Guru Nanak Life and Travels | Janamsakhi 10


From Tilla Bal Gudain, Guru Nanak and Mardana travelled toward south-east on the route which was known as Shah Rah.

On the way they crossed the Jehlum and the Chenab rivers to reach Sialkot. It was an ancient town which was earlier named Sakla or Sialkot. It had sometime in the past been the capital town of entire Punjab.

Guru Nanak and Mardana stayed at a place outside the town under a ber (berry) tree. On this site now stands a gurdwara to which the devotees thronged in large numbers before partition.

While the Guru himself halted here, he sent Mardana to the town to buy truth with one paisa and falsehood with another.

Mardana visited all the shops but no one replied. There was a shopkeeper by the name of Mula. He took two pieces of paper and wrote on them: “death is truth (reality)” and “life is falsehood (transient)”.

Mardana took both the pieces of paper to the Guru. Guru Nanak was highly impressed by this and called on Mula at his shop. He had a conversation with Mula and told him that he had realized the reality of life.

Bhai Mula replied that he has not yet learnt much of truth but he should be able to with his grace. He was so impressed by the Gurus Ideas that he left his home and prepared to accompany the Guru.

Guru Nanak lived in Sialkot for some time and then travelled farther on.

Mian Mittha

Guru Nanak accompanied by Mardana and Bhai Mula (the latter had joined them from Sialkot) left Sialkot for Talwandi.

Travelling south-east from Sialkot he reached the town now named Kotla Mian Mittha. Here lived a spiritually enlightened fakir by the name of Mian Mittha.

Guru Nanak stayed outside the habitations of Kotla. When Mian Mittha learnt that a holy man has come to his village and that he is accompanied by a rebeck player, he met the Guru and had a dialogue with him. He said:

The first name is of Khuda, then of the Prophet
If Nanak recites Quran, he will be accepted in the Divine Court.

Guru Nanak replied:

First comes Khudas name, Prophets stand at His door.
O Sheikh! Cultivate nobility, only then will you earn acceptance.

Mian Mittha said that just as a lamp cannot be lighten up without oil, without prophet salvation was not possible and union with God could not be realized.
In reply Guru Nanak uttered the following hymn:

Let the reading of your prayer book be the oil,
and let the Fear of God be the wick for the lamp of this body.
Light this lamp with the understanding of Truth.  || 2 ||   

Use this oil to light this lamp.
Light it, and meet your Lord and Master.  || 1 || Pause ||   
This body is softened with the Word of the Guru’s Bani;
you shall find peace, doing seva (selfless service).
All the world continues coming and going in reincarnation.  || 3 ||   

In the midst of this world, do seva, and you shall be given
a place of honour in the Court of the Lord.
Says Nanak, swing your arms in joy!  || 4 ||
-Guru Granth Sahib, p. 25

Mian Mittha then asked as to which is that Quran the reading of which earns man acceptance, what is that austerity which helps union with God, what is that Roza (fasting) and Namaz which help concentrate mind on God.

Guru Nanak asked Mardana to play rebeck and recited the following hymn:

Let mercy be your mosque, faith your prayer-mat,
and honest living your Koran.
Make modesty your circumcision, and good conduct your fast.
In this way, you shall be a true Muslim.

Let good conduct be your Kaaba, Truth your spiritual guide,
and the karma of good deeds your prayer and chant.
Let your rosary be that which is pleasing to His Will.
O Nanak, God shall preserve your honour.  || 1 ||
-Guru Granth Sahib, p. 141

Mian Mittha was highly impressed at this and he bowed before the Guru. After spending some more time there; Guru Nanak left for Talwandi.


Guru Nanak, Mardana and Bhai Mula left Koda Mian Mittha and reached Talwandi. They stayed outside the village. Mardana went into the village and met members of his family.

Guru Nanak’s parents also learnt from Mardana about the arrival of their son. They went to him and brought him home. The entire family got together.

Guru Nanak had entered his house after so many years. It was natural for members of the family to feel rejoiced. All of them desired that (Guru) Nanak had come back after long travels in far off lands and therefore he should be served with dainty dishes.

The mother was the happiest of all. She asked him to name any delicacy and she promised to prepare that for him.

