12. At Banaras

Banaras or Varanasi is another holy place of the Hindus. east of Prayag and on the banks of river Ganges. On reaching here the melodious Kirtan of Asa-di-Var was performed by the Sikh musicians in the ambrosial hours of the morning. After the prayers had ended, a poor cripple staggered into the Holy presence of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. He told the Master that he was very poor; so much so that he did not even have a hut to hide himself in during the rainy season and since had no limbs, he could hardly move about. On occasions some kind hearted travellers fed him; otherwise he had to go without food for days and weeks. He wished that the True Guru should emancipate his sufferings. On hearing this the Guru recited the following hymn :

"The name of God bestoweth comfort.
By reciting it Ajamal was saved and Ganka obtained salvation.
Daropadi at the royal assemblage thought of God's name,
The Lord of compassion removed her agony and enhanced His renown.
The Ocean of Mercy comes to the rescue of those, who sing His praises.
Sayeth Nanak. that is my reliance - I take His refuge,"  
(Maru Moh : 9)

After the hymn had ended, Guru ji said to the cripple that it was the Name of Almighty God that was the remedy to all miseries. Therefore, Guru ji asked him to repeat the Nam with full sincerity and the concentration of mind. After he had repeated the Name "Wonderful Lord" five times, he got up and at once kowtowed in reverence to the Guru. The whole congregation was amazed and uttered, "Great is Guru Nanak"; Great is Guru Tegh Bahadur. Then Guru ji gave him enough money to put up a hut of his own and to have some subsistence to fall back upon. On His way to Gaya from Banaras, Guru Tegh Bahadur ji stopped at a place known as Sasram, where lived a devoted Sikh by the name of "Uncle Phaggu." He had constructed a room in which he had made a special seat for the Guru and was remembering Him day and night. But when he told the people that his Guru will come one day, he was laughed at, since they knew that the Guru lived in the Punjab and there was little chance of His coming that way. But Phaggu, however, was so devout that he did not listen to what the people said. He would go into the room every morning and clean the place himself; and offer prayers imagining the Guru's presence before his eyes. The Great Guru heard Bhai Phaggu's call that was coming from within his heart and one fine morning Guru Tegh Bahadur was actually there in Bhai Phaggu's hut and blessed him for ever. On hearing the Guru's benevolence the people of the vicinity flocked around Him for sermon. Guru Tegh Bahadur ji recited the following hymn for their benefit :

"Keep the Indestructible Lord ever in thy heart;
And abandon all attachment to worldly goods.
There is nothing better than Him.
He alone is within and without all.
He sees, He knows; He is deep all-wise.
He is the Unconditioned One, the Overlord the Nourisher; the Ocean of compassion, Merciful and forgiving. May I fall at the feet of the holy ones.
Sayeth Nanak that is my yearning."    
 (Sukhmani 1-16)

Peace prevailed and all the devotees were blessed.