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From Delhi to Benaras

After the death of Mohammed Tughlaq in 1412 A.D. Delhi was without a royal Master. Such government as existed was conducted by the Afghan Amir Daulat Khan Lodhi1, who had by now become a disciple of Guru Nanak. Daulat Khan Lodhi, however, did not assume the insignia of kingship. Khizar Khan Saiyad seized power by overthrowing Daulat Khan Lodhi in 1451 A.D. Bahlol Lodhi, who was born posthumously in extraordinary circumstances, succeeded his uncle and father-in-law in the fief of Sirhind. The entire area covering Dipalpur, Lahore, Panipat, and Sirhind was under his control. He ascended the throne of Delhi in 1451 A.D.2

Assumed or real Bahlol was a man of extremely simple habits. “In social meetings”, says the author of Turikhe Daudi ,” he never sat on the throne and would not allow his nobles to stand; and even during public audience he did not occupy the throne but seated himself upon the carpet.” He maintained brotherly intercourse with all his chiefs and nobles. If anyone was ill, he would himself go and attend on him.3 He was succeeded in 1488 by his third son, Nizam Khan, under the title of Sikander Shah Lodhi.

Sikander Shah Lodhi (1489-1517 A.D.) was born of a Hindu mother, and was anxious to marry a Hindu princess. His attitude towards a vast majority of his subjects appear to be rather baffling and inexplicable, for it was bound to prejudice the realization of his political aims. However, his regard for the wellbeing of his subjects, his benevolence and love for justice ushered an era of peace and prosperity in which trade and agriculture flourished. Grains and other goods were available in such abundance that a man of moderate means could also live in comfort. The cultivation of the arts of peace by happy and contented minds brought about a cultural renaissance which transcended commercial barriers. The Sultan was a poet himself, and his bounteous appreciation of learning attracted scholars from distant lands to his court, where they received every encouragement.

Bigotry was his chief weakness, and he hated the Hindus bitterly. Even as a prince he had been dissuaded from raiding the Hindu tanks at Thanesar by a verdict of the famous divine, Mian Abdulla of Ajhodhan who had also ruled against the demolition of non-Muslims places of worship. Sikander, as a king, frequently razed the temples to the ground and erected mosques and public utility buildings in their places. This is illustrated by his behaviour at Mandril, Utgir and Narwar. At Mathura he prevented the Hindus from bathing at their sacred ghats or having themselves shaved. The stones of broken images of Hindu idols brought from Nagarkot were given to butchers to be used as weights. He imprisoned and tortured Kabir. In conformity to his opposition to idolatry, Sikander stopped some of the semi-idolatrous practices that had grown up among Muslims also, such as the visits of the tombs of the saints by Muslim women and carrying of taziana during Muharram. That he was ready at one stage to destroy even the beautiful mosque built by the Sharqi kings in order to obliterate the memory of his foes, but was held back by the ulemas, shows that the occasional fury of his temper did contribute to his intolerance.4

Guru Nanak and Emperor Sikander Shah Lodhi

Guru Nanak was twenty when Sikander Shah Lodhi came to the throne and he was thirty-four when he set out on his first Punjab tour. Two years later, at the age of thirty-six or so, he set out for his eastern tour in the year 1505 A.D. along with his bard, Mardana, his devoted servant, Bhai Bala, and a few more disciples.5 On the Baisakhi festival of the year 1505 he was at Hardwar. Sometime in May he was at Kurukshetra. In June 1505 or thereabout he reached Delhi.

Guru Nanak camped on the outskirts of Delhi, in a garden now situated on the Grand Trunk Road, outside Sabzimandi. People flocked in large numbers to pay homage to the new prophet, who delivered sermons in music and poetry. They not only began to worship Guru Nanak, and brought precious offerings for him, but bestowed countless gifts on his bard Mardana wherever he went. Guru Nanak distributed all the offerings he received among the poor and the needy. The garden in which he rested became a shrine, and a haven of peace for pilgrims and wayfarers. The man to whom the garden belonged changed it into Guru Nanak’s shrine. The highway travelers rested here in the summer heat, and were served with cold water from the well, and food from the kitchen. Guru Nanak appointed one of his devotees as the missionary in charge of the shrine which later came to be known as Nanak Piyao (shrine of slaking thirst). Here Guru Nanak slaked the thirst of many wanderers in the wilderness.6

One day Guru Nanak saw the owners of an elephant crying over the dead animal. The Master pointed out that the elephant was not dead, and he helped them to revive the apparently dead elephant. A few days later Emperor Sikander Shah came to know that a non-Muslim fakir, who had won the admiration of all the Hindu and Muslim divines of Delhi had brought a dead elephant to life. When one of his elephants died, he sent for Guru Nanak and ordered him to bring to life the dead animal. Nanak refused to do so. He was immediately imprisoned. Guru Nanak’s life in the Emperor’s prison and his deep sympathy for the suffering prisoners, had a great moral and spiritual influence on the prison officials. They informed the Emperor that Guru Nanak was not an idolater and he possessed some unusual spiritual influence.7 On July 3, 1505, when Guru Nanak was probably still in Sikander Lodhi’s prison, a great earthquake shook the capital. It was in fact so terrible, writes the chronicler, that mountains were overturned, and lofty edifices were dashed to the ground: the living thought that the day of judgment had come, and the dead the day of resurrection8. Coming events did cast their shadows in advance in these terrible portents. Many thought that the new fakir, Nanak, who had been imprisoned by the Emperor, had cursed the king and the empire. This or some equally frightening event, or perhaps, the strong intercession of the Sufi saints of Chisti Order, who had strong influence on the court, shook the mind of the Emperor, and he sought the Master’s forgiveness. On Guru Nanak’s request all prisoners were released.9

Majnu, the Recluse

Majnu Tilla Sahib
On the banks of Jamuna, there rested a Muslim fakir, who lived a lonely life of prayer and penitence. The vigils and fasts which he kept made him so thin and his yearning for a glimpse of God made him so mad after the unknown Beloved that people called this Muslim fakir by the name of Majnu, the Persian lover, whose name became symbolic of the intense love in the marriage of romance and mysticism in Sufi literature. When Guru Nanak went to him Majnu achieved the supreme enlightenment and he became a devout disciple of the Guru10. His hermitage, situated on the banks of Jamuna, came to be known as Majnu-ka-Tilla.11 The grand personality of Majnu attracted many people and his spirituality and dedication to Guru Nanak made his shrine an outstanding missionary centre of Sikh faith. Many Sufis, yogis, bairagis, and saints of Delhi came to Guru Nanak and held spiritual discourses with him, conspicuous among those who came to pay homage and were deeply influenced by Guru Nanak, was the sajjadanishin of Nizamuddin Auliya.12 From Delhi Guru Nanak moved on to Pilibhit, where there was one of the most important centres of Kanpattayogis of Gorakh Nath school of thought.

Gorakhmata Becomes Nanakmata

A festival to commemorate the memory of Shiva was being held at Gorakhmata, a place twenty miles from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh. All the Yogis were trekking their way to Gorakhmata. Prominent yogis of various schools had reached the place to show their feats and powers of yoga and establish their supremacy among the yogis. Guru Nanak also reached the place with his disciples. He sat under a tree the leaves of which were very dry. It is said that the leaves of the tree turned green during Guru Nanak’s stay there.13

The divine personality of Guru Nanak attracted everyone’s attraction. The leader of the Yogi's named Bharathari tried to show occult powers to impress Guru Nanak. But at night when a severe storm came they were surprised to find that the fires of all the yogis were extinguished, while the fire of Nanak was still burning. Some yogis tried to uproot the tree under which Guru Nanak was sitting with their occult powers. Guru Nanak raised his hand to undo their occult powers, and tht yogis could not perform the contemplated feat. Legend has it, that the leaves of this tree assumed the shape of the hand. This distinguishing feature of the leaves which a skeptical eye may not read as the impression of the hand is still there.14

AI] the leading yogis then hoisted their flag in front of Guru Nanak’s camp, challenging him either to accept the superiority of yoga and its powers and become their disciple or defeat them by showing the superiority of his ideals, in which case they would lower their flag and become their disciples and even hand over the historical place to him. Guru Nanak accepted the challenge and raised his own flag symbolising his faith in the Word of God.15 We do not know what type of a flag it was.

