BHAI KANHAIYA JI
Bhai Kanhaiya Ji (1648-1718) was born in Sodhara near Wazirabad in Sialkot district (now in Pakistan). His father was a wealthy trader. He was a disciple of Guru Tegh Bahadur and founder of sevapanthi (brotherly order) of the Sikh. From a very young age, he used to keep coins in his pocket to donate them to the poor whenever he would find one in need. Locals were astonished to see the compassion and thoughtful nature of someone so young.
He would wait on the paths of the village for any poor people carrying heavy loads and help them carrying for few miles. He would do that every day. When her mother found out about this she was was worried that people with think poorly of a rich trader’s son doing such menial labour. But he was adamant, insisting he was unable to see the suffering of others and will do all in his power to alleviate some of their hardship even for few hours. This shows that Bhai Kanhaiya had compassion and desire to help others at a very young age.
After his father’s death, he took over the family business. Whilst trading one day he come across Bhai Nanua Ji, a devoted sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur. Bhai Nanua would get up early in the morning and recite Gurbani. One day Bhai Kanhaiya Ji sat with him in the morning and captivated with the Shabad he heard. Hearing the words of Guru, Bhai Kanhaiya’s soul was awakened. He had not thought about the reality of death and the importance of meditation on God’s name. Bhai Kanhaiya asked BHai Nanua about Guru’s words and he directed Bhai Kanhaiya to visit Guru Tegh Bahadur to discover more.
His quest ended when he met Guru Tegh Bahadur and accepted initiation as a Sikh at his hands. He stayed with Guru Ji and continued to perform selfless service to the sangat (holy congregation). He was the official carrier of water for Guru Tegh Bahadur and later in the Langar (community kitchen). He also looked after the horses in the stable, where Guru Ji blessed him that his future should be filled with serving humanity at large.
His mission was selfless service to humanity without any discrimination at all. He was on a visit to Anandpur in the year 1704/5, when the city was attacked by Rajput hill troops and their Moghul allies. During the war time, Bhai Kanhaiya was often seen with a mashak (a water pouch) in the battle field, quenching the thirst of the injured soldiers. He did this selfless service of serving water to both friends and foe. His acts of compassion stirred up stern criticism among his fellow Sikhs and they complained about this to Guru Gobind Singh. Sikhs tried to stop Bhai Kanhaiya several time, but he did not pay them any heed. This eventually led to a summon by Guru Ji who explained that he has received a complaint about his actions in the battlefield. Guru Ji asked that sikhs are saying you are feeding water to the enemy helping them recover and fight.
Bhai Kanhaiya replied, “It’s true Guruji, but I only saw human beings in the field. They all have the same God’s spirit. Guruji have you not taught us to treat all the humans as the same?” Guru Ji was pleased to hear this and gave him ointment and said to heal the wounds of the injured as well. Guru Ji said that you have understood the true meaning of the Guru’s words.
Bhai Kanhaiya still reminds us the guidelines promoted by Guru Gobind Singh:
- Serve Selflessly
- Treat all Equally
- Complete Compliance to Truth
- Inner Contentment
- Overflowing Humanity
- Total Love
- Share with Others
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