Guru Stories:Bhai Manjh
Bhai Manjh, an ardent disciple of the Guru, used to bring dry wood everyday for the langar to be cooked. One day while carrying wood he tumbled into a well following a storm. Guru Arjan Dev found that despite his predicament Bhai Ji had saved the wood from getting wet. The Guru honored his disciple by saying, Manjh is beloved of the Guru and the Guru of the Manjh.
The life of Bhai Manjh, a disciple of Guru Arjan, one among the 10 Sikh Gurus, is one of the best examples of the surrender one must have towards one’s Guru.
Bhai Manjh was a very wealthy landlord, who used to worship the tomb of Sakhi Sarwar, a renowned saint. One day he happened to hear Guru Arjan’s discourse and was so inspired by it, that he decided to accept Guru Arjan as his Guru.
Guru Arjan said, “If you wish to get initiated by me, you will have to raze your worship room.”
Bhai Manjh ran back to his house, and started demolishing his worship room. All his well-wishers warned him, “Bhai Manjh, this act of yours will bring great misfortunes to your family.”
Manjh said, “Whatever be the consequences of my act, I am ready to bear them all.”
He returned to the Guru and was initiated into the holy name. Manjh’s heart was filled with gratitude towards his Guru. But soon one misfortune followed another: His horses died, his house was ransacked by thieves, and soon he became a pauper who owed a lot of money to others. All the villagers started making fun of him and criticizing his devotion towards his Guru. But never did his faith swerve.
Soon, Manjh had to leave the village with his wife and children and find shelter in another village. There he made his livelihood by cutting and selling grass.
Several months passed. One day Guru Arjan sent a letter to Bhai Manjh through one of his disciples. But the Guru had instructed the carrier that the letter should only be delivered after Bhai Manjh gave 20 rupees as an offering. Bhai Manjh was delighted to know that his Guru had sent him a letter. But how could he manage to get 20 rupees? Seeing his ordeal, his wife said, “Don’t worry. I shall take our daughter and my ornaments to the goldsmith. I am sure we can collect 20 rupees.” Soon the wife came back with the money. Giving the money to the disciple, Bhai Manjh received the letter with tear-filled eyes, kisses it and pressed it against his heart.
After some years the Guru sent a second letter and demanded 25 rupees for it. Once again Bhai Manjh had nothing with him. Then he remembered that the head of the village had sought his eldest daughter’s hand in marriage. He soon fixed the alliance for which he asked 25 rupees as payment. Offering the money Manjh received the second letter.
Soon after that, Guru Arjan sent a disciple to Manjh with a message that they could come and stay at the Guru’s place, doing seva in the Gurudvara. Manjh’s happiness knew no bounds. He, his wife and remaining daughter soon started on their way. They were asked to do seva in the kitchen. They would clean the utensils and cut firewood.
One day, Guru Arjan asked one of his close disciples, “Where does Bhai Manjh and his family take food from?”
“From the community kitchen,” said the disciple.
The Guru retorted, “Bhai Manjh is not doing real service as he is charging us for his wages, which he takes in the form of food.”
Bhai Manjh, who overheard this conversation, felt sad at heart. He went and told his wife, “From tomorrow, we will get our food by some other means. The Guru has given us the priceless treasure of Nam (the Divine Name), and I can never repay that debt. How can we expect anything else for our service to Him.”
The next day, after working for the whole day in the kitchen, he went to the forest, cut firewood and sold it at the market, using the money to buy food for his family. This continued for many days.
One day there was a shortage of firewood in the Gurudvara kitchen, and Bhai Manjh had to go to the forest in the evening to fetch some. He had almost finished collecting firewood, when a severe windstorm began. Manjh tried to take shelter under the trees with the bundle of firewood on his head. But the wind started blowing so strongly that he was blown into a deep well.
Suddenly, Guru Arjan called some of his disciples to quickly collect a wooden board and a long rope and accompany him to the forest. The disciples were surprised. On reaching the well, the Guru said, “Manjh is at the bottom of the well. Shout and tell him that we will lower a board tied to a rope. Tell him to cling on to it so that we can pull him out.” The Guru then muttered some words into the disciple’s ear and asked for that to also be told.
The disciple said, “O Brother, see your pathetic condition. Why do you follow such a Guru who’s so cruel? Why don’t you leave him and forget him?”
Manjh shouted back, “How dare you say that my Guru is cruel. He has only compassion for me. Never utter such shameless words.”
Bhai Manjh did not get on the board first. He put the bundle of firewood on the board and said, “Take the wood first. It is for the Guru’s kitchen. If it gets wetter, it will not burn.”
The wood was drawn up and the Bhai Manjh was himself pulled out. When he came out he saw Guru Arjan standing before him. He fell prostrate at the Guru’s feet.
Lifting him up and patting his shoulders, Guru Arjan said, “I am proud of you. You have faced all the tests with unswerving faith, courage and devotion, and have come out successful in all of them. I would be glad to gift you even the three worlds.”
With tears streaming down his cheeks, Bhai Manjh said, “O Lord, the only boon I wish for, is You alone! Nothing else is of interest to me.”
The Guru warmly embraced Bhai Manjh and took him back to the Gurudvara.
May all of us have such trust and surrender towards our Beloved Amma, who is waiting eagerly to take us across the ocean of transmigration