The debate started. Guru Nanak first answered their questions. Then he started his counterattack giving his views about the yoga practices of Gorakhnath School in the light of his own knowledge and experience of truth. He said:

Yoga lies not in wearing a patched coat,

Nor in staff nor in besmearing the body with ashes: Yoga consists not in wearing earrings,

Nor in shaving the head clean.

Theire is no yoga in blowing the horn.

Amidst temptations abide in God;

This is the true path of yoga.

Toga lies not in mere talk and discussions',

He who sees the one in all.

And sees all as equal,

Know him to be a true yogi.

Toga is not achieved outside oneself In the cremation grounds and grave-yards;

You find no yoga in drug-strophied minds.

Nor by wandering to places of pilgrimages.

Verily the practise of yoga is this :

To die to one's self  while living,

To hear the unstruck music within,

Without the blowing of the horn

And to reach the spiritual stage of fearlessness]

Amidst temptations abide in God.

This will lead you to true yoga.

(Guru Nanak; Rag Suhi p. 730)

After hours of discussion Guru Nanak’s philosophy and mysticism of the Word (sabad) overpowered the occult yoga of the siddhas. Some notorious yogis continued to play some tricks with their occult powers but their attempt to belittle the powers of Guru Nanak rebounded on them like a boomerang. The elder yogis were so deeply impressed that they bagged the Guru to initiate them as their disciples and continue to stay there as their leader. Guru Nanak initiated most of them as his disciples. All the yogis being serious seekers of truth, were so intensely influenced by Guru Nanak’s sahajya yoga (natural yoga or yoga without self-mortification) that they now changed the age old name of their shrine from Gorakhmata to Nanakmata, the shrine of Guru Nanak’s faith.

A few yogis who wished to enjoy the Master’s company followed him in his itenerary. Guru Nanak camped under a soapnut tree, about twenty miles from Nanakmata. When Mardana and some yogis felt hungry, Guru Nanak asked them to take some soapnuts from the branch under which they were sitting. Soapnuts are generally very bitter but they found those soapnuts to be sweet. Anxious to carry such rare specimens of soapnuts with him, a yogi climbed the tree and started plucking the soapnuts. When he tasted some of them he found them to be very bitter. To his surprise he found that only the soapnuts of the branch under which the Master was sitting had turned sweet. Upt o this day this historic tree grows sweet soapnuts on the branch under which Guru Nanak sat and bitter soapnuts on other branches.16

Guru Nanak at Ayudhia and Benaras

On the way to Benaras, Guru Nanak stopped for a few days at first at Allahabad and then at Ayudhia. The pundits of Ayudhia gathered around Nanak and asked him to define the true Guru. “Broadly speaking,” said Guru Nanak, “there are three types of gurus. One type is the pundit-guru, who had knowledge but no spirituality. They preach a lot but practise nothing. Whoever meets them gets some knowledge but no spiritual enlightenment or peace of mind. It is like the learned blind leading the ignorant blind. The second type of guru is the yogi-guru. He is a practical man who abandons himself to innumerable yogic practices but lacks knowledge of higher spiritual life. They are sometimes able to liberate their own souls, but they are not able to liberate others or show the true path to others. The yogi-gurus are the anti-thesis of the pundit-gurus, as they lack knowledge. Like a cripple, they may swim across a river but they cannot save others.17 The third type is the sage-guru (maha- purush-guru) who have knowledge and spiritual wisdom. They practise what they preach. They are able to impart divine light to others. They are the true saviours of the world.18

The pundits of Ayudhya asked Guru Nanak: “Master, some people become monks, others perform severe penance and practise self-mortification, still others keep fast, and wander in forests and go to places of pilgrimages. Will they ever attain peace and enlightenment?”19 “All these efforts,” said Guru Nanak, “when used as an end in themselves, misdirect the energies of man and he wanders away from true spirituality and enlightenment. The highest enlightenment is attained by the Word of God. Whoever contemplates the Name of God attains the sublimest spiritual state.20

Guru Nanak at Benaras

Guru Nanak then went to Benaras where he first rested in a place now called Guru Nanak’s Sangat. The Benaras of his times, as it is now, was a labyrinth of streets which linked temple to temple and which in themselves were thickly strewn with shrines and altars. In every shrine, divinity was honoured in a special way and from a special aspect. The images that were worshipped and adored ranged from the image of Shiva and Ganesha, the elephant headed protector of earthly success.

Leading pundits came to show their theological and metaphysical wisdom. Chaturdas, the scholar who was adept in all branches of knowledge wondered why Guru Nanak had given up the Hindu way of life. His holy garb was unlike that of any Hindu sect. He did not worship or carry any stone-god. He did not wear the necklace of sacred basil. Guru Nanak replied :

O Brahmin, of what use is the worship of stone-god?

Why display your piety by wearing necklace of sweet basil?

Why waste your water by irrigating barren lands?

Why try to plaster a frail mud wall? Such is idolatry.

Make the Name of God thy raft of salvation.

Seek the mercy of the Compassionate one.

(Guru Nanak: Basant p. 1171)

Guru Nanak asked Chaturdas to turn inward for the indwelling spirit of God resides within the heart of man. No external aid is necessary for reaching it. Faith, purity of mind, and spiritual effort reveal Him within us. Chaturdas and innumerable other Hindus of Benaras gave up idolatry and became the initiated disciples of the Guru.21 Guru Nanak established his church there which is still known as Guru Nanak’s Sangat. It became a very important centre of missionary work and remained so during the lifetime of his successors. According to Meharban’s Janam Sakhi, Guru Nanak met a Raja named Hari Nath to whom he preached about the virtues of silence and action.22 Raja Hari Nath was so deeply influenced by the spirituality of Guru Nanak that he was prepared to renounce the world. Guru Nanak said to him, “Listen Hari Nath, I do not want you to renounce your kingdom and become a beggar. I shall be happy if you achieve the supreme spiritual state while doing your duty as a ruler. Contemplate the Name of God and rule the people with justice and compassion. My blessings are with you . You will attain liberation while doing your duty as a ruler of this state.23

Did Guru Nanak Meet Kabir?

At Benaras Guru Nanak must have met some prominent successors of Kabir, from whom he acquired the earliest and most authentic writings of Kabir, which were preserved by the second and third Guru in the form of early recensions named Bant pothis (Books of Hymns), from which the Adi Granth was subsequently compiled by Guru Arjan. It is highly doubtful that he ever met Kabir. Before we come to any conclusion it would be worthwhile to study the historical evidence available. There are only three historical records which vaguely suggest that Guru Nanak met Kabir :

(1) Meharban's Janam Sakhi (seventeenth century). This Janam Sakhi was condemned by Guru Arjan as extremely misleading.24 Apostle Bhai Gurdas criticised the author, his father, and their followers as Mincis (high-way robbers). They were called highway robbers because they plagiarated and pirated the hymns of the Gurus by producing their distorted versions in their own name, and they also misappropriated the national wealth of the Sikh community and set up rival guruship. After a close study of this Janam Sakhi I find that it provides very useful information on Guru Nanak’s stay at Sultanpur, but it tends to differ from other Janam Sakhls on all other historical events, and replaces them from imaginary and fanciful stories. After every four or five chapters he takes Nanak to heavens and records lengthy imaginary dialogues between God and Guru Nanak. So it is doubtful whether the dialogue given between Nanak and Kabir by Meharban is historical. It may be imaginary like many such dialogues recorded between God and Nanak. We will examine Meharban’s statement in the light of near contemporary historical records.

