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When Nanak had attained the age of nine years, his father determined to have him invested with the janeu, or sacrificial thread of the Hindus. Until a boy is so invested, he is deemed almost an outcast. When the members and relations of the family, and all the neighbours, secular and religious, had assembled, and all preliminary rites had been duly performed, Hardial, the family priest, proceeded to put the sacred thread on Nanak's neck. The boy caught the thread with his hand, and asked the priest what he was doing, and what advantage it was to put a thread of that description on him. The priest then explained that the janeu was the basis of the Hindu religion, that without it a man would only be a Sudar,[1] and that by putting it on greatness should be obtained in this world and happiness in the next. On hearing this the young Guru gave utterance to the following:--

Make mercy thy cotton, contentment thy thread, continence its knot, truth its twist.
That would make a janeu for the soul; if thou have it, O Brahman, then put it on me.
It will not break, or become soiled, or be burned, or lost.
Blest the man, O Nanak, who goeth with such a thread on his neck.
Thou purchasest a janeu for four damris,[2] and seated in a square puttest it on;

[1. There are four great varans or castes of Hindus--Brâhmans, the priestly class; Kshatris, the militant class; Vaisyas, the trading class; and Shûdars, the working class, the lowest of all. Of these castes there are now many subdivisions.

2 Four damris is one paisâ of Indian, or a farthing of English money.]

Thou whisperest instruction that the Brahman is the guru of the Hindus--
Man dieth, the janeu falleth, and the soul departeth without it.[1]

The priest explained that the custom of wearing a janeu had descended from the Vedic ritual, and that no Hindu could be deemed religious without wearing it. The Brahman then familiarly addressed the Guru, 'Thou art but a child of yesterday, and are we not as wise as thou? Unless thou wear this thread thou shalt be deemed a person without religion.' Guru Nanak replied:--

Though men commit countless[2] thefts, countless adulteries, utter countless falsehoods and countless words of abuse;
Though they commit countless robberies and villanies night and day against their fellow creatures;
Yet the cotton thread is spun, and the Brahman cometh to twist it.
For the ceremony they kill a goat and cook and eat it, and everybody then saith 'Put on the janeu'.
When it becometh old, it is thrown away, and another is put on,
Nanak, the string breaketh not if it be strong.

The Brahman priest, on hearing this, became angry, and asked the Guru if everybody else was a fool, and he alone, who had abandoned the customs of his forefathers, was wise. He then called on the Guru to tell him what a proper janeu was. The Guru replied:--

By adoring and praising the Name honour and a true thread are obtained.
In this way a sacred thread shall be put on, which will not break, and which will be fit for entrance into God's court.

[1. Âsa ki Wâr. This composition will subsequently be given in extenso, and the meaning of the word wâr explained.

2. Lâkh. Here used for an indefinite number.]

{p. 18}

The Guru then wound up his instruction on the subject as follows:--

There is no string for the sexual organs, there is no string for women;
There is no string for the impure acts which cause your beards to be daily spat upon;
There is no string for the feet, there is no string f or the hands
There is no string for the tongue, there is no string for I the eyes.
Without such strings the Brahman wandereth astray,
Twisteth strings for the neck, and putteth them on others.
He taketh hire for marrying;
He pulleth out a paper, and showeth the fate of the wedded pair.
Hear and see, ye people, it is strange
That, while mentally blind, man is named wise.[1]

We have seen in the Introduction to this work that Sultanpur was then the capital of the Jalandhar Doab. At that time and up to the period of British occupation, land revenue was generally collected in kind. Surveyors and appraisers called Amils were dispatched from the capital to different districts. Amil Jai Ram was appointed to appraise the revenue demand of Talwandi. While one day surveying a corn-field, he observed Nanaki, sister of Nanak, drawing water from a well, and saw that she was fair to look upon. A marriage between them was arranged through the kind offices of Rai Bular. The lady went and lived with her husband at Sultanpur.

Nanak's marriage must have taken place soon after his sister's. It is related in the Janamsakhi which bears the name of Mani Singh, that Nanak was married at the age of fourteen. His marriage, as is usual in the East, was arranged for him as a matter of religious duty by his parents. He was

[1. Âsa ki Wâr.

