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  In the Guru's footsteps
In the Guru's footsteps

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: In the Guru's footsteps:

Bhai Bharu

Bhai Bharu

In the beautiful hills of the Punjab there was a fine temple of the goddess of power. In it stood a lovely statue of the goddess. Every year thousands of people visited this temple and worshipped her. A fair was held every year to pay homage to the goddess. People from all over India came to this temple to worship during the fair. Even some Rajahs (Rulers) from the Hills attended the fair. The Rajahs usually brought money and rich offerings for the goddess. These offerings were collected by cunning priests who spent them lavishly for their personal enjoyment and not for the common good.

Guru Har Gobind and his Sikhs went to one such fair to preach the Guru's way. The fair was in full swing. The Guru's Darbar (Holy Congregation) was on one side of the fair in an open space. The musicians were singing hymns in praise of God. They sang Shabads (Holy verses) from the Holy Granth. The soul-stirring hymns touched everybody's heart. People were attracted to the Guru's camp in such great numbers that only a few were left in the temple. Even the Rajahs came down to listen to the Guru's teachings.

Finding only a few people in the temple, a man named Bharu entered and pushed his way towards the idol. He struck the idol's nose with something hard and broke it off. Before the priests could catch him, the man ran out of the temple towards the Guru's Darbar. There was a sudden noise and people were running towards the Darbar after Bharu. A strong man from the Guru's Darbar stood up and caught him. People thought that he was a thief. In a few minutes, the priests also arrived and Bharu was presented to a Rajah sitting there in the Guru's court. The priest told the whole story to the Guru, the Rajah, and all the people who had gathered there. On hearing about the damage to the holy idol, the Rajah was so furious that he did not even listen to Bharu's side of the story and he ordered him to be stoned to death. The people took hold of the culprit and tried to drag him away but the Guru intervened and said, "It is better that we should listen to both sides of the story and then see if the man really deserves this punishment." The Guru thereupon asked both men to tell the truth. The priest spoke first :

Priest: This man is a great sinner; he has broken the nose of the goddess and he really deserves to be stoned to death.
Bhai Bharu: This is wrong. I haven't committed any Crime.
Priest: It is a crime to break the idol, isn't it?
Bhai Bharu: I don't know who you are and I haven't done any wrong to you. If I smashed the idol it is an affair between me and the idol. Let the idol say what it likes.
Priest: The idol is made of stone, how can it speak? If it were alive it would have caught and punished you there and then.
Bhai Bharu: If it cannot speak or defend itself, how can it speak to you and save the people or give them what they want? My sin is no worse than breaking the handle of a tea cup.
At this the priest could not say anything. Bhai Bharu's words made the people laugh and they really understood the idea behind what he said. The Guru, however, did not like all this and spoke out kindly, "Listen my friends," he said, "It is really no good worshipping idols. Man should worship God who has made living idols like us. But breaking an idol is not good. We must have respect and regard for other people's religion and way of worship. Breaking an idol with hatred is like breaking a heart, and the heart is the house of God. So by smashing the idol Bharu has sinned against God. He must apologise for what he has done and repair the idol."

Bhai Bharu was convinced of the Guru's point of view and asked to be pardoned. The people agreed to forgive him on condition that he never broke an idol again. Bhai Bharu gave his word and also repaired the broken idol. Very soon afterwards he became the Sikh of Guru Har Gobind.

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