Nanak's talk with the Yogis

Guru Nanak began his mission of spreading light to the world....

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     When Guru Nanak went out to the world he began spreading his message. He went to many spiritual centers and everywhere he went he helped people and enlightened their minds. Many times he confronted the priests in charge and talked them out of blind rituals in favor of an honest true longing for the Creator. Once he visited a sacred site high in the Himalayan mountains. Recognizing his spiritual light many yogis came to see who this young new comer was.

     First they tested him. As he and Mardana were approaching a lake in the mountains, they started to hear strange sounds. Soon ghoulish figures appeared and tried to frighten them. Guru Nanak paid them no head. Soon the Yogis started to emerge from the forest and caves. Charpat the Yogi said, "Well boy have you come to join us?". The Guru said, "Join what? A group of people running away from the world?" The Yogi said, "You seem like a true spiritual aspirant, if you want to complete your spiritual journey you have to renounce the world. Renounce your desires and join us." The Guru said, "You have not renounced the world, you have run away from it. The world is on fire. You have the knowledge of how to put it out. What kind of spirituality is this that leaves humanity to suffer?!"

     Charpat gently said, "Look here son, take this urn and fill it with water from the lake." So Nanak took the urn and went to the lake. When he got there, there wasn't any water. The lake was full of rubies, diamonds, gems, silver and gold. He came back to the Yogi with an empty urn. "Well boy." Said Charpat, "Did you bring back water from the lake?" The Guru replied, "I couldn't. There wasn't any water in the lake." Charpat was actually tricking the Guru and he passed the test. He wasn't afraid of the scary figures and he wasn't tempted with the gold and wealth. One of the Sadhu's said, "You really are great, why don't you join us here. This is the way to true spirituality." The Guru said, "Let me ask you know how to levitate in the air, you know how to manifest material, you have many spiritual abilities.... has this brought you closer to God?" Everyone was silent.   

     Guru Nanak continued to reprimand the Sadhu's and Yogis for leaving behind humanity. He fearlessly spoke to them in a way that no one had before. He told them, "Renounce the world while being in it, that is what is intended for us by our Creator. We must live house holders lives and help other people." They would have a teaching to counter him every time, they would tell him that he must be a renunciant like them. Every time he spoke a simple and common sense truth. Many considered him an enemy. They even threw rocks at him. Some hearts were moved and some expanded their views. Guru Nanak left the mountains after confronting the Yogis and took the next step of his journey. Shining a great light on to the world he continued to spreading his message of universality. 


Read the full story:

     So it was that in the summer of 1496, at the age of 27, Guru Nanak made His way out of His home and into Immortality. Trusting the care of His lamenting wife and sons to God and with a most humble prayer, Guru Nanak set out with Mardana. Guru Nanak went to the mountaintops and scolded the Yogis for abandoning the world and hording the great technology of mind and spirit that they possessed. He reprimanded them for using their psychic powers and black magic to frighten and control people rather than to elevate and heal them. He came to a place high in the Himalayas by a deep blue lake where Indra and Shiva had their meeting with the Demons. Many Yogis lived in this high, remote place and Nanak wanted to meet them. As He and Mardana approached the place, the energy changed, the temperature became colder, and they heard strange sounds. Soon, demonic faces and frightening forms appeared before them. They came to a clearing by the lake, and Nanak sat down under a tree. Slowly, naked Yogis and Sadhus, Yogis who had attained mystical powers, began to emerge from the forest that surrounded the great lake. "Greetings boy," said Charpat the Yogi, "Tell us of the world that You came from."

"Why should I tell you? You've left it to suffer. What do you care?"

The Yogi stared at Nanak. He did not expect to be talked to this way. "So, so then You've come to join us?"

"What is there to join?" asked Nanak.

"If You truly want a spiritual life, You must leave the world, renounce all of Your possessions and desires, and be here with us."

"The world is a pool of burning hot fire," said Nanak, "And you have the knowledge of how to cool it, of how to pass through that fire without being burned. Yet you choose to remain here, hiding from it. Shame on you all. What kind of spirituality is this that leaves humanity to suffer?" All were silent. Nanak's words stunned them.

"Look son," said Charpat kindly, "Let us have tea together." He handed Nanak a large iron urn. "Go to the lake and fill this with water." Quietly, Nanak took the urn and walked to the lake. As He knelt down to fill the urn, He no longer saw water in the lake, but gems, gold, and silver, large red rubies, shining blue sapphires, and bright radiant diamonds as far as He could see. It was a lake of treasure. He laughed out loud as He stood up and carried the urn, empty, back to the gathering. "Well boy, have you filled the urn with water?" demanded the Yogi.

"I'm sorry Jee, but there's no water in the lake." He placed the urn before Charpat and took His seat before the fire. There were now many Yogis and Sadhus sitting in their Yogic postures in a circle before the fire. The Yogis were silent. No one had ever passed that test. They had tried to frighten the Guru, but He remained unphased. They tried to tempt Him with jewels and riches, but He was unaffected by that as well. He returned the urn empty, since He had been asked to fill it with water, and there was no water in the lake. The Yogis and Sadhus were especially impressed, especially Nanak was still such a young man. "You're truly great," said one of the Sadhus, "Why not join us here? This is where to attain true spirituality, not down in the world."

"Let me ask you Oh Sadhu, when you depart this body, where will your soul reside?" The Sadhu was silent. "You have such great powers. You can turn water to gold. You can manifest things in the air. You can levitate yourselves. Has this brought you closer to God? You live here and serve yourselves, but what about those who suffer because you refuse to help them?"

"I mean, we help everyone who comes to us."

"You hide here. You live in fear of the world. You've not renounced it, you have retreated from it. You practice your incantations. You enchant and bewitch for a fee, and you practice black magic. In so doing, you bound your souls and become trapped by those spiritual powers. How shall you pass through? You know the mantras to change your form. You know the mantras to manifest things in the air. Do you know the Name of God? Do you recite His Name? Is all your time here, all your sacrifice, only to gain power? Or did you come here to know God, to know your soul? Yoga is union yet your union is not with God, but with your ego. What can you offer me here expect to be bound by the very powers you covet? You know meditation and can help people to be free from their fear and superstitions. Why do you turn your back on those who pray for help?" The Yogis could not answer him. They tried to challenge and argue with him, insisting that only a renunciant could receive spiritual awareness. But for each argument, each challenge, Nanak vanquished them with the truth and power of  His words. He remained only briefly with the Yogis. Driven by His mission, He and Mardana made their way from the mountains.


Storyteller:  Gurutej Singh
Topics:  My Sikhi, Gurus, Guru Nanak
Age ranges:  13 - 17, 18 and over