There was no need for Nanak to go to the Kaaba – he was not a Mohammedan. But he never considered himself as Hindu or confined to any religion. Millions of people go to the Kaaba, and Nanak thought it would be a good place to go, to see and meet millions of people.
He went to the Kaaba. It was a long journey, and when they reached, it was getting dark, the sun had set, and they were so tired that he told his companion, Mardana…. That was a beautiful combination. The disciple, Mardana, was a great musician, a genius, and Nanak would sing – his teachings are all songs – and Mardana would play on his instruments. And the company of two had become famous. Mardana was Mohammedan. The master was Hindu, the disciple was Mohammedan, but there was such a meeting between the two that nobody was a Hindu and nobody was a Mohammedan.
Nanak told Mardana, “First we should rest tonight. Tomorrow we will start moving amongst the people.”
And as he was going to sleep, Mardana said, “Master, you are doing something wrong. You are lying with your feet towards the Kaaba. That is never done.”
Nanak said, “But do you think Nanak comes every day to the Kaaba? That too is never done, will never be done again. So don’t be worried, just follow what I am doing.”
Poor Mardana, he was a Mohammedan, he knew that this was absolutely wrong, but if the master was doing it…. He also slept putting his feet towards the Kaaba, just outside the Kaaba temple.
Somebody saw them, informed the high priest, and the high priest came with guards. They woke up Nanak and Mardana and told Nanak, “We had heard that you are a holy man. What kind of holy man are you? You don’t understand a simple thing – that the Kaaba is the holiest place in the world – and you are lying with your feet towards the Kaaba.”
Nanak said, “I was told by Mardana – he is my disciple – that it is the holiest place. But my difficulty is, wherever I put my feet I find the place holiest. It is not the place, it is my feet which makes every place so holy. And if you are skeptical, you can try; you can turn my feet wherever you want.”
Up to this point I see that this is history; beyond this it is a metaphor – but significant, meaningful, completing what history cannot complete. The priest turned Nanak’s feet in every direction, and they were amazed that the Kaaba turned to exactly where Nanak’s feet were turned. They went all round turning him, and Mardana could not believe it. Nanak was laughing and saying, “Do your best, don’t leave out any place – because this is my problem: where should I keep my feet? Every place is holy, the whole existence is divine.”
The priest touched the feet of Nanak and said, “Please forgive me. People have come here, but none was like you. We have never seen the Kaaba moving wherever someone’s feet are moved. Why did you come here?”