At the age of 18, Guru Nanak was sent by his father Mehta Kalu to the city to do business. Mehta Kalu was disappointed that his son’s mind was not into farming and other worldly work. He therefore thought perhaps engaging him in trade would firstly, give him a profitable living, and secondly the young man would be happy all day talking to his clients about business.
Thinking this way and choosing an auspicious day, Mehta Kalu called Bhai Mardana to accompany Nanak. Giving them twenty rupees, he said: “Buy and bring some genuine goods by selling of which you can make profit. In this way if you make a profitable transaction, next time I will give you more money to buy goods.”
Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana started from Talwandi towards Choohar-khaana to purchase some merchandise. They had hardly gone 10-12 miles when they came across a village where the people were starving, thirsty and sick due to lack of water, famine and an outbreak of disease.
Guru Nanak said to Bhai Mardana: “Father has asked us to carry out some profitable transaction. No bargain can be more truly profitable than to feed and clothe the needy. I cannot leave this true bargain. It is seldom that we get an opportunity to carry out a profitable transaction like this.”
In those days, twenty rupees was a lot of money, enough to feed an entire village for many days. Guru Nanak went to the next nearest village, where he bought plentiful supply of food and brought water for the distressed people. Thus it was that he invested the money into what the Sikhs today call ‘langar’.
Having fed the villagers, they started back ‘empty-handed’. When they were near Talwandi, Guru Nanak told Mardana, “You go to the village alone, I shall sit at this well.” Bhai Mardana went to the village and narrated the whole story to Mehta Kalu.
As he listened, Mehta Kalu grew very angry that they had wasted the entire money. He had always believed making profit and amassing wealth was the only true bargain, because in this world it is money which gives status in society, and those who enjoy it carry the mark of nobility.
Putting aside all work, Mehta Kalu took Mardana along and started towards the well. When he saw his furious father, Guru Nanak tried to convince him by telling that he had not done anything wrong with the money. He had, in fact, done a ‘sacha sauda’, a bargain in the truest sense.
At the place where this true bargain took place, Gurdwara Sacha Sauda Sahib was built. It is now in present day Pakistan, in the city of Farooqabad.
The true bargain of life is sharing one’s earning with the needy and helping in whatever way possible. Doing good to the people is the way of the Sikh.