The meeting of Guru Nanak and his companion Mardana with the low-caste carpenter Bhai Lalo appears in several versions of the Janam Sakhi. While it is unclear whether this event (and related events) actually took place, the story’s importance lies in demonstrating the qualities of generosity, hospitality, and lack of prejudice toward class and background.
In this painting, Guru Nanak (in yellow robes) and his companion are shown at the impoverished carpenter’s house. Tired and hungry from travelling long distances, they were offered a meal and place to rest by the generous carpenter who could barely make ends meet for his own family. Different Janam Sakhi manuscripts (and oral versions) include variations of the story, but a reader could recognize the episode through the painted cues included here: the tools of the carpenter’s trade that occupy much of the picture, and details of his clothing.