On the Way to Anandpur : Guru Gobind Singh Ji

The Guru’s family started from Patna in Feburary 1672. The people were naturally loth to part with personages who had so endeared themselves.

They all started with the party, meaning to go as far with it as they could.

By evening, the whole Sangat reached Danapur. The residents of the city, as well as the local agents of Jagat Seth of Patna, lovingly served the whole party. Here an old woman, who had ever been praying for a darshan or sight of the Guru and his family, served all with food. To Sri Gobind Singh she gave khichri, rice and pulse cooked together. He was delighted with this simple food which had been offered with a heart full of love and devotion. He blessed the old lady. He blessed the handi, the earthen pot, in which the food had been cooked. On her praying that she might have his darshan even after he was gone, he assured her that she could see him daily by distributing to the poor and the needy khichri cooked in that handi. After the party had left, she converted her house into a dharmsala and passed the rest of her days in remembering God and serving the people in the way that Sri Gobind Singh had prescribed. To this day, the handi is preserved as a sacred souvenir and gives its name, Handi Sahib, to the place.

Next day, the Guru’s family took leave of the very large crowd which had either accompained them from Patna or had gathered at Danapur. The party visited all holy places of the Hindus lying on or near the way, and made pretty long halts at Benares, Allahabad, Ayudhia, Lucknow, Kanpur, Mathura, and Bindraban. These were some of the places which they visited, and everywhere love-gatherings were held, both morning and evening, and Nam-Dan, or the gift of His Name, was freely bestowed. At places like Benares, the Pandits interrogated Sri Gobind Singh about his religious belief and practice; for he refused the sacred thread which they offered him. He refuted and confounded them by quoting and commenting upon the Word of Guru Nanak. In every place, charity was bestowed on the needy with an open-handed generosity becoming the holy, illustrious family.

In about six months, i.e., some time in August 1672, the party reached Lakhnaur in the district of Ambala. The rains had begun. It was very difficult for the party to travel to Anandpur in that season; for the chos or rainy rivulets abounding in the way were all flooded and were difficult to cross.

Rence Guru Tegh Bahadur had sent word that the party should halt at Lakhnaur and stay there until the rainy season was over, and the rivulets subsided and became fordable. Sri Gobind Singh had not seen his father yet even once; so this order prolonging the period of separation damped his spirits for a while. But that could not be for long in a child of the vivacity and training of Sri Gobind Singh. Sikhs from far and near heard of the arrival of their future Lord and came to get the blessings of his darshan. Sri Gobind Singh soon attracted round him as big and devoted a troop of play-mates as at Patna, and the days passed on merrily.

In Lakhnaur, too, he made many love-conquests. Two of them may be described here. One day Sri Gobind Singh was playing with his mates. Pir Araf Din, who was held in high esteem by the people as possessing miraculous powers, passed that way. As he saw Sri Gobind Singh, he stepped out of his palanquin and bowed to him in obeisance.

He took him aside and talked to him in a low voice. He bowed again, took his departure, and did not get into the palanquin as long as he was in sight of Sri Gobind Singh. His followers protested against his having bowed to a kafir. A Pir, said they, should have been the last person to insult the Islamic religion in that way. Pir Araf Din asked them to be calm; for he had salaamed none but the Peerless I^ord, whom he saw manifest in the divine child. Their protests, said he. were due to their lacking the vision to recognize Him when He appeared to them. ‘Shall I’, he continued, ‘stand rudely erect before the Lord simply because He has chosen to illumine the person of a non-Muslim ? No ; friends. Give up this narrow mentality. Bow to Him wherever you meet Him. At least I will do that, come what may.’ Saying this, he bowed again in the direction of the Master’s play-ground.

Pir Bhikhan Shah or Shah Bhikh of Thaska in the district of Kamal bad already seen the Child-Guru at Patna soon after the latter’s birth there. When he now heard that his Beloved God-in- Men was halting at Lakhnaur, he made haste to have a look at him once again.

The Child-Guru was then playing with his playmates. The Pir, on seeing him, bowed seven times before him. His disciples, as before, asked him the same question as the disciples of Pir Araf Din had asked that Pir, and Pir Bhikhan Shah made the same reply.

Even at that age, Sri Gobind Singh displayed a keen interest in archery, fencing, riding, and hunting. He would accompany his uncle Kirpal and others on hunting expeditions and joy-rides. He had his miniature arms which he used with a skill quite unusual for a child of his age.