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BHAI NANDLAL A Mughal Minister Roped to the Realm of Real Religion


A Mughal Minister Roped to the Realm of Real Religion

Despite being a minister in Mughal administration throughout his life he breathed and lived true Sikhism, not stealthily but openly that too at a time when the faith was at sharp odds with the state . He was in the rush of the 'world, yet detached from it, like a lotus whose stem remains immersed in the mire yet it maintains its sanctity and immaculateness or like a water bird whose feathers remain dry when it swims. Son of a devoted Hindu, Bhai Nandlal was a Persian poet who was fortunate to be under the tutelage of Guru Gobind Singh himself and thus he, understood the religion to its finer details Nandlal Goya exudes ' humility and owes his eminence to Guru 1

 Who am I ?  Just a particle of dust.

 My present status is just a blessing of my Guru .

 Getting overwhelmed with his love for his Guru he says :

Oh wind ! Do not disturb me a particle lying at the door of my mentor!

Or else I will defame you that you, cruel , do not spare any site.

Lal or Goya (his nick names), was gem of the 52 strong galaxy of ' poets at the feet of the Guru. His Persian, and Punjabi poetry now serves an authentic source of Sikh history and religion . Nandlal was witness to the bestowing of guruship on the collective body of the Khalsa and the Granth Sahib . RAJIV ARORA and  G.S.BRAR adopt this piece from the works of Dr. Ganda Singh for Punjab Monitor which is dedicated to this jewel who symbolises the unity of Punjabis ,the Muslims , Hindus and the Sikhs.

 Nothing definite is known about the original area of Bhai Nandlal from where their forbears came . However the way Bhai Nandlal sought shelter from Guru Gobind Singh at the time of crisis shows that his family had old links with the Sikh Gurus .

