IBRĀHĪM, SHAIKH (Shaikh Farīd of the Janam Sākhī), twelfth in succession from the famous Sūfī saint, Shaikh Farīd ud-Dīn Gañj-i-Shakar (1173-1266), held the seat of the earlier Shaikh at Pākpaṭṭan in the present Sāhīwāl (former Montgomery) district of Pakistan when Gurū Nānak (1469-1539) was travelling in these parts. Shaikh Ibrāhīm, like his illustrious predecessor, lived a pious and austere life and was on this account known among his followers and admirers as Farīd II. Gurū Nānak, accompanied at the rebeck by Bhāī Mardānā, was singing God's praises in the forest on the outskirts of Pākpaṭṭan, when Kamāl, a follower of Shaikh Ibrāhīm, collecting firewood for the khānaqāh kitchen, came where sat Gurū Nānak and Bhāī Mardānā. He was enthralled by the verses Gurū Nānak was reciting:

        Thou art the tablet, thou the pen,

        Thou too art the writing thereon.

        Worship the One Lord, O Nānak,

        For there is none other besides Him.


         Kamāl, says Purātan Janam Sākhī, reported to Shaikh Ibrāhīm, "I have met a man of God, Reverend Pīr! His name is Nānak and accompanied by a rebeck-player he sings of the One Lord." And he repeated the lines he had heard and remembered. Shaikh Ibrāhīm himself went out to meet Gurū Nānak. According to the Janam Sākhī, the two held a long discourse in a mixture of poetic metaphor and philosophy. On seeing Gurū Nānak, in the ordinary attire of a householder, Shaikh Ibrāhīm remarked:

        Covet either the world, or covet Allah, the Creator.

        Set not thy feet on two boats,

        Lest thou drownest all thy goods.


        The Gurū answered:

        Set thy feet on both boats, in both ships, thy goods.

        A boat will sink, a boat will go across,

        For those who deal in true, everlasting goods,

        There is no ocean, no boats, no drowning, no loss.


         He told the Shaikh that to gain the Divine one need not disown the world. In discovering harmony between the two lay the way to attainment. The body would perish, but the other boat, the soul, could be saved by living in the world in the spirit of a true seeker. Gurū Nānak then repeated the advice which would have sounded familiar to the ears of the Sūfī saint: "Know thy True Friend. He is in thy own heart. The Beloved is not far from thee."


  1. Vīr Siṅgh, Bhāī, ed., Purātan Janam Sākhī. Amritsar, 1982
  2. Kohlī, Surindar Siṅgh, ed., Janam Sākhī Bhāī Bālā. Chandigarh, 1975

Gurnek Siṅgh