The Guru and Mardana went to Kamrup,[l] a country whose women were famous for their skill in incantation and magic. It was governed by a queen called Nurshah in the Sikh chronicles. She with several of her females went to the Guru and tried to obtain influence over him.
Then the Guru uttered the following verses:--
You buy saline earth, and want musk into the bargain:
Without good works, Nanak, how shall you meet your Spouse?
The Guru continued as follows:--
The virtuous wife enjoyeth her husband; why doth the bad one bewail?
If she become virtuous, then shall she too go to enjoy her husband.
My Spouse is an abode of sweetness; why should He enjoy other women?
If a woman become virtuous and turn her heart into a thread,
She shall string her Spouse's heart thereon like a priceless gem.
I show the way to others, but walk not in it myself; I say I have already traversed it.
If thou, O my Spouse, speak not to me, how shall I abide in Thy house?
Nanak, excepting One there is none besides.
If Thy wife, O Spouse, remain attached to Thee, she shall enjoy Thee.
Nurshah observed that her people's spells were of no avail, however much they tried. The Guru, on
[1. In the time of the Guru it is believed that Kâwarû, or Kâmrûp, included at least the present districts of Goalpâra and Kâmrûp.
2 Kallar, impure nitrate of soda found in sandy soils in India.
'Fungar vice cotis, acutum
Reddere quae ferrum valet, exsors ipsa secandi.'--HORACE.
beholding their fruitless efforts, uttered the following hymn in the Suhi measure entitled Kuchajji, or the woman of bad character:--
I am a worthless woman; in me are faults; how can I go to enjoy my Spouse?
My Spouse's wives are one better than the other; O my life, who careth for me?
My female friends who have enjoyed their Spouse are in the shade of the mango.
I do not possess their virtues; to whom can I attribute blame?
What attributes of Thine, O Lord, shall I blazon abroad? What names of Thine shall I repeat?
I cannot even attain one of Thy many excellences: I am ever a sacrifice unto Thee.
Gold, silver, pearls, and rubies which gladden the heart-
These things the Bridegroom hath given me, and I have fixed my heart on them.
I had palaces of brick fashioned with marble.
In these luxuries I forgot the Bridegroom and sat not near Him.
The kulangs cry in the heavens, and the cranes have come to roost.
The woman goeth to her father-in-law's; how shall she show her face as she proceedeth?
As morning dawned she soundly slept, and forgot her journey.
She separated from Thee, O Spouse, and therefore stored up grief her herself.
[1. Literally-who knoweth my name?
2. That is, they are fortunate. The mango is an evergreen, and its leaves always afford shelter.
3. It is my own fault that I possess not virtue.
4. And forgotten the Giver.
5. The Orientals believe that very old men hear noises in their heads. The kulang is a large stately Indian bird.
6. Grey hair has come.
7. In the Granth Sâhib the present world is called one's father's' house, and the next world one's father-in-law's.]
In Thee, O Lord, are merits; in me all demerits: Nanak bath this one representation to make.
Every night is for the virtuous woman; may I though unchaste obtain a night also!
Nurshah grew weary of her efforts. She felt that her ill success was the result of her sins. Her women then, beating drums, stood in front of the Guru, and began to dance and sing. He on that occasion composed the following hymn:--
The impulses of my heart are my cymbals and madiras.
The world is my drum; this is the music that playeth for Me.
Saints like Narad dance under the influence of this Kal age.
They who call themselves continent and virtuous also enter the dance.
Nanak, I am a sacrifice to the Name.
The world is blind in the opinion of those who know the Lord.
Contrary to custom, a disciple eateth from the hand of his guru,
And goeth and dwelleth with him only for the sake of food.
If man were to live and eat hundreds of years,
Only that day would be acceptable in which he recognized the Lord.
Compassion is not exercised by merely beholding a suitor;
There is no one who receiveth or giveth not bribes.
The king dispenseth justice when his palm is filled.
If a man make a request for God's sake nobody heedeth him.
Nanak, men nowadays are men only in shape and name:
[1. She has grown grey in sin, and is not desirable to her Husband.
2. The madîras were struck with a stick, and somewhat corresponded to European triangles.
3. Even saints dance for pleasure, and not for the love of God in this age.
4. This is described as a custom of this degenerate age. The proper course would be for the disciple to feed his master.
5. A bribe must be paid to the judge.]
In action they are dogs; shall they be accepted at God's gate?
