresh evidence comes to light concerning this matter.

24. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 109. "It had become publicly known that he (the Guru) and his retinue were exempted from the pilgrim tax." Dr Dil, op. cit., p. 45.

25. Life of Sri Guru Amar Das (Punjabi) , p. 57. Mehma Prakash writes (p. 149) in connection with the crossing of the Jamuna:

Getting the news, tax-gatherers came to the Guru,

The holy sight overwhelmed them;

They got lost to themselves;

The entire congregation followed the Guru;

Not a single dam was put into the chest;

The Guru's sight had induced kindness in their hearts.

Regarding Hardwar it says (p. 152):

All tax-gatherers arrived for the holy sight;

By the sight their hearts were filled with love;

They collected tax from no one;

At the sight of the Guru they became submissive.

26. Mehma Prakash, p. 131, footnote 3.

27. Ibid., p. 126; Bhai Vir Singh, op. cit., p. 159.

28. Bhai Vir Singh, op. cit., pp. 161-164.

29. Macauliffe, Vol. II, op. cit., p. 84.

30. Ibid.

31. Bhai Vir Singh, op. cit., pp. 162-163.

32. Macauliffe, Vol. II, op. cit., p. 85.

33. Bhai Vir Singh, op. cit., pp. 164.

34. Macauliffe, Vol. II, op. cit., p. 75.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid., p. 70.