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This week is the third in our series entitled "It's not fair."  At a time when we are facing all kinds of issues that seem to be unfair, it gives us a chance to look at some of the wisdom that can be found in different religious traditions and worldviews.  This story comes from the Sikh tradition and looks at the issue of fairness in different contexts.
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It's not Fair! - Sikhism
This story comes from the Sikh faith tradition which began in the 15th Century (AD) in North-West India. Sikhs are guided by their sacred text called the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It contains the Sikh holy scriptures, but they are also are inspired by historical texts that were written later during the 16th to 18th centuries (AD).  
There were 10 Guru’s or wise teachers, the first was called Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad Dev Ji. Before he became a Guru, he was a shopkeeper called Bhai Lehna Ji. This is a historical story about his life.

Bhai Lehna and the Selfless Sikh

There was once a Sikh, Bhai Daya, who was very poor. He worked on farms and was paid a daily wage. Whatever he earned for the day was spent on that evening’s meal, so he could not save any money. After work, he would go to Bhai Lehna’s shop to buy flour and ingredients for a meal for his family. He would buy whatever his coins were worth.
Bhai Lehna saw how poor he was and wanted to help him. He added extra flour to Bhai Daya’s bag. Bhai Daya held the bag and immediately knew there was extra flour. “You have made a mistake, there is more flour here than what I have paid for.”
“Please take it, you need it.” “No. I only want what I have earned. I do not want a single gram beyond my payment.”
“It is a gift.”
“No. If you don’t take out the flour, I will go somewhere else where they will give me exactly what I have paid for”
“OK.” Said Bhai Lehna, and he removed the extra flour.
Bhai Lehna was puzzled by Bhai Daya’s request. Why had he been so stubborn? He secretly began to follow him as he walked home to his mud hut. Bhai Lehna heard Bhai Daya and his wife speaking. His wife said “this flour will make three rothis (flatbreads). You should have two so that you have energy for work, and I will have one.”
“No. You have two, you are feeding our child. I will have one.”
Then a sadhu, a travelling holy man, knocked on Bhai Daya’s door. Clasping his bowl, he begged “Please brother. I have asked everyone in this village for a meal. They all refused me. The last house told me that a Sikh of Guru Nanak Dev Ji lives here and will feed me.”
“Yes. Of course, come in.” He said to his wife “Give him two rothis. He may not eat again for a while.” Bhai Lehna Ji was so shocked he gasped out aloud. Bhai Lehna Ji exclaimed “What is happening? You are all starving and you’re giving this holy man all of your food?” “He needs it more than us” explained Bhai Daya.
“How can you be so selfless?” asked Bhai Lehna. Bhai Daya replied, “We see everyone as one and serve selflessly”. Bhai Lenha Ji was so touched by seeing great acts of humility and selflessness. He too wanted to learn such compassion and wisdom. “Where did you learn this?” he asked. “We are Sikhs of Guru Nanak Dev Ji” replied Bhai Daya. “I must learn from this Guru!” Bhai Lehna declared.
(This story is based on historical texts)
Follow up questions:
  1. What were the differences between Bhai Lehna’s and Bhai Daya’s ideas of fairness in the shop at the beginning?
  2. In the shop, why do you think Bhai Daya didn’t want to accept the extra flour?
  3. Was the holy man treated fairly by the villagers?
  4. Was the holy man treated fairly by Bhai Lehna and his wife?
  5. Is fairness the same in every circumstance?
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