According to Meharban’s Janam Sakhi, when Guru Nanak reaches Benaras, Kabir comes to meet him and Guru Nanak stands up to receive the great saint. The following dialogue between them is reported by Meharban.

Kabir: Good God, please be seated. I am not so great that a man of your eminence should stand up to receive me.25

Nanak: When a god comes, how can one remain seated?26

Kabir: O no, no; thou art a jagat-guru (world- teacher) and I am thy slave.27

Nanak : Blessed am I that I have met you.

Kabir: Thou hast been sent to save the world, O Nanak.

Nanak: I am not worried about the world. All I wish is that I may not forget God.

Kabir: Yet the world will acknowledge you as the supreme prophet.

Nanak : O Kabir, thou serveth God. Thy deeds are truthful, thy mind is one with the pure Being (nirahjan).

Kabir: From whom did you receive the divine light? Who is your Guru?

Nanak: I met the perfect Being, the supreme Person and embodiment of Truth and have received enlightenment from Him. It is only a perfect Guru, illumined by God, who can save the world. Guru Nanak and Kabir greeted each other and parted.

Meharban, however, suggests that Kabir accepted Nanak as the Jagat-guru (world-teacher), and a prophet spiritually far exalted than him. He does not even vaguely suggest that Kabir was the guru of Nanak.

According to Meharban, Guru Nanak left for his missionary tour in 1506 A.D. If the first Punjab tour took him about a year then he must have reached Benaras in 1507 or 1508 A.D. The generally accepted dates of death of Kabir are 1492 A.D., and 1498 A.D. Kabir as a disciple and contemporary of Ramananda could have lived upto the year 1506—1508 A.D., only if we accept the total age of Kabir to be over 150 years, which no historian believes.

In another chapter Meharban seriously contradicts himself. When Guru Nanak reaches Ayudhya, the Bhaktas Jaidev, Kabir, Ravidas, Namdev, Trilochan, and Sain descend from heaven to pay homage to Guru Nanak, the saviour of the world. He takes them to be dead and living in heaven, and they all descend to the earth in their astral bodies.28 After describing Guru Nanak’s discourse with Kabir at Benaras, Meharban takes Guru Nanak to heaven (sachkhand) and describes a lengthy dialogue between God and Guru Nanak, which closely resembles his imaginary dialogue between Nanak and Kabir. So in this Janam Sakhi, at times, it is difficult to say where history ends and a legend begins.

(2) Gyan Singh's Tawirikh Guru Khalsa: late nineteenth century) Gyan Singh also says that Kabir met Guru Nanak at Benaras. His source of information is “Nanak Prabodh” alleged to be written by Dharam Das, a disciple of Kabir. It is doubtful whether Dharam Das ever wrote such a book. Dharam Das stayed at Kashi for a very short period and it is doubtful if ever he was an eye witness to this episode. The first serious error which Gyan Singh makes is, that he says, that Namdev also was at this time at Benaras, and came along with Kabir to meet Nanak. All biographers of Namdev are definite about Namdev’s year of birth as 1270 A.D., which is recorded in Namdev’s own writings and his date of death as 1350 A.D., for which there is overwhelming historical evidence.29

The meeting between Nanak and Kabir is described by Gyan Singh as follows: “When Nanak went to meet Kabir at Kashi (Benaras), the saint had gone to Raghunathpura to meet his disciple Bijli Khan. So when Guru Nanak set out from Benaras to meet Kabir, the saint left Raghunathpura to meet Nanak. Both of them met at the village Pusa in the Katrik 1558 B.S. October 1501 A.D. They held illuminating spiritual discussion and stayed together for seven days at Pusa.30

The only source of information on Bijli Khan is the Archaeological Survey of India, according to which Bijli Khan was the Nawab of Maghar and a great devotee of the saint. After the death of Kabir he built a cenotaph at Maghar in 1450 A.D. on which the date of death of Kabir is recorded as 1448 A.D. (1505 B.S.) Nawab Fidai Khan repaired it in the year 1667 A.D. In view of these established historical facts the statement of Gyan Singh, alleged to be based on the basis of “Nanak Prabodh” by Dharam Das, that Bijli Khan belonged to Raghunathpura and that Kabir met Nanak at Pusa in 1501 A.D. is extremely doubtful.

Handaliya’s Janam Sakhi (eighteenth century) Handal was a disciple and missionary of Guru Amar Das. His descendants who continued missionary work became very corrupt in the third and fourth generation. Their characterless activities were resented by the Sikhs so much, that the Khalsa panth disowned them, and condemned them as the enemy of the Guru (guru-drohi). This is the word used for them by Bhai Mani Singh in his letter to Guru Gobind Singh’s wife, Mata Sundari, immediately after the arrest of Baba Banda. They were instrumental in the mass massacre of Sikh people including women and children.31 They were the first who started propagating that Kabir was the guru of Guru Nanak, and they concocted stories to prove that Nanak was a humble sinner compared to Kabir and introduced imaginary dialogues and stories to every Janam Sakhi they could get hold of. It became difficult for the masses to distinguish between an authentic and corrupted Janam Sakhi.

Westcot and most of the Hindi writers have used only the Handaliya Janam Sakhis of Guru Nanak to prove that Kabir was the guru of Nanak.32 They have never referred to any other historical record. To give importance to this story they have even dismissed the idea that Kabir ever met Ramanand, although there is overwhelming evidence to this effect.33

The Handaliyas corrupted every copy of Bala’s Janam Sakhi and Bhai Mani Singh’s Janam Sakhi, they could lay their hands on. That is why all old manuscript copies of these Janam Sakhis differ from the later versions. The older the manuscript the less corrupt it is. A scholar who takes pains to make a comparative study of these old manuscripts of Janam Sakhis can very easily detect the amount of distortion and the methods of falsification adopted by these sworn enemies of the Sikh faith.

When Kavi Santokh Singh started writing his monumental work, “Nanak Prakash”, in the year 1835 A.D., he was so pained by the extent of corruption and distortion these Janam Sakhis had suffered, that he warned the readers of his biography not to accept every Janam Sakhi as genuine. He says, “A descendant of Handal turned out to be Rahu, the evil genius amongst gods, who was responsible for contaminating amrita (nectar of gods) and causing dark spots of eclipse on the moon. They threw the original copies of Bala’s Janam Sakhis into the river and popularised the copies prepared by these evil mongers. The Sakhis (stories) added by them, says Kavi Santokh Singh were like flies in a milk pudding.34 So Kavi Santokh Singh tried hard to sift truth from falsehood. It is this Janam Sakhi of the Handaliyas, miscalled Bala’s Janam Sakhi by Karm Singh, which is generally made the basis of the theory that Nanak accepted Kabir as his guru. No old manuscript copy of Bala’s Janam Sakhi known so far, nor even the litho-print copies, ever mention that Nanak accepted Kabir as his guru. In his book “Katik ke Baisakh” Karam Singh throughout quotes the Handaliyas Janam Sakhis, and on the basis of shocking quotations from it condemns all versions of Bala’s Janam Sakhi, which he actually never quotes. The highly objectionable quotations given by him are not to be found in any known Bala’s Janam Sakhis. Most of the Hindi writers who have written studious literary works on Kabir have accepted the erroneous facts quoted by Westcot, without referring to any authentic record of Sikh history. Thus the historical documents which state that Nanak and Kabir met at Benaras and the Sikh guru accepted Kabir as his guru are highly unconvincing, and self-contradictory.

