As Valentines Day is approaching and media around us are focusing all their attention on the merits of love and romance, the UK based charity organization Turiya wishes to highlight and mark one of the greatest love stories of all time – the story of Guru Gobind Singh and his disciple Bhai Nand Lal Goya.
“Nothing, but the thought of my beloved, finds a path into my heart.
The song of love echoes, through every particle of my being”.
In these words, the 17th century Afghan poet Bhai Nand Lal describes his inner feelings and emotions regarding the object of his celestial love, a love that that was neither mundane nor temporary. After having spent a life time searching for a fulfilling path, in the early 1680’s Bhai Nand Lal, then aged 50, found peace and equipoise at the lotus feet of Guru Gobind Singh Ji at Anandpur, the City of Bliss.
Though most people know that Bhai Nand Lal was a Persian-writing court poet in Anandpur, very few people today know the names of his many writings and can relay stories from the life of this great personality. A new UK based charity called Turiya has taken a first step to change this by launching the website www.bhainandlal.com. This website includes in-depth articles on Bhai Nand Lal and his writings as well as arts, kirtan/katha, translations and an e-books section.
The story of Bhai Nand Lal is intriguing. When Bhai Nand Lal was working in the Mughal palaces serving the greatest temporal Emperor of the time, he one day without any hesitation, left these luxurious settings to settle in the little known city of Anandpur. Here he served the poor and destitute in the langar halls. What was it that attracted Bhai Ji to Anandpur? The new website seeks to address this question by sharing many articles on the life and works of Bhai Nand Lal Goya, which are an invaluable contribution to Sikh heritage and have been given canonical status in the Sikh faith.
Seeing a decline in awareness on the Persian heritage inherent in Sikhism, Turiya saw a need to change this, as says one of the members of the Turiya Charity:
“There are so many aspects of the rich and diverse universe which is “Sikhi” that have been ignored, removed or forgotten. Turiya’s aim is to identify and share with the Sangat these once great ethical, environmental, political, sociological, psychological, historical, theological, martial, poetic, linguistic and most importantly, spiritual traditions. We hope that the Sangat will demonstrate their appreciation for these on-going projects by providing support and financial assistance. In doing so, ensuring that Turyia are able to preserve and enliven the great traditions which were gifted to us by our Guru’s for our future generations”.
Tales of love
There are many stories that relate the close relationship between the Guru and Bhai Nand Lal as found in original Sikh historical literature. Bhai Nand Lal would wake before sunrise and walk long distances in the mountainous regions of Anandpur for the sole purpose of assuring that the Guru was the first person he would see in the morning. He would enjoy laughter and the embrace of the Guru after being secretly tested for his sincerity of heart, and the eventful delights when celebrating happy occasions such as the Holla Mohalla together.
However, it is not the historical sakhis that the website lays its prime focus but rather on the writings of the poet, as the editor explains: “The Persian poetry of Bhai Nand Lal is replete with deep love and intense mysticism regarding his craving for his beloved. On our website we have tried to dig deeper into these Persian writings, which includes the famous ghazals, the Zindaginama, the Ganjnama and more to show how the poet conceptualizes and visualizes the Guru and Sikhi through his thorough background in Sufi and Islamic learning. The approach Bhai Nand Lal has is very unique and it clearly shows the multi ethnic dimensions of the Sikh path”.
The Guru’s entourage on Facebook
From the 1680s onwards, the Guru turned the cities of Anandpur and Paonta into intellectual centers attracting scholars from all over the Indian subcontinent. At these centers of higher learning, various books and treaties were composed while ancient Sanskrit works were translated into the vernacular for the benefit of the masses. Here were translated works on history, hagiography, philosophy, mysticism, polity, linguistics, mythology, eulogy, tales of love and sacrifice, manuals of writing poetry and prose, manuals of government and nation building, manuals of logic and rhetoric’s, manuals of ethics and morals, dictionaries and discussion of words and much more.
While the website was being developed, the Facebook page Court Jewels of Guru Gobind Singh
Here the team has been engaged in translating and writing weekly articles on the many poets who worked on these divinely commissioned projects. Quotes were translated and posted from the many granths they produced at Anandpur, some of which were: Upanishads, Mahabharat, Prem Sumarag, Bhagavad Gita and Rajniti Chanakya. Beautiful quotes from the many Persian works of Bhai Nand Lal were also shared. The editor continues:
“For Sikhs of today, Bhai Nand Lal is a representation of the spiritual aspect of Guru Gobind Singh. While much focus has been laid on Guru Gobind Singh’s soldierly aspect, not much has been written on the saintly aspect. Bhai Nand Lal’s poetry is the very image of this loving and compassionate side of Guru Gobind Singh. As a man of piety, non-Indian roots and an exceptional talent in mystical writing, the Afghan-born Bhai Nand Lal deserves to be known throughout the world in the same way as his predecessor poets Rumi and Hafez have been known in the past few decades. We hope that this website will be a first step towards achieving this deserved recognition”.
To see the new website go to www.bhainandlal.com