Guru Nanak now started on his
travels or tours. Bhai Mardana was with him. The latter was a low-caste Muslim. He was a very good singer.
Leaving Sultanpur, they travelled to the west. They went from village to village. In every place, the Guru taught people how to live and act as truly religious men. He explained to them his three golden rules of religion. In due course, they reached Eminabad.
This town lies in the district of Gujranwala in Pakistan.
There were many rich people in the town. But he did not go to the house of any of the rich men. Instead, he went to the house of a poor man named Bhai Lalo. The latter was a carpenter. In those days, carpenters were looked upon as Hindus of a low caste. They were called Shudras. The high-caste Hindus — Brahmins and Khatris — kept away from them. They did not accept food or drink from a low-caste man like Bhai Lalo.
Guru Nanak was aKhatri by caste.
He was thus a high-caste man. But he had no pride of caste. He did not think and act like other high-caste people.
He loved people of all castes. To him all men were dear as brothers.
Bhai Lalo was a poor, low-caste man. But he was good and kindhearted. He took pleasure in helping and serving others. He did this because he loved God. Lovers of God are always kind to all. He never sat idle.
He was always busy in doing some useful work. He worked for his daily bread. He shared his earnings with others.
Guru Nanak was very fond of good men like Bhai Lalo. That was the reason why he went to that poor carpenter’s house. He knocked at his door. Bhai Lalo looked up. He saw the Guru and his companion. He rose to welcome them. He took them into the humble cottage which was his home.
He seated the Guru on a little cot or charpai, covered with a clean sheet.
That was the only cot in his cottage.
He seated Mardana on a straw mat.
Bhai Lalo’s guests
He gave them fresh, cool water to drink. Then he began to cook food for his holy guests. He had no wife. Hence he had to do the cooking himself.
Soon, the food was ready. It consisted of coarse dry bread and sag (spinach).
He placed it before the guests. At the sight of the coarse bread, Mardana felt uneasy. He said to himself. ‘I fear this coarse dry bread will be too hard for my teeth. I shall not be able to chew and swallow it. My stomach will not like it either.’
He looked at the Guru. He saw that he was eating and enjoying the food.
Bhai Mardana put a morsel to his own mouth. To his wonder, the food was soft, nice, and sweet. It tasted better than any sort of food he had ever taken before. He ate his fill.
Guru Nanak stayed with Bhai Lalo for some days. During the day he used to go out to a shady place outside the town. There he used to pray and think of God. Bhai Mardana used to sing sacred songs or shabads made by the Guru. He was a very good singer. He had a very sweet voice. He knew a large number of shabads by heart.
Soon, people began to gather around the Guru. They liked to hear his sacred songs. He taught them the three golden rules of his religion. He taught them to remember God and to be good, honest and truthful men. He became very popular. More and more people gathered around him, day by day.
Many Hindus and Muslims accepted him as their religious teacher or Guru.
They became his Sikhs. Of course, Bhai Lalo was the first among them.
Bhai Lalo learnt by heart many of the Guru’s sacred songs. He understood the Guru’s teachings better than all others. They accepted him as their leader.
After the Guru’s departure, Bhai Lalo’s house became, for them, a dharamshala. Every morning and evening, they gathered there. They sang the Guru’s sacred songs. They said prayers together. Everyone of them tried his best to follow Guru Nanak’s three golden rules of life. This gave them peace and happiness.