Historical Records Which Prove that Kabir and Guru Nanak Never Met

(1) Guru Amar Das (1479—1574 A.D.) was only ten years younger than Guru Nanak. Born in an orthodox Vaishnava family, he went to Hardwar, Benaras and other Hindu places of pilgrimages before he met his spiritual preceptor, Guru Angad, the second guru of the Sikhs He did not meet Kabir at Benaras probably because Kabir was not living, and he did not meet Nanak probably because his orthodox Vaishnava sentiments prevented him from meeting the great prophet who was known for breaking the barriers of his ancestral religion and was liberal enough to welcome Muslim disciples and manners. But it was God’s will that he should be the third successor of Guru Nanak, and receive divine illumination from his immediate successor. Guru Amar Das refers to Kabir as a historical figure of the past:

Namdev, the tailor, Kabir, the weaver

Acquired enlightenment. From the perfect guru.

They understood the Word, They had knowledge of God;

They gave up pride and caste prejudice. Men and angels sing their hymns;

Immortal is their spirit.35

(Guru Amar Das, Sri Rag, p. 67)

Thus, even to Amar Das, who was almost as old as Nanak, Kabir was a historical figure of the past like Namdev. Even after becoming the third Guru of the Sikhs he went to Benaras, Allahabad and saints of all sects paid homage to him. Guru Amar Das5 knowledge of Kabir is no doubt first hand as it is acquired from the immediate successors of the saint. It is Guru Amar Das who compiled the earliest manuscripts of the hymns of his predecessors and of saints like Kabir called Bani-pothis, of which only two are available now, on the basis of which Guru Arjan compiled the Adi Granth. No wonder that the majority of the hymns found in Adi Granth are not found in any Benaras collection of Kabir’s writings. There is a clear indication in the Adi Granth that Nanak and Kabir are historically apart.36

(2) Guru Ram Das (1534—1581) was five years old when Guru Nanak died. At the age of twenty- five or so lie accompanied Guru Amar Das to Benaras and Agra. Earlier he represented Sikhism in the court of Akbar when someone created a suspicion in the mind of the Emperor that the Sikh Gurus were corrupting both Hinduism and Islam. Many people who met Guru Nanak during his visit to Allahabad might still be living. At least those who were in their thirties when Guru Nanak visited Benaras would at that time be in their sixties.

Guru Ram Das mentions the name of Kabir twice in his writings along with other pre-Nanak saints, and he does so in the context which clearly suggests that Guru Ram Das does not acknowledge Kabir to be a contemporary of Guru Nanak. To show that the Sikh movement, which also has the contemplation of divine Name as the basis of its practical mysticism, is spiritually connected with similar movements in the past, Guru Ram Das mentions the names of prominent Bhaktas of the pre-Nanak era, who achieved the highest mystic state. The names he mentions are Jaideva, Namdeva, Trilochan, Kabir and Ravidas None of these saints ever met Guru Nanak on the physical plane and none of them is considered associated with Guru Nanak as guru or disciple. Referring to Kabir among the fore-runners of Guru Nanak’s school of thought. Guru Ram Das writes:

In the dark age of Kali, The substance of divine Name,

Has liberated many saints', Saved were Jaidev and Namdev,

Saved were Trilochan and Kabir, Saved was even the cobbler Ravidas.37

(Guru Ram Das, Maru p. 995)

Brahmins , kshatriyas, vaisyas and sudras, All were liberated on meeting the saint',

Saved were Jaidev, Kabir and Trilochan, And even the chandala Ravidas, a cobbler Was saved in association with the Saint.38

(Guru Ram Das : Bilawal p. 845)

(3) Guru Arjan (1563—1606 A.D.) Guru Arjan refers to the precursors of Guru Nanak in the following hymn. He describes the fundamental virtue and quality of each saint and in the end tells us that Guru Nanak was not a mere saint like Kabir, Jaidev, Namdev and others, but illumined from birth and as such an embodiment of His Light. He says:

Dhanna served God in child-like innocence, Trilochan became a siddha on meeting a guru;

Beni was enlightened by his guru, O mind be thou a servant of God.

Jaidev renounced all egoism, Sain, the barber, was liberated by serving God;

O mind, wander not in wilderness. Kabir contemplated Him with single minded devotion, Namdev remembered God ever in his heart;

Ravidas worshipped the wonderful Lord.

Guru Nanak was a perfect embodiment. Of the eternal spirit of God.39

(Guru Arjan, Rag Basant p. 1192)

This hymn was written by Guru Arjan about sixty years after the death of Guru Nanak. Two eminent contemporaries of Guru Nanak who could provide firsthand information about the life of Guru Nanak were still living. They were, Sri Chand, the elder son of Guru Nanak, and, Bhai Buddha, the High Priest of Guru Nanak’s durbar. This hymn of Guru Arjan makes three things clear: (1) All the pre-Nanak Bhaktas, namely, Jaidev, Kabir, Namdev, Trilochan, Ravidas had human gurus from whom they received enlightenment. (2) Only those saints who worshipped the One God acquired the highest spiritual state or liberation, (3) Guru Nanak had no human guru, least of all Kabir, whom Guru Arjan deems a pre-Nanak figure. Guru Nanak was enlightened from birth and a perfect embodiment of the spirit of God. This statement of Guru Arjan sets to rest the baseless theory that Kabir was the guru of Nanak. Guru Nanak was about thirty-five when he came to Benaras. By this time he had been accepted as the Guru by people and divines in the Punjab and at Hardwar, Kurukshetra and Delhi. Guru Nanak was no more a seeker but a Master and a prophet acknowledged as the world-teacher by Daulat Khan Lodhi, Rai Bular, Sheikh Sharaf, Shiekh Ibrahim and all the prominent Hindu and Muslim saints of Punjab.

(4) Bhai Gurdas (sixteenth century) was nephew of Guru Amar Das, brother-in-law of Guru Ram Das, and maternal-uncle of Guru Arjan. During the life time of Guru Amar Das he was fully educated and disciplined in Sikh history and theology and was sent at quite an early age as a missionary first to Chamba and then to Benaras and Agra. During his stay at Agra and Benaras, he acquired the highest prestige that a great scholar and mystic could do amongst the pundits and pirs of these places by scoring a victory in philosophical discussions with them. His Braj Bhasha poems written in inimitable poetry bears witness to the depth of thought and insight, and to the force of his arguments, and astounding aesthetic sense. He was co-compiler of Adi Granth along with Guru Arjan. The Guru blessed his writings and called them the Key to Sikh scriptures. Even if the Sikhs had no other scriptures, the writings of Bhai Gurdas could furnish Sikhism much more material to thrive and grow than the New Testament provides Christianity. As Bhai Gurdas had opportunity to stay at Benaras for quite long periods, he had access to first hand material on the life and works of Kabir. He refers to Kabir twice and both these references are of great historical importance.

