• Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • You Tube icon


Guru Arjan And The Arrogant Brahman Pandit

A Sikh called Bhai Paira lived with Guru Arjan, and used to wait on him day and night. Guru Arjan's teaching made a great impression on Bhai Paira's mind. At that time a proud ritualistic hindu brahman pandit arrived in Amritsar to hold a religious argument with the Guru.

On the morning after his arrival the pandit put a tilak on his forehead and went and sat in devotional attitude on the edge of the Guru's sarovar. He had a salagram (a stone idol that hindus worship as one of many gods), a bell (used to communicate with a god or goddess), and a shell (used to dispell evil spirits), which he ostentatiously displayed. After Guru Arjan bathed in the sarovar, he walked past the pandit, but did not show any respect to him or his salagram.

The brahman became angry, and said the Guru and his Sikhs had sadly fallen away from orthodox hindu worship. "Although he calls himself a Guru", said the brahman, "and has followers and worshippers, he is only a khatri and a family man, while I am a pure brahman (highest caste). He should treat me with respect and worship me. Ram and Krishan, who were incarnations of God, used to rever and worship brahmans."

The Guru knew what was going through the brahman's mind, and stopped to speak to him when passing him again. "Brahman, why are you so full of arrogance and anger?" The brahman briefly stated the cause. Guru Arjan replied with the following hymn;

ਰਾਮਕਲੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥
raamkalee mehlaa 5.
Raamkalee, Fifth Mehl:

ਮੁਖ ਤੇ ਪੜਤਾ ਟੀਕਾ ਸਹਿਤ ॥
mukh tay parh-taa teekaa sahit.
You read the scriptures, and the commentaries,

ਹਿਰਦੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਨਹੀ ਪੂਰਨ ਰਹਤ ॥
hirdai raam nahee pooran rahat.
but the Perfect Lord does not dwell in your heart.

ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਕਰੇ ਕਰਿ ਲੋਕ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਵੈ ॥
updays karay kar lok darirh-aavai.
You preach to others to have faith,

ਅਪਨਾ ਕਹਿਆ ਆਪਿ ਨ ਕਮਾਵੈ ॥੧॥
apnaa kahi-aa aap na kamaavai. ||1||
but you do not practice what you preach. ||1||

ਪੰਡਿਤ ਬੇਦੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ॥
pandit bayd beechaar pandit.
O Pandit, O religious scholar, contemplate the Vedas.

ਮਨ ਕਾ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਨਿਵਾਰਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
man kaa krodh nivaar pandit. ||1|| rahaa-o.
Eradicate anger from your mind, O Pandit. ||1||Pause||

ਆਗੈ ਰਾਖਿਓ ਸਾਲ ਗਿਰਾਮੁ ॥
aagai raakhi-o saal giraam.
You place your stone god before yourself,

ਮਨੁ ਕੀਨੋ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮੁ ॥
man keeno dah dis bisraam.
but your mind wanders in the ten directions.

ਤਿਲਕੁ ਚਰਾਵੈ ਪਾਈ ਪਾਇ ॥
tilak charaavai paa-ee paa-ay.
You apply a ceremonial tilak mark to its forehead, and fall at its feet.

ਲੋਕ ਪਚਾਰਾ ਅੰਧੁ ਕਮਾਇ ॥੨॥
lok pachaaraa andh kamaa-ay. ||2||
You try to appease the people, and act blindly. ||2||

ਖਟੁ ਕਰਮਾ ਅਰੁ ਆਸਣੁ ਧੋਤੀ ॥
khat karmaa ar aasan dhotee.
You perform the six religious rituals, and sit wearing your loin-cloth.

ਭਾਗਠਿ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਪੜੈ ਨਿਤ ਪੋਥੀ ॥
bhaagath garihi parhai nit pothee.
In the homes of the wealthy, you read the prayer book.

ਮਾਲਾ ਫੇਰੈ ਮੰਗੈ ਬਿਭੂਤ ॥
maalaa fayrai mangai bibhoot.
You chant on your mala, and beg for money.

ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਕੋਇ ਨ ਤਰਿਓ ਮੀਤ ॥੩॥
ih bidh ko-ay na tari-o meet. ||3||
No-one has ever been saved in this way, friend. ||3||

ਸੋ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਕਮਾਇ ॥
so pandit gur shabad kamaa-ay.
One alone is a Pandit, who lives the word of the Guru's Shabad.

ਤ੍ਰੈ ਗੁਣ ਕੀ ਓਸੁ ਉਤਰੀ ਮਾਇ ॥
tarai gun kee os utree maa-ay.
Maya, of the three qualities, leaves one.

