RAJA SHIVNAB OF CEYLON
After a circuitous tour through the chief cities and holy places ofthe Deccan, the Guru reached Cape Comorin. From there he crossed over to Ceylon. Raja Shivnabh of Jaffna had heard of the Guru from a merchant Sikh and had become his devoted disciple. The Guru's Songs of God sung to him by that merchant, Munsukh, had soothed his heart but had, also, stirred his soul with a powerful longing to see the Heavenly Singer who sang of the Great Bounteous Lord in such inspired and inspiring words.
ll that the merchant had told him about the Guru had only served to whet the edge of the Raja's yearning to see the Master. He had wanted to accompany Mansukh to the Panjab and lay himself at the Guru's feet. But Mansukh had counselled him to love and wait in faith. 'The Master is drawn', said he, 'across great distances by the invisible string of his disciples' love. Only, let the love be deep, steady, and sincere. He will as surely come to you as the sun will rise again in the east tomorrow. He does not like that people should neglect or give up their daily duties in their uncontrolled zeal for a life of the spirit. He would like you to carry on your kingly duties in a spirit of love and service. Besides, who knows to what regions he might have gone? He is "ever on the wing in pursuance of his self-chose. heaven ordained task of saving mankind from the clutches of its evil propensities.
So, as I said, love and wait. If you concentrate your mind and, with purity of heart, pray for his presence, he will not fail to fulfil your true desire. He will come. The force of your love will draw him to your place, wherever he be. Have faith and patience. They will get their reward. '
Raja Shivaabh had accepted the advice. He had begun to love, pray, and wait Every morning and every night before going to sleep, he had prayed earnestly for the Guru to reveal himself to him in person. Having been told that the Guru loved to stay out under open skies, away from the bustle and bustle of human habitations, the Raja had planted a grove of shade trees for the Guru's sojourn. The thing had got wind. Many imposters had come, pose as the Guru, and stayed in the grove. But all of them had failed to satisfy the yearning of his soul. The imposters had made him cautious. Thenceforth, he had issued orders that all who came to his city, posing as GUru Nanak, should be sUbjected to various tests. Rich food and drinks of all sorts were provided.
Beautiful damsels were sent to dance before them, to serve them, and to use their arts with them. None had been able to withstand these temptations. Shivnabh's despair had grown deeper with the lapse of time. It was at such a time of doubts and despair that the Guru reached there and took his seat in the grove. Attracted by the divine music and the agnetic personality of the Guru, people came to him in large numbers. Shivnabh had been duped many times in the past. He would not go himself, or believe the stranger to be the Guru, until he had tried and tested him. So he ordered two of his prettiest and cleverest court-dancing-girls to visit the Guru and tempt him with their wiles and charms. If they failed to entice him, then,would he himself visit the holy man.
The girls almost danced into the grove, dressed in gay garments, full of laughter and mischief, carrying baskets, full of flowers to offer to the Guru, sure of conquest, proud of their beauty and the magic of their blandishments and passionate music to charm and conquer him as they had done in the case of others. None else was allowed to enter. The Guru and his companions were thus left alone with the unholy, beautiful young charmers. The Guru looked up with a stem, lovefullook, as a father looks at a prankish, erratic child, and bade theJE. sit and think of God. Those who had come to conquer were themselves conquered on beholding the Master's Glory. The Guru's look penetrated deep into the depth of their hearts and cleansed them ofall their evil inclinations. They bowed before the Guru, experienced a sense of elation unknown before, and returned transfigured to their master, the king.
