Sikh Gurus > Guru Nanak Dev Ji

The Guru travelled many miles in the wilderness of Assam . His minstrel Mardana was very hungry and tired, so they sat under a tree. After sometimes Mardana went to get something to eat. On his way he met Kauda, the cannibal. Kauda took Mardana by surprise and bound him hand and foot by a rope and then carried him to the spot where he had kept a big pan full of oil for frying the flesh of his victims. Kauda started to lighten fire under the pan. When Mardana saw that, he was very frightened and prayed to the Guru to come to his rescue. The Guru already knew and was on his way to get him released. Kauda was trying to light the fire when the Guru appeared. This bewildered Kauda completely. The Guru looked at him compassionately and graciously and said,"Kauda! See-est thou not what thou dost, wilt thou cast thyself in the burning fire of hell?" The very gracious and holy sight of the Divine Master made such people realize their guilt and they fell on his feet and begged for mercy. Kauda whose conscience was dead with heinous crimes, suddenly came to realization and was overwhelmed with repentance. He fell on the feet of the Master and prayed for mercy. The gracious Master blessed him with the Name. Kauda was completely a changed man and thereafter lived as a devout disciple of the Guru.

After Golaghat Nagar and Dhanasri valley where cannibals inhabited in large numbers, the Guru went back to Gauhati. From there he proceeded to Shillong and to Silhet where an old Gurdwara stands in his memory. He then went to Dacca and on the way he passed through Calcutta and Cuttack and finally reached Puri. The temple of Jagan Nath , the Lord of the East, was one of the four most revered temples of the Hindus- the other three being Som Nath, Badri Nath and Vishwa Nath. It is said that Jagan Nath's idol was sculptured by the architect of the gods and it was installed at the temple by Lord Brahma himself. It was the anniversary of installation of the idol when Guru Nanak reached the temple. The Guru visited the temple not to adore their Lord but to teach the people that the worship of God was superior to the worship of the deity. It was the evening time and the priests brought a salver full of many lighted lamps, flowers, incense and pearls and then all stood to offer the salver to their enshrined idol-god. The ceremony was called 'Arti', a song of dedication. The high-priest invited the Guru to join in the god's worship. The Guru did not join their service which enraged the priests. On being asked the reason the Guru explained that a wonderful serenade was being sung by nature before the invisible altar of God. The sun and the moon were the lamps, placed in the salver of the firmament and the fragrance wafted from the Malayan mountains was serving as incense. The Guru, therefore, instead of accepting the invitation o f the high-priest to adore the idol, raised his eyes to the heaven and uttered the following Sabad of Arti:

"The sun and moon, O Lord, are thy lamps; the firmament
Thy salver; the orbs of the stars, the pearls enchased in it.
The perfume of the sandal is Thine incense; the wind is
Thy fan; all the forests are Thy flowers, O Lord of light.
What worship is this, O Thou Destroyer of birth?

According to the Puratan Janamsakhi, the Guru ended his first Udasi with the visit to Puri and returned to Punjab . After some time he took his second Udasi to cover the south. If the Guru had returned from Puri, he must have visited some important places on his way back, but there is no mention of it in the Janamsakhi. However, the Meharban version of the Janamsakhi treats the eastern and the southern journeys as a single Udasi. Others argue that the geographical location of Puri is as such that a visitor planning to visit south India , would not return to Punjab and then start for the southern journey. Many writers therefore, believe that the Guru continued his southward journey from Puri.

GURU TO SANGLADEEP ( CEYLON ) From Puri the Guru went to Gantur of present Andhra Pradesh district, Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai and Tiruchchirupalli. All these places have Gurdwaras to mark the visit of the Guru. From Tiruchchirupalli he sailed down to Kaveri river and reached Nagapatnam, a very old port of south India . From there he proceeded to Sangladeep ( Ceylon ) and Betticola was the first place of his stay in the island. He went to Matiakalam (now known as Matalai) which was the capital of Sangladeep under Raja Shiv Nabh. Bhai Mansukh, a trader from Punjab and a disciple of the Guru, had been to Sangladeep in connection with his business long before the Guru's visit to the island. By reason of his trade, Bhai Mansukh had access to Raja Shiv Nabh and thus he had told the Raja all about Guru Nanak. The Raja inquired how he could meet the Guru. Mansukh told him, "Rise early in the morning and recite Moolmantar. If you earnestly pray, the Guru will respond to your prayers."

Every morning Raja Shiv Nabh meditated and prayed for the holy sight (darshan) of the Guru. Time passed on but the Guru did not appear. Many persons came and claimed to be the Guru but all were found to be the fake claimants. One day news was brought to the Raja that a holy man, with a rare glory beaming on his face (spiritual aura), had arrived in the old neglected garden, and as soon as he set his foot in the garden, the withered trees sprouted into green foliage. Due to the previous fake claimants, the Raja devised a plan to test the visitors before he could bow his head to any one of them. The Raja, therefore, sent beautiful girls to seduce the new- comer with their beauty and charm. The report was sent to the Raja that the girls not only failed to seduce the visitor, but they themselves had been transformed under his spell. Hearing this, the Raja hurriedly came to see the holy Master. Spontaneously he fell at the feet of the Guru. The Guru placed his hand on his head and blessed him. Who could describe the ecstatic joy that had dawned upon Raja. The whole city rushed to the garden to have holy sight of the Master. A dharamsala, a religious common place, was built where the Guru held daily religious congregations and preached his divine doctrine. People were enlightened with God's Name and they became Guru's followers. After staying there for some time the Guru started in the southerly direction and reached Katargama. Then he reached Sita Eliya, a place where Sita spent her period of captivity. At the time of G uru Nanak's visit, this place was in the Kotte kingdom of Raja Dharma Prakarma .

