Bhai Laalo Ji
(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)
When Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji started his ‘Udaasis’ (religious jounryes) along with Bhai Mardana Ji, first, they came to a town, called ‘Aimnabaad’. There lived a carpenter, whose name was Bhai Laalo Ji.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji went to Bhai Laalo’s house. Bhai Laalo felt very happy, when he saw a saint in his house. However, he could not recognize Guru Ji, because he never met him before.
Therefore, he asked Guru Ji, “Where have you come from?”
Guru Ji said, “We are outlanders.”
“Your holy face is shining. Your sight destroys all sins. It made me happy, when I heard your voice. I come under your protection. O merciful saint, please tell me your name”, Bhai Laalo prayed.
Bhai Laalo was a carpenter. Though being a carpenter is just an occupation, but it is now considered a caste in India. In addition, in those old days, a ‘carpenter’ was considered a lower caste. In ‘Puratan Janam Sakhi’, there has been used a word ‘baadhhi’ for this caste. In ‘Gur Partap Suraj Granth’, Bhai Santokh Singh has used a word ‘takhaan’ for it. Now, it is called ‘Tarkhaan’ in Punjabi language. (Sikh ‘Tarkhaans’ are now called ‘Raam-garhiyaas’).
Because ‘carpenter’ was considered a lower caste, so people belonging to upper caste would not go to carpenters’ houses. When Guru Nanak Dev Ji went to this carpenter’s house, the carpenter was surprised. He thought, “How was it possible that a saint came to his house?”
Moreover, by Guru Ji’s face, it was sure that he belonged to a rich family. Laalo might have thought, “A rich man, a man belonging to an upper caste has come to me, then he must be a kind hearted. But who is he?” Laalo wanted to know about this visitor. That is why he said, “O merciful saint, please tell me your name.”
Guru Ji did not tell his name. He said, “You will know my name by yourself. Now, do your job and praise the God.”
Now, Laalo got some clue. He said, “I have heard about a ascetic, Nanak. You must be Nanak. I cannot find anyone like you. But I want to listen by yourself whether you are Nanak or not.”
Bhai Mardana said, “Yes, you guessed very well.”
Happy carpenter did welcome his guests. He provided them with simple food.
Guru Ji stayed in Laalo’s house for 25 days. In the meantime, Bhai Mardana wanted to see his family. Guru Ji allowed him to go to their village, so Bhai Mardana went to ‘Talwandi’ for few days.
Guru Ji used to go to jungle in daytime. During nights, he would come to Laalo’s house. Bhai Laalo would provide Guru Ji with food with pure devotion and love.
In ‘Aimnabad’, there lived a very rich man. His name was ‘Malik Bhago’. While Guru Nanak Dev Ji was staying with Bhai Laalo, Malik Bhago organized ‘Brahm-bhoj’. ‘Brahm-bhoj’ is a kind of public kitchen, where Brahmans and other ascetics are invited. Malik was a very corrupt man. He amassed wealth through unfair means.
He invited many Brahmans, saints, ascetics and others in his ‘Brahm-bhoj’. His priest went personally to everyone to give invitation.
Guru Ji was going to jungle for meditation, when the priest of Malik Bhago met him. He said to Guru Ji, “Where are you going, ascetic Nanak? Here is an invitation for you.”
“Invitation? For what?” Guru Ji asked.
“Malik Bhago, a ‘Khatri’, has arranged a big ‘Brahm-bhoj’. He has invited all Brahmans, Khatris, Vaish and Shudras,” said the priest.
Brahmans, Khatris, Vaish and Shudras are four ‘Varnas’ or castes of Hindus.
Guru Ji replied, “But I do not belong to any caste. I am a man of God.”
“That is why people call you wicked”, priest said in rage. He further said, “If you do not come to ‘Brahm-bhoj’, Malik will be angry with you.”
Guru Ji did not go to Malik’s Brahm-bhoj. Someone said to Malik Bhago, “Look Malik, Nanak ascetic did not come to you. He gets food from a ‘Shudar’. That is why people call him wicked.”