Nandlal's father Chhajju Mall appear to be a scholar of Persian and Arabic . Highly perceptive wisdom, personal Qualifications and ability were  the only factors which could help a non Muslim to rise to some honourable position in the Mughal government of the day . Chhajju Mal was a 'munshi' in the court of emperor Shah Jehan and had close links with prince Dara Shikoh who himself had scholastic predilection and had high regards for Hindu intellectuals.
When the Emperor deputed the Prince to Kandhar campaign of 1636 AD, he took Chhajju Mal with him . At Kandhar, Chhajju was appointed on the post of 'Munshi' i.e. minister with the charge of such departments as revenue , administration and military affairs and stayed there till his death in 1652 AD .
Strange are the ways of God. Chhajju had no child till age of 50. Thus in the evening of Chhajju's career, was born Nandlal and nothing definite is known about his date of birth. lt is however obvious that Nandlal was imparted the best education in Persian as is evident from his compositions .
Dewan Chhajju Mal was the follower of Vaishnav sect . On the other hand it appears Nandlal was influenced by the teachings of Sikh Guru right from the impressionable years of his childhood. Evidences are available as to the existence of Sikh dharamshalas or the gurudwaras in Kabul , Gazni and Kandhar .
According to the author of Dabistan e Mazahib (1650 AD) there was hardly any city in the north lndia and Afghanistan which had no gurudwara . Whole of international trade of horses from Afghanistan and lraq was in the hands of Sikhs. (ln the Sept. .97 issue of Punjab Monitor we published an article " Punjabi Colony in Astrakhan" giving ample evidences how the Sikh merchants were settled in west places as far as Baku and Astrakhan ) According to a family legend when young Nandlal was to be initiated to the Vaishnav sect he refused to wear the rosary around his neck . Nandlal was about 16 years old when his mother passed away . After two years his father also expired .
According to a legend, Nandlal tried to secure the post of his father but by that time , Dara Shikoh who was kind to Chhajju Mal had left Gazni . The new  ruler was not aware of the intellect of Nandlal and offered only a humble post of a clerk in the administration , Nandlal declined the offer which was not according to his cerebral status and dignity especially at a place where his father had served as a chief minister . Nandlal who had two younger brothers also to support felt that he had no backing in Gazni and that it was better for him to leave for Hindustan , as it would not have been possible for him to maintain the rich family traditions .
Dewan Chhajju Mal had otherwise left behind a fortune for family in the form of movable and immovable property. Nandlal converted the whole property into liquid cash and left the city of Gazni along with his brothers and two Afghan servants for Multan. For centuries then Multan was considered one of the most prominent cities of lndia . lmportance of Multan was not only in view of its importance as religious and political centre but it was an important commercial centre in the whole of Afghanistan, lndia lran and Bilochistan . Merchants of Punjab and Delhi would keep camping in the city .
 Afghan servants of Nandlal addressed their employer as 'Agha' (Akah). Slowly 'Agha' became the key word for Nandlal for the inhabitants of Multan . Thus the locality where Nandlal had his house came to be Known as Agha Mohalla which exists even today .
Intellect and integrity of Nandlal became known in the city and he was appointed as the Munshi in the Multan state by Nawab Wassaf Khan . Nawab had acquaintance of the father of Nandlal. Through his performance Bhai ji rose to the post of 'mir munshi' the Finance Minister . Later he was appointed as the garrison incharge and general of Bhakkar . There after he was appointed as the governor of Dina Kehrorh, Fatehpur and district Mohiuddinpur. The Highest post which Bhai sahib held in Multan was that of Naib Subedar i.e. Deputy Governor .
According to Lala Parmanand 'Dastrul lnsha' a composition of the Bhai sahib throws ample light on the sharp military acumen of Bhai sahib . A robber  named Shahu had gathered a huge army at Sultan Sarvar hill pass creating chaos with his 7000 men Munshi Nandlal was deputed to capture  his highway men . Shahu was Vanquished with heavy casualties on his army . This is just one instance of the fortitude and presence of mind of Bhai Nandlal . ln this way Bhai sahib continued to serve the Multan state for 30 years perseveringly and relentlessly . He had an opportunity to serve Prince Salim and Mohd  Akbar (1678-79).
Bhai Nandlal was yet to see a major  change in hiS already illustrious career. When Emperor ascended the throne of Delhi Bhai Nandlal's services were terminated Bhai Nandlal's allegiance to Dara Shikoh who had lost ' to Aurangzeb in the war of succession was believed to be the reason of this termination . Bhai Sahib made well concerted efforts for his reinstatement but in vain.
Bhai Nandlal during these years of seclusion devoted his time to study Sikh scriptures . ln those days Gobind was the Guru of the Sikhs. Guru's fame for his able administration  height of scholarly pursuits , and other skills had spread far and wide . The Sikhs were getting highly organised under his guruship which was a source of worry for the Mughal empire. Nandlal had on the other hand had an innate desire to see the Guru . After making adequate arrangements for his children he left Multan to reach Lahore. After a short sojourn at Lahore he reached Amritsar  and then left for Anandpur (Makhowal) where Gobind Singh ji was stationed . Thus the wandering and meandering Nandlal managed to get the shelter of the lord himself and when the Guru blessed him, his whole life experienced a sudden transformation . He shouted :