ਚਤੁਰ ਬੇਦ ਪੂਰਨ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਇ ॥
chatur bayd pooran har naa-ay.
The four Vedas are completely contained within the Lord's Name.

ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਸਰਣੀ ਪਾਇ ॥੪॥੬॥੧੭॥
naanak tis kee sarnee paa-ay. ||4||6||17||
Nanak seeks God's Sanctuary. ||4||6||17||

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjan, Ang 887 to 888

The brahman replied, "Guru, even if you don't think I fit to bow before, at least you should have bowed to the salagram." The Guru then extemporized the following hymn intended to refute and humble the hindu priest;

ਆਸਾ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥
aasaa mehlaa 5.
Aasaa, Fifth Mehl:

ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਉਦਕ ਇਸਨਾਨੀ ॥
aath pahar udak isnaanee.
Twenty-four hours a day, one takes his cleansing bath in water;

ਸਦ ਹੀ ਭੋਗੁ ਲਗਾਇ ਸੁਗਿਆਨੀ ॥
sad hee bhog lagaa-ay sugi-aanee.
one makes continual offerings to the Lord; one is a true man of wisdom.

ਬਿਰਥਾ ਕਾਹੂ ਛੋਡੈ ਨਾਹੀ ॥
birthaa kaahoo chhodai naahee.
One never leaves anything uselessly.

ਬਹੁਰਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਤਿਸੁ ਲਾਗਹ ਪਾਈ ॥੧॥
bahur bahur tis laagah paa-ee. ||1||
Again and again, one falls at the Lord's Feet. ||1||

ਸਾਲਗਿਰਾਮੁ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਸੇਵਾ ॥
saalgiraam hamaarai sayvaa.
Such is the Saalagraam, the stone idol, which I serve;

ਪੂਜਾ ਅਰਚਾ ਬੰਦਨ ਦੇਵਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
poojaa archaa bandan dayvaa. ||1|| rahaa-o.
such is my worship, flower-offerings and divine adoration as well. ||1||Pause||

ਘੰਟਾ ਜਾ ਕਾ ਸੁਨੀਐ ਚਹੁ ਕੁੰਟ ॥
ghantaa jaa kaa sunee-ai chahu kunt.
God resounds around the four corners of the world.

ਆਸਨੁ ਜਾ ਕਾ ਸਦਾ ਬੈਕੁੰਠ ॥
aasan jaa kaa sadaa baikunth.
One's seat is forever with God.

ਜਾ ਕਾ ਚਵਰੁ ਸਭ ਊਪਰਿ ਝੂਲੈ ॥
jaa kaa chavar sabh oopar jhoolai.
God's chauri, God's fly-brush, waves over all.

ਤਾ ਕਾ ਧੂਪੁ ਸਦਾ ਪਰਫੁਲੈ ॥੨॥
taa kaa dhoop sadaa parfulai. ||2||
God's incense is ever-fragrant. ||2||

ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਸੰਪਟੁ ਹੈ ਰੇ ਜਾ ਕਾ ॥
ghat ghat sampat hai ray jaa kaa.
God is treasured in each and every heart.

ਅਭਗ ਸਭਾ ਸੰਗਿ ਹੈ ਸਾਧਾ ॥
abhag sabhaa sang hai saadhaa.
The Saadh Sangat, the company of the holy, is God's eternal court.

ਆਰਤੀ ਕੀਰਤਨੁ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦ ॥
aartee keertan sadaa anand.
Lamp-lit worship service, is the kirtan of God's praises, which brings lasting bliss.

ਮਹਿਮਾ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਸਦਾ ਬੇਅੰਤ ॥੩॥
mahimaa sundar sadaa bay-ant. ||3||
God's greatness is so beautiful and limitless. ||3||

ਜਿਸਹਿ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਤਿਸ ਹੀ ਲਹਨਾ ॥
jisahi paraapat tis hee lahnaa.
One alone obtains it, who is so pre-ordained;

ਸੰਤ ਚਰਨ ਓਹੁ ਆਇਓ ਸਰਨਾ ॥
sant charan oh aa-i-o sarnaa.
God takes one to the sanctuary of the Saints feet.

ਹਾਥਿ ਚੜਿਓ ਹਰਿ ਸਾਲਗਿਰਾਮੁ ॥
haath charhi-o har saalgiraam.
I hold in my hands the saalagraam of God.

ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਿ ਕੀਨੋ ਦਾਨੁ ॥੪॥੩੯॥੯੦॥
kaho naanak gur keeno daan. ||4||39||90||
Says Nanak, the Guru has given me this Gift. ||4||39||90||

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjan, Ang 393

The following was also quoted by Guru Arjan on the same occasion;

ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਰੇ ਪੇਖਤ ਅੰਧੇ ॥
darisat naahee ray paykhat andhay.
You do not see with your eyes - you are so blind!

ਛੋਡਿ ਜਾਹਿ ਝੂਠੇ ਸਭਿ ਧੰਧੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
chhod jaahi jhoothay sabh dhandhay. ||1|| rahaa-o.
You shall have to leave all these false affairs. ||1||Pause||

ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਬਖਸ ਕਰੀਜੈ ॥
kaho naanak parabh bakhas kareejai.
Says Nanak, please forgive me, God.

ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਮੋਹਿ ਸਾਧਸੰਗੁ ਦੀਜੈ ॥੪॥
kar kirpaa mohi saaDhsang deejai. ||4||
Have mercy upon me, and bless me with the Saadh Sangat, the company of the Holy. ||4||

ਤਉ ਕਿਛੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਜਉ ਹੋਈਐ ਰੇਨਾ ॥
ta-o kichh paa-ee-ai ja-o ho-ee-ai raynaa.
One alone obtains something, who becomes the dust under the feet of all.

ਜਿਸਹਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ ਤਿਸੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਲੈਨਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥੨॥੮॥
jisahi bujhaa-ay tis naam lainaa. ||1|| rahaa-o. ||2||8||
And one alone repeats the naam, whom God causes to understand. ||1||Pause||2||8||

~ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjan, Ang 738-739

The brahman wanted to continue the controversy, but Guru Arjan avoided it as much as possible. At last he consented to hear the brahman speak on the Veds and Upanishads. The brahman wound up with a discourse on the nature of Brahma. When he had finished, Bhai Shalo presented himself, and was given a special welcome by Guru Arjan as would befit a saint.

The brahman contended that it was only he that should be recognised as a saint. The Guru denied this on the ground that the brahman worshipped many gods. On this the brahman produced all the books he had brought with him, but they failed to satisiy Guru Arjan. The brahman then proposed to send his son to Banaras (Varanasi) for the remainder of his library.

An auspicious time for the son's departure was fixed by the astrologers, but after he had set out on his journey, he met a donkey which brayed. Deeming this an unlucky omen he returned. The circumstances gave much banter and amusement to the Sikhs, who became the more convinced of the truth of Sikhi. The Guru summoned Bhai Paira, and told him that when Guru Nanak visited Ceylon (Sri Lanka) he composed the Pransangali, and left it there until a successor of his should demand it. The Guru gave Bhai Paira directions to go and bring the volume.

While the question of funds for the distant journey was under consideration, a Sikh came forward and offered the Guru five paise (a small amount) as all he had in the world. The Guru gave this sum to Bhai Paira for his travelling expenses, and dispatched him without consulting an astrologer. The brahman remarked on this omission, whereupon the Guru read him a lecture on the evils of superstition. Bhai Gurdas, who happened to be with the Guru, wrote the following stanza on the occasion;

ਬੈਸਨੋ ਅਨੰਨਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੰਨਿ ਸਾਲਗ੍ਰਾਮ ਸੇਵਾ ਗੀਤਾ ਭਾਗਵਤ ਸ੍ਰੋਤਾ ਏਕਾਕੀ ਕਹਾਵਈ ।
Baisano Ananni Brahamanni Saalagraam Sayvaa, Geetaa Bhaagavat Srotaa Aykaakee Kahaavaee ।
O Brahman, if someone is a worshipper of Vishnu, is brahmin by caste, worships (stone) and listens to the recitation of Geeta and Bhagwat in a secluded place;

ਤੀਰਥ ਧਰਮ ਦੇਵ ਜਾਤ੍ਰਾ ਕਉ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪੂਛਿ ਕਰਤ ਗਵਨ ਸੁ ਮਹੂਰਤ ਸੋਧਾਵਈ ।
Teerad Dharam Dayv Jaatraa Kau Pandit Poochhi, Karat Gavan Su Mahoorat Sodhaavaee ।
and has the auspicious time and date worked out by learned brahmins before proceeding on religious places or visiting the temples of gods and goddesses located on banks of rivers;

ਬਾਹਰਿ ਨਿਕਸਿ ਗਰਧਬ ਸ੍ਵਾਨ ਸਗਨੁ ਕੈ ਸੰਕਾ ਉਪਰਾਜਿ ਬਹੁਰਿ ਘਰਿ ਆਵਹੀ ।
Baahari Nikasi Garadhab Svaan Saganu Kai, Sankaa Ouparaaji Bahuri Ghari Aavahee ।
but when one sets out of the house and faces a donkey or a dog, one regards it inauspicious and a doubt arises in his mind forcing one to return home.

