Bhai Saalas Rai Ji, The Jeweler

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Bhai Mardana Ji were passing through a jungle, when Bhai Mardana Ji said, “Guru Ji, I am hungry. You know that we could not get food for some days. It is very hard for me to take even a single step. We are in a dense forest. I think there is not any city near”.

Guru Ji said, “Have a little patience, Mardana. We are heading towards a city”.

They kept walking. After some time, Guru Ji said to Mardana Ji, “See, there is a city”.

Mardana Ji said, “What does it make a difference if we are near to a city. We have no money with us. No one will give us food without money. It seems that I have to die here right now”.

When Guru Ji listened Mardana Ji saying like this, Guru Ji searched sand by his foot. He took a precious jewel from the sand and gave it to Mardana Ji.

Mardana Ji said, “What can I do with this stone. I cannot eat this, Guru Ji”.

Guru Ji replied, “Go into the city. You will know its price there”.

It was the city of ‘Bishamberpur’. Guru Ji did not enter into the city. Mardana Ji went to a jeweler in the city.

The jeweler said, “I can give you only three paise (a currency) for it”.

Mardana Ji came back to Guru Ji and told that the jeweler was ready to give only three paise.

Guru Ji said, “Go to jeweler ‘Saalas Rai’. Give that jewel to him and take money which he would give to you”.

Bhai Mardana Ji went to Bhai Saalas Rai jeweler and showed him the jewel. Bhai Saalas Rai Ji examined the jewel very carefully. Then he gave hundred rupees to Mardana Ji and said, “I can give as much money as the owner wants. I am giving you hundred rupees just as a respect for this precious jewel”.

Mardana Ji went back to Guru Ji and told what happened.

Guru Ji said, “Mardana, This is very precious jewel. The jeweler has given hundred rupees to show his respect for this jewel. You can imagine how precious it is. Now tell me if you want to sell this jewel”.

Bhai Mardana Ji said, “We should not sell the jewel”.

“Give back the money you have taken from Saalas Rai, if you do not sell it”, said Guru Ji.

Mardana Ji went again to Bhai Saalas Rai Ji and told him that the owner of this jewel did not want to sell it.

However, Bhai Saalas Rai Ji refused to take that money back, as it given as respect for jewel. He wanted to see the owner of jewel, so he went where Guru Ji was sitting outside the city. He brought food and some other things for Guru Ji.

Bhai Saalas Rai met Guru Ji. He wanted to listen to Guru Ji.

Guru Ji sang a ‘Shabd’, “In the pure, immaculate waters,
both the lotus and the slimy scum are found.
The lotus flower is with the scum and the water,
But it remains untouched by any pollution.

“You frog, you will never understand.
You eat the dirt, while you dwell in the immaculate waters.
You know nothing of the ambrosial nectar there.”

“You dwell continually in the water;
The bumblebee does not dwell there,
But it is intoxicated with its fragrance from afar.
Intuitively sensing the moon in the distance,
The lotus bows its head.”

“The realms of nectar are irrigated with milk and honey;
You think you are clever to live in the water.
You can never escape your own inner tendencies,
Like the love of the flea for blood.”

“The fool may live with the Pandit,
The religious scholar, and listen to the Vedas and the Shaastras.
You can never escape your own inner tendencies,
Like the crooked tail of the dog.”

“Some are hypocrites;
They do not merge with the Naam,
The Name of the Lord.
Some are absorbed in the Feet of the Lord, Har, Har.
The mortals obtain what they are predestined to receive;
O Nanak, with your tongue, chant the Naam.”
(Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Maaru Mahla 1, p. 990)

Bhai Saalas Rai Ji was well-learned man. He became the follower of Guru Ji. He was a poet also. He wrote and sang a song in praise of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

On his request, Guru Ji went to Bhai Saalas Rai’s house. Guru Ji stayed in the city for some days.

Guru Ji appointed Bhai Saalas Rai Ji the preacher of Guru Nanak’s philosophy.