Baba Sri Chand Ji – Founder of Udasin Panth
Baba Sri Chand Ji was born in 1494, in Sultanpur Lodhi, District Kapurthala, Punjab to Guru Nanak Sahib and Mata Sulakhni Ji. He entered the world laughing and the room filled with light and fragrance. A thin layer of ashes covered his body and the small curly knots of his hair shone brightly. He was no ordinary son, though he literally worshipped his father. He was a yogi from birth, and his right ear lobe extended into a natural ring. Many consider him an incarnation of Lord Shivji. From childhood, he loved to sit in meditation and developed great powers.
Early Childhood and Education
Once Babaji wandered into the jungle. When the town’s people searched for him fearing he had been harmed, they found the child deep in meditation surrounded by elephants, tigers, leopards, and other wild animals sitting motionless with eyes closed at his feet.
To complement his spiritual education, Guru Nanak Dev Ji sent Babaji to Srinagar to study in the school of Pandit Parshotam Das Kaul. While his classmates complained that he never did his homework, he always was first in his class. He was such a good student that he was able to defeat the famous Som Nath Tripathi in the Shastra debate. Baba Sri Chand Ji stayed in Srinagar for 2 1/2 years during his youth.
Story of Preserving the Family Lineage
While Babaji himself lived an ascetic life, he not only supported family life, he actually raised the baby Dharm Chand and arranged his marriage. That story goes like this:
One day brother Lakshmi Chand Ji had been hunting. Babaji told him it was a sin to kill innocent animals and that he would have to give account in God’s court. Hearing this Baba Lakshmi Chand took his entire household, even the dog, mounted his horse, and rode toward Heaven. Baba Sri Chand Ji realized that his brother’s baby Dharm Chand was the last descendant of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. If the baby left there would be no one to carry on Guruji’s bloodline. So Baba Sri Chand Ji stretched out his arm into the sky, lifted the baby from his brother’s lap, brought him back, and raised him as his own son.
Whether the story is true or false, we don’t claim anything, but it is as is from the Sikh Traditions we’re being told.
Hymn of Praise of Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Baba Sri Chand Ji’s love and reverence for his father Guru Nanak Dev Ji cannot be stressed enough. And similarly, Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s love for his elder son is something to be admired by all families. History has played a cruel trick on this relationship, often portraying Babaji as one passed over in the appointment” as the Guru’s successor and therefore casting Babaji in conflict with the ensuing Gurus. Nothing could be further from the truth. And nowhere could a child’s love be more apparent than in his hymn of praise for Guru Nanak – Aarta – which he composed and had the whole Kartarpur Sangat sing to greet and welcome their Great Guru home from his third Udasi.
“Let us sing the praises of Nanak, King of kings, Emperor of both worlds The whole cosmos is His temple, congregations sing sweet songs in His praise
Millions of goddesses kindle holy lights in His honor All the gods sing hymns of His praises
All wash His lotus feet The Sun and moon illuminate Him with their radiance
He is garlanded with mountains of flowers The True Master, the fountain of Light is merciful to the poor The king of the winds fans Him while saints and sages meditate on His holiness
The whole universe vibrates with His celestial song
The bells ring out – Onkar Continuoush illuminating the heavens He is one with God whose name is Truth
In Nanak saints find their support Sri Chand, Nanak’s son, declares Nanak is unattainable,
unfathomable, unshakable, and pure Whoever sings Emperor Nanak’s praises resides in heaven and achieves complete salvation
Ob kind master: give protection to those who seek your shelter.
Ob Nanak: You are the savior we are just your children”
The Love between Babaji and the Gurus
Guru Amar Das ji offers his eldest son Baba Mohan ji to serve Baba Sri Chand ji
The Sangat asked Guru Amar Das Ji, “When we meet Baba Sri Chand Ji how should we show our respect?” A few days later, when Guru Ji with Baba Mohan Ji and Bhai Jetha (Guru Ram Das Ji) visited Babaji in Barath, he answered their question by bowing down in deep humility. Guru Amar Das Ji recited “Anand Sahib’ to the immense pleasure of Baba Sri Chand Ji. Babaji was so impressed by Baba Mohan Ji that he accepted him as his disciple. Instructing Baba Mohan Ji to collect the writings of his father, Guru Amar Das Ji, Baba Sri Chand Ji gave him the handwritten collections of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s bani for safekeeping until they were required. He then sent him home to Goindwal Sahib with Guru Ji. Baba Mohan Ji used to sit on a deer skin with long hair open.