Malik asked his priest, “Did you invite Nanak ascetic?”
“Yes sir”, the priest said, “I told him several times to come to ‘Brahm-bhoj’.”
This made him angry. He ordered, “Go and invite him again”.
The priest went to Laalo’s house and said loudly, “O Laalo! Is Nanak ascetic here in your house right now?”
“He is sitting in my house”, replied Laalo, “What do you have to do with Guru Ji?”
“Send him out”, the priest said.
Guru Ji listened their conversation and came out of the house.
He said, “What are you saying, Pandha Ji?”
The priest replied, “Go with me immediately. Malik is waiting for you.”
“Who is Malik?” Guru Ji said, “I do not know him. I have nothing to do with him. I did not even see him. Why is he calling me?”
The priest went back to Malik Bhago and said, “Malik Ji, he ignored your order. He says, ‘who is Malik?’ He did not come with me. He traduced your food. He has been eating in a Shudar’s house. He is shameless.” However, Guru Ji did not use these words.
Malik ordered, “Go and present him before me by force, if he does not come himself.”
This time, five men accompanied the priest. He went to Guru Ji and said, “Go with us, otherwise we will take you forcefully.”
Guru Ji laughed and went with them. Bhai Laalo Ji followed him. Laalo was afraid.
Guru Ji asked Malik Bhago, “Why have you called me? Why did you send your priest to me?”
Malik said, “Why did not you come to my ‘Brahm-bhoj’?
“I eat what I get”, Guru Ji replied, “I have no desire to eat some tasty food.”
Malik said, “You are fearless. I heard that you belong to an upper caste. Even then, you take food in a Shudar’s house. You traduced ‘Brahm-bhoj’ and you take food from a Shudar.”
Guru Ji heard this calmly. Then he said, “Bring your food, Malik.”
Guru Ji asked Laalo also to bring food from his house. Laalo did so.
Malik ordered his men to bring food. He said to Guru Nanak Ji, “Eat what you like.”
Guru Ji looked at Bhai Laalo. Then he held Laalo’s bread in his right hand and in the other that of Malik Bhago’s. Guru Ji squeezed both. Milk came out from Laalo’s bread and blood dripped from Malik’s bread.
People saw this miracle. They could not believe their eyes. No one had seen blood dripping from bread before.
Guru Ji said to Malik Bhago, “You arranged ‘Brahm-bhoj’ with money sucked from the poor through unfair means. You live by exploitation of the poor and Laalo earns his bread by the sweat of his brow.”
Malik Bhago felt shame, but he did not say any word. Guru Ji came back to Bhai Laalo’s house.
After a few days, Bhai Mardana went back to Aimnabad and rejoin Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He told Guru Ji that Rai Bulaar prayed in the holy feet of Guru Ji to give the ‘Darshan’.
Guru Ji could not ignore his true follower. He said to Bhai Laalo Ji, “There is another lover like you, in my village. He is waiting for me, so I have to go now.”
“But Guru Ji, you promised to stay for one month with me”, said Bhai Laalo Ji.
Guru Ji replied, “I have stayed for 25 days in your house. I will stay for 5 more days when I come again here.”
As a devotee of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, I often think about Bhai Laalo Ji. He was very lucky. In his journeys, Guru Ji did not stay for many days often, in one place; but Bhai Laalo Ji could have the savior as a guest in his house for 25 days. Still he had a promise for more 5 days stay of Guru Ji in his house, though he was a poor man economically; though He did not belong to any so called upper caste. What was the reason? I know the reason. I came to know the fact that my Guru Nanak Dev Ji can be pleased by true love. If you want my Guru Nanak to be with you, just sing his ‘Jap Ji’ with pure devotion; and he will be there with you.
Economically, if you are poor, call my Guru Nanak with pure love. If you are rich, call my Guru Nanak with pure love. It does not matter whether you are poor or rich; Guru Nanak wants just true love.
Guru Ji went to his village ‘Talwandi’. He promised Bhai Laalo Ji to stay with him for more five days. Guru Ji kept his word and when he visited again to Bhai Laalo Ji, he stayed for five days with him.