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Bhai Lehna's Tests

Bhai Lehna, who later on came to be known as Sri Guru Angad Sahib Ji, began living at Kartarpur. Soon he succeeded in attaching himself to Guru Nanak's personal staff. A very interesting anecdote about his early days with Guru Nanak shows how by his hard work and humility, Bhai Lehna succeeded in making himself indispensable to Guru Nanak.

Bundles Of Grass

One day, Guru Nanak had collected three bundles of grass for his cows and buffaloes. But since the grass was wet and dripping with mud, his Sikhs and sons refused to carry the bundles. When Bhai Lehna arrived and was informed of his Guru's wish, he picked up the bundles and placed them on his head. On the way, the mud dripping from the wet grass soiled his new clothes.

When they reached home Guru Nanak's wife, Mata Sulakhani, on seeing Bhai Lehna's state asked Guru Nanak if it was proper of him to have asked a new Sikh to carry these muddy bundles. Guru Nanak said that God put bundles on the head of the man who was fit to carry them. His wife, not understanding the hidden meaning, pointed towards his clothes which were soiled with mud. Guru Nanak replied, "This is not mud, it is the saffron of God's court."

When Mata Sulakhani turned to look at Bhai Lehna's clothes again, she was dumbfounded. Instead of the muddy smudges, there were saffron spots spread all over Bhai Lehna's robe. What had seemed so dirty and wet, a little while ago, now looked like a holy dress with saffron colour all over it.

When Mata Sulakhani looked questioningly towards Guru Nanak, he smiled at her and explained that the three bundles he had asked his sons to carry were no ordinary bundles. They represented the spiritual, the temporal and the stewardship of the Sikhs. But his sons had haughtily refused to carry those bundles for fear of spoiling their clothes. They has disobeyed him for purely selfish reasons, while Bhai Lehna had carried the bundles without any hesitation at all. Guru Nanak then told Mata Sulakhani that Bhai Lehna alone, could take on the responsibility of the Guruship.

Dirty Clothes

Guru Nanak would often put his sons and all his Sikhs to some test or another every now and then. Though he was sure that Bhai Lehna deserved to be the next Guru, he wanted the others to see for themselves why he had made that choice. Personally, he was very fond of Bhai Lehna and knew that he possessed all the qualities he had wanted in a son. But he was also aware that his family would react very negatively to his decision to make Bhai Lehna the next Guru. And so, he gave them ample opportunity to see why he preferred Bhai Lehna to his sons.

On one occassion, Guru Nanak woke up in the middle of the night to send for his sons and Bhai Lehna. He then picked up a few of his soiled clothes and asked his sons to wash them. He told them that his clothes were dirty and that he needed them for his prayers the next morning.

Hearing this, both his sons expressed their displeasure and irritation at being woken up in the middle of the night for such a trivial task. They advised Guru Nanak to wear something else in the morning, instead of troubling them over something so unimportant. But Guru Nanak insisted that they be washed immeadiately. At this, his sons became irritated and made an excuse that there was no water in the house. One of them said that even if they did wash it the clothes would never dry by morning. But Guru Nanak would not hear a word of it. He persisted with his demands, but his sons shrugged saying that they would send it to the washerman the next morning. That was the last word on the matter.

Guru Nanak approached Bhai Lehna and asked him to wash the clothes. Bhai Lehna immediately picked up the clothes and, without another word, made his way to the river. Guru Nanak smiled while his sons shook their heads and went back to sleep. The next morning, Bhai Lehna presented the clothes, all nicely washed, dried and well ironed, to Guru Nanak who wore them to the morning prayers. He blessed Bhai Lehna for his devotion, while his sons looked on in a disinterested manner.

Damaged Wall

On another occasion, Guru Nanak asked his sons to repair a wall of his house which had collapsed. The sons refused saying that it was not their job to build or repair walls. Bhai Lehna, who was standing nearby, offered to do it. He started building the wall. When he was halfway through, Guru Nanak told him that it was not straight. Guru Nanak demolished it and began building it again.

Again Guru Nanak showed his dissatisfaction, and Lehna started building it again for the third time. This carried on for some time. Each time Lehna started from scratch. When Guru Nanak's sons tried to discourage him, he replied, "A servant must do his master's work. It is for the master to decide what work he should assign to his servant." Guru Nanak was pleased.

