On his travels to the east, Guru Nanak Dev stayed for some time at Chittagong, in Bangladesh. He stayed with Jhanda Badhi, a carpenter at the court of the local king, Sudhar Sen. The king’s nephew, Indra Sen, was a childhood friend of Jhanda Badhi, and both of them were pious men. They had many spiritual conversations with the Guru.

They told the Guru that they had spent much time in prayer and fasting, but a feeling of oneness with the universe still eluded them. How could they achieve this? “Give me guru dakshina, the teacher’s gift, and I will tell you the way,” offered Guru Nanak. “I want that which you have, and cannot be separated from you,” he added.

Jhanda and Indra looked around them – at their house, and their physical possessions. All this could be easily separated from them. Then they looked at their body, and Guru Nanak said that a time would come when even the body would leave them and fall. And both the devotees start thinking – this form will fall, its constituent elements – matter, water, warmth, air, space – all will fall away. The intellect and wisdom, gathered so assiduously over the years and stored in the brain, will all be lost as the grey matter becomes lifeless.

The Guru said, “Gift me your ‘me’ and ‘mine’, for this ego is your chain. If you separate it from the soul, only the universal truth shall remain.”

Saint Ravidass, quoted in the Guru Granth Sahib, says:

When I am in my ego, You are not

Now, there is only You, and no me,

Then, wind raised waves in the ocean –

Now, it is only water in water.

Historians opine that Guru Nanak Dev’s stay with Jhanda Badhiand Indra Sen occurred sometime between 1505-07 AD. The place is now the Gurudwara at Chowk Bazar, Chittagong, near the Comilla Zilla School.

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