Baba Buddha is a unique personage and Grand Old Man of Sikhdom. In Sikh history, it is hard to find an individual like the great Baba Budha Ji. Guru Amar Das Ji called Baba Budha Ji the pillar of Sikhism. He was also the first person to take a Hukamnama (command) from the Adi Granth Sahib Ji
Baba Buddha Ji (Punjabi: ਬਾਬਾ ਬੁੱਢਾ ਜੀ) is recognized as one of the great Sikhs of the Guru period who had the pleasure of serving Guru Nanak Sahib Ji and the five succeeding Gurus. Baba Budha Ji’s birth took place in October 1506 in the village of Kathu Nangal. His father’s name was Baba Sunghae Randhawa and mother’s name was Mata Gowra Ji. He had four sons – Baba Sudhari, Bhikhari, Mehimoo, and Bhana Ji.
MEETING WITH GURU NANAK DEV JI
Once in 1518, Guru Nanak Ji, Bhai Mardana, and Bhai Bala came to a nearby village. They stayed here for a few days and did kirtan (singing of hymns) and preached the message of God. Baba Budha Ji, who was only twelve years old, heard that a great saint was in town, so he decided to go and visit him. When he went, there was a large crowd gathered, so he offered some milk to the Guru and then sat with the rest of the sangat (congregation).
After some time, everyone in the sangat left and went home, but Baba Ji did not leave. He remained seated by Guru Nanak. He then asked Guru Nanak the following question, “Please cut my cycle of life and death.”
Guru Sahib replied: “You are only a CHILD yet. But you talk so WISELY.”
“Some Mughal soldiers set up camp by our village, and they destroyed all our crops. The RIPE as well as UNRIPE crop were both cut down. It made me think, that just as the soldiers do not look at the crop’s age or growth before destroying it, similarly when death comes it does not consider the AGE or YEARS of a person before it comes and takes them away.”
Hearing this Guru Nanak Sahib jee said, “You are NOT a child; you possess the WISDOM of an OLD MAN.” From that day, BooRaa, came to be known as Bhai Buddha jee. ‘BUDDHA’ in Panjabi meaning a WISE OLD MAN.
Role in Passing Guruship
At the time of giving Guruship to the Second Nanak, Guru Nanak Sahib jee gave Baba Buddha jee with the responsibility of being the MASTER OF CEREMONY. This tradition continued up till the SIXTH NANAK. Baba Buddha jee who lived up to a very old age continued to serve the Gurus with complete dedication and remained an exemplary Sikh role model. Through living and earning the Guru’s Teachings Baba jee earned respect amongst all the Sangat (congregation) and Guru Sahib.
After the departure of Guru Nanak from this world, Baba Budha Ji remained in Kartarpur and continued to meditate on God. Guru Angad Sahib Ji decided to leave Sultanpur and go back to his village of Khadoor. However, once he got there he wished to meditate in isolation. He went to his aunt Viraee’s house where he stayed isolated in a room and meditated.
Six months passed like this. The Sikhs started to worry, they all wished to see their Guru so they finally decided to ask Baba Budha Ji for help. Baba Budha Ji was given a boon from Guru Nanak that the Guru could never remain hidden from him. Baba Budha Ji led the Sikhs to Mata Viraee’s house by Khadoor.
The Guru had ordered Mata Viraee to hide the entrance to the room and told her not to tell anyone where he was. Baba Budha Ji asked Mata Viraee where the Guru was, but she did not tell because of the Guru’s orders. Baba Budha Ji said, “The Guru is very close now. Everyone sit and starting to sing kirtan (singing of hymns) and the Guru will reveal himself to us.
Upon hearing the kirtan, Guru Angad Saheb Ji came out of the room and met his Sikhs. At this momemt, Buddha in all humility asked Guru Angad to give him ‘Updesh’. Guru Angad’s reply in the form of a shabad is enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib: “Tin ka-o kia-aa updaysee-ai jin Guru Naanak day-o” – “What teachings can be imparted to those who were blessed with the Divine teachings of Guru Nanak himself”.
Many times Guru Angad Saheb Ji would go into a Samadhi for days and Baba Budha Ji would have to take charge of running things. Then once Bhai Dattu Ji came to Goindwal, kicked Guru Amar Das Ji and proclaimed himself to be the true Guru. Guru Amar Das Ji left Goindwal and went back to his original village of Basarke.
Some time went by and the Sikhs had no idea where their great Guru was. Once again the sangat (congregation) came to Baba Budha Ji and asked him to help find the glorious Guru. Baba Budha Ji prayed to God and then unleashed a horse saying, “This horse will lead us to our Guru.”
Everyone followed the horse which went all the way to the village of Basarke. It finally stopped in front of a hut. On the door there was a sign posted by the Guru which said, “Whoever opens this door, he is not my Sikh and I am not his Guru.”
The Sikhs all worried that if we open the door, the Guru will not be happy with us. However, Baba Budha Ji went to the back of the building and broke a small hole in the wall and entered the hut. In this way, he got in, but he did not open the front door either. Guru Amar Das Ji was pleased to see Baba Budha Ji and blessed him by saying:
“You are a strong boat that will help the sangat (congregation) cross the ocean of life. You are a pillar of Sikhi. ” (Sooraj Parkash)
First Granthi of Darbar Sahib
When the Adi Granth was prepared, Baba Budha Ji was appointed the First Granthi (Priest) of Darbar Sahib. The reason that he was chosen is that he had lived the life of a true Gursikh:
cwr gurU syvw krI pwXo prm inDwn[
syvk kI ieh bsq hY sRI muK kIE bKwn[
The Guru knew that he had served four Gurus and gained their blessings. This true servant deserves this honor.
Baba Budha Ji was the first person to carry the Adi Granth Sahib Ji into the Darbar Sahib:
buFy ko sRI gurU khw sIs Awpny Dwr[
Translation: The Guru told Baba Budha Ji to Hold the Holy Granth on his head.
swihb buFw Awgy kInw[
Translation: He (Guru Arjun Sahib) told Baba Budha Ji to walk in front of him.
Baba Buddha passed his last days in meditation at Jhanda Ramdas, or simply called Ramdas, a village founded by his son, Bhai Bhana, where the family had since shifted from its native Katthu Nangal. As the end came, on November 16, 1631, Guru Hargobind was at his bedside. The Guru, as says the Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi, gave his shoulder to the bier and performed the last rites.Bhai Gurdas, further to quote the Gurbilas, started a reading of the Adi Granth in memory of the deceased.
The obsequies concluded with Bhai Gurdas completing the recital and Guru Hargobind presenting a turban to Bhai Buddha’s son, Bhana. Two shrines stand in Ramdas commemorating Baba Buddha, Gurdwara Tap Asthan Baba Buddha Ji, where the family lived on the southern edge of the village, and Gurdwara Samadhan, where he was cremated.
Baba Budha Ji is a shining star in the Sikh religion, many people found the path to God by following his example. Even today, we can find the path to God and of Gursikhi by looking at Baba Ji’s life.