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Bhai Lehna Meets Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak founded a new settlement and named it Kartarpur. Guru Nanak would farm and hold his daily satsang (congregation) with the people in the village to tell them about God and the goal of human life. At the time Bhai Lehna, who later on came to be known as Guru Angad, was a resident of the village Khadoor.

Early one morning at village Sangar, Bhai Lehna went for a bath in the nearby village pond, where he heard Bhai Jodha, a Sikh of Guru Nanak, singing the hymns of his Guru (Asa Ki Var) having his bath. Bhai Lehna heard these serene and divine heart touching hymns, he was captivated and filled with great peace and joy. After learning that Guru Nanak had composed the hymns Bhai Lehna made up his mind to meet Guru Nanak.

Meanwhile, the more Bhai Lehna learnt about Guru Nanak, the more he wanted to meet him. There was something about the Guru's teachings which touched him deeply. Bhai Lehna told his family and a few of his friends about his desire to meet the Guru, but they were completely against it. They told him that their whole family worshipped Goddess Durga and it would not be right to follow anyone else, especially since, they were heading towards Jwalamukhi to pay their respects to Goddess Durga on their yearly pilgrimage.

Longing to Meet Guru Nanak

Bhai Lehna felt distressed at not being able to visit Guru Nanak as he was the leader of the group visiting Goddess Durga's temple. Bhai Lehna was so restless that he could not sleep at night. He longed to see Guru Nanak and hear more of his golden words, but he thought he would be doing wrong to abandon the group midway through their journey. He tried to console himself by saying that he would go and see the Guru the day after their return to Khadur.

Though the thought comforted him a little, Bhai Lehna was still very depressed. He was so spellbound by the divine words of Guru Nanak's hymns that he could not think of anything else. He would often pray to Guru Nanak hoping that the Guru would hear his prayers. Bhai Lehna travelled with the other pilgrims, but his heart was somewhere else. One night, he made his decision, he decided to leave the party quietly since he knew that they would do their best to dissuade him. And so, that very night, he mounted his horse and left for Kartarpur.

Simultaneously, Guru Nanak left his home to greet Bhai Lehna.

Charan saran Gur ek painda jaaeh chal, Satgur kot paindaa aageh hoeh layt hai
If you take one step towards the Guru, the Guru will take millions of steps towards you.
~ Bhai Gurdas Ji

The Outskirts Of Kartarpur

Bhai Lehna was full with joy when he finally reached the outskirts of Kartarpur, that he felt as though he had been born again. He was elated at finally being so close to his Guru. He felt rejuvenated by just entering the city where Guru Nanak lived. He looked forward to meeting his Guru eagerly.

While he was proceeding to Kartarpur he met a tall, strong and cheerful old man. When Bhai Lehna asked him the way to Guru Nanak's home, the old man gently replied, "You can come with me, as I am going that way myself." Bhai Lehna readily agreed and the old man took the reins from Bhai Lehna's hands, "it will be my privilege to lead you to him."

Bhai Lehna remained in the saddle lost in his own reverie. His heartbeat quickened and his mind raced as the old man walked quietly, leading Lehna's horse. There was no traffic along the road that still morning as the sun ascended toward its zenith. The scents of the morning cook fires blended with the aromas of rhe fertilized fields and the grazing livestock.

The sounds of the morning devotions gave way to the sounds of a village rising to meet the day: children playing in the streets, the bells of the cows and buffaloes being driven through the village, and rhe laughter of the women at the wells, all to the rhythmic jingle of Bhai Lehna's ankle bells. Yet it was the profound silence rhar existed between Bhai Lehna and the old man that was the most deafening for him.

Arriving in Kartarpur

They stopped in front of a rather large mud brick house with an unusually large courtyard that was raked and well-tended. Many feet had frequented the courtyard and a smooch path was worn to the door of rhe house. Off to the side of the house fluttered a beautifully embroidered canopy, under which was a raised dais covered with white sheets and decorated cushions.

The many pipal trees around the courtyard area provided shade and Bhai Lehna noted that this house had its own well. Behind the house was the stable and manger. A young girl sat beside a buffaloe expertly milking it. To the left spread perfectly tended fields, with the earliest shoots of mustard greens making their way through the surface of the earth coward the sun.

The old man stopped at the gate and handing Bhai Lehna the reins said in a cheerful musical voice, "This is the home of Guru Nanak. I must leave you here and go about my own business. Please go to the front door and knock. Ask to see the Guru. I believe that he will receive you most graciously."

"Thank you, Baba Ji," said Bhai Lehna. "You've been most kind." By the time that Bhai Lehna had dismounted, the old man had disappeared. Curious, he thought, I never saw him leave.

Bhai Lehna Prepares Himself

Short of breath from excitement, Bhai Lehna opened the gate and entered. His anxiety diminished in the peaceful refuge of the Guru's courtyard. Standing in the shade of the courtyard Bhai Lehna felt refreshed. In his life Bhai Lehna had met many holy men, sadhus, fakirs, yogis, swamis, pundits, and magicians. He had seen amazing displays of spiritual powers and heard scholarly brahmins discourse for days on all the subtle and mystical meanings of the Vedas. However, while they had entertained him, they had neither elevated him nor given him a spiritual experience. In fact they all seemed rather full of themselves, more intent on showing off than on giving true spiritual instruction. To Bhai Lehna, it seemed that they had spent many years studying, meditating, and practicing austerities so they could show off and gain materially.

