The Guru, the Emperor and the Grass Cutter
This was during the time of Guru Hargobind Ji, the 6th Sikh Guru and in India the Sikhs were being starting to be persecuted. Guru Hargobind knew that it time to prepare an army of saint-soldiers for battle for the defense of the all his Sikhs and of the Dharma. He didn't want to attack anyone, but his Sikhs needed to be able to defend themselves and others if war was declared on them. Guru Hargobind was a beautiful saint and the Sikhs loved him very much. They completely trusted him, saying, "Guru Ji, we are at your feet, you are the True emperor, you are the True King."
The Emperor of India at that time was Jahangir. Emperor Jahangir had many advisors. One of them was an enemy of Guru Hargobind and wanted to create trouble. So he told Jahangir a false rumor about Guru Hargobind. He said, "Guru Arjun was killed by your orders, your majesty. His son, Hargobind, is now the Guru. He's making preparations for war! He keeps a strong army and he wants to take revenge for his father's death. He even wants to be king instead of you and calls himself 'the True King'. He lives like a king and doesn't care about anyone."
But Emperor Jahangir had also heard good things about the Guru from his other advisors, who told him, "Pray your Majesty, do not listen to anyone who speaks bad about the Guru, the Guru does not desire your empire. He always meditates on the Name of God and he is wealthy and famous only because of God's blessing."
The Emperor finally decided to find out for himself, so he arranged to see the Guru at his camp. When he met the Guru he was impressed by him and decided to spend some time with him. One day he and Guru Hargobind went horseback riding near the jungle. Suddenly a tiger came out from behind the trees and attacked the emperor on his horse. [The whole episode of this attack is narrated in this prequel audio story. Click here to listen to "Guru Hargobind and the Tigers".] Everyone was really afraid and couldn't move, but Guru Hargobind immediately jumped off his horse and blocked the ferocious tiger with his shield. With one blow he then ended the tiger's life. Jahangir was amazed and thought, "I am so grateful! No one could stop that tiger, but the Guru did. He saved my life." The Emperor knew that he would have been done for if the Guru hadn't stepped in.
Even though Jahangir admired Guru Hargobind and knew he had saved his life he still had doubts and fears. So he asked Guru Ji, "O Guru, I've been told that you are supposed to be a holy man but instead you do worldly things. I have heard you make your Sikhs call you the True Emperor, but I am the only Emperor. Your Sikhs call me a false king. Is this true?"
Guru Ji gazed upon the Emperor and with a peaceful expression explained that he was simply following the example of Guru Nanak. It was his duty to take care of the Sikhs both spiritually and physically, "I love my Sikhs and they love me. I can't stop them from saying these things with such love. This is how the love expresses itself in words; it is only natural. I have never told anyone to call me a True Emperor; in Guru Nanak's house God is the only Emperor."
The Emperor heard this but he was still not satisfied and he returned to his tent in the camp. Later that day a poor young grass cutter from the area heard that the Guru's camp was nearby! He immediately came to the Guru's camp and asked a sevadar innocently, "is the True Emperor here?! I heard he is camping here. Please tell me where he is; I would like to pay my respects." The sevadar thought he was talking about Jahangir and said, "Oh yes, the emperor is sitting under the shade of that tree right over there." The grass cutter ran over to the tree and put a penny in front of the Emperor. Thinking it was Guru Hargobind, he bowed at his feet and prayed, "O True Emperor, all other kings are false. They rule for a short time but your rule is forever and beyond this world. Bless my soul, wash away my karmas and please accept me into your house of wisdom and light. It is you who can give true protection; it is YOU who saves!" Jahangir was confused and looked around, explaining, "This man wants me to bless his soul and save him from spiritual darkness, but I do not have the power to do that. I can't even save my own life, how can I save his soul?"
In that moment he realized that it was the Sikhs who called the Guru "True Emperor" naturally. Guru Hargobind had not told them to say this; it was said with love and purity by his Sikhs. So Jahangir admitted to the grass-cutter, "I am not the True Emperor. I am false. You can find your True King over there." The Grass-cutter picked up his penny and ran to where the Guru sat, "O Guru...." He prayed at the feet of the Guru and Guru Ji blessed him, "Always be sweet and humble in your words and actions. Love everyone and hate no one. Work honestly and share what you have. Always be good to others and always be fair. God is with you every moment of your life, just remember God in every moment. Follow the teachings of the Guru and you will be happy in this world and the next."
On that day Jahangir realized that all kings, emperors and rulers are under God's power. It is only by recite the Name of God that a person will become satisfied. Being around the saints one will find the true Emperor within.