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Bhai Ghanaiyaa ji - Sewa at its best


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Bhai Ghanaeeya ji

Among the Sikhs at Guru Gobind Singh's durbar there was one named Bhai Ghanaeeya. He was a resident of Sodra in the district of Gujjranwala. Now in Pakisatan. He was a devout and peace loving Sikh. He had a tender and compassionate heart. He was ever busy in doing whatever service he found a chance to do. Because of his love of peace and service, and his tender-heartedness, he was averse to becoming a solider. Therefore he had not joined the guru's army of saint-soldiers by taking amrit. But he was not an idler or a coward. Whenever fighting took place, he would invariably go into the battlefield along with his co-workers. There he went about serving water and giving other help to the wounded.

At the conclusion of one day's fighting, some Sikhs appeared before the Guru ji and said ' O true King, a Sikh named Ghanaeeya is helping the Turks, our enemies. We wound and fell them. He goes and gives them water and other help. He makes them well and fresh again. They are soon ready to fight against us again. He is thus undoing our work. He is helping the enemy. He should be bidden to desist from doing this.'

On hearing this, the guru sent for Bhai Ghanaeeya. He appeared before the guru ji in no time. The guru said to him. 'Ghanaeeya, what have you been doing? I am told that you go about helping and serving the enemy. Is it true?'

'No true kind,' said Bhai Ghanaeeya. I have never given any help or service to an enemy. My brothers here are mistaken.

'O true king,' said the complaining Sikhs, 'we are not mistaken. He is telling a lie. With out own eyes we saw him giving water and help to our enemies.'

'Well, Ghanaeeya,' said the guru with a smile, 'I know you very well. I do not believe you to be capable of telling a lie. But these Sikhs here are also incapable of making false statements. Come tell the truth.'

Bhai Ghanaeeya, replied, 'from their point of view, what my brothers here say is true. Yes, it is true that I have been giving water and help to those who are called Turks as freely as to those called Sikhs. But in reality, I served no Turk or Sikh. I was serving you alone, O true king'.

'Me? Said Guru Gobind Singh. ‘How?'

'Thus, O true Kind,' replied Bhai Ghanaeeya ' You have told us, 'if you clothe a naked person, you cloth me. If you feed a hungry person, you feed me. If you give water to a thirsty man, you give water to me.' These words of yours have been engraved on my heart. When I saw wounded soldiers, Sikhs and Muslims, Lying on the ground, panting for water, I saw not them but You, O true King. I saw you in every one of them. Hence, I gave water and help to none but you, my lord.

'Well Done, Ghanaeeya,' said the Guru. 'You have been acting in true Sikh spirit. AS long as a Turk bears arms and fights against us, he is our enemy. But as soon as he falls wounded on the ground, he ceases to be our enemy. He is then only a man, a brother in need of help and care. Similarly, when he throws down his arms and runs away, he ceases to be our enemy. He becomes simply a man, a son of the father above. He deserves help and sympathy. My Sikhs should help and serve the wounded, be they Sikh or Turks. My Sikhs should not chase or harm those who surrender their arms or fly from the battleground.

The Guru then gave a pot of ointment to Bhai Ghanaeeya and said, ' Carry on the good work. In addition to giving water to the wounded, Dress their wounds. Then take them to a safe place for further treatment. Do this and your Name will live in the world. God will be highly pleased with you.

Story taken from the book†Stories from Sikh History IV". Typed by Amardeep Singh

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I have seen his name spelt both ways (with a 'k' and a 'gh') in gurmukhi script in the Sewapanthi literature itself. Bhai Ghanaiya was given Guru Gobind Singh ji's blessings to create the Sewapanthi order who are still very active today. For example, the Kar Sewa wale grew out of Sewapanthis.

The movement encapsulated the behaviour of Bhai Ghanaiya at a spiritual level also by giving 'water of life' to Muslims and Hindus through the recitation of Sufi mystical writings, Hindu scripture and Gurbani. Furthermore, their physical maryada become almost jain-like with regards the sanctity of life.

Hopefully, there wil be a detailed website about the sampraday within the nexts few months.

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