August 2018

The distribution of grace is not controlled by the Guru, but depends upon the capacity of the recipient. – Chinmaya

God’s/Guru’s grace is ever there. But only a rare few receive it.

What decides the descendance of this grace?

Total faith. Total surrender.

Bhai Manjh was a man who was not only wealthy but also a landlord who owned a village. He was a worshipper of the tomb of the holy man, Sakhi Sarwar. He had hundreds of followers. But one day, he happened to attend a discourse given by Guru Arjan (the famous Sikh Guru), and the words of the Guru made such a profound impression on him that he begged him to grant him the boon of initiation.

“Whom do you follow at present?” asked Guru Arjan. “Sir, I am a devotee of Sakhi Sarwar,” Manjh replied humbly.

“I will grant you initiation only after you have gone back to your home and have completely destroyed the room that is set apart for holy worship,” the Guru said.

Manjh ran to his house as fast as he could and tore down every brick of the room. Several people who had gathered to watch him solemnly warned him: “Bhai Manjh! You will have to pay very heavily for the destruction of this holy room!”

“I have done it,” said Manjh boldly, “and am prepared to suffer any consequences.”

When he returned to Guru Arjan, the Master, considering him fit, bestowed initiation on him.

But it was destined that he be put to still further tests. Soon his horse died; then some of his bullocks. Thieves took some of his other possessions.

Seeing this, people began to taunt him, saying: “This is the result of the disrespect shown to Sakhi Sarwar. You should go and rebuild the temple in your home.”

But none of this bothered Bhai Manjh in the least. To one and all he said: “I do not care what happens. My Guru is all-knowing, and he knows what is best.”

One misfortune followed another, and before long Manjh was not only destitute but owed money to many people. All of them demanded immediate repayment saying: “Either pay us at once or leave the village.” At the same time, many of his old friends pleaded with him: “If you would only rebuild the temple, things would be sure to take a turn for the better.”

But no. Bhai Manjh remained adamant and preferred to leave the village. So he, his wife and his daughter packed up their few remaining belongings and found shelter in another village. As he had been a rich landlord, Manjh had never had to learn a trade. But it was now necessary for him to earn money. So he began to make his livelihood by cutting and selling grass.

Several months went by in this way when one day Guru Arjan sent Bhai Manjh a letter which was delivered by one of his disciples. To the disciple, the Guru had said: “Please be sure to demand twenty rupees as an offering before you give Bhai Manjh the letter. If he does not pay you, bring back the letter.”

Bhai Manjh was delighted to see the letter, but had no money with which to pay the twenty rupees. He asked his wife for the advice and she said: “I will take the ornaments and those of our daughter to the goldsmith, and see how much he will give me for them.”

The goldsmith’s offer was exactly twenty rupees. So Manjh gave the twenty rupees offering, received the letter, kissed it, lifted it to his forehead and eyes, and pressed it against his heart. As he completed these devotions, he went into ecstasy.

Two years went by, and the Guru then sent Manjh a second letter, for which he was to make an offering of twenty-five rupees. Once again, Bhai Manjh had no money. But he remembered that the headman of the village had once asked if his son could marry Bhai Manjh’s daughter. Accordingly, he sent his wife to see the wife of the headman, telling her to offer their daughter in marriage, even though the head man was of a lower caste, and to demand twenty-five rupees as a marriage payment.

The headman gladly paid the money and Bhai Manjh received the letter.

But the Guru wished to test Bhai Manjh still further. So he told a disciple: “Please go to Bhai Manjh and ask him to come to my court.” Manjh went quickly and gladly to the court of his beloved Guru. There he, his wife and his daughter went to work in the kitchen, cleaning the utensils and cutting firewood.

After a few days, the Guru asked: “Where does Bhai Manjh take his food?”

“He eats with us, getting his food from the free community kitchen,” the disciples said.

“It seems to me,” said the Guru, “that Bhai Manjh is not doing real service, for, then he would expect nothing in return for his work. He is charging us for his wages, which he takes in the form of food.”

When Manjh heard of this from his wife, he told her: “I want nothing in return for service to the beloved Guru, who has given me the priceless gift of Naam. We will get our food by some other means.”

So from that day onwards, Bhai Manjh went to the forest each night to cut wood. He then sold the wood in the bazaar and used the proceeds to buy food. During the day time, he and his family worked in the kitchen as before.

A few weeks later, after Manjh had gone to the forest to cut wood one night, there was a great wind storm. Bhai Manjh valiantly struggled against the wind, with his bundle of wood on his head. But the wind was so fierce that it blew Manjh headlong into a well, together with his precious bundle of wood.

Everything that had taken place was already known to the Guru. So when Manjh was blown into the well, he gathered some of his disciples and told them: “Be quick now! Get a wooden board and some rope. Then follow me at once to the forest.”

When they reached the well in the forest, the Guru told one of his disciples: “Bhai Manjh is at the bottom of this well. Shout down to him and tell him that we will lower a board tied to a rope. Tell him to cling to the board and we will pull him out.”

The disciples did this, but he also added some words told to him in private by the Guru. “Brother! See the wretched condition you are in. And it is all due to the way the Guru has treated you. Why don’t you forget a Guru who does such things?”

“What?” shouted Manjh. “Forget the beloved Guru? Never! And as for you, ungrateful one, please never again speak so disrespectfully of the Guru in my presence. It makes me suffer agonies to hear such shameful words.”

Bhai Manjh then asked that his bundle of wood be taken out of the well first. “Take the wood,” he said, “because it is for the Guru’s kitchen. I do not want it to get wet, for then it would not burn.” The wood was drawn up, and then Bhai Manjh himself was pulled up out of the well.

When he came face to face with his beloved Satguru, the Guru said, “Brother! You have gone through many trials and have met all of them with courage, faith and devotion for the Satguru. As a reward, I would be glad, if you would wish it, to give you the kingdom of the three worlds.”

But Bhai Manjh said, “O Guru! My Beloved! This is Kali Yuga, and in it, no one has the strength to stand up to the tests of Satguru. Therefore, my only request is that henceforth the disciples should not be put to such tests.”

This pleased Guru Arjan very much, but he still wished to give a tangible reward of some kind to Bhai Manjh. “Please ask me for some gift or boon,” he said. “You have earned it and it would make me very happy to give it to you.”

At this Bhai Manjh fell on his knees before the beloved Guru, and with tears streaming down his cheeks, exclaimed: “What boon could I wish for, my Guru, but you alone? I want you alone. Nothing else could ever be of any interest to me.”

Upon hearing these words, spoken from the heart, the Guru embraced Bhai Manjh and said:

“Manjh is the darling of his Guru;
And Guru is Manjh’s only love.
Manjh now, like Guru, is a ship,
That carries people safely across
The ocean of transmigration…”

O M   T A T    S A T

Posted in: Chintana

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