7. Preaching Tours

Guru Har Gobind was the first, after Guru Nanak, who went outside the Punjab to spread Sikh religion. He travelled from place to place and went as far as Kashmir in the north and Nanakmata, Pilibhit in the east. A Sikh, Almast (means enthusiast) who had been preaching Sikh religion at Nanak Mata near Pilibhit, had been expelled from his shrine by the Jogis who had also burnt the sacred pipal tree under which Guru Nanak had held debate with the followers of Gorakh Nath. Night and day Almast read the compositions of the Gurus. He used to pray,"O searcher of hearts, true Guru, render us assistance." Enduring all hardships, Almast waited until the Guru came to repair and take possession of Guru Nanak's temple. Ramo, the eldest sister of Guru's wife- Damodri, was married to Sain Das who lived in Daroli in the present district of Ferozepur. Sain Das was ever praying that Guru Har Gobind would visit his village. He built a mansion to receive him and vowed not to allow any one to live in it until the Guru had hallowed it by his presence. Sain Das prepared a beautiful bed, and over the pillow he put up a canopy. Every morning he used to lay flowers in the room and pray that the Guru would come to bless the place. Ramo used to ask Das to go and bring the Guru but he would say,"The Guru is omniscient and will come of his own accord." On account of the troubles of Almast and the devotion of Sain Das, the Guru decided to visit Nanakmata and Daroli and taking with him a troop of his armed retainers. He went to Kartarpur and stayed there for some days. After that when he arrived in Nanak- Mata, the Jogis, seeing his retinue, thought that some Raja had come. Almast came forth and uttered thanksgiving that his spiritual master had arrived. The Guru constructed a platform and sitting on it recited the Sodar. He sprinkled saffron on the pipal tree which came back to its full bloom. The Jogis came in a body and represented," Thou art a family man; we are well-known holy ascetics.Bearing the ame of Gorakhnath, this place has been ours. Therefore leave it, and go and abide wherever it pleases you." The Guru replied,"Whom do you call a holy ascetic? I apply this name only to him who has renounced pride and who as the love of God in his heart. It is he, and not a man who wears an ascetic's garb, who will obtain salvation." The Jogis, in order to terrify him, made a show of their supernatural powers, but could produce no effect on the Guru, and thus retreated. Since that date the place is called Nanakmata, and remained in the possession of Udasi Sikhs. He remained there for some time and occupied himself with preaching to his Sikhs, and set up a Sikh ervice organization under the guidance of Almast.

On his return journey he proceeded to Daroli where his mother and wives were waiting for him. Sain Das and his wife Ramo begged for his blessings. He replied,"God at all times assist those whose hearts are pure. With a pure mind meditate on His Name, and accept His Will, then you shall be happy." The moon was full in the month of Kartik, Sambat 1670 (1613 A.D.) Mata Damodri gave birth to a son who was afterwards named Gurditta, and who bore a remarkable likeness to Guru Nanak. After that he returned to Amritsar. Sewa Das, a Brahman who was residing at Srinagar in Kashmir, had been a converted Sikh. His mother, Bhagbhari made a beautiful robe to give to the Guru when he would visit her. She continued praying and waited for him who answered her prayer by deciding to proceed to Kashmir to see her. On his way to Kashmir he reached Chaparnala near Sialkot, where he met a Brahman and asked him where could he find water to drink and bathe in? The Brahman carelessly replied that the soil was stony and therefore, the water was very scant. Upon this the Guru drove a spear into the ground and it is said that a spring of pure water issued forth. The Sikhs constructed a tank at the spring and it was called Gurusar. The Brahman felt ashamed and asked for pardon for not having recognized the Master's greatness. The Guru replied,"The sins of those who repent shall be pardoned." He continued his journey into the mountains of Kashmir. There he met Kattu Shah, a faithful Sikh who had advisited him at Amritsar. He spent a night in his house and then proceeded to Srinagar, where Sewa Das was meditating and waiting for him. His mother said that she worshipped the very ground on which the Guru would tread. He was received with great respect and enthusiasm and he asked Sewa Das's mother to bring the dress she had made for him. He put it on and blessed her. Overwhelmed with devotion for the Guru, she recited the following Sabad:

