Guru Hargobind and the limitless langar
During the time of Guru Hargobind sahib, there was a Sikh woman, Bibi Santi, who was married into a family in the village of Butala. Bibi Santi's parents were Sikhs but due to circumstances, found herself married into a family that believed in Sakhi Sarvar (a Muslim Pir). Bibi Santi read Gurbani daily and had a deep love for the Guru. Her mother-in-law however, could not tolerate this faith in Sikhi. Eventually, Bibi Santi was asked to leave the family's house and was made to live in a hut outside.
Bibi Santi was in a way happy that now she would be able to read Gurbani without anyone objecting. Slowly she was able to influence her husband through stories of the Guru and he too became a Sikh.
After some time, a son was born to Bibi Santi who was named Pulla. The happiness in the small family was short lived however as Bibi Santi's husband died quite suddenly.
Faith in the Guru
Bibi Santi did not lose her faith and kept walking on the path of Gurmat. She taught her son stories of the Guru and also Gurbani. Bhai Pulla too developed a love for the Guru and had a deep desire to one day have Guru Sahib's darshan. He would ask his mother when Guru Sahib would come to them and Bibi Santi would reply, "Satguru jee is antarjami (all-knowing). Wherever his Sikhs remember him, he will certainly come to meet them."
Young Bhai Pulla now had a non-stop longing to cast his eyes on his Satguru. Bhai Pulla was convinced that Guru Sahib would come to him and so he wanted to be ready for the moment. Though he and his mother were very poor, he decided the best offering he could give to Guru Sahib was GuR (sugar-jaggery). Wherever he went, Bhai Pulla carried the guR with him, tied in a cloth, not knowing when Guru Sahib would hear his ardaas and give his darshan.
Bhai Pulla's ardaas day and night bore fruit one day. Guru Sahib arrived in village Butala with some Sikhs. Most of the villagers were followers of Sakhi Sarvar and so no one paid Guru Sahib any respect. Guru Hargobind Sahib and his Sikhs however went directly to where Bhai Pulla was sitting and stopped their horse in front of him. Bhai Pulla recognized that his Satguru had finally come and was overjoyed. He remembered the guR he had tied in the cloth and began to fumble with the knot so he could offer it to Guru jee. Bhai Pulla tried, but could not open the long-tied knot. Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib cast his loving eye on his Sikh and said, "Pulla! Here, let me open your knots…"
sathigur sikh kae ba(n)dhhan kaattai || gur kaa sikh bikaar thae haattai ||
The True Guru cuts away the bonds of His Sikh. The Sikh of the Guru abstains from evil deeds.
sathigur sikh ko naam dhhan dhaee || gur kaa sikh vaddabhaagee hae ||
The True Guru gives His Sikh the wealth of the Naam. The Sikh of the Guru is very fortunate.
sathigur sikh kaa halath palath savaarai ||
The True Guru arranges this world and the next for His Sikh.
Guru Granth Sahib, Ang286
What a blessing Guru Sahib gave to Bhai Pulla. What more could Bhai Pulla ask?
Guru Sahib opened the knot and Bhai Pulla humbly placed the guR before Guru Sahib and bowed. Satguru jee then said, "Pulla! My Sikhs and I are hungry. Take us to your home and give us langar."
Bhai Pulla could not contain his happiness and quickly lead Guru jee and the Sikhs to his small home. Mata Santi upon seeing Sri Guru jee's darshan, lost all awareness. Bhai Pulla shook his mother and said, "Guru Sahib wants to have langar. Prepare langar for him."
Villagers and the Langar
The villagers of Butala were bitter and went on to their rooftops to see what was happening. They saw that Guru Sahib and his Sikhs were waiting for langar and began to laugh that Bibi Santi and Bhai Pulla who sometimes could not even manage one meal a day for themselves were now being asked to cook for so many. The villagers decided amongst themselves that no one would help the two Sikhs nor give them any loan to help buy rations for the langar. They would see the humiliating scene when Bibi Santi and Bhai Pulla would tell Guru Sahib that they could not make the langar and have the opportunity to laugh at them.
Satguru Hargobind Sahib knew all and saw the crowds on their rooftops looking at them. Guru Sahib said to Bhai Pulla, "Pulla! Go invite all the villagers to have langar here as well today." Bhai Pulla obeyed the hukam and went to all the villagers and asked them to come to their home for langar. The villagers laughed and said that today the humiliation would be double what they expected. The mother and son could hardly feed themselves let alone all the Sikhs and now all the villagers.
Guru Hargobind Sahib called Bhai Pulla and gave him two kerchiefs and told him to put one on the flour and one on the daal. Mata Santi should not look underneath them after that.
Bibi Santi had prepared all the flour in the house for parshadas but it was still very little. There was also a little daal she had prepared. The two kerchiefs were placed on each and Bibi Santi began to prepare the parshadas while Bhai Pulla did the seva of distributing them. To their amazement, all the Sikhs and all the villagers had their fill of langar and still the parshadas and daal under Guru Sahib's kerchiefs were not finishing.
The villagers were awe-struck and fell at Guru Hargobind Sahib's feet. They had wanted to see the humiliation of the two poor Sikhs but Guru Sahib had shown that he would never let his Sikhs be humiliated in such a way. The faith of the villagers in Sikhi was born that day and Bibi Santi and Bhai Pulla's faith was rewarded.
ijin syivAw iqin pwieAw mwnu ] jin saeviaa thin paaeiaa maan || Those who serve Him are honored.
- this article with thanks to: Sakhi Series :- 100 (Guru Hargobind Sahib and the Limitless Langar)