Bhai Lehna brushed the horsehairs from his dhoti and straightened it so that the blue border was even along the bottom and up the front, then smoothed his blue vest with the gold embroidery over his white kurta. He held a large colorful and fragrant garland that had been specially made the evening before, eleven rupees, and a hammered brass box filled with delicate sweets. With the jingle of his ankle bells reassuring him and with a prayer on his lips, Bhai Lehna approached the door and knocked. After a brief wait, someone answered.

Request To Meet Guru Nanak

In proper tradition Bhai Lehna spoke. "Please forgive my rude intrusion. I am Lehna," he said humbly, "an unworthy pilgrim from the village of Khadoor. I have been told of the glorious radiance of Guru Nanak, which is equal to that of the Gods, and I, a mere supplicant, only have the hope of possibly beholding the wondrous presence of such a Guru so that I might receive his generous darshan. My prayer is that in this way my mind might be stilled and my longings fulfilled."

"Guru Ji is unavailable at this time. Please come in the afternoon when he will be in darbar," and the servant gestured toward the dais with the canopy in the courtyard."

"Forgive me, Ji, but a servant of this house led me here and told me to knock at this door. He told me that if I did so, the Guru would meet me."

The servant eyed Bhai Lehna suspiciously. He looked down at Bhai Lehna's ankle bells and the slightest ray of recognition seemed to pass across his face. "Please wait, I will inquire." The servant shut the door and left Bhai Lehna standing.

After a wait that seemed to take the rest of the morning, the door opened. "Guru Ji will be pleased to see you." He escorted Bhai Lehna into the presence of Guru Nanak. When Bhai Lehna saw Guru Nanak sitting and smiling brightly at him, his heart and mind circled each other like birds in flight. He was shocked and surprised to see the same old man that had led him here.

Bhai Lehna Meets Guru Nanak

"Oh, God!" Bhai Lehna exclaimed, his eyes tearing. "You are Guru Nanak!" He rushed before Guru Nanak and, laying down his gifts, placed his forehead at Guru Nanak's feet. "Forgive my arrogance for not recognizing you before. I am so ashamed that I remained mounted in your presence while you led my horse with your own hands. I spoke to you as if you were nothing more than a servant."

Bhai Lehna was astonished that Guru Nanak could be so humble and simple. In his experience holy men, fakirs, and men of knowledge and learning were ordinarily quite arrogant, with seemingly unlimited hubris. Normally, people never looked them directly in the eye and never spoke to them unless authorized to do so. "No forgiveness is required, my son." Guru Nanak's voice was warm and comforting. "I simply led you to where you belong. You must stay a few days and we will become acquainted."

Guru Nanak asked Bhai Lehna for his name and affectionately said that if Lehna meant 'to collect' then he would provide was required. Bhai Lehna failed to understand the subtle prophecy that one day he would become the Guru succeeding Guru Nanak. Bhai Lehna felt very ashamed as he had ridden his horse while Guru Nanak had walked the entire distance. He asked Guru Nanak to forgive him, and only when the Guru told him that he had done nothing wrong, and that it was the host's duty to serve his guests, was Bhai Lehna pacified.

Bhai Lehna remained all that day and the next two with Guru Nanak. On the third day, Guru Nanak advised him, "Return to Khadoor and see to your obligations there. Recite my hymns and meditate on God's name each day, as I have instructed you and return when you are ready".

Bhai Lehna returned to Khadur and early the next morning before sunrise, he solemnly removed the bells from around his ankles and quietly buried them in his courtyard. He was deeply satisfied that he had gone to meet Guru Nanak. His way of viewing the world, his life, and all that he had been taught and accustomed to had changed. He was a different man than the one who, less that a week before, had asked Bhai Jodha about the songs he had sang.

A Changed Man

On hearing Guru Nanak's discourse, witnessing the humility and kindness shown to a stranger, Bhai Lehna threw away the bells which he had bought to dance before the flame Goddess Jwalamukhi. After this, he was a changed man. He started living at Kartarpur and decided to henceforth, dedicate himself to the service of Guru Nanak with the same humility, love and kindness.

During his first night at Kartarpur, Bhai Lehna had a vision of a beautiful lady, wearing red cloths and sweeping the home of Guru Nanak. On enquiry, she replied that she was the same Goddess, whom he used to visit every year for blessings. The reply left Bhai Lehna wonderstruck. Then the Goddess gently explained that this was the home of Almighty Lord from where she received everything and gave to her followers. Bhai Lehna thanked Almighty Lord, who had brought him on to his real home and into Sikhi.

During the next day, after waiting for a long time, Bhai Lehna's fellow pilgrims arrived and asked him to continue leading the group for the pilgrimage. Bhai Lehna humbly brushed aside their persuasions and told them that he had found his true divine home, the one he had been searching for his whole life. Now, he wouldn't go anywhere.

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