2 Under the Emperor Akbar it was often optional for the husbandman to pay either in money or in kind. Aîn-i-Akbari, Book III, Aîn 13.]

{p. 19}

betrothed to Sulakhani, daughter of Mula, a resident of Batala[1] in the present district of Gurdaspur. It would appear that, owing to the distance between Nankana and Batala, which hindered frequent visits and negotiations, the marriage followed very soon after the betrothal. Nanak's sister was present at the wedding, but her husband could not obtain permission to attend. He sent word that he was another person's servant, an apology that was perfectly understood.

Nanak appears to have been further trusted in the capacity of a herdsman. While one day herding his buffaloes, he lay down to sleep under a tree during the midday heat. Rai Bular passing by in the evening found him in that attitude, and observed that the protecting shadow of the tree had remained stationary over him, and not veered round like the shadows of the other trees with the sun's progress. On another occasion, as Nanak lay asleep in the pasture ground, it was observed that a large cobra watched over him, and protected the youthful saint with its hood. Rai Bular acknowledged the miraculous powers of the boy, and congratulated Kalu on being the father of such a son. Kalu ought no longer to be displeased with him for his indifference to his worldly affairs. He was a very great man. A jal-tree,[l] gnarled and maimed by the centuries, is still pointed out as the scene of the former miracle. It possesses a thick trunk, is still gratefully umbrageous, and its venerable branches depend to the earth in a fashion that suggests the pillared shade of the Indian fig-tree.

Nanak still persisted in doing no useful work, and his mother reproached him with his idleness. She counselled him to rise, work for his livelihood, and cease weaving unpractical discourses. She told him

[1. Her place of birth in Batala is reverenced by the Sikhs. Mahârâja Sher Singh erected a temple in her honour.

2. The Salvadora Oleoides.]

that he was popularly credited with madness; but he paid no heed to her admonitions further than to compose the following hymn on the occasion:--

He who dieth in obstinacy shall not be accepted.
Even though man wear a religious garb and apply much ashes to his body,
Yet, if he forget the Name, he shall afterwards repent.
O man, obey God and thou shalt be happy.
If thou forget the Name, thou shalt have to endure Death's torture.
They who apply distilled aloe-wood, sandal, and camphor to their bodies,
Are immersed in worldly love, and far from the supreme dignity of salvation.
They who forget the Name are the falsest of the false.
They who are guarded by lances, for whom bands play, who sit on thrones, and are objects of salutation,
Suffer from excessive avarice and lust.
Being without God they pray not for His service or His name.
God is found not by argument or by pride.
If man apply his mind he shall find the comforting Name.
They who love mammon are painfully ignorant.
Without money goods cannot be had from a shop;
Without a boat man cannot cross the sea;
So, without serving the Guru, there is complete loss.
Hail, hail to him who showeth the road!
Hail, hail to him who communicateth the Word!
Hail, hail to him who blendeth us with God!
Hail, hail to Him to whom the soul belongeth
Under the Guru's instruction separate the true from the false, and drink it as nectar.
The greatness of the Name is bestowed according to Thy pleasure, O God.
Without the Name how could I live, O mother?
Night and day[1] I repeat it and remain, O Lord, under Thy protection.
Nanak, he who is imbued with the Name obtaineth honour.[2]

[1. Anudin, translated 'night and day' by the gyânis, is literally--every day.

2 Gauri Ashtapadi.]

{p. 21}

After this Nanak lay down, remained in one position for four days, and declined all physical exertion.

Nanak appears to have become unfitted for all secular occupation. His idleness became notorious, and a serious source of anxiety to his parents. His mother sought to lead him with mild admonitions to secular duty, but fortunately failed. His father then addressed himself to the task. He represented that he required assistance in the cultivation of his land, and Nanak was now of an age to turn his attention to agriculture. Nanak replied:--

Make thy body the field, good works the seed, irrigate with God's name;
Make thy heart the cultivator; God will germinate in thy heart, and thou shalt thus obtain the dignity of nirvan.[1]

His father and Rai Bular represented that that was not the way to become a husbandman, whose business ought to be manual labour, and whose object was to gain a livelihood. Upon this Nanak composed the following:--

Become a husbandman, make good works thy soil, and the word of God thy seed;[2] ever irrigate with the water of truth.
Faith shall germinate, and thus even a fool shall know the distinction between heaven and hell.
Think not that thou shalt find the Lord by mere words.
In the pride of wealth and the splendour of beauty life hath been wasted.
The sin of the body is a puddle, the mind is a toad therein, which valueth not at all the lotus.
The bumble-bee is the teacher,[3] who preacheth incessantly; but can the guru cause a man to understand who will not understand?[4]

[1. Sri Râg.