The inscription discovered by Dr. Karuna Ratna and Parana Vitana in the famous museum of Anurodh Pura , furnishes a brief account of the encounter of Jnanakacharya (Nanak) with the Buddhist Bhikshu, Dharma Kirt-sthavira. This inscription also informs that the Raja Dharma Prkramabahu had promised to embrace Guru Nanak's creed if he won in the debate. Guru Nanak won. But before he could embrace the Guru's creed, the Brahmans very cleverly arranged another public debate, this time between the Guru and Dharma Dvajapandita and maneuvered the result in favor of the latter. In this way they did not let the ruler fall under the influence of the Guru.

Worship of Shiv's idol was very common in southern India at that time. There were twelve Shivling temples and six of them were situated in the south. Southern India was also ridden with caste system. Guru Nanak had to visit all such places to show the people the path of Eternal Truth i.e. the worship of Almighty, the Formless. This was superior and fruitful than the worship of the idols. After staying for some time (may be a year) in Sangladeep, the Guru reached Cochin on his wayback journey. There is a Gurdwara at this place to mark the memory of the Guru. Delivering his divine doctrine he passed through Palghat, Nilgiri Hills, Rangapatan and then reached Pandharpur. Saint Nam Dev whose Bani is included in Guru Granth Sahib, passed most of his life at this place. From there he reached Barsi which was the native place of Saint Trilochan whose two Sabads are included in Guru Granth Sahib. From there he passed through Poona , Amarnath, Nasik , Aurangabad and reached Amreshwar where there was famous temple called Onkar Mandir. Here the worship of Shivling (Shiv's idol) was considered as a worship of God. The people considered Sanskrit as the language of the gods and learning of Sanskrit language was considered as an act of holiness.

The Guru preached against the idol worship and stressed that one should only worship One but One God, the Formless. The gospel preached by the Guru at the Onkar Mandir, is included in Guru Granth Sahib as Ramkali Mohalla 1- Dakhni Onkar, page 929. Then he proceeded to Indaur, Ujjain , Baroda and finally reached Palitana where there was a famous Jain temple. Jaini Sadhus would not take bath for many days thinking bathing killed some life in the water. Here he had discussion with a Jain Sadhu named Ambhi. He explained to the Sadhu that running away from water would not do any religious good but the worship of the Almighty was the only answer. The Guru went through almost all the famous Hindu pilgrimage places in the area and delivered his message of Oneness of God and to have belief in none other than One Supreme Being only. He visited Somnath, Sudhana, Puri and Dwarka. From Kathiawar through Kachh and Chataur, he reached Ajmer . There was a famous Muslim saint, Khawaza Mai-u-din Chisti, who propagated Islam for about seventy years at Ajmer . It was an annual Muslim gathering to celebrate Khawaza's day when the Guru reached there. He forbade the Muslims from worshipping the Makbras (the tombs of their saints), but asked them to worship only One God. Passing through Pushker, he reached Gokal Mathura-Bindraban. People were in full preparation for celebrating Lord Krishna's birthday. The Hindus placed Krishna 's idol (which they call Thakur) in a small cradle.They were swinging it and were putting all their offerings before the idol. The Guru exposed the futility of idol worship and preached them to worship God, the Formless. After that he arrived at Delhi and stayed at Majnu da Tilla. There is a Gurdwara at this place at the bank of river Jamna.

A Gurpurb of Baisakhi is celebrated at this place every year in April. Thence he went to Panipat where he met a Muslim saint Sheikh Sharf or Taher and urged him to worship only one God, the All- Pervading Divine Spirit instead of worshiping the tombs of the saints. Passing through Pehwa, he reached Kurukshetra, a place where the famous battle of Mahabharat was fought between the Kauravs and the Pandavs. It was an occasion of solar eclipse when the Guru visited Kurukshetra. Thousands of people including a large number of Brahmans and saints had gathered there. Hindus consider it sacred to go to Kurukshetra at the time of solar eclipse, bathe in the holy tank and give alms to Brahman priests. According to Hindu belief, solar eclipse occurs when sun, the god, is harassed by its enemies, the demons. None is required to eat anything during the eclipse. The Guru went there to draw attention of the erring Hindu community towards the fact that eclipse was nothing but only a natural phenomenon. The Guru took his seat near the sacred tank and when the sun was eclipsed he began to cook deer which was presented to him by Prince Rai Singh. A big crowd gathered around the Guru, for it was a sacrilege to cook meat. The Brahmans led by Nanu besieged the Guru and were ready to club him to death. The Guru stood up and spoke. His words worked like a magic and the crowd stood spell-bound.