There are several pankitis in Gurbani alluding towards an elephant that was saved from an octopus. Presented below is the brief story of how the elephant was saved by Vaheguru. Hopefully this will enable us to understand many pankitis of Gurbani more clearly.
Gajj means elephant. This Gajj that is referred in Gurbani many times was actually Gajj-Raaj i.e. king of elephants i.e. very strong Elephant who was the king of his herd. In his previous life this Gajj was a very pious king by the name of Inderduman. He was very much inclined towards spirituality and thus gave up his kingdom and went to forests to observe austerities to please the Lord.
He had a bad karma from his previous lives that sprouted while he was in the forest. One day he was sitting in meditation when the famous sage Augustya arrived at his ashram. Since Inderduman was totally engrossed in meditation he did not get up and offer salutations to the arrived Sage Augustya. Augustya had lot of spiritual power that he had gained after observing penances for countless years but without Gurmat Naam, one cannot rid oneself of Kaam, Krodh and other vices. Sage Augustya became very angry and cursed Inderduman of being dumb and not knowing how to serve and respect visitors to his house. He cursed him as being proud and dumb like an elephant. Inderduman accepted the curse and as thus became an elephant in his next life.
After obtaining the body of an elephant, he developed the habits and nature of an elephant. He grew up to be a strong elephant and became the leader of his herd. He resided in the forests around mountain Triputi. There was a very huge and beautiful lake in this forest. One day along with his herd, he went towards the lake destroying vegetation and plants along the way. Seeing this elephants herd coming to the lake, all animals fled in fear. This elephant was very egoistic and thought of himself as being all powerful.
The herd arrived at the lake and continued with it’s unruly behaviour destroying vegetation around the lake. They entered the lake and spoiled the serene atmosphere of the lake. In this lake there lived a huge octopus (some say it was a crocodile) who got upset at the behaviour of the elephants. This octopus was really King Huhu of Gandharv Lok who had been an arch-rival of this elephant in some previous birth. He had received this body of octopus because of some bad karma of his previous life. The Octopus moved forward and grabbed the leg of the king of the herd. The elephant and the octopus were both very strong and proud. They both had a tough fight that continued for a long period of time.
The octopus being the creature of water had an edge over the elephant. At first other elephants tried to help him but they could be of no help as they were scared of getting stuck in a similar situation. They hesitated going in the lake. They stuck around for some time but in the end the elephant was left alone. His pride was shattered. He was losing the battle to this octopus.
Due to some good Karma of previous life, the elephant that by now had lost his pride and come to his senses remembered his previous life. He thought to himself, that everyone had left him and even if they were around, they would not have been able to help him. At this time the only power who can help him is the supreme Lord himself. He remembered the mantras from previous life and called out to the Lord from the bottom of his heart. It’s written in Gurbani that as soon as he called Vaheguru with true heart, Vaheguru immediately released him from his trouble. The elephant had known Vaheguru only as Chatubhuji form. So this is the form Vaheguru took to come and kill the Octopus and release the elephant. The octopus was killed and the elephant was released. The octopus returned back to his world – Gandharva loka and got his position of King Huhu. Due to the sacred touch of the Lord, the elephant was cleared of all his karma and released from the body.
Many pankitis in Gurbani allude to this great incident in the spiritual world and here are some examples:
Jab hee sharan gahee kirpanidh, Gajj Garah tey chhoota||
(As soon as the elephant sought the protection of ocean of Mercy and Grace (Vaheguru), he was released from the clutches of the octopus).
Gajj ko traas mitiyao jih simrat, tum kaahe bisraavo||
(Why do you forget him (Vaheguru), by remembering whom the fear of the elephant was removed).
Gajj kee traas mitee chhinhoo meh, Jab hee Raam bakhaano||
(The fear of the elephant was removed in a second, when he cried out to Raam)
Kar dharey chakkar, Baikunth tey aaye, Gajj Hastee ke praan udhareealay||
(Vaheguru came from his abode with the Sudarshana Chakkar on his hand, and saved the elephant).
Some Gursikhs may have questions as to why Chaturbhuji form came to the Gajj’s aid. The answer to this question is “Jaisi Mansha taisi Dasha”. Vaheguru gives darshan in that form that one is seeking or one believes in. The highest darshan of Vaheguru is his darshan in real form i.e. Nirgun form. What Gajj or many of the older Bhagats envisioned was the Sargun Darshan of the Lord. Gursikhs who japp the Maha-Mantra, the true Mantra given by Siri Guru Nanak Dev jee get the highest darshan of Vaheguru i.e. his original form i.e. the Nirgun form.