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Bhai Bhikhari

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Bhai Bhikhari, a Bhabra by caste (an ancient merchant community), was a devoted Sikh of the time of Guru Arjan who lived in the town of Gujrat. Bhai Gurdas, in Varan, XI. 30, lists him among prominent Sikhs of the time. He plied an honest trade, helped needy Sikhs and other holy men and recited the sacred word. Once, as says Bhai Mani Singh, Sikhan di Bhagat Mala, a Sikh waited on Guru Hargobind, Guru Arjan's successor, and begged to be shown a model Sikh.

The latter directed him to Bhai Bhikhari. As the Sikh reached Gujrat, he found Bhai Bhikhari's household bustling with activity owing to preparations for the marriage of his son. But Bhai Bhikhari sat calm and unexcited, mending an old mat. The Sikh introduced himself and was warmly received by his host. Amid the festivity in the house, the Sikh was puzzled to see in one small room a bier, a shroud, and other funeral articles. Questioned about these, Bhai Bhikhari told his guest that he would soon come to know. The nuptials took place as arranged and Bhai Bhikhari distributed charity to mark the happy event.

At night, as says Sikhan di Bhagat Mala, the bridegroom had pain in the stomach. No treatment availed and the young man died within hours. Wailing broke out in the house, but Bhai Bhikhari remained serene and undisturbed. He cremated his son next day, using the bier and shroud the guest had seen in the house and spread out the mended mat for the mourners. He entreated everyone to accept the Will of God and not to lament. The visitor bowed his head in reverence to Bhai Bhikhari and took his leave. He related the episode to Guru Hargobind and the sangat, who praised Bhai Bhikhari for his faith and piety.

References

1. Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi. Patiala, 1970

2. Mani Singh, Bhai, Sikhan di Bhagat Mala. Amritsar, 1955

3. Santokh Singh, Bhai, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth. Amritsar, 1926-37

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