However, within the heart of Nanak was another desire which was more tasty and juicy than any other dish or desert. The Guru gave no answer, but when he was compelled, he uttered the following hymn:

Believing, all tastes are sweet.
Hearing, the salty flavours are tasted;
chanting with one’s mouth, the spicy flavours are savoured.
All these spices have been made from the Sound-current of the Nādi.
The thirty-six flavours of ambrosial nectar are in the Love of the One Lord;
they are tasted only by one who is blessed by His Glance of Grace.  || 1 ||   

O Baba, the pleasures of other foods are false.
Eating them, the body is ruined,
and wickedness and corruption enter into the mind.  || 1 || Pause ||   

My mind is imbued with the Lord’s Love; it is dyed a deep crimson.
Truth and charity are my white clothes.
The blackness of sin is erased by my wearing of blue clothes,
and meditation on the Lord’s Lotus Feet is my robe of honour.
Contentment is my cummerbund, Your Name is my wealth and youth.  || 2 ||   

O Baba, the pleasures of other clothes are false.
Wearing them, the body is ruined,
and wickedness and corruption enter into the mind.  || 1 || Pause ||   

The understanding of Your Way, Lord,
is horses, saddles and bags of gold for me.
The pursuit of virtue is my bow and arrow,
my quiver, sword and scabbard.
To be distinguished with honour is my drum and banner.
Your Mercy is my social status.  || 3 ||   

O Baba, the pleasures of other rides are false.
By such rides, the body is ruined,
and wickedness and corruption enter into the mind.  || 1 || Pause ||   

The Nām, the Name of the Lord, is the pleasure of houses and mansions.
Your Glance of Grace is my family, Lord.
The Hukam of Your Command is the pleasure of Your Will, Lord.
To say anything else is far beyond anyone’s reach.
O Nanak, the True King does not seek advice from anyone else in His decisions.  || 4 ||  

 O Baba, the pleasure of other sleep is false.
By such sleep, the body is ruined,
and wickedness and corruption enter into the mind.  || 1 || Pause ||
-Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 16-17

Guru Nanak stayed at Talwandi for some time. Mula went back to Sialkot from here and Guru Nanak and Mardana started for Sultanpur.

Sultanpur and Meeting with Daulat Khan Lodhi

Guru Nanak and Mardana left Talwandi and reached Sultanpur. Here they met Nanaki and other members of the family.

By coincidence Daulat Khan Lodhi also happened to be in town those days. Sikandar Lodhi had appointed him as Subedar of Punjab. Therefore, he generally resided at Lahore but would come to his jagir at Sultanpur sometimes.

When Guru Nanak went to Sultanpur, he happened to be there. When he learnt that his former keeper of stores, Nanak, had come, he called on him. He asked him about his well-being as well as of his present residence.

In reply, the Guru recited the following hymn:

They have made this their resting place and they sit at home,
but the urge to depart is always there.
This would be known as a lasting place of rest,
only if they were to remain stable and unchanging.  || 1 ||   

What sort of a resting place is this world?
Doing deeds of faith, pack up the supplies for your journey,
and remain committed to the Name.  || 1 || Pause ||   

The Yogis sit in their Yogic postures,
and the Mullahs sit at their resting stations.
The Hindu Pandits recite from their books,
and the Siddhas sit in the temples of their gods.  || 2 ||   

The angels, Siddhas, worshippers of Shiva,
heavenly musicians, silent sages, Saints, priests,
preachers, spiritual teachers and commanders –
each and every one has left, and all others shall depart as well.  || 3 ||   

The sultans and kings, the rich and the mighty,
have marched away in succession.
In a moment or two, we shall also depart.
O my heart, understand that you must go as well!  || 4 ||   

This is described in the Śabads; only a few understand this!
Nanak offers this prayer to the One
who pervades the water, the land and the air.  || 5 ||   

He is God, the Unknowable, the Inaccessible,
All-powerful and Merciful Creator.
All the world comes and goes –
only the Merciful Lord is permanent.  || 6 ||

Call permanent only the One,
who does not have destiny inscribed upon His Forehead.
The sky and the earth shall pass away;
He alone is permanent.  || 7 ||   

The day and the sun shall pass away;
the night and the moon shall pass away;
the hundreds of thousands of stars shall disappear.
He alone is permanent; Nanak speaks the Truth.  || 8 ||
-Guru Granth Sahib, p. 64

When Guru Nanak explained that God is indescribable, unfathomable, creator and compassionate whereas the entire creation is transient and the destination of all the creatures is the One God, Daulat Khan was deeply impressed. He bowed before the Guru.

Guru Nanak stayed with Nanaki for some time.

At this time Mardana requested him that he has already travelled a lot of places and that he should now visit Mecca as well. On Mardana’s request, the Guru made up his mind to pay a visit to Mecca also. So he set out towards Pakpatan.