One who performs selfless service, without thought of reward, shall attain his Lord and Master.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 286.

The River

Every morning, Guru Nanak used to go to the river Ravi for his bath. Bhai Lehna would go with him and guard his clothes, while the Guru took his bath. It so happened that on one chilly winter morning three other Sikhs, Bhai Bhagirath, Bhai Budha and Bhai Sudhara, who were seeking Guru Nanak's favour, also accompanied them to the river.

As it was the winter season, black clouds gathered, cold winds blew in gusts, and hail began to fall. The three men became quite benumbed, and were with difficulty able to make their way home shaking and shivering. It was only by warming themselves at the fire that they recovered the use of their limbs. Bhai Lehna endured the cold as if it had been the mildest weather.

Bhai Lehna waited for Guru Nanak to step out of the river. When Guru Nanak came out of the water at sunrise he asked Bhai Lehna why he had continued to stay while the other three had gone home. Bhai Lehna humbly replied, "A servant must never desert his master. So how could I do that?"

There are many sakhis about the obedience of Bhai Lehna, telling us how he gave up his ego and followed the path shown by the Guru. He was never reluctant to do what Guru Nanak wanted the Sikhs to do.

More Tests

Once a congregation of Sikhs assembled at Kartarpur, where it had been raining continously for three days and it became impossible to light a fire or cook, so that there was nothing to eat for his guests. Guru Nanak went out into the fields, taking with him his sons Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. He explained to them his difficulty, and how improper it would be that his guests should want for anything as long as they sought shelter with him.

Guru Nanak looked towards his sons Baba Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das and said, "We have no food left and Sikhs need to be served. Sons, climb up the Acacia (Kikar) tree and shake it, and it shall rain fruit and sweets to satisfy our visitors." Both the sons laughed away the idea and refused to carry out the command. To comply the wishes of his divine master, Bhai Lehna immeadiately climbed and shook the tree when fruit and sweets fell to the ground as Guru Nanak had said. The Acacia normally has seeds which contain as much as 25% more protein than common cereals.

Once Guru Nanak was taking a bath and while doing so, the cup he used for pouring water on his body slipped and rolled into a pit containing dirty water. When asked to take out the cup, the sons of Guru Nanak advised him to get that dirty job done by someone else. Bhai Lehna, however, did not mind at all. He went into the dirty water, took out the cup, cleaned it and handed it back to Guru Nanak.

Gradually, Bhai Lehna became a personal attendant of Guru Nanak, and did all his tasks with a great deal of zeal and dedication. This earned him his Guru's love, and the envy of other Sikhs. Guru Nanak would regularly test his Sikh's devotion. And, on every occasion, Bhai Lehna proved to be a true and a worthy Sikh of Guru Nanak. However, Guru Nanak's sons grew jealous of him, and started showing their dislike openly.

Bhai Lehna Returns Home

Guru Nanak may have sensed his sons dislike of Bhai Lehna and him to return for some time to his family in Khadoor. Having spent three years with Guru Nanak Bhai Lehna felt upset at leaving. But Guru Nanak consoled him saying, "I myself lived in Khadoor once in the house of Sat Bharai (Mai Bharai). My bed is still there. You will feel my presence there."

When Bhai Lehna arrived home, the villagers all turned out to welcome him back.

Guru Nanak arrived to visit Bhai Lehna at Khadoor. Bhai Lehna and his wife welcomed Guru Nanak and served him well. Guru Nanak gave his discourses at Khadoor, educating the villagers.

After Guru Nanak departed for Kartarpur, Lehna regularly recited the prayers taught by Guru Nanak. Soon his hopes, desires and worldly love vanished, and he began to centre his attention and devotion on God.

Knowing Bhai Lehna's devotion to him, Guru Nanak paid him a visit again.

  • Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib

    Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib

    Narowal, Punjab, Pakistan.

    Associated with Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji.

    Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib marks the site where Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji returned to God. Both hindus and muslims claimed Guru Nanak as their own. Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib can be viewed 5 km's from the Indian border with Pakistan.


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