In last Sunday’s Diwaan; a renowned Guru's Kirtania and Kathakaar Bhai Ajit Singh Ji Alankari told touching saakhies of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji’s great Sikhs – Bebe Naanaki, Bhai Mardana and Rai Bulaar. I would like to share what I learnt about Bhai Mardana ji.
Bhai Mardana, who has known to spend 54 years of his life in Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s company, belonged to a cline of BARDS known in those days as MIRASIS. They commanded a very high respect in all communities throughout the
Mardana was born in 1459 at the
Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji established the 'Rebabi' tradition in Sikhism. It is written in the 'Janamsakhi', that after a considerable search for the 'right sounding' Rebab, which could not be found anywhere, Guru Nanak sent Mardana to the house of Bhai Firanda of Bhairowal (Kapurthala). Bhai Firanda was an accomplished musician and was a carpenter by trade. He presented a special Rebab to Guru Nanak, which sounded like 'Tu hi Nirankar, tu hi Nirankar" (a divine melody in grace of the Almighty). Guru Ji was very much pleased with Bhai Firanda and bestowed upon him His boundless blessings.
We all know a number of very interested 'Sakhis'(stories) connected with Bhai Mardana on Guru Nanak's four Divine journeys. In short it can be said that Mardana was a most fortunate soul who benefited the heavenly presence of Guru Nanak, who according to the Bhatts (SGGSJ) was the re-incarnation of the Almighty. Mardana was not a mere musician but also a spiritually elevated soul.
This is where I got little confused when Bhai Sahib mentioned that three of Mardana’s hymns are included in the Adi Granth under Raag Bihagra. Mardana is the only Sikh disciple who was permitted to use Guru Nanak's name in his hymns. These hymns denounce drink that engenders evil passions and upholds meditation of the Divine Name that creates a spiritual inebriation.
For my understanding of Gurbani, on daily basis I read Guru Granth Darpan Teeka by Prof. Sahib Singh ji. I happened to read Raag Bihagra only a few days ago. Professor Sahib mentions that these are NOT hymns of Mardana but of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji as Bhai Mardana could use word ‘Nanak’ in his hymns. Let us see what sangat has to say about these saloks.ਸਲੋਕੁ ਮਰਦਾਨਾ ੧ ॥
salok mardaanaa 1.
ਕਲਿ ਕਲਵਾਲੀ ਕਾਮੁ ਮਦੁ ਮਨੂਆ ਪੀਵਣਹਾਰੁ ॥
kal kalvaalee kaam mad manoo-aa peevanhaar.
The Dark Age of Kali Yuga is the vessel, filled with the wine of sexual desire; the mind is the drunkard.
ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਕਟੋਰੀ ਮੋਹਿ ਭਰੀ ਪੀਲਾਵਾ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ॥
kroDh katoree mohi bharee peelaavaa ahaNkaar.
Anger is the cup, filled with emotional attachment, and egotism is the server.
ਮਜਲਸ ਕੂੜੇ ਲਬ ਕੀ ਪੀ ਪੀ ਹੋਇ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
majlas koorhay lab kee pee pee ho-ay khu-aar.
Drinking too much in the company of falsehood and greed, one is ruined.
ਕਰਣੀ ਲਾਹਣਿ ਸਤੁ ਗੁੜੁ ਸਚੁ ਸਰਾ ਕਰਿ ਸਾਰੁ ॥
karnee laahan sat gurh sach saraa kar saar.
So let good deeds be your distillery, and Truth your molasses; in this way, make the most excellent wine of Truth.
ਗੁਣ ਮੰਡੇ ਕਰਿ ਸੀਲੁ ਘਿਉ ਸਰਮੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਆਹਾਰੁ ॥
gun manday kar seel ghi-o saram maas aahaar.
Make virtue your bread, good conduct the ghee, and modesty the meat to eat.
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਪਾਈਐ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਖਾਧੈ ਜਾਹਿ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥੧॥
gurmukh paa-ee-ai naankaa khaaDhai jaahi bikaar. ||1||
As Gurmukh, these are obtained, O Nanak; partaking of them, one's sins depart. ||1||
ਮਰਦਾਨਾ ੧ ॥
ਕਾਇਆ ਲਾਹਣਿ ਆਪੁ ਮਦੁ ਮਜਲਸ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨਾ ਧਾਤੁ ॥
kaa-i-aa laahan aap mad majlas tarisnaa Dhaat.
The human body is the vat, self-conceit is the wine, and desire is the company of drinking buddies.
ਮਨਸਾ ਕਟੋਰੀ ਕੂੜਿ ਭਰੀ ਪੀਲਾਏ ਜਮਕਾਲੁ ॥
mansaa katoree koorh bharee peelaa-ay jamkaal.
The cup of the mind's longing is overflowing with falsehood, and the Messenger of Death is the cup-bearer.
ਇਤੁ ਮਦਿ ਪੀਤੈ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਬਹੁਤੇ ਖਟੀਅਹਿ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥
it mad peetai naankaa bahutay khatee-ah bikaar.
Drinking in this wine, O Nanak, one takes on countless sins and corruptions.
ਗਿਆਨੁ ਗੁੜੁ ਸਾਲਾਹ ਮੰਡੇ ਭਉ ਮਾਸੁ ਆਹਾਰੁ ॥
Gi-aan gurh saalaah manday bha-o maas aahaar.
So make spiritual wisdom your molasses, the Praise of God your bread, and the Fear of God the meat you eat.
ਨਾਨਕ ਇਹੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਆਧਾਰੁ ॥੨॥
naanak ih bhojan sach hai sach naam aaDhaar. ||2||
O Nanak, this is the true food; let the True Name be your only Support. ||2||
ਕਾਂਯਾਂ ਲਾਹਣਿ ਆਪੁ ਮਦੁ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਤਿਸ ਕੀ ਧਾਰ ॥
kaaNyaaN laahan aap mad amrit tis kee Dhaar.
If the human body is the vat, and self-realization is the wine, then a stream of Ambrosial Nectar is produced.
ਸਤਸੰਗਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਮੇਲਾਪੁ ਹੋਇ ਲਿਵ ਕਟੋਰੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਭਰੀ ਪੀ ਪੀ ਕਟਹਿ ਬਿਕਾਰ ॥੩॥
satsangat si-o maylaap ho-ay liv katoree amrit bharee pee pee kateh bikaar. ||3||
Meeting with the Society of the Saints, the cup of the Lord's Love is filled with this Ambrosial Nectar; drinking it in, one's corruptions and sins are wiped away. ||3||