HEMĀ, BHĀĪ, a devout Sikh of Khānpur, a village now known as Khān Chhāprī, 8 km west of Goindvāl (30º-22'N, 75º-9'E) in Amritsar district of the Punjab, who would extend the hospitality of his humble thatched hut, chhaprī in Punjabi, to any Sikh or holy man. Once, during the winter season, Gurū Arjan, while travelling through the countryside with a few attendants, was suddenly caught in rain and storm near Khānpur. As records the author of the Gurbilās Pātshāhī Chhevīṅ, his attendants knocked at the doors of several well-built mansions, but none opened to give them shelter. The Gurū then took them to Bhāī Hemā's hut. It was an unexpected delight for Hemā to receive and serve the Gurū. He gave the Gurū the only blanket he had, and himself, exposed under the leaking roof, prepared a frugal fare which he adoringly served to the holy guest and his Sikhs. Gurū Arjan was very pleased and composed, extempore, the hymn beginning with the lines : "Handsome and prosperous is the thatched hut in which God's praises are recited; useless, utterly useless are the mansions where He is not remembered." (GG, 745).
Bhāī Hemā was taken ill owing to sudden exposure in the cold night. Gurū Arjan stayed with him during his sickness. But Hemā did not survive and died, as had been his wish, in the Gurū's arms. The Gurū himself performed the obsequies.