Bitter Soapnuts Made Sweet
On Guru Nanak visit to East, He reached Almora in Kumaon Hills. There the Chief of Almora made human sacrifices to please his Goddess. He met the chief and preached him to believe in one God and reclaimed him from the act of human sacrifices.
Near Almora there was a forest abode of Nath Yogis. They lived in penance away from the common people. Their asceticism had a great effect on popular folk. They were followers of Gorakh Nath after whom the place was called Gorakh Mata. The people were afraid of them and they did not dare to go near them.
When the Guru and Bhai Mardana reached Gorakh Mata, they sat down under a withered tree. That tree became green and shady. It put on new foliage. When the yogis saw this strange phenomenon, they wondered. They came to talk with Guru.
They said, 'O young man, who is your Guru, from whom had you received teachings?'
The Guru uttered a hymn and told them that his 'Guru was beyond description.'
The yogis were much impressed to hear the hymn of the Guru. They asked the Guru to join their order by becoming a yogi and taking the grab of their religion.
Then the Guru replied them uttering the following Hymn:
Religion does not lie in yogi's garb nor in hi staff,
Religion does not lie in wearing large rings in ears,
Nor in shaving the head nor in blowing the cronches.
Religion does not lie in empty words;
He, who regards all men equal is true religious.
The yogis bowed before the Guru in reverence. Later on Gorakh Mata came to be known as Nanak Mata. The Guru stayed there for few days and preached his teachings to the people of surrounding area. Those people, who feared the magical powers of yogis, became Sikhs of the Guru.
From there the Guru and Bhai Mardana travelled towards North and on their way they sat under the shade of a tree to take rest. There when Bhai Mardana complained of hunger, then the Guru pointing towards one branch of the Soapnut tree, asked him to eat the fruit.
When Bhai Mardana plucked some fruits of that branch he found those very sweet and eatable. When he tried to pluck the fruit of another branch he found those very bitter.
That tree still exists and pilgrims from far and near come to see it throughout the year. These days a very beautiful Gurdwara, named Reetha Sahib has been constructed at that place.