An Ideal Farmer

A lover of freedom, Guru Nanak spent His early days in the freedom of the farm and the open air of the countryside. As He grew older He travelled far and wide, exhorting the people to free their minds of conventional thoughts and convivialities of life.

On His return from His far flung travels, He settled down at Kartarpur as a farmer. He was a true son of the soil, a passionate peasant Who had cultivated much harder things than earth – the mind and intellect, etc. After man-making and man-service, He engaged Himself in land-service, for to grow a blade of grass and to raise a stalk bearing an ear of grain was to Him much better than the work of a mere priest or a preacher. He set an example of hard labour by bringing under cultivation the barren lands of Kartarpur for feeding the poor and the needy on the produce thereof.

He also set up at Kartarpur the institution of langar or a system of free community feeding, where both bread and broth were distributed freely to all according to the needs of each.

Bread was the Lord,

the Guru declared, and

the bread which the Lord gave was His parshad – God-given.

Bread and water belong to the Guru,

echoed the followers. And the Guru said that the Beloved was in the people.

His disciples came from far-off places like Baluchistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia and included, among others, the Brahmins and the Sufis, the high-caste Kshatriyas and the low-caste Chandalas, the Sidhas and the Naths. Thus His following was a conglomeration of all sorts of people, knit together in the bonds of loving devotion to the Holy Cause and vying with each other in the labour of Love for the fallen and the downtrodden.

Nanak, their Spiritual Father, now advanced in age, moved on foot every day, labouring in the farms and singing hymns of Naam and breathing the benediction of Love. The Guru was a picture of humility, and His followers in a spirit of dedication worked as humble servants of the Lord, worshipping God without any pomp and show, in the stillness of nature.

From Kartarpur spread the fire of the Love of God and Love of man, all over the Punjab. Guru Nanak’s face shone with the simplicity and serenity born of the saintliness in Him. He was a labourer, a tiller of the soil, a servant of the poor and lowly. The life at Kartarpur was a blend of willing work and worship, Love and labour, silence and song.

On being asked by His father as to what was Real Farming, Nanak replied:

The body is the field, the mind is the ploughshare, and modesty is the life-giving water for the field. I sow the seed of the Divine Name in the field of the body, leveled and furrowed by contentment, after pulverizing the encrusted clods of pride into True Humility. In a soil prepared like this, the seed of Love will prosper and, seated in the abode of Truth, I behold the Glory of God in the rich harvest before me. Oh Father! Mammon accompanies no man. The world is just deluded by the glamour of riches. It is just a few who escape the delusion with the aid of discrimination wisdom.

Guru Nank had a deep-rooted penchant for silence. He frequently merged Himself in the silence of God, the Sat Naam, the Eternal Word; in the silence of Nature, the silence that shines in the starry sky and dwells in the lonely hillside and murmurs in the flowing waters; and in the silence of Sangat sewa or unostentatious service of the community of the faithful and of the sewaks – servers – alike, who stayed with the Guru and whom He always addressed as Bhais – brothers.