2. Also translated--Clear thy ground, make the Word thy seed.

3. That is, the Guru.

4. The body is compared to a puddle; the mind to a toad which loves the puddle, but sets no value on the beautiful lotus of spiritual wisdom. The spiritual guide, like the bee, unceasingly hums his message.]

{p. 22}

Preaching and listening are as the sough of the wind, when man's mind is tinctured by the illusions of the world.
The Lord casteth a look of favour, and is well pleased with those who meditate on Him alone.
Even though thou perform the thirty days' fast, and make the five prayers thy daily companions, yet he who is called Satan will cut the thread of thy thoughts.[1]
Nanak saith, man must depart; why amass property and wealth?[2]

On the same occasion the Guru uttered the following:--

Make thy mind the ploughman, good acts the cultivation, modesty the irrigating water, and thy body the field to till,
The Name the seed, contentment the harrow, and the garb of humility thy fence:
By the work of love the seed will germinate; thou mayest behold happy the homes of persons who thus act.
O father, mammon accompanieth not man when he departeth:
Mammon hath allured this world, and few there are who understand it.

Then Nanak informed his father that he had sown his own field, and that its harvest was now ready. He had such confidence in his tillage, that, even after deduction of the portion paid in kind to the government as revenue, the full produce would still remain. Sons, daughters, beggars, brethren, and relations would all be profited thereby. He had done farming work for God, who had treated him as a lord does his tenants, and the day that he effected union with his Creator, his soul within him would be glad.

[1. That is, make thy thoughts wander. For man in the old Panjabi life of the Guru the Granth Sahib has mat. The line may then be translated--Perform the thirty days' fast. of the Musalmâns, make their five daily prayers thy companions, and take care lest Satan destroy the effect of thy prayers.

2 Sri Râg.]

{p. 23}

On hearing this, his father told him to keep a shop, for a shop was as profitable as tillage. Nanak replied:--

Make the knowledge that life is frail thy shop, the true Name thy stock-in-trade;
Make meditation and contemplation thy piles of vessels;[1] put the true Name into them.
Deal with the dealers of the true Name, and thou shalt gladly take home thy profits.

Then again Kalu. said, 'If thou desire not to be a shopkeeper, take horses and deal in them. Thy heart is sad; but do something for thy livelihood, and visit foreign countries. We will say that thou hast gone to earn thy living, and that thou wilt soon return.' Upon this Nanak uttered a third stanza:--

Make thy hearing of the sacred books thy merchandise, truth the horses thou takest to sell;
Tie up virtues as thy travelling expenses, and think not in thy heart of to-morrow.
When thou arrivest in the land of God, thou shalt obtain happiness in His abode.

Kalu in despair replied, 'Thou art lost to us; go and take government service. Jai Ram, Daulat Khan's revenue officer, is thy brother-in-law; go and take service with him; perhaps thou wilt like that place; we can dispense with thine earnings. If thou go elsewhere without any occupation, everybody will say that my son hath become a faqir, and people will heap reproaches on me.' Upon this, Guru Nanak uttered a fourth stanza:--

Make attention thy service, faith in the Name thine occupation;
Make the restraint of evil thine effort, so shall men congratulate thee.

[1. In which the Indian petty shopkeeper keeps his goods.]