According to Bhai Gurdas, Kabir was the first low-caste devotee who dared to meet Ramananda in a dramatic way and he not only received spiritual inspiration but became his initiated disciple. Bhai Gurdas writes:

“At Benaras there lived Ramananda Gosalh) the recluse. Early in the morning Ramananda went to bathe in the Ganges. In the dim hours of dawn, Kabir lay on the steps of the Ganges, where Ramananda was accustomed to bathe. When Ramananda trod upon the body of Kabir the compassionate saint lifted him up and initiated him, imparting to him the divine Name thus made him his disciple. Just as the philosopher's stone changes iron into gold, and just as sandalwood makes the bitter neem tree fragrant so was Kabir transfigured {by the initiation of Ramananda). The wisdom of the true Guru changeth even an animal and demon to a saint. The meeting of Kabir and Ramananda was the meeting between soul and divine splendour and the sublime mingling with the sublime. Kabir acquired from the meeting the highest mystic experiences of Unstruck Music, in which the fount of the Infinite consciousness rained bliss in unbroken stream. Under this discipline the Word of the Enlightener moulded the soul of Kabir who attained perfect spiritual union with God.40

On hearing that (the low caste) Kabir (after the initiation of Ramananda) had achieved spiritual glory and popularity as a saint the second (low caste seeker after truth) who became a disciple of Ramananda was Sain, the barber. At night he worshipped God in the day time he worked as the court barber.41

From this very important statement of Bhai Gurdas it is quite clear that Ramananda was not only an incidental inspirer of Kabir but the true guru of Kabir, who imparted to him the mystic Word and helped him in the spiritual discipline of achieving the highest mystic state, during his life time. Many scholars who have projected ingenious theories to prove that Kabir was born after the death of Ramananda, without giving any historical proof thereof, in support of their theory, cannot ignore this statement.

Nor is the argument that Ramananda is not a historical figure but a theological term, Ramaananda (bliss of God) tenable. This theory is completely refuted by Bhai Gurdas’s statement: hoe veract Benarasl rehandn, Ramananda Gosaih, at Benaras there lived Ramananda Gosain, the recluse.42

It is also clear from Bhai Gurdas’ statement that normally it would have been impossible for the puritan Hindu ascetic Ramananda to accept a low caste person like Kabir as his disciple. The Muslim boy Kabir in whom the religious passion was innate, saw in Ramananda his destined teacher, but knew how slight were the chances that a Hindu Guru would accept a Muslim disciple.43 He therefore devised a remarkable plan to meet Ramananda in the dim silence of dawn and lay bare his soul to Ramananda. It would not be out of place to mention here that Guru Gobind Singh mentions Ramananda amongst great prophets like Mohammed, Gorakh and others, who were sent by God to bring about a spiritual awakening.

Bhai Gurdas’ statement reveals another historical fact: On seeing that Kabir a low-caste seeker of truth had dared to approach Ramananda, the puritan Hindu mystic, and had acquired great spiritual glory and popularity, Sain, the barber, was the second low caste saint to become the disciple of Ramananda. (sun partap Kabir da duja sikh hoa Sain nai.)44 On hearing about the spiritual greatness achieved by Kabir, the second to become disciple of Ramananda was Sain, the barber. The third in the list of Bhai Gurdas is Ravidas. This further indicates that Kabir remained under the direct spiritual influence of Ramananda up to quite a mature age when he became well known and inspired other low-caste seekers of truth to join the spiritual brotherhood for which doors were opened by Ramananda. This being so Kabir must have lived with Ramananda at least up to the age of eighteen or so. With this historical fact as a highly probable truth it would be impossible for Kabir to meet Nanak unless he lived for more than 150 years.

The second statement of Bhai Gurdas also has great historical significance and it clearly proves that there was no spiritual encounter between Nanak and Kabir. Bhai Gurdas writes :

In Kaliyuga Namdev has been a great Bhakta,

God turned the temple doors towards him,

And he brought the dead cow to life.

Well known is the saint Kabir;

He walked out of the prison unnoticed;

An ideal Sikh has greater tolerance.

He is as humble as the dust of feet;

Having attained the Infinite, A Sikh reveals not his infinite powers.

(Bhai Gurdas, Var 12 p. 15)45

Bhai Gurdas first mentions Namdev and refers to historical incidents of his life which we have no reason to doubt because they are both mentioned in the autobiographical poems of Namdev, preserved in Adi Granth.46 When the Brahmins turned Namdev out of the temple, because he was a low caste Hindu, the dejected saint sat near the back wall of the temple and started praying. The temple doors miraculously turned towards him.47 In the other incident the Sultan of Delhi imprisoned him in Delhi and offered him one of the two alternatives: either he must accept Islam or show a miracle by bringing a cow to life. He prayed to God and through his spiritual powers brought the cow to life.48

Bhai Gurdas then mentions a little known incident of Kabir’s life. Kabir was imprisoned and tortured by the Emperor. One night when he prayed for liberty, his chains fell and the prison doors opened. On seeing the miraculous powers of Kabir, he was set free. Bhai Gurdas suggests that an ideal Sikh would have never shown a miracle. This has been proved to the hilt by the martyrdom of Guru Arjan, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Bhai Mani Singh, Banda, and Bhai Taru Singh. Bhai Gurdas places the tolerance of a Sikh at a higher level than that exhibited by Kabir. In view of this comparison, to conceive Kabir as the guru of Nanak is therefore preposterous. All the historical references of Bhai Gurdas clearly suggest that Kabir was a pre-Nanak saint.

(5) Pran Sangli (sixteenth century) is an interesting theological work written by some very prominent disciple of Guru Nanak who accompanied Guru Nanak to Ceylon and was posted as the first apostle missionary in the island. Although it has been written in the name of Nanak it is certainly not a composition of Nanak. The writer appears to have been as close to the Guru as Bhai Gurdas was to his contemporary Gurus. He has attempted to record the discourse of Guru Nanak with the Saiva saints of Ceylon. Guru Nanak was in Ceylon a few months after he passed through Benaras. To the Sikhs of Ceylon the later writings of Kabir were not available, So Pran Sangali acquired great importance in Ceylon. Guru Arjan procured a copy of it and finding it apocryphal and not a genuine composition of Guru Nanak did not include it in the Adi Granth. In the Pran Sangali, Guru Nanak refers to Kabir as a historical figure in the discourses:

Namdev, Trilochan, Kabir, Sang the praises of God,

In complete devotion to Him. The glory of the Lord.

And contemplation of His Name Has liberated the saints Who loved and praised God,49

(Pran Sangli, p. 246)

Whatever the theological importance of the work be, it is known to be a work older than Adi Granth. Being written by a disciple who accompanied Nanak to Ceylon, the author’s treatment of Kabir as a pre- Nanak historical figure clearly indicates that Kabir and Nanak never met each other, during their life time.

(6) Bala's Janam Sakhi: Old manuscript copies of Bala’s Janam Sakhis and also Litho-print copies refer to Guru Nanak’s visit to Benaras. In the discussion that takes place between the pundits of Benaras and Guru Nanak, the Guru refers to the death of Kabir indirectly. The following dialogue is recorded:

Pundit: This place, Benaras is considered to be very holy and auspicious. Here even the sinners gain liberation if they die in this holy place.

Guru Nanak: It is the Name of God that saves man. Such is the Name of God that no matter where you listen to it, and meditate on it, you are liberated there. Kabir left Benaras and went to Maghar a few years before his death. He acquired liberation there and through the holy congregation established by him at Maghar every one is liberated.50

This Janam Sakhi therefore clearly suggests that when Guru Nanak reached Benaras, Kabir was dead. The two never met each other.

(7) Bhai Mani Singh's Janam Sakhi This Janam Sakhl has a distinctive style of its own. Although those who corrupted the Janam Sakhis did not spare this one also, but a scholar who gets used to the distinctive prose style of Bhai Mani Singh and his deep theological exposition, can easily distinguish the material originally written by Bhai Mani Singh and the corrupt material added later on. Bhai Mani Singh gives the historical incident quoted from Bala’s Janam Sakhi in his own inimitable language and believes that Kabir was dead when Guru Nanak reached Benaras.51 Kavi Santokh Singh in his Nanak Prakash bases his version of the incident on the two Janam Sakhis mentioned above.52

The historical evidence gleaned above makes it clear that Kabir, though a near contemporary of Guru Nanak, never met the Founder of Sikhism. Those Hindi scholars who bring down the dates of birth and death of Kabir to make him the guru of Nanak, and take him completely out of the life-span of Ramananda, who has been acknowledged as the guru of Kabir, try to contradict two well established historical facts; firstly Kabir was disciple and con-temporary of Ramanada, and secondly Kabir and Nanak never met in life.