"Who but Thee, my Beloved, could do such a thing ? Cherisher of the poor, Lord of the world, Thou hast put over my head the umbrella of spiritual sovereignty."     (Rag Bani Maru Ravdas, Page 1106)

After this she and her son both drank some of the water in which the Guru had washed his feet, and the remainder she sprinkled over her house. Crowds of Kashmiris both from Srinagar and the surrounding villages paid homage and many embraced Sikhism. A very interesting story- a company of Sikhs came to behold the Guru from a distant village with an offering of honey. On the way they met Kattu Shah who requested them to let him have some of the honey, but they refused saying that they could not offer him Kattu Shah's leavings. When the Sikhs reached the Guru, the honey was found rotten and full of worms. The Guru remarked,"This is the result of not having given to my Sikh in whom is the spirit of the Guru." He ordered them to return and satisfy Kattu Shah. It is said that the honey became fresh and sweet when they returned to Kattu Shah. 'Hungry mouth is Guru's treasure.' He returned to Punjab through Bara Mula. The next day he visited the place where Rikhi Kashyap had dwelt, and where Vishnu was said to have incarnation of a swarf. Then he proceeded to Gujrat in the Punjab where he met Shah Daula, a saint of that city. Shah Daula was astonished to see the Guru with swords hanging on his both sides, aigrette attached to his turban and a hawk perched on his wrist. Shah Daula asked him,"How can you be a religious man when you have wife and children and possess worldly wealth and have arms?" The Guru retorted,"A wife is man's conscience, his children perpetuate his memory, wealth enables him to live, arms are needed to extirpate the tyrants." After that he proceeded to Wazirabad and Hafizabad, both in the district of Gujranwala (now in Pakistan).Then he ent to a village called Mutto Bhai and preached the principles of his religion. He spent some time there. The Guru then reached Mandiali, a place about five miles from Lahore. Here Dwarka, a devout Sikh, married his daughter, Bibi Marwahi to him. While still at Mandiali the Guru was informed by his Sikh Langha of the sustained efforts of some of imperial officers and the Qazis to poison the Emperor's mind to destroy the sacred buildings of the Sikhs. The Guru took only a casual notice and proceeded to Talwandi, the birth place of Guru Nanak. He imparted religious instructions to the people who had gathered there in connection with the Namani fair. From there he proceeded to Madai. Next stop was at Manga in Lahore district. From there he returned to Amritsar where as usual great rejoicing were held in his honor. During Shah Jahan's reign all those persons and groups who had enmity towards the Guru, were constantly on the look-out for some opportunity to strike him and impede the onward march of Sikh movement. Tara Chand, the ruler of Hadur or Kehlur (Nalagarh) had waited upon the Guru and requested him to pay a visit to his state. In view of these circumstances the Guru had an idea of alternative headquarters. He sent his son Baba Gurditta to Tara Chand and promised him to visit his state later on. The Raja offered a piece of land for his permanent abode. Some writers say that the land was purchased from him. Baba Gurditta founded the town of Kiratpur on that piece of land. Malwa region was still a vast tract of waste land and its people were still uncommitted to any religion. The Guru, therefore, undertook great tour of this region. He visited Zira, Rode Lande, Gill, Kotra and Hari. After that he visited Marajh, Dabwalli, Bhadaur, Mahal, Ded Maluke, Demru and then reached Darauli. Before departure, he blessed the people of Darauli and gave them a 'pothi' and a small katar (a small sword) as monuments. He visited Bara Ghar, Mado, Lopo, Sidhwan and then reached Sidhar. Rai Jodh, a big landlord of Kangar inspired by his wife Bhagan who was a daughter of Bhag Mal Gill, a devotee of the Guru, waited upon him. He was so much impressed that he desired to enter the Sikh fold. The Guru initiated him, his brother Umar Shah and many others of their families. The people came in flocks and embraced Sikhism specially in Malwa region. For the first time in history of Indian religions, the people were coming across a religious leader who was committed to the ideal of resisting all ypes of exploitations, injustice and tyranny. In fact the Guru's close identification with the lower and down-trodden classes and his constant endeavors for their welfare and uplift made him the cynosure of the masses.