Chun za shehrag hasat shah nazdik tar Chun basehre mirvi ai be-khabar
 (That true lord is nearer than your own windpipe and fool you are searching him in the forests.)
and expressing his sympathy with the seekers who have abandoned their everything :
Badshahan salatnat be  guzanshatand Chu gadayan  ku baku  bishtaftand .
(The emperors have abdicated their empires Like beggars they are roaming about.)
and suggested the seekers ; lf you chance to get an usher - era guide
You will feel the whole thing is inside you itself.
After staying with Guru Gobind Singh Bhai Nandlal left for Agra and was able to secure a job for him under Prince Muazzam (later Bahadurshah) . lt is likely that lt might have been when Muazzam was released from his detention in the year 1695 AD and he was made governor of Agra .
 But strange are the ways of nature. lt is said Emperor Aurangzeb once sought an interpretation of a particular stanza of Quran but the galaxy of scholars present could not satisfy the Emperor . Later Muazzam asked the same question from Nandlal who gave a satisfactory explanation of the particular stanza . The prince conveyed the meaning to Emperor who was surprised to know that a kafir -a Hindu better understood the Quran and desired that such a scholar was converted to lslam. Bhai Nandlal was able to know the intentions of the Emperor and thus decided to leave for Anandpur again . Bhaisahib reached Lahore and there he learnt Giassudin who was his junior at Agra and was on a leave for one month . Bhai Sahib left Lahore with Daroga Giasudin for Anandpur sahib . After some days Giassudin returned to Lahore but Bhai sahib stayed behind .
ln history as we know, Guru Gobind Singh is not only known for his spiritual and military pursuits, He was also an eminent spiritual poet and a great scholar and was a patron of art and literature of his times . ln those days Anandpur, had the distinction of having so many poets and litterateurs. There were 52 court poets of Guru Sahib who wrote in the Punjabi, Brijbhash and Persian. This apart the Guru translated many classics of other languages into Punjabi . Keeping in view the tense  relations with the state when many of family members were assassinated by the government and the Guru had himself faced many military actions, it is surprising that Guru sahib could continue such literary activities despite the tough times . Not only this he was able to found the Khalsa to ignite the sense of freedom among the downtrodden and caste ridden people . As earlier mentioned Bhai Nandlal was fond of writing poetry from his childhood; His stay at Anandpur was thus a complete transformation of Nandlal's poems when it took the turn towards spiritualism. Such a metamorphosis took place that Bhai was now a completely changed man . His poetry had now got a direction . Under the tutelage of Guru, Bhaiji felt enlightened .
Bhai Nandlal presented his first book of poetry 'Bandginama' at the feet of Guru Gobind Singh . Guru Sahib allowed Nandlal to recite his poetry before the audience in the evening and the whole congregation spontaneously shouted ' Oh great'. ln the end Guru sahib had all praises for the intellect and art of Bhai and suggested that the work be called 'Zindaginama ' instead of Bandginama .
Guru sahib wished to appoint Bhai sahib on the post of Dewan (minister ) but Bhai sahib preferred service in the kitchen . As Bhai sahib had been staying at Anandpur for a considerable time Guru sahib expressed concern for the family of Bhai Nandlal and offered that he could promulgate hukamnama (orders) to the sangats in and around Multan to send offerings at Bhai's house. Nandlal quipped; "Nay my lord I have already made adequate arrangements for them. You kindly bless them that they earn their living themselves so that they do not remain idle and rather save them from any parasitic life ". Guru sahib was highly pleased at the reply of Bhai Narrdlal and said, "Nandlal you are great ." Bhai sahibs descendents are now living in various cities enjoying honourable life styles. 
Guru Gobind Singh as we have written had bestowed Bhai Nandlal with the 'Naam' and his grace. With the undersianding of the concept of 'Naam' i.e. how the Almighty was administering the whole universal system and what is life etc. Bhai sahib was often deputed to lead the congregational discourses and explain the sangat of the concept of  'Naam' the praises and how they (people) were supposed to bow before the will of Almighty (Hukam rajai chalna: Bhana Manan and ) would thus remove the misunderstandings and wrong notions of the sangat. Even today he is the second Sikh whose compositions are allowed to be recited in the gurudwaras after Bhai Gurdas.
 After Bhai sahib was initiated into Sikhism by Guru Gobind Singh ji his became a devotional poetry. We find a boundless respect and dedication to the Guru in his poetry ; a height of humility:
Lal sage gulam Guru Gobind Singh
Dagdare nam Guru Gobind Singh
(Branded with the name Guru Gobind Singh)
Kamtrin che sagan Guru Gobind Singh
Reza chine khan Guru Gobinci Srngh
(No ! I am even lower than the dogs at rhe door of Guru Gobind Singh as I eat the remains left by Guru Gobind Singh)