If man by the favour of his guru deem himself a guest in this world,
He shall acquire some honour in God's court.
Again the Guru uttered the following verses:--
In words we are good, but in acts bad.
We are impure-minded and black-hearted, yet we wear the white robes of innocence.
We envy those who stand and serve at His gate.
They who love the Bridegroom and enjoy the pleasure of His embraces,
Are lowly even in their strength, and remain humble.
Nanak, our lives shall be profitable if we meet such women.
When the Guru had uttered these verses, Nurshah thought she would tempt him with wealth. Her attendants brought pearls, diamonds, gold, silver, coral, sumptuous dresses, all things precious the state treasury contained, and laid them at his feet. The Guru rejected all the proffered presents, and uttered the following hymn, which he sang to Mardana's rebeck:--
O silly woman, why art thou proud?
Why enjoyest thou not the love of God in thine own home?
The Spouse is near; O foolish woman, why searchest thou abroad?
Put the surma needles of God's fear into thine eyes, and
ear the decoration of love.
Thou shalt be known as a devoted happy wife if thou love the Bridegroom.
2. Literally--we are white outside.
3. Sri Râg ki Wâr.
4. The Indian husband is deemed as a god by his wife.
5 A species of collyrium.
6. Suhâgan, from the Sanskrit su, good, and bhâg fortune, is applied to a wife whose husband is alive. Her lot is happy, and her state deemed holy in comparison with that of a widow.]
What shall a silly woman do if she please not her Spouse?
However much she implore, she may not enter His chamber.
Without God's grace she obtaineth nothing, howsoever she may strive.
Intoxicated with avarice, covetousness, and pride, she is absorbed in mammon.
It is not by these means the Bridegroom is obtained; silly is the woman who thinketh so.
Go and ask the happy wives by what means they obtained their Spouse--
'Whatever He doeth accept as good; have done with cleverness and orders.
'Apply thy mind to the worship of His feet by whose love what is most valued is obtained.
'Do whatever the Bridegroom biddeth thee; give Him thy body and soul; such perfumes apply.'
Thus speak the happy wives: 'O sister, by these means the Spouse is obtained.
'Efface thyself, so shalt thou obtain the Bridegroom; what other art is there?'
Only that day is of account when the Bridegroom looketh with favour; the wife hath then obtained the wealth of the world.
She who pleaseth her Spouse is the happy wife Nanak, she is the queen of them all.
She is saturated with pleasure, intoxicated with happiness, and day and night absorbed in His love.
She is beautiful and fair to view, accomplished, and it is she alone who is wise.
[1. Who have God for their spouse.
2. That is, salvation. Also translated--from whom the wealth of love is obtained.
3. That is, let these be thy blandishments.
4. This is the reply of the favourite wives showing how they won God as their Spouse.
5. Sahij. This word has many meanings in the Granth Sâhib. It means natural disposition, easily, slowly, divine knowledge, divine tranquillity, God, &c. In some of its meanings it is derived from sah, with, and ja, born.
Nurshah and her women, on hearing this hymn, twisted their head-dresses around their necks in token of submission, and fell at the Guru's feet. They asked how they could obtain salvation. The Guru told them to repeat God's name, conscientiously perform their domestic duties, renounce magic, and they should thus secure future happiness. It is said that they became followers of Guru Nanak, and thus secured salvation.
The Guru, on leaving Kamrup, entered a wilderness. There Kaljug came to tempt him. Mardana became sore afraid. The Guru remonstrated with him; asked why he was afraid of Kaljug; if he felt fear it ought to be the fear of God.
The Guru then sang the following hymn:--
Put the fear of God into thy heart; then the fear of Death shall depart in fear.
What is that fear by fearing which the fear of Death may take fright?
O God, there is no other abode than in Thee
Whatever happeneth is according to Thy pleasure.
Fear if thou have any other fear than that of God
Fear is mental disturbance.
The soul dieth not, neither is it drowned; it is saved through fear of God.
He who made something will make something.
By His order man cometh; by His order man goeth
Before and behind us His order prevaileth.
The swan of the heart aspireth to fly to heaven
But on the way it is a target for great hunger which restraineth it.
Let the swan make fear its eating, drinking, and support Without such food the stupid bird would die.
