Guru Nanak and his companion Mardana, once visited the house of Bhai Lalo. They were given a warm welcome. Naturally Bhai Lalo was expected to offer some food to the travellers. He offered them a large roti (Indian bread) made of barley. It was stale and did not look inviting. Mardana who was usually hungry, looked at the roti and said, “Oh! I do not feel like eating at all.” Guru Nanak gave a small piece of roti to him and said, “You must eat, Mardana, for you are tired and hungry.” Mardana found that the roti tasted wonderful, but now Guru Nanak, refused to give more to him saying that it was to be distributed amongst the others too.
One day, while Guru Nanak was still staying at the house of Bhai Lalo, He received an invitation to a community feast by a rich landlord called Malik Bhago. Guru Nanak declined the invitation. But, Malik Bhago insisted again and again for Guru Nanak to grace the occasion.
On his insistance, the Guru agreed to go. While going, he asked Lalo to pack one of his coarse barley rotis. When they reached there, Malik Bhago asked the Guru, “Oh! Holy one; why did you refuse to accept my invitation earlier?” Guru Nanak smiled, “I eat simply; I am just a fakir.” Bhago served him various kinds of delicacies that had been prepared for the occasion. Guru Nanak picked up a handful from the food served to him in one hand and took the barley roti from Bhai Lalo in his other hand. He squeezed both hands.
From Bhago’s food poured out drops of blood.
From Lalo’s roti poured out pure milk!
Everyone was dumbstruck. Guru Nanak explained, “Bhago your food is earned by sucking the sweat and blood of many poor people. Lalo’s food has been earned through honest means.”
That was the reason, why the great Saint was reluctant to eat at the hearth of Malik Bhago! Upon his insistence, Guru Nanak decided to go to his house and also make him understand that his way of earning was deplorable and despicable.
Even in today’s day and date, if each one of us were to look within and judge for ourselves, whether we earn our bread and butter through honest means or through the blood and sweat of others, we would surely be doing a great favour not only to ourselves, but also to the nation and to the whole world.
Corruption is eating away the wealth of our economy like white ants devour wood. The only way to cleanse our system of corruption and malpractices is that each one of us looks within and takes corrective action.