This confusion has arisen because our historians are interested more in the historical problems and achievements of the Sultans of this period than in the saints and scholars of this period and they take very lightly the historical problems and dates of Kabir and Ramananda. On the other hand literrary scholars studying Kabir make quite an unhistorical approach to the historicity of Kabir. An intense historic study into the dates and life of these saints alone can finally settle the differences thus created by partial study of these great historical figures Kabir and Ramananda.

Sheikh Vajid, the Aristocratic Sufi Saint

Mardana, the bard, whose mind and character was a fine blend of Cervantes’s Sancho Panza and Shakespeare’s Touchstone, was always plain, blunt, and grimly realistic in his thoughts and actions. He loved Guru Nanak very much but he did not let the spiritual idealism of his Master become a blind faith, which he must stubbornly follow. He did not accept anything till it satisfied his physical existence and his mind and conscience. He was never prepared to ignore the need of the body and the mind for the spiritual flights of the soul. He was not prepared to abandon his down to earth humanity and common man’s logic.

While Mardana was travelling with Guru Nanak from Benaras to Patna he rested along with the Master under a shady tree. Soon came to the place an aristocratic Sufi saint, dressed in rich attire and carried by bearers in a palanquin. When the saint came out of the palanquin, he was asked to rest on cushions and some servants began to fan him, and others started pressing his body as if he was tired. On inquiry it was learnt that it was Sheikh Vajid, the Sufi saint.

Mardana was shocked at the sight. “Baba Nanak”, said he, “tell me, is there one God or are there two gods? The question surprised the Master. Having lived with him so long, and knowing full well that he believed in one God he wondered why Mardana should ask such a question. “What makes you think, Mardana, that there are two gods, and not one? asked Nanak.53

“Is it possible, Master,” remarked Mardana,” that the same God could create so different type of human beings. One is dressed in rich attire and is carried in a palanquin and yet feels tired, while others who carry him on their shoulders in the scorching heat are bare-footed, naked, and sweat like the beasts of burden. Yet these poor slave labourers are not supposed to rest or feel tired. How can the same God create people of such widely different status? I am tempted to think, Master, that the rich have a rich God while the poor have a pauper God.” Guru Nanak burst into laughter.

“That is what appears to be, Mardana, but it is not so,” said Guru Nanak.” ‘‘Naked man comes to the earth and naked he goes; God judges the deeds of man. He is not influenced by the ill-gotten wealth of the rich. All men are born equal as human beings, but some who are clever succeed in exploiting the downtrodden and living on the labours of others. All the social laws of corrupt society are made by the rich and the strong only to exploit the poor. If the poor know their own divinity, destiny} and innate power, they will overthrow the rich. No one will go unpunished.”54

Guru Nanak then met Sheikh Vajid and reminded him of the life and ideals of great Sufi saints like Sheikh Farid. If he was really a man of God and a Sufi sage, he should not treat any human being as a slave, but should deem them as his brothers and share whatever he had with them. It was un-Islamic and inhuman to treat human beings in such a pitiable manner and to indulge in such luxury while claiming to be a Sufi saint. Poverty (fakr, non-possessiveness) was the foundation of Sufi idealism. Even Mohammed had said, “Poverty is my pride,” and this had been the watch word of Sufism. By leading the life of the idle rich and by sucking the blood of the poor and exploiting the ignorant he was working his own doom. The Sheikh fell at the feet of Guru Nanak and assured him that he would give up the life of hypocrisy and display of wealth, and take up a truly religious and spiritual life according to the ethical ideals impressed by the Master.55

Notes and References

  1. The origin of the Lodhis is this, that Sulaiman sent a party of Genni to Rum to purchase female slaves. On their return back, one of the Genii formed a connection with a girl named Lolia, who became pregnant by him. On King Sulaiman’s hearing of this, he gave him the girl. The child was named Lodh, and his descendants generation after generation intermingled with Arabs, and at the time of the conquest of Sirhind came to dwell there. (Ali Sher Khan: Tuhfatu-i-kuam)
  2. Bahlul, a full blooded Afghan was born posthumously in extraordinary circumstances. His mother, while close in confinement died suddenly on account of the falling of the house, and he was taken out by a Caesarian operation. Thus orphaned completely, he was taken as a month old baby to his uncle who brought him up as his son. (R.C. Majumder and others; The History and Culture of the Indian People Delhi Sultanate, p. 151 f. n.)
  3. He won the devotion and esteem of his non-Muslim friends and feudatories and relied on them on critical occasions. He possessed a charitable disposition and never turned away a suppliant from the door. (Ibid, p. 141-2)
  4. ibid p. 147
  5. It is unbelievable that Mardana alone accompanied Nanak on this itinerary. Mardana was a bard and could hardly perform any other service, like cooking food, or writing down the hymns of Guru Nanak. I believe that four or five persons were always with Guru Nanak out of which Mardana and Bala Sandhu were prominent. While Mardana appears to have accompanied Guru Nanak on all his major missionary journeys, Bala appears to have accompanied him only on some of them. Besides these two well known disciples, others whose names appear in the Janam Sakhis as frequent companions of Nanak are: Saido, Gheho, Hasu the black smith, Shihan the tailor and Jhanda the carpenter. Ishvar Das’ Chaitanya Bhag- vat, a Bengali Manuscript preserved in Prachi Samati (Oriental Society) Cuttack, mentions in adhyaya 61, Sarang, as the name of one of the companions of Guru Nanak.
  6. Nanak piyno'. Satgur Nanak Devjine is khuh tejal kadhke trikhavant rahiyan nu pyaya si; eh as than Ka.rnal de kinare Sis Ganj ton uttar pacham car mil hai. (M.K.)
  7. Gyani Thakur Singh in his Gurdwara Darshan says that the original name of this shrine was Pau Sahib. Here Guru Nanak humbled a very haughty sannyasin, (P.J. (MSS II) f. 43; J.M.S. p. 198)
  8. Tarikheri-Daudi
  9. kahan lage nij deh updesa, turn khudae, tan dhar updeSa, dharm nlje kijai cir cah, kazi neh risvat kab lijai, (N.P. adh 21, 43-44)

Meharban says in his Janam Sakhi (p. 114) that Guru Nanak arrived at Delhi during the reign of Emperor, Salem Shah which is quite incorrect. Puratan Janam Sakhi gives the name of the emperor as Sultan Ibrahim Beg. Ibrahim Lodhi came to the throne in 1517, over a decade after Guru Nanak passed through Delhi.

  1. Badshah ne kazian de kahe khuda da hukam metan de zulamvic Babejl nu sathian samet phadke plsan la dita, Babe ne rabab baiai, sabad eavia. (T.G.K. p. 77)

ethai jagat guru Nanak ji ate Sri Guru Hargobind sahib viraje san, badshah Aurangzeb de durbar vie rehan samai Baba Ram Rai ji da nivas bhi ethai hi riha hai (M.K.)

