The Legacy Of Rai Bular Bhatti

''Rai Bular Bhatti'' or Rai (death ca. 1515 AD) was a Muslim noble of the Rajput 'Bhatti' clan during the latter half of the fifteenth century. The Bhatti clan is the one that founded the city of Bhatinda and Jaisalmir among others.  The exact date of Rai Bular's birth is not known but records kept by local bards date it circa 1425 A.D., in the city of Talwandi. This city, which is situated about forty two miles west of Lahore and eighteen miles south of the river Ravi, later became known as Nankana Sahib. Rai Bular's father, Rai Bhoe Bhatti, was the landlord owner of over 100,000 acres of land with Talwandi as its center of commerce. Talwandi thus also became to be known as Rai Bhoe Di Talwandi (Rai Bhoe's Talwandi).

According to the local ballads, the earliest available historical reference to the city of Talwandi (now Nankana Sahib) falls around the same time as the first siege of Jaisalmer occurred during the reign of Allaud-din Khilji (1295 A.D. - 1315 A.D.). Jaisalmer, a State in Rajputana was attacked in retaliation of Rajput raids by Allaud-din Khilji's Army. After a bloody battle, the city was overrun and one of the Bhatti Rajput prince who survived was taken hostage and was sent in exile to the North of Punjab near Kotli (Kotli was originally founded by Raja Viarat of Multan. It was centered around 40 miles from what is now called 'Lahore'). Folklore goes that Allaud-din Khilji was so touched by this boys bravery that instead of killing him he gifted the boy approx.150,000 acres of Punjab's most fertile land as consolation of his loss and also as an enticement to keep the boy from rallying troops and building a new Rajput Bhatti Army to fight the Khilji's. That exiled Rajput prince was Rai Raaney Bhatti (some sources say his name was Rai Addel).  It is also perhaps at that time that the boy also converted to the Islamic faith, as was common practice at that time. It is also probable that 'Addel' was his islamic name given at the time of conversion. A mound with the two wells at its foot are the remnants of Kotli where this young Rajput settled and started a new life as a muslim. Rai Raaney had only one son. He named his son Rai Bhoe and his town Rai Bhoe Di Talwandi (Rai Bhoe's Talwandi). Rai Bhoe grew up and developed his hometown building a small fort and mordernizing agriculture. Rai Bular was the only son among Rai Bhoe's six children. One of Rai Bhoe's daughter was married to Daulat Khan Lodi, the Governor of the Punjab. After Rai Bhoe's death, Rai Bular became the chief of Talwandi and inherited 20,000 acres of his estate with the remaining going to his six sisters. One of the tombs on a mound in Talwandi is that of Rai Bular Bhatti.  The remaing mound is the renmants of the Rajput Bhatti clan grave-yard dating back to the fifteenth century. 

 

It is in this town that Guru Nanak was born in 1469 AD.

Rai Bhular Bhatti has a very special status in Sikh history. He is mentioned in several stories in the Janamsakhis (Sikh religious texts). According to the Janamsakhis, Rai Bular perceived the Divine in Guru Nanak and became his 2nd devotee, the Guru's sister being his first.

Rai Bular was the one who was witness to the many incidents in which the young Guru Nanak proved his divine standing. One story relates that young Nanak was arraigned before Rai Bhular for allowing the cattle he was tending to damage a farmer's crop. The Rai sent for Baba Kalu, the Guru's father, and directed him to compensate the farmer for the damage. But footmen sent to estimate the loss reported that they could find no damage. Rai Bular was as much surprised as the complainant himself, who insisted that he had seen with his own eyes the whole crop ruined and the buffaloes sitting amidst it after they had heartily gorged themselves on it.

On another occasion, Guru Nanak, while out with his herd, lay down to rest under a tree in the summer afternoon and fell asleep. After a while, Rai Bular along with his servants happened to pass by. He was surprised to see a strange phenomenon. A Cobra with his hood wide open was leaning on Nanak's face but not harming him. Also, the shadows of other trees had traveled round with the sun, but not of the tree under which Nanak slept while this Cobra seemed to be guarding him.

Returning to the town, the Rai called Kalu and said to him, "Your son is a great man. He is the honour of my town. Kalu, thou hast become exalted and I too am exalted in whose town such a one has been born." Guru Nanak reciprocated the honour and affection extended to him by Rai Bular and never failed in between his long travels to visit him, who always felt blessed to see him. When he lay dying, Guru Nanak was by his bedside.

Rai Bular Bhatti was a fair and just ruler. Guru Nanak, as a boy frequently advised Rai Bular on fairness and justice. The bond between the young boy and the elderly Rajput ruler was so strong that Rai Bular loved and considered Guru Nanak as his own son. Local Folklore tales tell of Nanak's appearances in Rai Bular's Durbar and fascinate the Rai with his divinity and intelligence. Rai Bular was so enchanted by Guru Nanak that he frequently invited people from far off places to his Durbar just to hear Guru Nanak speak his wisdom. The message of the "enchanting" boy was spread to far off places in this manner. Rai Bular also bequeathed half of his landed property to Baba Guru Nanak.

Two people are credited for discovering Guru Nanak's special qualities; Rai Bular Bhatti and Guru Nanak’s first disciple, his sister Nanaki. The Sikh community regards him and his descendants as forget the respect and honor accorded to Guru Nanak by Rai Bular Bhatti.