Sheikh Ibrahim

Guru Nanak and Mardana left Sultanpur, crossed the Sutlej in a boat and reached Pakpatan. Although Pakpatan is a little distance away from the river yet it was a famous ferry on the western bank of the Sutlej at the time of Guru Nanak. Several land routes converged here.

This was the Guru’s second visit to the town. As during his last visit even now Sheikh Ibrahim occupied the spiritual seat of Sheikh Farid. Sheikh Ibrahim was quite liberal and warm-hearted. He welcomed the Guru and lodged him in his Dargah.

Guru Nanak would get up in the morning and perform kirtan. Mardana would play rebeck and the Guru would be lost in divine melody.

In the 16th century, the holy men used to express their feelings in verse. The tradition was so strong that every such saint would either possess or remember by heart his own verses or famous verses of some other holy man.

When Guru Nanak recited his own hymns, Sheikh Ibrahim also felt inspired to recite some verses. One day having a discourse on God with Guru Nanak, Sheikh Ibrahim recited this couplet:

Says Farid:
Farid, I have torn my clothes to tatters; now I wear only a rough blanket.
I wear only those clothes which will lead me to meet my Lord.  || 103 ||
 -Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1383

Guru Nanak replied:
The soul-bride is at home, while the Husband Lord is away;
she cherishes His memory, and mourns His absence.
She shall meet Him without delay, if she rids herself of duality.  || 1 ||
- Guru Granth Sahib, p. 594

Sheikh Ibrahim again said:
Farid, when she is young, she does not enjoy her Husband.
When she grows up, she dies.
Lying in the grave, the soul-bride cries, “
- I did not meet You, my Lord.”
-Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1380

To this Guru Nanak replied:
The rude, ill-mannered bride is encased in the body-tomb;
she is blackened, and her mind is impure.
She can enjoy her Husband Lord, only if she is virtuous.
O Nanak, the soul-bride is unworthy, and without virtue.  || 1 ||
-Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1088

Sheikh Ibrahim was deeply impressed and felt pleased on listening to the hymns of Guru Nanak. He asked the Guru that it needed a dagger to kill the mind.

To this the Guru replied:

The knife is Truth, and its steel is totally True.
Its workmanship is incomparably beautiful.
It is sharpened on the grindstone of the Śabad.
It is placed in the scabbard of virtue.
If the Sheikh is killed with that, then the blood of greed will spill out.
One who is slaughtered in this ritualistic way, will be attached to the Lord.
O Nanak, at the Lord’s door, he is absorbed into His Blessed Vision.  || 2 ||
-Guru Granth Sahib, p. 956

The Sheikh felt very happy to listen to this and he handed over many couplets that lay with him.

The Guru spent some time here and composed some stanzas (Pauris) which later on served as the first nine stanzas (Pauris) of Asa di Vtir as included in the Guru Granth Sahib.

From Pakpatan, the Guru headed for Multan.

Multan and Baha-ud-Din Makhdum

Multan is one of the ancient towns of Punjab. According to a statement by Alexander Cunningham, Multan was the capital town of the Mali community during the time of Alexander the Great. Heun Tsang has also referred to Multan.

At the time of Guru Nanak, Multan was the capital of the surrounding territory. In the 18th century before the setting up of the Bahawalpur State, the area comprising of this state and the deserts of Bikaner were all under Multan. It is also said that the famous Harnaksh-Prahlad story took place in this town.

After the arrival of Muslims in India, Multan became an important centre of Islam. The tomb of Shamas Tabrez stands now towards the south of Multan.

Sham as Tabrez, whose real name was Shamas-ud-Din came from the fertile Afghanistan region in 17th century to settle here. Sheikh Baha-ud-Din Zakaria migrated to this place in the 12th century.

Pilgrims from far off places come to pay their obeisance at the tombs of these two holy men. Multan had become a centre of Muslim holy men because of the tombs of these fakirs.

At the time of Guru Nanak, Muslim fakirs of different traditions lived in Multan.

Sheikh Jalal Bukhari (d. A.D. 1291) who was the first of the Bukhari family to settle at Uch was well-known as a spiritually enlightened fakir. He was the disciple of Sheikh Baha-ud-din Zakaria Quraishi (d. A.D. 1266).

Baha-ud-Din Zakaria was a close friend of Baba Farid Ganj-i-Shakar (d. A.D. 1269).