Sri Guru Ram Das Ji
When Guru Ram Das Ji visited Barath in 1634, Babaji was deep in meditation. Guru Ji waited patiently for 2 days. When Babaji came out, Guru Ji offered him Rs 500, and other gifts of clothing and sweets. They were very happy to see each other. Guru Ji recited his bani to Babaji’s delight. When Babaji visited Guru Ram Das Ji at Ram Das Pur, he reminded Guru Ji of the history of the Amrit Sarovar (sacred tank) and suggested that the city’s name be changed to Amritsar.
When Babaji visited Amritsar in 1636, Guru Ram Das Ji received him warmly, and with great respect seated Babaji on a higher seat than his own. Babaji praised Guru ji. One day in a lighter mood Babaji quipped, “Guru Ram Das Ji you have such a long beard!’ Guru Ji in his unequaled humility replied, “It is to wipe the lotus feet of great men like you,” and actually bent forward to demonstrate. But Babaji caught him in a warm embrace. Guru ji shared his plan for Harmandir Sahib and its holy srovar.
Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji
Guru Arjan Dev ji visited Babaji at Barath in 1655. Two sites still commemorate their meeting. Where the Gurdwara stands today, Guru Ji used to wait each day for Babaji to come out of meditation. A second site, a mile away in what was then a jungle, marked the place where Guru Arjan Dev Ji used to sleep. When Guru Ji shared his goal of compiling Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Babaji gave whatever handwritten bani he still had, and suggested that Guru Ji obtain the other portions from Baba Mohan Ji. Guru Ji recited 16 Asatpadis of Sukhmani Sahib. Babaji suggested that he increase the bani to 24 verses. At Guruji’s request, Babaji provided the line to resume the 17th Asatpadi. He respectfully chose Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s verse:
“ਆਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਜੁਗਾਦਿ ਸਚੁ ਹੈ ਭਿ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੋਸੀ ਭਿ ਸਚੁ”
Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib
After being released from Gwalior Fort, Guru Hargobind Sahib visited Baba Sri Chand Ji to thank him for his role in influencing Emperor Jahangir. Babaji had very strictly told the Emperor that the Guru was the true successor to Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s throne and if he didn’t release him, great harm would befall the Emperor. Guru Hargobind Sahib presents his eldest son Baba Gurditta to Babaji to serve him. Babaji blesses the boy by saying “Gurditta, Din Duni Ka Tikka” (You are the Prince of both the Spiritual and Temporal Worlds).
Baba Gurditta Ji who became Baba Sri Chand Ji’s successor and Patriarch of the Udasi Sampardai was the son of a Guru and the father of Guru Har Rai Ji. He was also the grandfather of Guru Harkrishan Ji, the older brother of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, and the uncle of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. So just as Baba Sri Chand Ji had remained close to the first 6 Gurus, Baba Gurditta was always in close contact with the ensuing four Gurus. We should remember that when Guru Gobind Singh Ji left Anandpur Sahib, he put an Udasi in charge.
Once when Baba Sri Chand Ji went to Chamba, the boatman taunted him, “If you have so much power why do you need a boat?” So Babaji stood on a rock and asked it to ferry him across the river. In 1643, when it was time for Babaji to leave the world he marched towards the jungle on a nearby hill, bid goodbye to those following him, and, in a twinkling of an eye, disappeared. Babaji’s body was never found. Like many great beings before him, he comes and goes as he wishes and appears regularly to those who love him.
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Note: Traditional stories are sometimes not what history tells us, but as contemporary history is missing, we can’t reject the traditions either. Guru Sahib has blessed every Gursikh with Viveka, and one should choose between Facts and Myth according to their Gurmat Bibek. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.