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Last Punjab Tour

Achal Batala was an important centre of Nathpanthi yogis, not far away from Kartarpur. It was the most important centre in Punjab, and when Guru Nanak came to know that the Shivratri festival was about to be held at Achal Batala, he was impelled to meet the gathering of the people. So he left for this mela (festive gathering) along with some of his disciples.

Shivaratri falls in the month of March-April. For the Yogis and the Vaishnavas it was an opportunity to collect money from the pious pilgrims. The Yogis established their asanas and offered to shower great blessings on the pious adherents who served them. The Vaishnavas started dancing, singing songs of Krishna in moods of emotional ecstasy. The Yogis felt that they should first teach a lesson to the Vaishnavas and drive them out. They were attracting large crowds by their dances and songs.

As soon Guru Nanak reached the place people gathered around him. Everyone had heard of Guru Nanak and people rushed to touch the hem of garment and to touch his feet. They offered so much money that the yogis were seriously upset. They were raging with jealousy and bitterness at the way all crowds had gone to pay homage to Guru Nanak and ignored all the yogis.1

While the Vaishnavas were dancing with feigned ecstasy keeping a costly jug for the people to offer money in it one of the Yogis played a trick. When the Vaishnavas were dancing with their eyes closed, he slipped away with the money jug and hid it. As soon as they found the money jug missing they forgot their dances and their songs.

They were seriously upset and the yogis laughed at them saying: “You hypocrites you say you have renounced the world, but you have forgotten all your dances and ecstasy of Krishna for the sake of a jug (lota) filled with money. If you have any spiritual powers find it. This is no place for you. You have lost your jug and in a moment you will lose yourself and you people will weep for you.” Proud of their feat the yogis cut jokes and made fun of Vaishnavas and their Bhakti.

Guru Nanak could not tolerate anyone being bullied. With his clairvoyant vision he pointed at the place where the lota was hidden and exposed the yogi who stole it and hid it.2

This was more than the Yogis could tolerate. Feeling that Guru Nanak was an intruder who had come to their sacred place to win over their disciples, their leader Bhangar Nath went along with other Yogis to Guru Nanak, and without greeting him opened a bitter debate:

Bhangar Nath: Here in this sacred place of Shiva, which is pure as milk and a stronghold of the Yogis, may we know what business have you to come here as an intruder and add your undesirable and contaminated ideas resembling a sour drink (kanji) to our pure milk? Now “we cannot take any butter out of it because you have spoiled it.3

Nanak:  Listen, Bhangar Nath, your milk pot is unclean. Your foolish mother, (mind) did not clean it properly before pouring milk into it. That is why the milk has been adulterated and you cannot take butter out of it. What a pity. Blame yourself and your careless mother for it and not me. My milk is pure and I can take plenty of butter out of it.4

Bhangar Nath: You were an Udasi, and wore holy robes of a recluse, but why have you suddenly given it up and become worldly man? I doubt from what you are preaching to the people that you can be called a holy man. You have insulted all holy orders5 of monks by renouncing your Udasi robes of recluse.

Guru Nanak: You renounce the world, call yourself recluses, anchorites and yet go to the house of the worldly people to beg your food. In what way are you superior to those at whose door you beg your two daily meal? What do you give them in return? If they looked on you with the same contempt with which you hold worldly people, you would starve to death.6

Bhangar Nath (wild with rage): You, Nanak Bedi, wherever you have gone you have condemned the six systems. At all our centres you have insulted our sacred system of Yoga. You have belittled it, lowered it in the eyes of the people, and severely criticized the six shastras. We will now show you what we are and what powers yoga has and what miracles it can work.7

So saying all the yogis started showing miracles of black-magic and occult powers. By Hatha yoga they had acquired sufficient powers over the forces of Nature to create an illusion of things that were actually not there, but were created by the dramatic control of elemental forces and the suspension of belief of all the onlookers. Some presented himself as a tiger, some as a snake, others flew like birds.8 When they had impressed the onlookers to a great extent Bhangar Nath said to Nanak: “Now this is what our Yoga can do. Show some miracles which are better and more impressive than ours. Show by practical example all your siddhts (occult powers). If you cannot, what right have you to condemn Yoga.”9

Guru Nanak calmly answered: “Listen, Bhangar Nath, if this is what you have achieved by your yoga it is trash and worth nothing in our eyes. I have taken refuge in the supreme Enlightener. I live in the sanctuary of truly holy men, men wedded to truth. I seek light from the Word of God, from Wisdom of the Divine. I care not for anything else. My Shiva, my Lord is not the Shiva of Hindu trinity which you invoke for these occult powers. My Shiva is the supreme Creator, and His blessings are unshakable. His law is unchallengeable. He can take away, what you have in a moment. But you cannot take away His grace, His love, His blessings with all your collective yogic powers.” 10

The yogis felt stung bitterly in the tail. Once more they roared with pride and declarations of their mighty powers. Once more they made up their mind to show more stunning miracles. But when they tried to do so, they felt some superior power had taken the wind out of their sail. Some unknown power had naturalised their unnatural instincts. Some superior Will had chained their wills. They could not move. The only miracle Guru Nanak showed"" to the yogis was that they could not perform any more miracles in his presence. Bhai Gurdas says, the Guru did so with the mystic power of the Word of God.11