  1. ihna di raehma sunke Nizamuddln Auliya da cela Hasan Abdulla ji san 966 Hij vie, te Mian Maduf jo san 947 Hij vie othe ha guzre han. Ragho Das vairagi Udai Nath yogi, Oghar Nath, Sayyed Madde Shah itadik anek pir fakir carca karan ae, par Guruji d! banlsunke sabh ne jidbad chad dita, te rabde rah di carca barta kar khusl ho ke gae. (T.G.K. p. 78)
  2. Babaji othe jae pipal heth asan kita, tan sidhan puchla tusan kaun tap klta hai jo sabh jagattuhade vas klia hai. (J.M.S. p. 202)

tabe sidhan ades ades kita, jo eh koi mahapurakh hai jiske baihan satth bohad harya hoya bhandare ka. (P.J. MSS f. 54)

Kavi Santokh Singh writes in J^anak Prakash, Ut. adh 20, that when the Siddhas saw Guru Nanak distributing everything to the people, and preaching that they should share everything equally so that the differences caused between the haves and have-nots may be eliminated, they came to the Guru and offered him a linseed and asked him to distribute and share it with all, contending thereby, that somethings cannot be fully shared. Guru Nanak ground the linseed and added water to it till it was completely dissolved in a large quantity of water. This water containing the linseed was equally distributed. Yogi Mangal Nath was deeply impressed.

  1. N.P. Ut: adh, 20, J.M.S p, 207
  2. Gorakhmata hatayo namu. Nanakmata rakh abhiramu. (N.P. Ut: adh, 20)

tan sabhe sidh eho kautak dekhke an astangdandaut kita, ar kehya ki age is jaga da nam Gorakhmata hai par hun isda nam Nanakmata hovaiga, ar jo koi eh tera paiija. patran da dekhe ga ar carca tuhadi ar asadi sunega usde sabh pap nas javange. (J.M.S. p. 207)

  1. phenal ko taru teh huto tab hi gur sidh mah ek techno prabhu ki disa, ik siddhan dis ah. tehno apnl dis ko jou srl gur pikh madhuro kle sou (N.P. tit: adh 20)

The soapnuts growing on these branches are still sweet. The writer has tasted them. Other branches have bitter soapnuts. Plants which grow from the seeds of sweet soapnuts also tend to grow sweet soapnuts.

  1. bacan hoya, guru tin prakar de hain, jo ek pundit guru hain, aur ek audhut guru hain, aur ek mahapurkh guru hain par jo pundit guru hain, so auron ko updei karte hain, ar ap nahi kamavte, jaise andha jo muhana hai so taran janta hai, par par kandha nahi avta. (J.M.S. (MSS) f. 256)
  2. jo mahapurkh guru hain so vidya kar bhi sampan hain ar gyan ar jog kar bhi smapan hai, so oh ap bhi kalyan aur jo un ko milte hain tina ka bhi udhar hota hai. (J.M.S. (MSS) f. 256)

ap na kare det updesa, pufidit gur jano turn aisa, bed puran kare bikhyan, lobh moh mai bais bihana, pun milan ko janlai, hot na ride gyan, pun jo hai abdhut gur vidya te anjan, pun jo mahapurkh guru jano, sabh vidya meh nipun mano. (N.P. adh: 10, 60-61)

  1. ik mundmundae kar desantar bhramte hain, ar ik nange hi rehte hain,, ik sangal bah kar phirte hain, ar ik urdh tap karte hain , ik udyan mai rehte hain,, ik nagrl mai nahi rehte, Sri parbrahm kar kar milta hai. tumi kirpal hoe ham ko samjhae. (J. Mb. p. 128)
  2. Sol parmeswar ar us hi   ka parmeswar hai jis ke an tar sabad parmesar ka nam   base; ehna prem sath kirtan kare, sol parmesar ko pavai. (J. Mb, p. 129)
  3. eh raja mere milan sion turn ion na hoe ji raj chod kar tun bhikmangta phiren; na, hamare milne ka bisekh tan tun hi me parmesar ka param pad pavais; raj jan mai jog hota hai, parmesar ji ka simran seva kar tun; mai raj hi mai tun mukta kla hai. tab raja guru Babe ke earn! laga, nam dan, sll sanam doe bhau garlbl guru babe raje ko didaya. (J. Mb, p. 153)
  4. jo go£t janamsakhi pehll patsahi di jo hai, usde vie chote mel valyan ne kai ajugta an banlyan pae dityan ham jisno sun ke sikhan da sidak guru valon ghat janda hai; jaise dudh mo pan! ralae dice, te hams usno bhin bhin kar lai-da hai, taise tusan maha-hams ho, kirpa karke guru ke bacan te, mlnia ke bacan bhin bhin kar devo.

The Minas (Prithi Mai and Mehraban) have added such undesirable material into the Janam Sakki of Guru Nanak that the faith of devout Sikhs in the Guru is easily shaken. They have added water to milk, as a swan separates milk from water, so you being the supreme swan (the most learned and enlightened sage) please separate the true from the false.” So said the Sikhs to Bhai Mani Singh. (J.M.S. f. 2)

  1. Bhai Gurdas in his Var 36, gives a scathing criticism of the Minds (Prithi Mai, Meharban and their followers); He says : “Black is the face of Minds” “(36;1)” “These wicked evil mongers will be chastised in the dargah of God” (36: 2) “Those who associate themselves with their evil company, will suffer damnation.” (36: 5) “The creed of the Minds is Narak Panth, and to hell their teachings lead.”’ (36: 6) “They are hypocrites and false-prophets deserving shoe beatings.” (36: 8) “Without any moral or spiritual qualities in them, they call themselves gurus or divine teachers.” (36: 9, 11)
  2. Baba othe khada hoya; kabir kahya, “bathe rahle, Hari bolle hamaise kavan kahavai, jin ko uth thande bhae turn. (J. Mb p. 154)
  3. amar ae lokl kaun baithe. (ibid)
  4. agya parbraham ki hai ji, tumare piche jagat nistare. (ibid)
  5. ibid p. 155
  6. tab srl parbraham ki agya sath sabh bakhat mile, mil kar milne ae; Nama, Jaidev, Kabir, Trilochan, Ravidas Sain Sadhana, Baini, Channa. (J. Mb. p. 190)
  7. Kartar Singh in his “Life of Guru Nanak Dev”, makes Namdev contemporary of Kabir, and says that like Kabir Namdev was also victim of the fanatic fury of Sikandar Lodhi. Namdev died long before Sikander Shah Lodhi came to the throne. “In one of his own Abhangas, Namdev gives his own date of birth as 1270 A.D. (Saka 1192). Namdev tells us that a certain Brahmin, Babaji by name, had cast his horoscope, foretelling that Namdev would compose a hundred crores of abhangas. (abg 1) : R.C. Ranade: Mysticism in Maharashtra (p. 186). Namdev died in 1350 A.D., about 138 years before Sikander Shah came to the throne. To make him a contemporary of Guru Nanak or Kabir is an unbelievable historical fantasy.
  8. Kabirjl kashl nahi se, Rahgunathpure vie jo Bijli Khan Nawab inah da sewak si othe osde milan lai Guruji Kashi- on cale tad odhron oh bhi aya ate raste vie Puse pifid Katik mahlne sarfjbat 1558 vie dohan mel hoya. (T.G.K. p. 79)
  9. malechon ki des me dohl hai; bastl mai balak, javan istri slamat nahi, much kar marde hain; guru drohl bhi unah de sang mil gae han; Handaliye mil kar mukbari karde han, sabh cak chod gae han.

The tyrants once more have acquired power in the country (Punjab). In the cities and villages no child, young man, or woman is safe. They catch hold of them and torture them to death. The enemies of the Guru have also joined hands with the persecutors. The Handaliyas betray the Sikhs into the hands of the blood-thirsty rulers. Almost all people have left Amritsar.