Shivnabh had only to look at their faces to convince himself. Their eyes were bright with a strange delight. Their faces glowed with the radiance of the divine spark which, hidden so long in the depths of their hearts, had now been fanned into life by the Guru's holy breath. Shivnabh needed no further tests.•At last he has come', said he, and danced in glee. He took his son and queen with him and went to the garden. The damsels were right. The sight of the Guru's loving, peaceful, radiant, inspiring countenance was enough to lay all doubts at rest, and to soothe and quieten all thoughts of despair. It was He,
192 GURU NANAK DEV : LIFE AND TEACHlNGS
the long-exptected Divine Guest. He laid himself prostrate at the Guru's feet. A thrill ofnew life andjoy passed through his whole being. All vain, wandering and restless longings of the heart were laid at rest for ever. His faith and patient waiting were rewarded. The Master himself had come across numerous forests and rivers, and over several thousand miles of wild, desolate land, to fulfil the lovefullonging ofhis desciple. Tne thought made him cling to the Master's feet still more fervently and wash them with tears of joy and gratitude. The prince and the queen also bowed at the Guru's feet and obtained his blessings. All the three rose at the bidding of the Guru.
For a pretty long time they sat quietly, feasting their eyes, heart and souls with the heavenly sight before them; enjoying the holy presence through every cell and pore of their bodies, and inhaling unutterable joy at every breath. At last, the king took courage to break this blissful silence. With folded hands he said, 'Grant me light, 0 Master. I have waited for years and years.'
The Guru said, 'I have come across all this distance in response to your steadfast, devotion. I know that you were waiting for me.'
The Raja then asked 'From your dress, it is difficult to judge whether you are a Jogi, a Brahmin, or a householder. What path do you follow l' The Guru replied with the hymn given below :-
The Jogi who knows the secret of the pure Name, has not a particle of uncleanness; The True Beloved Lord is ever with him and he escapes birth and death. o God, what is your Name and how can it be comprehended? If Thou call me unto Thy Presence, I would get this doubt removed. A Brahmin is he who is soaked in knowledge of God, who worshippeth God by ever singing His praises, and Who meditates on the Name of the Lord whose light illumines the three worlds. Make the heart the scales, thy tongue the beam, and weigh the unnweighable Name. The Lord's gate is the shop and He Himself is its owner; dealers in Name alone gather at that shop. The True Guru saves at both ends, here and hereafter. But he alone understands it who is attened to the One Lord and and whose mind wavers not. He inscribes the Word in his mind, serves God day and night, and has ended all his doubts. Above all is the sky (the Tenth Door), wherein abides the Lord. And wherein dwells also the Unfathomable Guru. Through the Guru's Word, whether I am at home or abroad is the same to me; Nanak has become truly detached, an anchoret par excellence.' Rag Maru.
In this hymn the Guru stressed the point that men of religion, under whatever name they might choose to be known, were in fact worshippers of the same One God, and were as it were, dealers in the same commodity, the Name of the Lord. TheRaja bowed and said, 'Forgiveme, 0 true Guru. I am impelled to ask questions which people generally ask to resolve their doubts. Your words are like shafts of light which pierce and dispel darkness.'
'Ask whatever you wish to ask' ,said the Guru. 'I am here to remove all your doubts and to lead you on to the true path.' 'I should like', said the Raja, 'to have answers to the following questions:
From where does the soul of man come and where does it go? What is its source and to what does it return after death? How is it bound? How is it freed? How does it become one with the Lord Eternal l' The Guru answered with a hymn in which he at ftrst puts the questions and then answers them :-
'Man is born and then dies, 0 wherefrom he comes? What is his source and to what does he return ? How does he merge in the Eternal Lord in the natural way? He who has the nectar of Name in the heart and in the mouth' and who dwells on God's Name, becoms detached like Him. Then he comes and goes in the natural way. He is born because of the desires and tendencies of th~ mind and merges in Him again for the same reason. Through the Guru's instructions one is emancipated and is not bound again. He ever pondes on the Name and achieves deliverance through the Name. On the tree of the world many birds flock together for the night's stay. Of them some are happy and others are miserable;, 1. That is, who ever utters the name.
Attachments in the mind are the cause of ruin; As the night ends, they look up at the sky again and the same fluttering of heart starts again; Then they wander about in all directions according to the writ of their Karma. But they who are merged in the Name regard the world as a temporary shelter in a pasture during the rainy season. And, shedding their lust and anger, break the pitcher of the poisonous Maya. Without the capital stock of the Name, the home and the shop are empty. But when the Guru meets, he opens the closed gates of true vision. In consequence of pre-destined union, one meets the true teacher. The men of God are perfeet and are ever happy in Truth. They who surrender their Will and their body to God in the natural way. Nanak, touch feet, for they are worthy of reverence.' Rag Gauri.
