Solar Eclipse at Kurukshetra
After leaving Hardwar Guru Nanak Dev ji went to Kurukshetra. It was the day of solar eclipse. People in large numbers had gathered there. In those days people had wrong ideas about Solar and Lunar eclipse. They believed that on such occasions Moon and Sun are attacked by demons and this attack can be averted if people take bath in the holy rivers and give money in charity. In order to enlighten the people that these ideas are not true, the Guru went to Kurukshetra when a fair on the day of Solar eclipse was being held there. The Guru set up a camp at an open space outside the city and started singing hymns (Kirtan). Mardana played at the rebeck (rubab) and accompanied the Guru in singing.
It so happened that the Ruler of Hansi and his queen passed that way. He had been driven out of his kingdom by his opponents. He had come to Kurukshetra to get the blessings of some holy man. He sat near the guru and listened to the kirtan. As he sat there and looked at the divine face of Guru and listened to to the kirtan he was convinced that the Guru was a holy man with great spiritual power. On his way to Kurukshetra, the ruler had hunted a dear and asked his attendants to cook its meat.
People consider it a sin to cook on day of eclipse and cooking meat at pilgrim centres was considered to be an unpardonable sin. When the priests saw the smoke rising from the cooking fire they raised a hue and cry and on when they learnt that meat was being cooked they were even more angry. They gathered large number of people and led them to attack and kill such a sinner. As the cooking was being done near the place where the Guru was singing they thought that he was the culprit. They abused the Guru and threatened to kill him. The Guru spoke to them gently and said, “If it is a sin to cook the flesh of a dear during Solar eclipse how can killing a man be an act of piety? If killing an animal is a sin, killing a man cannot be a virtue”. Guru’s answer silenced them.
The Guru said, “If you want to discuss the issue, ask Pandits, Scholars and Sanyasis to come here”. Many Pandits were called. One of them was pandit Nanoo. He called himself Nanak. The debate of eating non-vegetarian food started. Large number of people stood there, listening to the debate. It was argued that the scriptures forbade meat eating. Our ancestors took only vegetarian food.
The Guru said, “Your holy books say the animals were killed and their flesh offered as sacrifice to fire. Aryans ate flesh. When marriage feasts are held at Kshatri houses, goats are slaughtered and non-vegetarian food is served. Why do you accept charity from those who are meat eaters?”
The Guru did not say whether one should eat non-vegetarian food. He simply opposed hypocrisy. We should not do one thing and say the other. There should be no difference between our words and deeds. The guru made his point of view very clear. He said, “We should not eat the food which harms the body, makes it sick and leads mind astray. Only that food is good which keeps the body healthy and the mind pure”.
The principle laid down by the Guru in this respect is such as can be adopted by people in any country. By following this principle all can lead a happy life.