Bhai Hema (devotee of Guru Arjan Dev)

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  • Bhai Hema, a devout Sikh of Khanpur, a village now known as Khan Chhapn, 8 km west of Goindval (30°22'N, 75"9'E) in Amritsar district of the Punjab, who would extend the hospitality of his humble thatched hut, chhapn'm Punjabi, to any Sikh or holy man. Once, during the winter season, Guru Arjan, while travelling through the countryside with a few attendants, was suddenly caught in rain and storm near Khanpur. As records the author of the Gurbilds Pdtshdhi Chhevin, his attendants knocked at the doors of several wellbuilt mansions, but none opened to give them shelter. The Guru then took them to Bhai Hema's hut. It was an unexpected delight for Hema to receive and serve the Guru. He gave the Guru the only blanket he had, and himself, exposed under the leaking roof, prepared a frugal fare which he adoringly served to the holy guest and his Sikhs. Guru Arjan was very pleased and composed, extempore, the hymn beginning with the lines: "Handsome and prosperous is the thatched hut in which God's praises are recited; useless, utterly useless are the mansions where He is not remembered." (GG, 745).

Bhai Hema was taken ill owing to his exposure during the cold night. Guru Arjan stayed with him during his sickness. But Hema did not survive and died, as had been his wish, in the Guru's arms. The Guru himself performed the obsequies.