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Bhai Nand Lal Goya


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Bhai Nand Lal Goya (1633-1713) was a great scholar of Persian, he was one of the fifty-two poets in the court of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He was born in a thriving town called Ghazni in Afghanistan in 1633 and was thus 23 years older than Guru Ji. His father was Diwan Chajju Ram, the Mir Munshi or Chief Secretary of the Governor of Ghazni. He was a very intelligent child, and in a short time acquired great efficiency in Persian and the Arabic languages. He had a natural aptitude for poetry and began composing poetry at the age of 12 under the pen name ‘Goya.’ He lost both his parents by the age of 19. Finding no suitable opening for his talents in Ghazni in 1652 he left for Multan. There he married a girl with a Sikh background and found work too. His wife being of Sikh background used to recite Gurbani and knew Gurmukhi as well and since Bhai Nand Lal was also of the spiritual bent, he also began the singing of Guru’s hymns. In those days Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s name was on everyone’s lips in Northern India. Bhai Nand Lal Goya made up his mind to meet Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Leaving his family behind, he left for Anandpur Sahib, not realising that he would never ever return to Delhi again.

According to Guru kian Sakhian, Bhai Nand Lal arrived in Anandpur Sahib on Baisakhi day of 1682 and received Guru Gobind Singh Sahib’s blessing. Upon seeing the Guru for the first time his soul was so profoundly affected that he put it down in poetry :

"O prince of heaven, king of all that is beautiful, pray do not come more beautiful.

I have no more strength left in me, Allured, charmed and fascinated by thee, I sacrifice unto thee. Glory Glory O beloved.

From the beautiful bow of your eyebrows, you shot the arrow of your glance, the arrow of love is through my heart , there is no cure, no remedy."

He spent his days with Guru in a mystical contemplation and composed poetry in which, his spiritual experience, is the pre-eminent element. He is said to have kept free kitchen (langar) at Anandpur, which was commended by Guru Sahib Ji as a model for others to follow. After staying at Anandpur Sahib for some time he left to serve as Mir Munshi under Prince Mauzzam (later to become Emperor Bahadur Shah), due to an acquaintance of his father, named Wasif Khan. The present emperor Aurangzeb wished to convert him to Islam because he had so beautifully interpreted verses of the Quaran. Fearing persecution Bhai Nanad Lal and his family left for northern India. Leaving his family at Multan he once again came to stay with Guru Gobind Singh Ji at Anandpur Sahib in 1697. Contrary to some accounts, Bhai Nand Lal Ji did initiate into the Khalsa and became Bhai Nand Singh, how could he not? He was a devout disciple of Guru Sahib Ji and of course Guru Ji would bless him with the amrit of the double edged sword. However, he was still affectionately known as BhaiNand Lal. Bhai Nanad Lal Ji was at Nanded in 1708 when Guru Sahib Ji ascended the heavens and returned to Multan where he opened a school of higher education in Persian and Arabic. His two sons Lakhpat Rae and Lila Raam continued to manage the school started by their father.

Bhai Nand Lal Ji’s works are fine commentaries on Guru Ji’s teachings and the Sikh way of life. The Rehat Namam’s written by him, are a dialogue between Guru Gobind Singh Ji and him concerning the code of conduct of the Khalsa.

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I would love to get my hands on the poetry of Bhai Nand Lal Ji. There was a printing house in Lahore that had printed all the surviving works, but after 1947 it was shut down. If anyone knows where I can get the book, please let me know.

Shaheediyan is right - while Bhai Nand Lal Ji may well have received Amrit, and from reading his tankahnama and feelings towards rehat, it is more likely than not, Guru Sahib refers to him as "Nand Lal". We don't need to change history to prove a point. Same goes for Mata Sahib Devan Ji.

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