Episodes From lives of the Gurus
Episode No. 15
Offerings to the Guru are Depoists
Once, the Guru invited Pandas from Kanshi, and organised a hom through them. The Khalsa Panth was created. "Guru ji, if you permit, we would like to ask some questions," said the Pandas.
"Sure, do not hesitate," replied the Guru.
"Guru ji, the Vedas prescribe different duties (dharam) for each caste (varan) ,specifying that a particular varan should not perform the functions of other varans. According to the Vedas, it is the function of the Brahmins to accept offerings. And the duty of the Kshatris is to make offerings. You belong to the Kshatri varan. How is it that you accept offerings from the world, while according to your varan it is not in order for you to do so? The proper thing for you would be to give offerings or charity. How do you justify your accepting offerings from the public? This doubt has arisen in our minds. Kindly explain this to us."
"Respected Pandas, it is good you have asked this question. Now listen to the answer. Acceptance of offerings is of two kinds. One is accepting a charity. The other is accepting a deposit. In the latter case, he appears to be taking it. But he is in fact not taking anything. Rather he is doing a favour by accepting its custody. An illustration will make the point clear. There was a king to whom the services of astrologers were available. They were perfect, and whatever they predicted, always came true. The king had tested them several times. Once the astrologers told him, there will be a huge fire in your city, very widespread.' They predicted the month, date and the day also. The king asked if there would be any place in the town which would be safe, or everything would get destroyed. To this the astrologers replied, 'Only your mansions will be saved. All the remaining town will be burnt.' When the time arrived, the king made a public announcement to the effect that according to the astrologers, it was the Will of God that the whole of the town burn in a devastating fife. The citizens were advised to deposit their belongings at the royal mansions, to be taken back after the calamity was over. All residents of the town belonging to all varans followed the advice, and deposited their belongings with the king. They took their belongings back, when the danger was no more. Thus, when the king accepted their deposits, he did a favour to them. Similarly, when the public hands over money and other offerings to me, I keep it as a deposit like the king. I do not take any charity. The world is aflame with lust, rancour, etc. Whatever money is spent on such pursuits, goes down the drain. And whatever money is offered before the Guru, will be of avail to them. Whatever be their desires while making the offering, will be realised by the grace of the Guru.”
“Guru ji, we did not know that you are a philospher. Hearing your philosophy has gladdened our hearts. We are indeed very grateful to you for the answers,” said the Pandas. (15)
Next Story Follows
Episode No. 16
Destiny Achieved Through Prayer
One summer when the Guru was travelling, he reached a garden where he camped for the day. It so happened that the king's pir (spiritual advisor), was also camping at the same place. Thus the Pir had a chance to meet Guru Baba. The pir called on the Guru, who seated him with due courtesy by his side. There was a town nearby where a number of Khatri Sikhs of the Guru lived. When they heard of the Guru's arrival at the garden, they all flocked to see the Guru with offerings of clothes, arms and money, besides food. The offerings were formally dedicated to the Guru by his attendants, who also prayed in their behalf for his blessings, success in temporal pursuits, protection from evil, and the boon of Naam.
The pir watched the proceedings for the whole day, and then put this question the Guru, "In our scriptures it is said that whatever is destined, is bound to happen. Something else can happen, only if what has been done previously is wrong. Since what has been done, cannot be wrong, there is no scope for anything else happening. So, when the Sikhs pray before you for success in their endeavours, what do they pray for, since nothing else can happen except what is destined?"
After hearing the pir's question the Guru took out his seal. He applied ink to the seal and stamped it on a piece of paper.
"Pir ji, this is the answer to your question," replied the Guru.
"Kindly explain this to me," said the pir.
"The letters on the seal were already there. These have not been written now. But the writer knew that when the seal bows its head to touch the paper, the reverse letters will become straight and get stamped on it. Similarly, the Creator has made this provision in one's destiny, so that when one appears before the Guru in humility and performs service, his adverse destiny is corrected. All his problems are solved. This reversal is as per destiny, and not otherwise. Thus, whatever has been said in your scriptures is correct.
Nothing less and nothing more." At this answer the pir was very happy. (16)
Notes Episode No 15
It seems that although Sewa Das converted to Sikhism, yet at the back of his mind some traces of the influcence of Brahminical code lingered. he had not been able to shed the notion that accepting offerings is the prerogative of Brahmins only. All other varnas are expected to make offerings to them. he is trying to rationalise a situation in which the Guru, in spite of being a Khatri, does not make any offerings to Brahmins, and on the contrary, is accepting offerings from his devotees. Since Sikhism does not accept any caste system or any such right of Brahmins, no rationalisation is called for. Anyway the distinction made by the Guru between an offering and a deposit is important and valid. The offerings of the Sikhs are, in fact, deposits for their own ultimate good, and not donations or presents made to the Guru for his personal use.
The mention of a hom is made in the narration, probably because Sewa Das wanted to legitimise the presence of Brahmins of Kanshi at the Guru’s court. It is common knowledge that the Guru did not believe in any homs or any special qualifications of Brahmins for the purpose. It seems that this had been used as peg to hang his story on. This was one feather on which Mehma Parkash built a bird, and around which later historians constructed a flock, i.e., wove the story of Durga Puja by Guru Gobind Singh.
Notes Episode 16
Just as in the previous episode, Sewa Das tries to meet Hindu objections to the Guru’s ways, here he tries to answer the objections raised by Muslim pirs. There must have been some popular standard objections to procedures at the Guru’s court, and rivals of the Guru must have been making capital out of it. Sewa Das has tried to meet these in this narration.
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