Bhai Mardana ji and charity
For forty-seven years Bhai Mardana ji went wherever Guru Nanak went. Whether it was bitter cold of the hills or the heat of the deserts he did not leave him. Fear of wild animals or hunger and thirst in the wilderness or even the love of home did not change his mind from the five vices- lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride. He replaced them with the five virtues – truth, contentment, patience, compassion and faith. He was given the honor to be saint and a brother to all.
Bhai Mardana was nine years older to Guru Nanak. His father was a ‘Mirasi’ Muslim who did odd jobs in the village of Mir Badra. There was no postal system of sending mail in olden days, so ‘Mirasis’ use to perform this duty. They would take messages of the village people to their relatives and bring back their replies. Their work was of great importance. Those who took their help had to look after them well. They were always on the move and so were used to bearing hardships. As they moved alone, they made it their hobby to sing and play instruments to amuse themselves and they took pride in being honest and truthful.
Bhai Mardana too was gifted with many things, one of them being playing the Rabab – a musical instrument on which he sang the hymns composed by Guru Nanak in nineteen different melodies. Guru ji who was working as a storekeeper at Modi Khana gave up his job. He chose Mardana as his companion and started going places to spread the word of God. They were going on foot from Sultanpur to Lahore. On their way they stopped for the night then woke up at dawn, bathed and Mardana played his instrument and Guru ji recited a hymn in praise of God.
Then Mardana took Guru ji’s permission to go to a nearby village to get something to eat and drink. The village people gave him some clothes too as they use to give other hermits and fakirs. When Guru ji saw the bundle of clothes with Mardana he said “Bhai Mardana, distribute these clothes among the poor, by gathering things offered in charity one becomes greedy. A greedy man entangled by this urge can never do any good to mankind.” So acting upon the command of Guru Nanak, Bhai Mardana gave away all the clothes to the poor as well as the extra food.