ਪਤਿਬ੍ਰਤ ਗਹਿ ਰਹਿ ਸਕਤ ਨ ਏਕਾ ਟੇਕ ਦੁਬਧਾ ਅਛਿਤ ਨ ਪਰੰਮ ਪਦੁ ਪਾਵਹੀ ॥੪੪੭॥
Patibrat Gahi Rahi Sakat N Aykaa Tayka, Doubadhaa Achhit N Paranm Padu Paavahee ॥447॥
Despite belonging to a Guru, if a person does not acknowledge the support of his Guru firmly and wanders at the door of one god or the other, one cannot reach the supreme state of oneness with God having been caught in duality. (447)

ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲਾਪ ਕੋ ਪ੍ਰਤਾਪ ਐਸੋ ਪਤਿਬ੍ਰਤ ਏਕ ਟੇਕ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਨਿਵਾਰੀ ਹੈ ।
Gursikh Sangati Milaap Ko Prataap Aiso, Patibrat Ayk Tayk Doubidhaa Nivaaree Hai ।
Such is the power of association, with the company of the Guru's Sikhs, that support is provided and one's indecision is removed.

ਪੂਛਤ ਨ ਜੋਤਕ ਅਉ ਬੇਦ ਥਿਤਿ ਬਾਰ ਕਛੁ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਅਉ ਨਖਤ੍ਰ ਕੀ ਨ ਸੰਕਾ ਉਰ ਧਾਰੀ ਹੈ ।
Poochhat N Jotak Au Bayd Diti Baar Kachhu, Grih Au Nakhatr Kee N Sankaa Ur Dhaaree Hai ।
The Sikh who places faith in the refuge of one True Guru, does not depend upon astrology or the Vedas, nor do they care about the auspiciousness of a day/ dates or supersititions of star/ planet signs.

ਜਾਨਤ ਨ ਸਗਨ ਲਗਨ ਆਨ ਦੇਵ ਸੇਵ ਸਬਦ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਲਿਵ ਨੇਹੁ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰੀ ਹੈ ।
Jaanat N Sagan Lagan Aan Dayv Sayva, Sabad Surati Liv Nayhu Nirankaaree Hai ।
A Sikh has no regard for good or bad omens or serve other gods and goddesses. A Sikh will only fix their attention, love and affection on the one true God.

ਸਿਖ ਸੰਤ ਬਾਲਕ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਤਿਪਾਲਕ ਹੁਇ ਜੀਵਨ ਮੁਕਤਿ ਗਤਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬਿਚਾਰੀ ਹੈ ॥੪੪੮॥
Sikh Sant Baalak Sree Gur Pratipaalak Hui, Jeevan Moukati Gati Braham Bichaaree Hai ॥448॥
The father Guru protects and brings up the specially virtuous children. Such Sikhs are freed of all rites and rituals by the Guru during their life-time, and instills the ideology and thoughts of one Lord in their mind. (448)

~ Bhai Gurdas, Kabit Savaiye 447-448

On hearing this the brahman's pride was thoroughly humbled, and he was obliged to admit that the Sikhs were better than his own co-religionists. His burning heart obtained comfort from the Guru's instruction. He threw away his salagram, began to utter the true name, and was initiated into the Sikh religion. The brahman pandit became a Sikh and thus obtained salvation. Several other learned pandits followed his example, and accepted the pure faith of Guru Nanak.

Bhai Paira reached Ceylon with great difficulty, as was natural considering the restricted travelling expenses allowed him. The Raja of Ceylon received him with respect, treated him hospitably, and gave him the required volume, with a letter and many presents for the Guru, and allowed him to depart on his return journey to Amritsar.

The Pransangali was subsequently stolen by a fake sadhu (hindu holy man). A printed Pransangali on the science of Jog can now be purchased, but the Sikhs do not accept it as genuine. The corrupt copy is one of many attempts by hindus to covertly subvert and destroy Sikhism and its beliefs.

Back Back to Guru Arjan Sakhis (Stories)

Guide To Discover Sikhism |   Guide To Becoming A Pure Sikh|   Guide To Carrying Out Nitnem