Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

Bhai Bala who was a life-long companion of Guru Nanak, was the son of Chandar Bhan, a Sandhu Jatt of Talvandi Rai Bhoi, now Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. Three years senior in age to Guru Nanak, he was his childhood playmate in Talvandi. From Talvandi, he accompanied Guru Nanak to Sultanpur where he stayed with him a considerable period of time before returning to his village.

According to Bala Janam Sakhi, Bhai Bala at the instance of Rai Bular set out from Talvandi to join Guru Nanak who had already left Sultanpur on his travels abroad and met him in Bhat Lalo's home at Saidpur. After Guru Nanak's passing away, Guru Angad, Nanak invited Bala from his native Talvandi to come to Khadur and narrate to him events from the First Guru's life. Very graphic, if somewhat miraculous, is the version contained in an old text, the Mahima Prakash. To quote: "Guru Angad one day spoke to Bhai Buddha, 'Seek the disciple who accompanied the Master, Guru Nanak, on his journeys far and wide, who heard his preaching and reflected on it, and who witnessed the many strange events that occurred; secure from him all the circumstances and have transcribed a volume which may please the hearts of those who should apply themselves to it.' Bala Sandhu made his appearance."

The anecdotes narrated by Bala were recorded in Gurmukhi characters in Guru Angad's presence by another Sikh, Paira Mokha. The result was what is known as Bhai Bale Vali Janam Sakhi, a biographical account of Guru Nanak's life. Bhai Bala died in 1544 at Khadur Sahib. A memorial platform, within the precincts of Gurdwara Tapiana Sahib, marks the site where his mortal remains were cremated.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Macauliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Religion. Oxford, 1909
McLeod, W.H., Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion. Oxford, 1968


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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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