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Baba Budha

Baba Budha occupies a unique position in Sikh history. He applied tilak of guruship to five Gurus, saw seven Gurus and remained in close association with first six Sikh Gurus from 1521 to 1628 for over one hundred years. He was the first granthi (priest) of Harmandir, and laid the foundations of Dera Baba Nanak and most of the holy buildings at Amritsar.

Baba Budha's original name was Bura. He was born on October 22, 1506 A.D. His father's name was Sugha Randhawa and mother's Gauran. They lived in Kathu Nangal village of Amritsar District. After some time they settled down in Dhalla village not far away from river Ravi opposite Kartarpur.

In 1524 A.D. Guru Nanak along with Bala was returning to Kartarpur on the western bank of river Ravi where he was living. On the way in the jungle the Guru sat under a tree to take rest. Near-by he saw a boy grazing cattle. The Guru called him, and asked him about his village and parents, etc. Then he told him to go and look after his cattle. The boy enquired if he could do him any service. The Guru said there was nothing to be done by him at the time.

Bura found out the name of the village where the holy man lived. Next morning he took a pot full of butter-milk with a lump of butter floating in it to the Guru. He presented his humble gift in all reverence and humility, and listened to the Guru's sermon with care and attention. At the end Bura asked the Guru to tell him the way to attain salvation. Nanak remarked that such a problem did not concern a boy at that young age. As Bura insisted, the Guru remarked that he was young in age but great in wisdom and was not Bura but Burha or Budha, because he talked like an old man. Since then Bura came to be called Baba Budha. He became a sincere devotee of the Guru, spent a good deal of his time with him, and lived like a hermit.

At Guru's house Baba Budha served with utmost devotion. He rose early under the light of stars, cleaned the house, polished the hearth with sticky mud, filled the pitchers with water, milked cows and buffaloes, worked in the fields and served in the langar. He attended all the sermons of the Guru, and was always at the Guru's beck and call. Whenever Guru Nanak went on a preaching tour in the neighbouring villages, Baba Budha took care of the Guru's household, and served Mata Sulakhani, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das like a true devotee.

Later on Nanak decided to nominate his successor. He chose Bhai Lehna for this purpose. One day the Guru held a special langar and then a durbar. He placed a coconut and five paise before Bhai Lehna, called him Angad and appointed him the next Guru. At the Guru's bidding Baba Budha applied the tilak on Angad's forehead.

On Guru Nanak's death in 1539, Guru Angad left Kartarpur and established his seat at Khadur near river Beas. Baba Budha lived at Kartarpur. Guru Nanak's elder son, Sri Chand, was not happy at his supersession in favour of Angad. The new Guru did not like to give any offence to Nanak's family. He shut himself up in the house of an old woman named Bhirai at village Sanghar, and told her not to disclose his identity. The Guru spent his time in meditation, and for a year and six months1 Sikhs could not trace him. They approached Baba Budha who led them first to Khadur and then to Sanghar. He prevailed upon the Guru to give up seclusion and resume his duties.

Once there were heavy rains in summer. The river Ravi was heavily flooded. It ate away a lot of land. Nanak's tomb situated on the river bank stood in great danger. Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das dug up the brass pitcher containing Guru's ashes. At some distance they decided to bury ashes in a new village. The foundation stone of the first building there was laid by Baba Budha and the place was called Dera Baba Nanak.

Guru Angad invented Gurmukhi script. In order to popularise it, he started teaching it to the children of the Sikhs. Baba Budha also learnt it and then took up the Guru's duty to teach it.

At the time of Amar Das's nomination to guruship, it was Baba Budha who performed the tilak ceremony. Guru Amar Das shifted his headquarters from Khadur to Goindwal in order to avoid any conflict over the issue of succession with Guru Angad's sons. Even there the new Guru was not left in peace. Following the example of Guru Angad, he left Goindwal and hid himself up in a hut in the jungle near Basarke village, with instructions that he should not be disturbed. Baba Budha jumped over the back wall and persuaded the Guru to attend the Sikhs who were regularly calling at Goindwal.

The tilak ceremony of the fourth Guru, Ram Das, was also performed by Baba Budha. Guru Ram Das started digging the tank of Amritsar, and Baba Budha was made the superintendent of digging operations. It was under his care that the tank was completed.

Baba Budha applied tilak to the fifth Guru, Arjan. He was the youngest son of Guru Ram Das. Arjan's eldest brother Prithi Chand was intensely hostile to Arjan and persecuted him as much as he could. As Guru Arjan had no children for many years, Prithi Chand proclaimed that the Guru was not destined to have any offspring, and the guruship would eventually come to him. At the time, Baba Budha was living in the jungle of Basarke village. Mata Ganga visited Baba Budha to seek blessings. She served Baba Budha with rich presents of food, sweets and fruits. However, Baba Budha did not like the show and disapproved. Mata Ganga complained to Guru Arjan. Guru Arjan advised her to go there again like a peasant woman with bread butter-milk and onions only. Baba Budha was pleased and blessed Mata Ganga. The sixth Guru Hargobind was born and was Mata Ganga's only child.

