Guru Nanak and the Cobra

The Serpent's Shade

The Cobra Hovering Over Guru Nanak Dev
The Cobra Hovering Over Guru Nanak Dev. Photo © [Angel Originals]

One day Rai Bular, the headman of Guru Nanak Dev's village Talwandi (modern day Nanakana Sahib of Pakistan), rode out on horseback to check his fields taking along a couple of servants. He came across Methu Kalu searching for his son Nanak Dev. Looking around the pasture where Nanak’s herd usually grazed, the Rai spotted the head of a large cobra showing above the tall grass with its hood spread wide.

The sweltering afternoon sunlight glittered on its scales. The cobra hovered motionless as though transfixed. He wondered what had mesmerized the serpent and why it continued to remain in the open exposing itself to the sun’s searing heat. Curious, he motioned the others to be still and urged his horse closer to investigate.

Nearing the cobra, Rai Bullar saw Nanak Dev on the ground beneath it. The cobra’s hood cast a dark shadow over the boys face. The approaching horse disturbed the cobra and it slithered away into the grass. Fearing Nanak had been bitten and poisoned by the serpent’s venom, Rai Bullar jumped from his horse and bent over the boy’s body.

Deeply absorbed in a meditative state and unaware of his surroundings, Nanak appeared senseless. Rai Bular roused Nanak and found him unharmed. Nanak Dev had become so deeply entranced, while contemplating God as his herd grazed, that he had neglected to move out of the sun.

The Rai realized that the cobra had been offering protection by sheltering the boy from the sun’s scorching rays.

Methu Kalu approached and reproached Nanak for his laziness and scolded him for causing everyone concern. Astounded, the servants felt that the incident had shown Nanak Dev to be a saint.

Rai Bular commented to Mehta Kalu that his son had a divine spirit and told him the herdboy Nanak must surely be destined to be something other than a mere grazer. Convinced of Nanak Dev'’s spiritual nature, Rai Bular became Guru Nanak’s disciple from that time onward.

"Jee oupaa-e jugat hath keenee kaalee nath kiaa vaddaa bhaiaa ||
You created all the beings and hold the world in your hands, what greatness is there in mastering the black cobra?" SGGS||350 by Guru Nanak

Read About Historic Gurdwaras Commemorating Guru Nanak's Childhood