Disillusioned, overpowered, humbled, Bhangarnath felt his whole inner being paralyzed. All his promethean fires were chained to the rock of silence and peace. He came to Nanak calmed but bewildered. All he had lived for and worked for, suddenly turned 'to nought. “Listen Bhanger Nath,” said Nanak, “if I could chew iron, control the earth and revolve it according to my will, wear flaming robes and cut through the Himalayas, weigh planets in a scale, even such mighty powers, they would be passing clouds in the face of Light and Wisdom of the true Word. All these powers would be insignificant compared to the love and grace of God.”12

This encounter developed into a discussion and the discussion became an illuminating sermon on the aims and objects of the doctrine of the divine Word with the doctrines of Yoga. The representatives of all the six systems, and the Vaishnavas bowed to the Guru and praised him for his unparalleled wisdom and spirituality. “You are O Nanak” said Bhangar Nath, “the greatest living Enlightener of this dark age. In this iron age of ignorance and moral degradation you have shown to the people the path of Light and truth.”

At Sialkot

Guru Nanak went to Gujranwala where he met his devoted disciple Bhai Lallo. After the ravage of Eminabad he had shifted to Gujranwala. From here he went to Sialkot. As soon as he reached the outskirts of the city he camped under the same tree where he stayed during his last tour, and where a shrine had been built by his devotees. He sent for Mulla the shopkeeper. His wife fearing that Guru Nanak might take him on his long tours, hid him and told the Guru’s messenger that Mulla was not at home. Twice the Guru sent for him, and twice his wife told a lie. Mulla was hiding in a fuel store where a snake bit him and he died. The foolish wife who feared that she might lose him for some time lost him forever. Guru Nanak sadly commented, that a capitalist loves money more than friendship.

Friendship with a money-monger Is false and leads to falsehood;

You knew not O Mulla,

Where death would overtake you.

(Guru Nanak : Slok Vadhik p. 1413)

Among the Pirs of Multan

Guru Nanak then went to Multan and Uch. He had promised Pir Bahauddin of Multan and Pir Jalal-ud-din of Uch that he would come to them on their invitation. When he reached Multan the other pirs of the great centre of the Sufis feared that Guru Nanak may not establish his mission in the city which they had held since centuries. The Sufis had a very polite and symbolic way of telling such conscious intruders that there is no place for him in their spiritual jurisdiction. Sometime they would change the direction of their shoes, and place them facing in an outward direction. They were in any way more cultured and respectful in their behaviour than the fiery yogis of Achal Batala. They brought a cup of milk full to the brim, indicating that in Multan there was no room for any more pirs. Guru Nanak quietly took a fragrant flower and placed it on the milk, indicating that he had not come to occupy any of their places. He had come like the fragrance of the flower which will float on the milk. He was like the Ganges seeking the ocean, and he had no desire to let his waters fill any stagnant pool.13

Soon Makhdoom Baha-ud-din came. He was so delighted to meet the Master that the other pirs were surprised at the devotion shown by him to the Sikh Guru. He took pride in serving Baba Nanak with his own hands. He felt delighted to meet the Man whom he deemed his best friend in life and death. It is a pity no record has been found as yet to know what trespassed between them. Unfortunately no search has also been made. Had attempts been made to ransack the records of Multan before partition of India there was a possibility of finding something.

Along with Pir Baha-ud-din Guru Nanak came to meet his friend Jalal-ud-din of Uch of whom the Janam Sakhis and Makke di Gosht speak highly. At Uch the divine guest of the Pir was entertained with great reverence. Jalal-ud-din had such a personal affection for the Guru that he preserved a number of relics of the Guru. The relics still found at Uch Shariff are (i) Wooden slippers (2) Asa used for meditational purposes. It is also called bairagan (3) Two stone bangles (4) a stone club (5) a wooden boat in which four pirs14 are said to have crossed the Panch-nad, the place where the five rivers of Punjab meet. It is close to Uch. With the exception of the boat other articles appear to have been acquired by Makhdoom Jallal-ud-din at Mecca and Medina. These were the things he wore only in his Middle East tour, so they were most probably acquired by the Pir at Mecca. The boat commemorates the Guru’s visit to Uch Shariff. The relics are still preserved by the descendants of the Pir at Uch in Pakistan. After meeting his friend Sheikh Ibrahim at Pakpattan Guru Nanak came back to Kartarpur15.