{p. 24}

God will then look on thee, O Nanak, with an eye of favour, and thy complexion shall brighten fourfold.[1]

Nanak then informed his father that God had, granted him the object of his prayers. The gains of commerce, of government service, and of banking, had all been imparted to him. The astonished father said he had never seen or heard of a God who granted so many favours. Nanak replied that his God was the object of praise to those who had seen Him:--

As men have heard, O Lord, so all call Thee great;
But hath any one ever seen how great Thou art?[2]
Thy worth cannot be estimated or described;
They who seek to describe it are absorbed in Thee.
O my great Lord, deep and profound, brimful of excellences,
None knoweth the extent of Thine outline.
Though all meditative men were to meet and meditate upon Thee,
Though all appraisers were to meet and appraise Thee--
They who possess divine and spiritual wisdom, priests, and high priests[3]--
Yet could they not describe even a small portion of Thy greatness.
All truth, all fervour, all goodness, The excellences of perfect men,
Cannot be obtained in their perfection without Thee.
If Thy grace be obtained none can be excluded
Of what account is the helpless speaker?
Thy store-rooms are filled with Thy praises.
Who can prevail against him to whom Thou givest?
Nanak, the True One arrangeth all.[4]

His father was not satisfied, but further remonstrated

[1. Sorath.

2. Also translated--How great He is whoever hath seen Him could tell.

3. Gurhâi, translated high priests, is really the Persian plural of guru. Compare the words Shaikh mashâikh, so frequently found in the Granth Sâhib. Mashâikh is, of course, the Arabic plural of shaikh.

4. Asa.]

{p. 25}

with Nanak. He enjoined him to abandon his whims and act like others, as no one could live without worldly occupation. Nanak was not convinced, so his father in despair left him and went to attend to his ordinary business. Nanak's mother again attempted the worldly reformation of her son. She requested him to forget even for a few days his devotions and go abroad, so that the neighbours might be assured that Kalu's son had recovered his reason. Nanak then uttered the following verses in the Rag Asa:--

If I repeat the Name, I live; if I forget it, I die;[1]
It is difficult to repeat the true Name.
If a man hunger after the true Name, His pain shall depart when he satisfieth himself with it.[2]
Then how could I forget it, O my mother?
True is the Lord, true is His name;
Men have grown weary of uttering
Even an iota of His greatness; His worth they have not discovered.
If all men were to join and try to describe Him,
That would not add to or detract from His greatness.
God dieth not, neither is there any mourning for Him
He continueth to give us our daily bread which never faileth.
His praise is-that there neither is,
Nor was, nor shall be any one like unto Him.
As great as Thou art Thyself, O God, so great is Thy gift.
Thou who madest the day madest also the night.
They who forget their Spouse[3] are bad characters;[4]
Nanak, without His name they are naught.[5]

[1. Of course, spiritual life and death are meant.

2. Literally--the pain of that hungry man shall depart on eating the Name, that is, on receiving it as food. The verse is also translated--His pain shall depart; all his desires shall be merged in his hunger for the Name.

3. The allusion here is to men forgetting God.

4. A colloquial meaning of the word kamijât, which literally means inferior caste.

5. Sanât, a plural form of san, a year, or an age. The word was {footnote p. 26} applied to coin which had long circulated, and which had consequently worn away and become worthless.]

{p. 26}

Then his mother arose and told the household of Nanak's state. Upon this the whole family and relations grew sad, and said it was a great pity that Kalu's son had become mad.

His uncle Lalu among others exerted himself to console the young prophet. He represented to Nanak that all his relations had fixed on an occupation for him, but he had refused to adopt it. On the contrary, he would do nothing whatever, not even enjoy himself. Nanak then gave utterance to the following hymn, which, however, is not found in the Granth Sahib:--

All men are bound by entanglements; how can these be called good qualities?
Nay, O Lalu, listen to the following qualities:--
Forgiveness is my mother, contentment my father,
Truth by which I have subdued my heart my uncle,
Love of God my brother, affection mine own begotten son,
Patience my daughter--I am pleased with such relations--
Peace my companion., wisdom my disciple--
This is my family in whom I ever rejoice.
The one God who adorned us all is my Lord.
Nanak, he who forsaketh Him and clingeth to another shall suffer misery.