Guru Arjan appointed Baba Budha as the tutor of Hargobind. For the compilation of the Adi Granth, Baba Budha was sent to Mohan to bring consolidate the collection of hymns of the previous Gurus. On the completion of the Adi Granth Baba Budha was made the first granthi (keeper of the granth) of the Sri Harmandir Sahib. Having placed the bound copy of the Holy Granth on a cot, Baba Budha carried it on his head barefoot to Harmandir Sahib, followed by Guru Arjan also bare-foot with a fan of peacock feathers waving over the sacred scriptures. Bhai Gurdas was third to follow at the head of sangat. The first recitation of the Adi Granth was carried out by Bhai Gurdas.

Prithi Chand lodged a complaint with Emperor Akbar while on a visit to Punjab that the Adi Granth contained objectionable material against hinduism and islam. The Guru sent the holy book to the Emperor at Batala under care of Bhai Gurdas and Baba Budha. As no undesirable matter was found therein, the Emperor sent them back with khilats and presents.

Baba Budha also applied the tilak of guruship to Guru Hargobind. The young Guru asked him to adorn him with a sword. Baba Budha, who had never handled a sword, put it on the wrong side of the Guru. When the Guru pointed out the mistake, the Baba wanted to remove it to the other side. The Guru did not permit him to undo a holy act. He asked him to tie another sword on the right side. Thus the Guru was adorned with two swords, called by him, as the symbols of Miri and Piri. After this Baba Budha laid the foundation stone of Akal Bunga and Akal Takht.

When Guru Hargobind was imprisoned in the Gwalior fort, Mata Ganga asked for Baba Budha news about the Guru. Baba Budha visited the place 768 kilometres away at the head of many sikhs. The tank of Kaulsar at Amritsar was constructed under Budha's supervision from 1624 to 1627. He passed away in 1628 AD at the age of 122 years. His son Bhana erected Budha's tomb in 1629 at Ramdaspura.

Devoted Service to Six Gurus -

Guru Nanak & Guru Angad Sahib

Baba Buddha became a devoted disciple. His marriage at the age of seventeen at Achal, 6 km south of Batala (31°- 49'N, 75°- 12'E), did not distract him from his chosen path and he spent more time at Kartarpur where Guru Nanak had taken up his abode than at Katthu Nangal. Such was the eminence he had attained in Sikh piety that, at the time of installation of Bhai Lehna as Guru Angad, i.e. Nanak II, Guru Nanak asked Baba Buddha to apply the ceremonial tilak on his forehead. Baba Buddha had a very long life and had the unique honour of anointing many of the Gurus. He continued to serve the Gurus with complete dedication and remained an example of holy living for the growing body of disciples.

Guru Angad Sahib ji spread the used of Gurmukhi script. In order to popularise it, he started teaching it to the children of the Sikhs. Baba Budha also learnt it and then took up the Guru's duty to teach it.

Guru Amar Das & Guru Ram Das

Baba Budha also devoted himself zealously to tasks such as the digging of the baoli at Goindval under the instruction of Guru Amar Das and the excavation of the sacred tank at Amritsar under Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan. The ben tree under which he used to sit supervising the excavation of the Amritsar pool still stands in the precincts of the Golden Temple. He subsequently retired to a forest, where he tended the livestock of the Guru ka Langar. What is left of that forest is still known, after him, as Ber Baba Buddha Sahib.

Guru Arjan Sahib & Guru Hargobind

Guru Arjan Sahib ji placed his young son, Hargobind, under Baba Buddha's instruction and training. When the Adi Granth (Guru Granth Sahib) was installed in the Harmandir on 16 August 1604, Baba Buddha was appointed granthi by Guru Arjan. He thus became the first high priest of the sacred shrine, now known as the Golden Temple. Following the martyrdom of Guru Arjan on 30 May 1606, Guru Hargobind raised opposite the Harimandar a platform called the Akal Takht, Throne of the Timeless, the construction of which was entrusted to Baba Buddha and Bhai Gurdas.

It was at the Akal Takht Sahib, Baba Buddha performed, on 24 June 1606, the investiture ceremony at which Guru Hargobind put on two swords, one on each side, symbolizing miri and piri, sovereignty and spiritual eminence, respectively.

Baba Buddha passed his last days in meditation at Jhanda Ramdas, or simply called Ramdas, a village founded by his son, Bhai Bhana, where the family had since shifted from its native Katthu Nangal. As the end came, on 16 November 1631, Guru Hargobind was at his bedside. The Guru, as says the Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi, gave his shoulder to the bier and performed the last rites Bhai Gurdas, further to quote the Gurbilas, started a reading of the Adi Granth in memory of the deceased. The ceremony concluded with Bhai Gurdas completing the recital and Guru Hargobind presenting a turban to Baba Buddha's son, Bhana. Two Gurdwara's stand in Ramdas commemorating Baba Buddha, Gurdwara Tap Asthan Baba Buddha Ji, where the family lived on the southern edge of the village, and Gurdwara Samadhan, where he was cremated.

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