Guru Nanak Dev is on his travels, when he meets Saint Makhdoom.
The Saint has just returned from a pilgrimage. A part of the pilgrimage involved travelling along the ocean shore. On way, he passed a sailing ship, and as he watched, it started to sink. And so he willed the ship to stay afloat, and it did not sink. On the return journey, he saw a cloud raining on the ocean, and he thought it was fresh water being wasted. And he again willed the cloud to move ashore, and rain on land. Saint Makhdoom is very happy at having done such compassionate acts.
And now on meeting him, Guru Nanak Dev said:
He receives hundreds and thousands of reprimands, day and night;//The swan-soul has renounced the Lord’s Praises, and attached itself to a rotting carcass.
Makhdoom is shattered at this reprimand, and rushes to meet his teacher. “Hazrat, Nanak called me a swan who is eating a rotten carcass,” he complained. His teacher asked him to recount what he had done in the past few days. Makhdoom says he has been regular in prayer and meditation. And he is proud to report his two acts of kindness – the saving of the sinking ship, and the shifting of the raining cloud.
“Nanak is right,” said Hazrat, “because even as you have prayed and meditated, you have been waylaid by your ego.” Makhdoom now saw himself as compassionate, and also having power to turn events to his own will. By becoming aware of his own will, he had forgotten His will.
“Nanak did not call you an eagle or a crow, but still called you a swan, as he knew you to be a walker on His path,” said Hazrat, “but he also saw you getting attached to your mortal body and ego, sure to become a rotting carcass one day.” Saint Makhdoom had learnt his lesson, and spent his remaining days in His will.