Notes and References

  1. mela sun sivrat da Baba acal vatale ai, darsan vekhan karne sagl ult pal lokal, lagi barsan lachmi ridh sidh nau nidh savai; jogi vekh calit no man vie rasik ghanerl khai. (Bhai Gurdas Var 1:39)
  2. bhagtian pal bhagat an, lota jogi lya chupal, bhagtian gai bhagat bhul lota andar surt bhulai, Baba janijan purkh kadhya lota jahan lukai, vekh calit jogi khunsai. (ibid)

karat bhagatie bhagat prakara, radha krishan bekh tin dhara, nirat nikat lota jo hoi Bhangarnath gupt tab hoke pahun durayio lota laike. (N.P. Ut. Adhy 39)

  1. khadi khunas jogisvaran go£t karan ^abhe uth ai, puche Bhangarnath tuh dudh vie kion kanji pal, phitya cata dhudh da ridkya makhan hath na ai, (Bhai Gurdas 1:40)
  2. Nanak akhe Bhangarnath teri mau kucaji ai, bhanda dhoe na jation bhae kucake phula sadai (ibid)
  3. bhekh utar udas da vat kion sarisari rit calai (ibid Var 1: 40)
  4. hoe atit grehast taj phir unhu ke ghar mangan jai.
  5. eh sun bacan jogi^ran mar kilak bahu rua uthai, khat darsan ko khehdia, kaljug Bedi Nanak ai.
  6. rup vataya jogian, singh bagh bahu calit dikhyaa, ik par karke udaran, pankhi jiven rahe lilai, ik nag hoe pavan chod ikna varkha agan vasai, tare to be Bhangar Nath, ik ud mirgini jai tar jai, sidhan agan na bujhai bujhai. (Bhai Gurdas Var 1:41)

At one period of his (Guru Nanak’s) career, when he visited Batala the jogiswaras who were recluses, and who by means of corporeal mortifications were supposed to have acquired command over the powers of Nature were so enraged against him that they strove to terrify him by their enchantment assuming shapes of tigers and serpents but they could not succeed, for Nanak appears to have been a real philosopher who taught a pure theism and inculcated universal peace and toleration. (Kathertine Corvey : Night Side of Life p 269)

Jahangir's Memoirs and Aine Akbari give a list of similar miracles which were performed by Assamese magicians. Ram Rai son of the seventh Guru showed similar miracles to Aurangzeb who gave Dehradune as a fief to him. His father Guru Hari Rai resented his attempts to please the emperor.

  1. siddh bolan sun N^naka tuh jag nu karamat dikhlai, kujh dikhae asan nu bhi tun kion dhil ajehi lai, (Bhai Gurdas, Var 1:42)
  2. Baba bole Nath ji: asan vekhe jog! vast na kai, gur sangat barn bina, duji ot nahi hai rai, siv rupei karta purkh, cale nahi dharti calai, (ibid)
  3. siddh tantar mantar kar jhad pae sabad guru ke kala chapai. (ibid)
  4. It should be noted that the subject matter of this Siddh Gosht does not tally with the subject matter of his composition Siddh Gosht : As pointed out in the chapter on Summer Dialogue :

i.      Here at achal Batala the Siddhas already knew Guru Nanak before he arrived. Even before the discussion began they knew it was Nanak Bedi of Kartarpur.

ii.     Naturally they do not ask his name, his whereabouts Which they do in Siddh Gosht

iii.    Achal Batala dialogue is based on jealousy, bitterness and is sarcastic on both sides. None of these questions and answers recorded by Bhai Gurdas figure in Siddh Gosht, which fits in with the Sumer situation only

iv.   Here at Achal Batala Siddhas ask why had Guru Nanak given up Udasi dress, In the Siddhas Gosht they ask why was he wearing Udasi dress when he was preaching asceticism and renouncing the world. This questions again fits in with the Summer situation.

v.    The first attack on Nanak by Achal Batala Yogis is that he has all over the world run down and condemned the Six systems, but in Siddha Gosht Loharippa asks him to accept Yoga. He does not know that Nanak’s doctrines are against Yoga as they were practiced.

vi.   In Achal Batala Gosht, the dialogue begins with kardmat: miracles. While there is no question and answer on miracles in Siddh Gosht.

vii.  In the first line of Bhai Gurdas’ pauri 40, on Achal Batala he says: gost karan sabhe uth ai. The Siddha came for discussion. From this point none of the questions and answers that pass on between Nanak and the Yogis figure in Siddha Gosht.

viii. The leading character of Achal Batala Gosht Bhangar Nath is one whose name does not occur in the Siddh Gosht. The leading characters in the Summer Gosht are Loharippa (who calls himself Gorakhputa, disciple of Gorakh) and Charpat.

All these facts clearly prove that the composition Siddha Gosht has nothing to do with the Batala dialogue.

  1. melion Baba uthya Multane di zyarat jai, agon pir Multan de dudh katora bhar lai ai, Babe kadh kar bagal te cambeli dudh vie milal, jion sagar vie gang samai.
  2. The four pirs are said to be: (1) Guru Nanak (2)Makhdoom Sayyed Jallal Sani, Pir of Uch (3) Pir Bahauddin of Multan (4) Mast Kalandar. All these four sailed in the boat across the Panch Nad

I am indebted to Sardar Balwant Singh Kalra, President of Singh Sabha Bangkok, for this information which he kindly sent by letter. Sardar Balwant Singh Kalra lived here at Uch for a number of years and has seen the relics. The pirs keep long hair and beard and wear tubans. The annual urs is held in August and the Nawab of Bhawalpur leads the processions

  1. Zyarat kar Multan di phir Kartarpure nuaya, (Bhai Gurdas Var 1:45)