Thus, the descendants of Baha-ud-Din Zakaria in Multan, the spiritual descendants of Farid Shakarganj in Pakpatan and the family of Jalal Bukhari in Uch used to meet one another and were on very good terms. These three families have produced several Muslim divines.

The monastery of Sheikh Farid in Pakpatan, and those of Syad Jalal Bukhari and his grandson Makhdum-i-Jahania in Uch and of Sheikh Baha-ud-Din Zakaria in Multan were considered holy places by the local Muslims.

All these three places were owned and looked after by three different persons. Generally, the person appointed was from amongst the family of the founder. He was called makhdum and all those who attended on him were called khadams (servants).

There were always three different Makhdums of these three branches.

At the time of Guru Nanak, the seat of Baha-ud-din Zakaria was occupied by one Baha-ud-din from amongst his family. Sheikh Baha-ud-Din Makhdum was the grandson of Sheikh Yusuf. 

According to Ain-i-Akbari, Sheikh Yusuf of this Quraishi family of Multan ruled Multan for seventeen years. He died in the early years of the reign of Bahlol Lodhi. Sheikh Baha-ud-din Makhdum was a contemporary of Guru Nanak and most of the Janamsakhi literature refers to him as Makhdum Bahavdi.

When Guru Nanak reached the tomb of Baha-ud-din Zakaria, the then present Makhdum, Sheikh Baha-ud-din, was about to say his namaz.

He sent a message through his attendants that he was going to say namaz and that Guru Nanak should wait for him a little and must not go without meeting him.

When the khadam came near the Guru, he assured him that he (Guru) would go back only after seeing him (the Makhdum). The khadam felt pleased on hearing this and said that he had known what was in their mind.

After some time, the Makhdum came after saying his prayers. Guru Nanak stood up to receive him. They shook hands and settled down.

The Makhdum first enquired his welfare. Guru Nanak replied that he was fine after meeting the godly people.

Makhdum told him that he knew that he (the Guru) saw both the Muslims and the Hindus with one eye. However, he wanted to know if God is within both of them.

The Guru replied that God resides at all places and in all beings. Residing within all of us, He enjoys the joy of world and bears both pain and pleasure.

The Guru also recited the following hymn:

He Himself is the Enjoyer, and He Himself is the Enjoyment.
He Himself is the Ravisher of all. He Himself is the Bride in her dress,
He Himself is the Bridegroom on the bed.  || 1 ||   

My Lord and Master is imbued with love;
He is totally permeating and pervading all.  || 1 || Pause ||   

He Himself is the fisherman and the fish;
He Himself is the water and the net.
He Himself is the sinker, and He Himself is the bait.  || 2 ||   

He Himself loves in so many ways.
O sister soul-brides, He is my Beloved.
He continually ravishes and enjoys the happy soul-brides;
just look at the plight I am in without Him!  || 3 ||   

Prays Nanak, please hear my prayer:
You are the pool, and You are the soul-swan.
You are the lotus flower of the day
and You are the water-lily of the night.
You Yourself behold them, and blossom forth in bliss.  || 4 ||
- Guru Granth Sahib, p. 23

On listening to this, Baha-ud-din bowed before the Guru. After spending some time in Multan, Guru Nanak and Mardana left for Uch.

Uch is a very ancient town. According to Alexander Cunningham, Alexander the Great had founded a habitation on the place where now stands Uch. During the reign of Mahmud of Ghazni, Muslim rule was established here. Prior to this, it was named Diogarh.

It was considered an important centre of Islam. The famous Sufi fakir, Jalal-ud-din Bukhari came and settled here in the 13th century. His name added a lot to the grandeur of Uch. Even Ain-i-Akbari calls it the principal town of Suba-i-Multan.

At the time of Guru Nanak, descendants of Jalal-ud-din Bukhari lived here. Jalal-ud-din Makhdum, son of Jalal-ud-din Bukhari’s elder son Syad Muhammad was a spiritually enlightened fakir. He passed away in A.D. 1383.

Those days generally the eldest son became Makhdum, but after the death of Makhdum-i-Jahania, his younger brother occupied the seat.

The Makhdum at the time of Guru Nanak was one of his descendants and his name was Sheikh Haji Abdul Sahib Bukhari. Details about him are available. in Ain-i-Akbari. He died in A.D. 1525-26.

Guru Nanak stayed with the Makhdum when he visited Uch. The Makhdum was making preparations for Haj. After some time Baha-ud-din Makhdum of Multan also arrived in Uch. All of them set out for Haj. The Guru also accompanied them for Haj after spending some days in Uch.