Who hath a helper let anybody say.
Everybody is Thine; Thou art the helper of all.
[1. Kaljug here means Satan.
2. Dar ghar, the abode of fear, is explained by the gyânis to mean God.]
Nanak, to name and meditate on Him to whom belong
Men, lower animals, wealth, and property, is difficult.
Mardana inquired who Kaljug was, by what signs he was known unto men, and what prerogative he exercised? The Guru replied:--
When true men speak the truth and suffer for it; when penitents fail to perform penance in their homes;
When he who repeateth the name of God meeteth obloquy--these are the signs of the Kaljug.
Kaljug offered the Guru the wealth of the world if he would abandon his mission. He said, 'I possess everything. Say but the word, and I will build thee a palace of pearls, inlay it with gems, and plaster it with fragrant aloes and sandal. I will bring thee very beautiful women, and give thee the wealth of the world, the power of working miracles, and confer upon thee the sovereignty of the East and of the West. Take whatever pleaseth thee.' The Guru informed him that he himself had renounced all sovereignty. What could he do with what Kaljug offered him, which moreover belonged to others? Then the Guru uttered the following stanza:--
Were a mansion of pearls erected and inlaid with gems for me;
Perfumed with musk, saffron, fragrant aloes and sandal to confer delight;
May it not be that on beholding these things I may forget Thee, O God, and not remember Thy name!
My soul burneth without Thee.
I have ascertained from my Guru that there is no other shelter than in God.
Were the earth to be studded with diamonds and rubies, and my couch to be similarly adorned;
Were fascinating damsels whose faces were decked with jewels to shed lustre and enhance the pleasure of the scene
May it not be that on beholding them I may forget Thee and not remember Thy name!
Were I to become a Sidh and work miracles; could I command the wealth of the universe to come to me;
Could I disappear and appear at pleasure, and were the world to honour me;
May it not be that on beholding these things I may forget Thee and not remember Thy name!
Were I to become a monarch on my throne and raise an army;
Were dominion and regal revenue mine--O Nanak, they would be all worthless--
May it not be that on beholding these things I may forget Thee and not remember Thy name!
Then Kaljug went round him in adoration, fell at his feet, and took his departure.
On the way Guru and Mardana sought shelter in a village, but were not allowed to remain there. The villagers began to play practical jokes on them. The Guru on that occasion uttered the following verses:--
When I remain silent, they say I have no understanding in my heart;
When I speak, they say I chatter too much;
When I sit, they say I have spread my pallet to stay;
When I go away, they say I have thrown dust on my head;
When I bow down, they say I perform my devotions through fear.
I can do nothing by which I may spend my time in peace.
Both here and hereafter may the Creator preserve Nanak's honour!
Then the Guru composed the following hymn in the Rag Malar:--
[1. Sri Râg.
2 That is, I have become a faqir and dishonoured my family.]
Death is forgotten amid eating and drinking, laughter and sleep.
By forgetting the Lord man hath ruined himself and rendered his life accursed; he is not to tarry here.
O man, ponder on the one Name,
And thou shalt go to thy home with honour.
What do they who worship Thee give Thee? Nay, they
cease not to beg of Thee.
Thou conferrest gifts on all creatures; Thou art the life
within their lives.
The pious who meditate on God receive nectar; it is they who are pure.
Day and night repeat the Name, O mortal, that thine
impurities may be washed away.
As is the season so the comfort of the body, and so the
O Nanak, that season is agreeable in which God's name is repeated; but what is any season without the Name?
The Guru and Mardana did not remain long in that village. Mardana asked the Guru what his decision was regarding its inhabitants. He replied, 'O Mardana, may they remain here! '
The inhabitants of the next village at which they arrived showed them great attention. They remained there, however, for only one night, and departed next morning. The Guru when leaving said that the village should be abandoned. Then Mardana remarked, 'Sir, the village in which we were not allowed to sit down, thou hast blessed; and that which bestowed great attention and kindness on us thou hast cursed.' The Guru replied, 'Mardana, if the people of the former village remove to another, they shall ruin it; but if the people of the latter village remove to another, they shall save it.'
The Guru returned from Kamrup by the great river Brahmaputra, and then made a coasting voyage to Puri on the Bay of Bengal, where Vishnu or
[1. That is, the condition of the body is as changeable as the seasons.]
