48. Traveling incognito

The non challenge of the Moghuls suggested the idea of escape to the Pyaras Dharm Singh and Daya Singh and Bhai Man Singh. They prevailed upon the Guru to leave Bhai Sangat Singh, Kehr Singh, Santokh Singh, Dewa Singh, Ram Singh, Jeewan Singh and Katha Singh in charge of the fortress and suggested that he should himself escape attended by them. At the dead of night when all was quiet outside the redoubt the Guru and his three attendants escaped eluding the vigilance of the guard. The night was pitch-dark. Except the stentorian voice of the sentinels not a sound was audible. The party had not gone far off when the advance guard catching the sound of footsteps and suspecting that it must be the fugitives from the redoubt sounded their horns. The whole camp was disturbed. Men rushed to and fro. Friemls killed friends and in the confusion thus caused the Guru and his attendants were separated. At dawn he reached the outskirts of village Kheri. Alfu and Gamu, Gujjars, who were grazing their cattle in the field recognised him and retarded his progress. When even the gift of a few pieces of gold failed to secure their good-will the Guru put them to the sword. In the vicinity of Bahlolpur the Sun rose. Espying a dense cluster of trees the Guru laid himself down under their shade. No water was within sight. He quenched his thirst with the juice of the leaves of the ' Aq ' plant, anti partly on account of the intoxicating influence of this juice and chiefly on account of intense fatigue he fell in a swoon. At nightfall on regaining consciousness he endeavoured to resume his journey; but his strength failed. He had made up the distance from Chamkaur bare-footed. The rough and thorny paths had lacerated his limbs. He had not proceeded far off when his legs refused to work. Lying on the grass, when blood was flowing profusely from his limbs, when hunger and thirst were tormenting him he invoked the spirits above to go and convey to the Divine Preceptor this tidings of him, his disciple. "Dear friend", says he in the hymn, " where Thou art not, there soft beds are to me like disease; residence in mansions like living among serpents ; wine bottles like the cross ; wine cups like the sword ; all this like death from a Friend's turf is better, far better ! Cursed be residence in palaces!" In this manner he passed the night singing the glory of the Lord of Hosts and remembering Him in words expressing the greatest gratitude. A few hours before dawn, refreshed by the night's breeze and feeling some strength he took the direction of Malwa. At daybreak he sank again, from sheer exhaustion, at a garden, in the suburbs of Machhiwara. As the Providence would have it the Pyaras Dharm Singh, Daya Singh and Bhai Man Singh arrived at the same garden in their search for the Guru. Learning from some one working in the garden, that a person dressed like them was lying in another part of the garden they proceeded thither. To their intense joy they recognised their Guru in the man that lay prostrate before them. Slowly and noiselessly they approached him and kissed his feet. The Guru laid his hand on his sword believing it must be the touch of enemies; but when his eyes opened and he saw his beloved followers, kneeling before him, the momentary rigidity of his countenance gave place to a radiant smile. They drew out thorns from his feet and clothes, and Man Singh, placing him on his back, took him to a well close by and there attended to his bath.