Guru Nanak then became silent, lay down, and ate and drank nothing. The whole family represented to Kalu that something ought to be done for his son. A physician ought to be called, and medicine prescribed. 'Who knows but that behind a straw there is a lakh?' that is, by a small expenditure Nanak may recover. Upon this, Kalu went and brought a physician. The physician came, and began to feel Nanak's pulse. He withdrew his arm, and, drawing in his feet, stood up and said, 'O

{p. 27}

physician, what art thou doing?' The physician said that he was diagnosing his disease. Upon this Nanak laughed, and then uttered the following verses:--

The physician is sent for to prescribe a remedy; he taketh my hand and feeleth my pulse.
The ignorant physician knoweth not that it is in my mind the pain is.[1]
Physician, go home; take not my curse with thee.
I am imbued with my Lord; to whom givest thou medicine?
When there is pain, the physician standeth ready with a store of medicine:
The body is weeping, the soul crieth out, 'Physician, give none of thy medicine.'
Physician, go home, few know my malady.
The Creator who gave me this pain, will remove it.

The physician asked Nanak what he himself thought his illness was. Nanak replied:--

I first feel the pain of separation from God, then a pang of hunger for contemplation on Him.
I also fear the pain which Death's powerful myrmidons may inflict.
I feel pain that my body shall perish by disease.
O ignorant physician, give me no medicine.
Such medicine as thou hast, my friend, removeth not
The pain I feel or the continued suffering of my body.
I forgot God and devoted myself to pleasure
Then this bodily illness befell me.
The wicked heart is punished.
Ignorant physician, give me no medicine.
As sandal is useful when it exhaleth perfume,
As man is useful as long as he hath breath in his body,
So when the breath departeth, the body crumbleth away and becometh useless:
No one taketh medicine after that.

[1. Malâr ki Wâr.]

{p. 28}

When man shall possess the Name of the Bright and Radiant[1] One,
His body shall become like gold and his soul be made pure;
All his pain and disease shall be dispelled,
And he shall be saved, Nanak, by the true Name.[2]

The following was on the same subject:--

Pain is arsenic, the name of God is the antidote.
O ignorant man, take such medicines
As shall cure thee of thy sins.
Make contentment thy mortar, the gift of thy hands thy pestle:
By ever using these the body pineth not away,
Nor at the final hour shall Death pommel thee.
Make enjoyments thy firewood, covetousness thy clarified butter and oil.
Burn them with the oil of lust and anger in the fire[3] of divine knowledge.
Burnt offerings, sacred feasts, and the reading of the Purans,[4]
If pleasing to God, are acceptable.
Empire, wealth, and youth are all shadows
So are carriages and imposing mansions.
Hereafter neither man's name nor his caste shall be considered.
There is day, here all is night.
Let us make penitence the paper,[5] Thy name, O Lord, the prescription.
They for whom this priceless medicine is prescribed,

[1. Also translated--When man possesseth even a portion of the name of the Bright One.

2 Malâr.

3 It was intended by his parents to make a hom sacrifice or burnt offering for Nânak's recovery. The Sanskrit word hom is interpreted to mean casting into the fire, and correctly represents the oblation of clarified butter, sesames, butter, &c., which forms part of the ceremonial.

4 Sacred books of the Hindus, eighteen in number. They are the principal authorities for the idolatry and superstition of the Hindus.

5. To write a prescription on.]

{p. 29}

Are fortunate when they reach their final home.
O Nanak, blessed are the mothers who bore them.[1]

Then the physician drew back, stood still, and said that Nanak was not ill. His relations and friends ought to feel no anxiety for him, for he was a great being. Upon this the physician worshipped him and took his leave.

There is very little known regarding Nanak's married life excepting that he begot two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. It was related that he used to retire to the desert, and pass his time under trees in religious contemplation.

All the modern Janamsakhis make Nanak's marriage long subsequent to this, and after his departure to Sultanpur. They say that it was Jai Ram who had him married, and that his wife was a native of Pakkho, a town not far from Sultanpur. We have followed Mani Singh and the old Janamsakhi. If Nanak had been left to his own discretion, and if his marriage had not been made for him by his parents, it is most probable that he would not have turned his attention to that part of a man's duties after entering the service of the government in Sultanpur. This will subsequently be understood when we come to consider his mode of life at that capital.

Next: Life Of Guru Nanak: Chapter III