Krishan, under the name of Jagannath, lord of the world, is specially worshipped. When the lamps were lit in the evening the Guru was invited by the high priest to stand up and join in the god's worship, which was of a gorgeous and imposing character. In that rich temple offerings to the god were made on salvers studded with pearls. On the salvers were placed flowers and censers. A fan was employed to excite the flames of the incense, while the lamps around threw light over the temple. But the use of these articles showed artificial worship, while the expanse of the firmament, the sun and the moon, the procession of the stars, the natural incense of the sandal, the winds and forests, were the fitting accessories of Nanak's purer worship of the God of creation. The Guru therefore, instead of accepting the high priest's invitation to adore the idol, raised his eyes to heaven, and gave utterance to the following hymn:--
The sun and moon, O Lord, are: thy lamps; the firmament, Thy salver; the orbs of the stars, the pearls enchased in it.
The perfume of the sandal is Thine incense; the wind is Thy fan; all the forests are Thy flowers, O Lord of light.
[1. Maliânlo, literally--the wind from the Malay tree.
2. In the original, chauri, a flapper made from the tail of the yak or Thibetan cow, and used in India to brush away flies.
3 The following is Dr. Trumpp's translation of these two verses:--
The dish is made of the sky, the sun and moon are made the lamps, the orbs of stars are, so to say, the pearls.
The wind is incense-grinding, the wind swings the fly-brush, the whole blooming wood is the flames (of the lamps).
While the present author was engaged in translating the sacred writings of the Sikhs at their request, one Bhâi Gurumukh Singh projected a rival translation, which was to surpass all others. His modus operandi was to alter Dr. Trumpp's words here and there, and thus produce what he perhaps deemed would be an original version. He circulated the following as his translation of these lines:--
The sky is for my plate (for arti); the sun and moon are for lamps; (and) rows of stars are as it were for pearls.
The air of sandal wood for perfumary smoke, the wind (for my) fan and all the rows of blooming forests (for flowers), O Lord of light.
What worship is this, O Thou Destroyer of birth? Unbeaten strains of ecstasy are the trumpets of Thy worship.
Thou hast a thousand eyes and yet not one eye; Thou hast a thousand forms and yet not one form;
Thou hast a thousand pure feet and yet not one foot;
Thou hast a thousand organs of smell and yet not one organ--I am fascinated by this play of Thine.
The light which is in everything is Thine, O Lord of light.
From its brilliancy everything is brilliant;
By the Guru's teaching the light becometh manifest.
What pleaseth Thee is the real arati.
O God, my mind is fascinated with Thy lotus feet as the bumble-bee with the flower: night and day I thirst for them.
Give the water of Thy grace to the sarang Nanak, so that he may dwell in Thy name,
[1. That is, or transmigration.
2. Thou hast man, spiritual eyes, but no material eye,
3. Thy manifestations are many yet Thou hast no bodily form.
4. Also translated--In this way Thou hast enchanted the world.
5. In memory of the circumstance recorded in the text the Sikhs repeat several prayers in the evening. The prayers are collectively called Ârati, and consist of this hymn and some others, which will be noted in their proper place. The word Ârati originally meant waving lamps at night before an idol.
6. The Sârang, or pied Indian cuckoo, the Cuculus Melanoleukos is supposed to drink water only when the moon is in the mansion of Arcturus, so, when its time comes to drink, it is naturally thirsty. This bird is also known under the names châtrik and papîha. Its love is celebrated in song and story. It is in full voice on the approach of the Indian monsoon, when its plaintive strains are heard clearest at night. It is said that they make love's unhealed wounds bleed anew.
While at Jagannath, Guru Nanak met a Brahman who kept his eyes and nose closed so as to receive no pleasure from these organs. He averred that in that state he with his mental eyes saw the secrets of the world. Nanak hid his lota and the Brahman could not find it, so Nanak by the following hymn in the Dhanasari measure twitted him on his want of omniscience:--
This is not the age, there is. no longer acquaintance with jog; this is not the way of truth.
The holy places in the world have fallen; the world is thus ruined.
In this Kal age God's name is the best thing.
Thou closest thine eyes and holdest thy nose to deceive the world.
Thou holdest thy nose with thy thumb and first two fingers, and sayest that thou seest the three worlds.
But thou seest not what is behind thee, this is a wonderful thing.