 Bhai sahib stayed at Anandpur till Dec. 1705 AD and was parted from Guru sahib at the time of invasion of Hindu Rajas of the Hills which were supported by the Mughal armies. History is not clear where Nandlal stayed there after. When Emperor Aurangzeb died in 1707 AD, Prince Muazzam, the erstwhile employer of Nandlal, ascended Delhi throne under the title of Bahadur Shah and Bhai ji once again joined his services. References are available that when the war of succession among the princes was going on Bhai Nandlal requested Guru's help on behalf of Bahadur Shah. On winning the war Bahadur Shah invited Guru Sahib in his court to honour him, The Emperor presented Guru sahib a Rs. 60,000, Jarhau dhukhdhukhi (an ornament on chest), kalgi (crown) and a siropa (robe of honour).
It was further proclaimed that Guru was a religious leader and it was not necessary to put on these honours on his person and that, Guru's servant could carry them. To many it appeared strange as the Mughals had martyred the V Nanak and lX Nanak besides the  family including two infant sons of Guru Gobind Singh.
Since 'naam' had been bestowed on Bhai Nandlal he wrote:  It is against the tenets of our religion to have enmity with any one. Our religion is to keep our heart as clean and transparent as a glass. There are again references available that Bhai Sahib was with the Emperor when he marched on to Deccan, When he returned to Punjab in 1710 AD, Bhai sahib was again accompanying him. The Emperor died in Lahore and Bhai sahib left for Multan there after and spent the last days of his distinguished career at Multan itself. Lala Permanand Arora ;a biographer of Bhai Sahib believes that Bhai Nandlal was alive till 1713 as some letters are available which have reference of Emperor Farrukhsiyar.
 On his retirement Bhai sahib founded a school which continued to function under the supervision of his successors till 1849A.D. Here in Multan Bhai sahib breathed his last to immerse into that Formless Nirankar for ever to transcend this birth and rebirth system.
As is apparent from the style of writing, most of the works of Bhai sahib were completed during his stay with Guru sahib. Works written under the tutelage of Bhai Sahib number about ten . Seven of them are in Persian while three are in Punjabi. He wrote under the nicknames Goya and Lal.
1. Zindaginama is work which he first completed at Anandpur sahib and presented to the Guru. The subject matter of this work in Persian is dedicated to God and Guru and its theme is Gurbani itself.
 2. Gazals (Persian) is the most famous work of Bhai sahib and truly interprets Gurbani.
 3. Tausif-O-Sana and Khatima (Persian) is again in the praises of God almighty; tough words of Persian and Arabic, hence not a very popular work.
4. Ganjnama (Persian) lt is both in prose and poetry, and is written in praises of the ten Gurus.
Writes he; Gar phirozed hazar mehre mah,
Almen dan juz tmam siah,
(May there be thousands of suns and moons the world is dark without Guru) and;
Naame-u-shahe Nanak hakk kesh
ke niaed chunu digar darvesh.
(His name is Nanak emperor, his faith is truth. Sage like him has never appeared on this earth before)
Praises for the other Gurus there is rich Persian terms and when the poet refers to the name of Guru Gobind Singh, the spirit and substance in his poetry acquires acme. 
Hakk hakk agah Guru Gobind singh
 Shahe shahenshah Guru Gobind Singh
and Hakk hakk andesh Guru Gobind Singh
Badshah darvesh Guru Gobind Singh
There are at least 55 stanzas each ending with the name of Guru Gobind Singh.
5 & 6. Jotbigas (Persian and Punjabi) are two different compositions but under the same name. At several places Goya makes loud cries that there is no difference between Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Nanak to clear the misgivings created by people opposed to the Tenth lord.
Hamu Guru Gobind Singh hammu Nanak ast
 Haman shadge U Johre manak ast.
 (He is Guru Gobind singh and same is nanak while the gurbani shabads are jewels and gems)
7 & 8. Rahitnama (Punjabi-Prose) Tankhahanama (Punjabi-verse) These works are code of conduct of Sikh religion and are held in high esteem in Sikhism. Some of the scholars like Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha have suspicion of these being the works of Bhai sahib, Dr. Ganda Singh has also accepted the views of Nabha without much thought. Their only objection is that Rahitnama bears the date as December 5, 1695 as the date of composition where as the Guru,s name is given as Gobind Singh which should have been Gobind Rai, as Guru Gobrnd assumed the Singh name tn 1699 i. e at the time of founding the Khalsa. This translater feels that this argument alone is not sufficient to suspect the works as it is very much likely that later scribes (utara karn wale) might have changed the name of the Guru sahib. May be Bhai sahib himself might have corrected the Guru's name. Both these documents are invaluable from historical and religious aspect. Tahkhan nama which is a code of religious punishments ends with the definition of Khalsa.
lt writes ;
Khalsa is the one who rides the horse
Khalsa is the one who daily goes to battle.
 ln the summation of Tankhahanama "Raj Karega Khalsa" stanza is given, ln Rahitnama Bhai sahib very explicitly gives who is the Guru of the Sikhs after Guru Gobind Singh.
Jo mam sath chahe….
lf some one wants to talk to me He should read Guru Granth Sahib. Tisar........
 My third form is the Sikh Who recites Gurbani day and night
9 & 10 Dastoor-ul-insha (Persian) and Arj-ul-alfaz (Persian verse) The former is a collection of some letters which Bhai sahib wrote to his relatives and friends, while the latter is a magnificent spiritualistic and philosophical work of Bhai Sahib.

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1 comment:

sunhun said...

A great read on the life of Bhai Nand Lal Ji.

Dhan Dhan Dasmesh Patshahee Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj!!!!


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