Bhai Mardana was the lifelong companion and first disciple of Guru Nanak, the First Sikh Guru. Bhai Mardana was born in 1459 at Nankana Sahib to Muslim parents Bhai Badre and Mai Lakho. He belonged to a caste of musicians which sang and danced at festivals and weddings.
Bhai Mardana became friends with Guru Nanak when they were both children, Mardana being 10 years older than Guru Nanak. Bhai Mardana accompanied Guru Nanak on most of his great journeys, he would play the rebeck (a string instrument) while Guru Nanak would be singing and composing his hymns. Three of Bhai Mardana’s hymns are included in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
Bhai Mardana passed away in 1520 on the banks of the river Khuram in Afghanastan. He was returning with Guru Nanak on the Gurus fourth and last great journey to Mecca and Medina. Guru Nanak personally performed the last rites of Bhai Mardana.
Bhai Mardana is considered the founder of the musical tradition of the Sikhs.