Bhai Mani Singh’s “Letter to Mata Sundari”

They (Hindaliyas) were the most persistent enemies of the Sikhs and the most steadfast friends of the Durranis, although the sect itself is Hindu. (N.K. Sinha : Rise of the Sikh Power)

  1. G.H. Westcott in his, “Kabir and Kabir Panthis (p 2) says, Nanak is said to have been 27 years of age when he met Kabir. As Nanak was born in 1469 the years of meeting will have been 1496, the very year in which Sikander Lodhi, the Emperor of Delhi, visited Jaunpur and other cities in the neighbourhood.” Nanak did not leave Punjab till he was over 30 years of age. Handalyas and Kabirpanthis have concocted these dates to suit their legendary stories. Pundit Walmji Bhaj, a Hindu convert to Christianity and a Pastor of the Irish Presbyterian Church at Borsad (Gujarat) in his books, “Hari Charitra and a Key to Adi Grant”h goes a step further in an ingenious invention of history, when he says that Nanak was not only a disciple of Kabir but was also influenced by Christian teachings, and that Hari, the name given to the Sat-guru in the Adi Granth, was used as a synonym of Christ. Some Hindi writers on Kabir who have depended only on Westcott or Kaey’s ‘Kabir and His Followers’ have also uncritically accepted Kabir as the guru of Nanak.
  2. Dr. Bhandarkar in his “Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Minor Religious Systems, Dr. Mohan Singh in his “Kabir, a Biography” dismiss the historical fact that Ramananda was the guru of Kabir without giving any convincing arguments.
  3. pane chade dae bahal, jo srl Angad Likhvai, teh ko tatparj sabh dine,

adhik bacan apne likh dine,

Sri Nanak jas khlr sam, bidat det ahlad,

chand caupal band jo mist sehat bha svad.

je sakat ki kahl kusakhi,

khlr blc so jano makhl;

kadhe makhl dekhe jou,

piveh pae mist sikh sou,

dekh bujh makhl jokhavai

sram hovai tan pai na paeavai,

klrat nirmal jo ur dhare

kahl kusaknl so nivareh.,

(N.P.,pur, adh 37, 32-33)

  1. Nama chlmba, Kabir julaha, pure gur te gati pai, Brahm ke bete, sabai pachane, haume jat gav&i sur nar tin ki ban! gavai koi na mete bhai. (Adi Granth Sri Rag p. 67)
  2. This fact is admitted by eminent exponents of Kabir’s writings like Dr. Shyam Sunder Das (Kabir Granthavali) and Dr. Ram Kumar Verma (Santbani)
  3. Kalijug nam pradhan padarath   baghat  jana       udhre, Nama jaideo Kabir Trilochan         sabh dokh gae camre. (Adi Granth, Maru p-955)
  4. sadhu saran pare se ubhre Khatri brahmin sud vais candal candyia Nama Jaideo Kabir Trilochan au jat Ravidas camar camyia (Adi Granth, Bilawal p-845)
  5. Dhanne sevya bal budh, Trilochan gur mil bhai sudh, Beni ko gur klo pragas, re man tu bhi hoh das. Jaidev tyago ahanmev, nai udhario Sain sev, man dig na dole kahu jae, Kabir dhyiaaio ek rang, Namdev base Hari jio sang Ravidas dhyae prabhu anup, Guru Nanak Dev gobind rup. (Adi Granth, Basant p-1192)
  6. hoe birakt Benarasa, rehnda Ramananda gosain, amrit vele uth ke janda ganga navan tain, agon hi de jae lama pya Kabir tithal, paii In tumbh uthalya, bolo Ram sikh samjhal jion loha chohe candan vas nim mekhal, pasu pareton dev kar, pure satgur ki vadyal, acaraj no acraj mile vismade vismad milal, jharna jharda nijhrofi, gurmukh banl aghad ghadal Ram Kabire bhed na pal. (Bhai Gurdas Var 10; 15)
  7. sun partap Kabir da duja sikh hoa Sain nal, prem bhagat rati kare, bhalke raj duare jai. (ibid 16)

This statement makes it quite clear that out of all the low caste disciple-saints of Ramananda, Kabir was the first to break the barriers of orthodoxy and compel Ramananda to accept him as his disciple. Sain the barbar was the second. Kabir was quite young when he met Ramananda.

  1. Dr. Bhandarkar, Dr. Mohan Singh do not accept the theory that Ramananda was the guru of Kabir,           but they do not give any convincing evidence in support        of their theory. Wescott and Dr. Ramprashad Tripathi support the theory that Sheikh Taqi was the pir of Kabir. But Dr. Hazari Prashad Dwedi, Dr. Shyam Sunder Das, Dr. Ram Kumar Verma, Dr. Ramji Lall, Dr. Gobind Trigunayat and a number of other scholars accept Rama-nanda as the guru of Kabir. Other historical records which state that Ramananda was the guru of Kabir are, Dabistan, Bhaktamal, Tazkirul Fakura, Ghulam Sarwar’s Khajlnat-ul-Asfiya, Garib Das’ Granth.
  2. Rabindranath Tagore :   Kabir, Intr. P xi.
  3. pun harl Ramanand ko kara bhe£ bairagi ko jin dhara kanthi kanth kath k! dari, prabh ki kiriya na kichu bicarl. (Guru Gobind Singh, Bachiter Natak, 125)
  4. Bhai Gurdas Var 10, 17
  5. Kaliyug Nama bhakta hoe pher dehra gae jival, bhakta Kabir vakhaniai bandikhane te uth jai, pairin pai pakhak hoe gursikhan vie vadi samai, Alakh lakhain alakh lakhai. (Bhai Gurdas Var 17:15)
  6. Namdev mentions the incident in two of his hymns in the Adi Granth

hast khelat tere dehre aya bhakta karat Nama pakar uthaya, hindi jat meri jadam raya, chipe ke janam kahe ko aya, lai kam.ll calio paltae dehri pache baitha jae, jion jion Nama Hari gun ucre Bhakta jana ko dehra phire. (Adi Granth, Bhairon p-1164)

tu jo dayal Kripal kahiyat hai atibhuj bheo aprala pher die dehra Name ko pandian ko pichvarla. (Adi Granth : Malar p-292)

  1. bismal gau deh jivae, natur gardan maron thae, badgah aisi kion hoe, bismal kia na jivai koe; apne bhakt par kari pratipal garud cade ae gopal

kahe ta dharn ikedi karon kahe ta lekar upar dharon kahe ta mul gaii del jiae sabh koi dekhe patiae Nama pranve selam sel gau duhai bachura mel. (Adi Granth, Bhairon p-1164)

  1. Namdev, Trilochan, Kabir dasra hari bhagat bhae gun gaya ustat sant harinam taraya hari sant jana bhakta jas gaya. (Pran Sangli p. 246)
  2. suno pundit ji, parmeswar ka nam kaisa kahe, bhavain kise de same padhe sune othe hi mukt karta hai; Kabir Bhakta Kashi nu tyag ke, Maghar des me jae base, uhan sadh sangat kar jiv mukt hote hain; Bhagwan ka nam mukta karta hai, Kashi nahi mukta karti. (J.B.S. (LI) p 539)
  3. J.M.S. (L) p-212 (The text is nearly the same as in J.JS. (LI) f.n 49.
  4. Jion Kabir Kashi that tyaga, mag mai basa nam anuraga Satsangat hovai rahi tahan hi, bhae mokh taj deh uhan hi. (N.P. adh. 9, 93)
  5. tadon rah vie Sheikh Bajid Sayyed milya; Sukhpal vie cadhya janda aha; tiske lakdyan nal cheh kahar the; tab oh jae utraya ik drakhat tale, te o lage cikan te thikan. ate jhalan. tab Mardane akhya, “ji Khudae ekhai kion?” (P.J. (MSS) f. 34)
  6. arj klti akhyos, ji patgah o kis klm paidaes, hai ate oh kis ki paidae£ hai, jo sukhpal vie cadhya aya hai., ate oh pairan te upohane bhi han te pinde nange (Ibid)
  7. Ibid.
  8. ibid; N.G. 163. The original name of Bajid was probably Bayzid which in corrupt Punjabi form came to be known as Bajid.