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UPS Me A Needle!





On a visit to Lahore, Guru Nanak was once approached by a very rich man named Dunni Chand.

This man's wealth was reputed then - five centuries ago - to be worth seven million rupees. And to show off his wealth, he had installed seven flags on his house.

On the day Guru Nanak arrived, he was giving a shradh - a ritual feast offered by Hindus to their brahmins.

It is a Hindu belief that whatever they give to the brahmins at the feast ultimately reaches their dead forefathers in the next world. Accordingly they pre­pare the best food and give away fine clothes and money to the brahmins, calling it dakshna - "offerings".

Dunni Chand had invited many brahmins on the shradh for his dead father.

Guru Nanak, though not a brahmin, was widely known as a saintly figure. Therefore, Dunni Chand also invited Guru Nanak.

Guru Nanak sat down on one side. He told his host that he would like to wait till the brahmins had eaten their food.

Dunni Chand complied, and as Guru Nanak looked on, he gave a very fine feast, offering money and clothes to the brahmins as dakshna. He believed that all this would reach his dead father.

When the brahmins had gone, Dunni Chand asked the Guru to have some food. The Guru smiled and said: "Do you think that your father is still hungry? Haven't your gifts reached him?"

"Yes, sir," said Dunni Chand. "The brahmins have eaten so much that my father needs no more food for at least a year. He also has enough money and clothes to last for one year."

"Dunni Chand," said the Guru, "the brahmins have eaten the food; they will sell the clothes and spend all the money. I cannot understand how any of it can reach your dead father."

"You are right, sir," said Dunni Chand, "You cannot understand it, neither can I. But it's God's will. The brahman tells us so and we all believe it. I thought you were a brahman and knew about it, but I am glad I didn't waste my food on you."

"You did the right thing, Dunni Chand," said the Guru. "I cannot carry your food to your father and that's why I did not want to let your food go to waste. You may feast the brahmans in any way you like. I myself don't need any food. But I would be pleased if you would do me another favour instead."

"Yes, gladly," replied his host.

"Here is a sewing needle," said the Guru. "Keep it with you - use it if you like. I would like you to give my needle back to me in the next world when we meet after death."

Dunni Chand looked puzzled; he did not quite understand the Guru and asked, "How can I carry this needle with me when I die?"

"If an old brahmin can carry enough clothes, food and money to last for a whole year, not only for your father but also for many others," said the Guru, "I wonder why this small needle should seem too heavy for you to carry! If a mere needle is too much to transport to the next world, pray,  how will your money, horses, gold and other costly things get there?"

The point hit home, and Dunni realized the sheer foolishness of the practice.

He asked for the Guru's advice: "What do I do then, Master?"

"Dunni Chand," said the Guru, "Work hard, share your earnings with the needy and remember God. Don't worry about your dead forefathers."

"That's what I already do, sir," said Duni Chand. "I have hundreds of servants who work for me. I give a lot of money and clothes to brahmins and holy men who come and sing hymns in my house."

"This is not the way to do it, Dunni Chand" said the Guru. "Give away all your money to the poor and the needy. You haven't earned it by honest labour. Start going to your farm. Work hard among your servants. Whatever you eam in this way, share equally among all the workers. Then from your own share give away as much as you can in charity. Look upon your servants as brothers and love everybody. Sit among them when you find time and sing God's praises. This is the true way, Dunni Chand. One can expect to receive in the next world only that, which one earns by honest labour and gives away in charity to the needy in this world."

Dunni Chand understood the Guru's advice. He gave up his princely life and started working with his own hands. His wife also did the same. His house became a temple where rich and poor, black and white, high and low, all sang songs of God. Dunni Chand and his wife became the Guru's followers and helped many others to follow the Guru's Way.

February 9, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 09, 2012, 10:37 AM.

The scourge of Brahminism was ended by Guru Nanak - or, at least, the Sikhs were freed from it. The rest of India is still plagued by it, and the disease keeps on infecting our own gullible ones.

2: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 12, 2012, 5:05 PM.

"Ghaal khaa-ay kich hathahu da-ay/ naanak raahu pachhaaneh say-ay" [GGS:1245.19] - "One who works for what he eats, and gives some away what he has, O Nanak, he knows the path!"

3: Jodh Singh Arora (Jericho, New York, U.S.A.), February 15, 2012, 3:27 PM.

What we Sikhs must understand and learn from this is that Guru Nanak preached scientifically, but sadly we still do not practice religion based on logic. And we have let that absence of logic flow into everything else we do. To date, for example, we have failed to preserve the evidence from 1978 onwards. Do we have an exact record of every Sikh killed in the 1984-replated massacres? We are left with grappling with the Government of India White Paper which has little of truth in it, now obvious from subsequent revelations and admissions. We need to go back to the exactitude exemplified by Guru Nanak himself.

4: Veronica Sidhu (Scotch Plains, New Jersey, U.S.A.), February 27, 2012, 8:49 AM.

The needle is such a perfect representation of the material world and maya. It is very helpful if used for work, but causes suffering if held tightly. And certainly, money is not useful currency after our very certain death. Dhann Guru Nanak!

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