The Raja's questions were answered to his satisfaction and his doubts were all removed. He was completely converted and he accepted the Guru as his Light-giver. He then said to the Guru, 'Having come so far to bless your unworthy but lucky slaves, will you go a little further? Will you enter the city and sancitify with your presence the home of your happy slaves l' 'No. friena', replied the G~, 'I am aU right here'. But the-king persisted in his entreaties. The Guru smiledand said, 'All right, I shall go; but won't go on foot'
'Why should you walk, Master? A horse, a horse and six, or an elephant, or whatever else you desire, shall be sent for.' 'But I should like to ride on the back of a king.' 'Nothing more pleasant or blissful, my Master. Come, I shall blithely carry you on my back through the city, so that allmay know the immensity of my joy.' Shivnabh at once sat in the necessary posture and invited the Guru to be true to his word and ride on his back. The Guru was glad at the Raja's devotion and self-surrender. He bade him go and build a dharmsala near the palace.He would go there when it was ready. The building was soon completed. The Guru went and took his lodgings there. People now flocked to the place in order to listen to his soul-stirring, peace-giving, joy-inspiring Songs of the Lord. The whole city and the suburbas bowed before the Guru and became his disciples. Raja Shivnabh, as the most devoted of
them all, was entrusted with the duty of preaching the Master's mission in the country. After a short stay the Guru bade farewell to the sangar there and made a tour of the whole island. In all place he was listened to with reverence and delight. The whole population of the places visited by him embraced his faith and began to sing the Word of God as given to them by him. Sikh sangats came to exist in all places visited by the Guru and Sikh temples were erected in many of them. One such temple exists at Colombo.
During his stay with Raja Shivnabh the Guru composed the Prasangli, a metrical composition 'containing an account of the silent palace ofGod, the manner of meditating an account of the silent palace of God, the manner of meditating on Him, the private utterances of the Guru, and the nature of the soul and body.' It was taken down by one or other of his two companions,
When the Guru departed from Shivnabh, he left the Pransangli there with the instruction that ifanybody comes for it from the Panjab, a copy there of was to be given over to him. When Guru Atjan, the fifth Guru, began to collect the writings of his predecessors for the compilation of Guru Granth Sahib, he sent Bhai Paira to Ceylon to bring him the above-said composition of Guru Nanak.
We do not, however, find it in Guru Granth Sahib, probably"the copy which Bhai Paira brought was not the genuine one or was incomplete and was, therefore, rejected by Guru Atjan. On his return, Bhai Paira narrated his experiences and observations of his long journey. A gist of the narrative was taken down by Bhai Banno in his copy of Guru Granth Sahib under the caption 'Haqiqa Rah Mukam', and exists to this day. A copy thereof is 'appended to a manuscript copy of Guru Granth Sahib found by Henry Erskine, in the battle-field ofGujrat, 1849, now preserved in the British Museum, under Or, 1125.'1 This manuscript belongs to Akbar's time and affords a very valuable record from the historical point of view, as it establishes certain points beyond all doubts, e.g, the vist ofGuru to the Decean and Ceylon, the establishment of several centres of the Sikh faith in those parts (which were quite flourishing at the time ofBhai Paira's visit and some of which exist to this day), and the fact of Raja Shivnabh's having
1. Teja Singh Ganda Singh, p. 9.fn. 1% GURU NAJIIAK DEY :LIFE AND TEACHINGS embraced Sikhism. At the time of Bhai Paira's visit, a grandson of Shivnabh was the ruler of the place. A free kitchen was being run at the Dharmsala which Shivnabh had built for the Guru. Thousands were fed there everyday. Bhai Paira found a good many centres of Sikhism in the Deccan, where the Guru was fondly loved and remembered by thousands who sang his Songs and devoutly followed the path which he had shown to them.
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