Opening the doors for the commoners of the Gurdwara in Kartarpur Sahib is the real tribute to humanity on the pious occasion of 550th Anniversary of first Sikh Guru Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. The first Gurdwara named Kartarpur Sahib, was built here, where Guru Nanak Dev is said to have left for heavenly abode.
In Kartarpur Sahib only, Guru Nanak Dev Ji had done the agriculture and irrigation with his own hands. Here only he had given the universal message of Kirat Karna ( Work hard with honest labour), Naam Japna ( Remember Almighty God), Vand Chhakna (Share your bounties).
Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru was born in a small village called Talwandi, now known as Nankana Sahib situated in Pakistan.
At the age of 11 years, he was to be given janeu or sacrificial thread as a badge of the upper caste to which he belonged. On the ceremonial presence of all, his near ones, he refused to take janeu and uttered these words:
“Let compassion be the cotton,
Spin it into the yarn of contentment
Give it knots of countenance and the twist of truth
Thus, will thou make janeu for the soul
If such a one thou hast put it on me
The thread so made will neither snap nor become soiled
It will neither be born nor lost
Blessed is the man O Nanak
Who weareth such a thread around his neck.”
Nanak thus told Pandit ji, “Let me know if you have such a ‘sacred thread’, which is unbreakable, which enables a person to be merciful, satisfied and with patience. If you have such a thread, I am willing to put it around.”
As Nanak was growing, he became serious and started remaining indoors, he was least interested in interacting with anyone. The parents were worried and hence called for a physician to examine Nanak. When the physician caught the wrist of Nanak to read his pulse, he immediately uttered the following words.
“They have called the physician to try his physics,
And he grips the arm and searches it for ailment.
little doth the good physician know that the ache is in his heart.”
It means, Nanak said, “I am not suffering from ‘physical ailment, I am ailing with such a disease that is beyond your understanding. A good vaid is the one who understands the ailment and finally provides the treatment. You are not the actual vaid who is able to understand the cause of ailment and provide treatment.’ Thus, the vaid told Mehta Kalu that his son needed no healing, “He himself is free from infirmity and might be the healer for others".
Nanak was finally appointed as a storekeeper at Sultanpur Lodhi at the request of his sister’s husband to Daulat Khan Lodhi. On one fine day, he was distributing ration to the public after weighing in balance and was continuously reciting Terah-Terah. The other members complained to the higher authorities that Nanak was distributing free ration and emptying the store. Hence, Nanak was removed before the stock checking of the store but to their surprise all the things in the store were intact and as per records only.
As it was a regular practice to take bath in rivers in those days, Nanak too went to take a dip in Kali Bein, a river in Sultanpur Lodhi but did not come out for three days. All were worried and tried to locate him. Only his elder sister Bebe Nanaki, who was senior by five years to Nanak, had full faith in God . On the third day, Nanak came out of the river Kali Bein after being enlightened and uttered the following words:
Ek Onkar – There is One God
Satnam – His Name is Truth
Karta Purakh – A Purusha who is the Creator.
Nirbhau – Without any fear
Nirvair – without any enmity
Akal Murat – a being whom death cannot assail.
Saihbang – Self existent
Gurprasad – with the grace of Guru the preceptor
Nanakism is a revolutionary movement, against the plethora of empty ceremonials, rituals, hypocrisies and superstitions which were holding the people, especially the Indian masses in a tight grip with the authority of an orthodox religiosity. All these had not only lost their original significance and merit, if there was any but were proving a dead weight for people’s spiritual and temporal progress. Guru Nanak gave a shattering blow to this house of cards in order to create a realistic, progressive and scientific outlook.
Guru Nanak himself was certainly in the sublime spiritual stage which came through meditation of His name, and complete surrender to His will. His life’s mission was not of achieving any personal ends, comforts or worldly aggrandizement but it was his extreme humility and very hard work to elevate humanity spiritually and lead it to a high path of virtue and morality.
He extensively travelled in four of his important voyages (Udasis) towards East, West, South and North directions. Even though these tours require more research yet indications are forthcoming that he went to Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Africa, Arabia, Rome Turkey, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Thailand, Malaysia, etc.
Throughout he preached the concept of Ek Onkar, i.e. God is one, and asked people to live in the will of Almighty God. In about 80% places, he was misunderstood by the masses; he was stoned and called by other names but he stood firmly on his stand and took out water at maximum places for the common masses.
Guru Nanak is popularly known as: ‘Nanak Shah Faqir’ and ‘Hindu ka Guru Musalmaan ka peer’.
Today, Guru Nanak is known with different names in different religions – i.e. Nanakacharya in Sri Lanka, Nanak Lama in Tibet and Leh, Rinpoche in Sikkim and Bhutan, Nanak Rishi in Nepal. Nanak Peer in Baghdad, Vali Hind in Mecca, Nanak Vali in Misr (Egypt), Nanak Kadamdar in Russia, Peer Balagdaan in Mazahar Shareef and Baba Foosa in China etc.
Guru Nanak laid emphasis on “Truthful living is higher than truth itself”and taught the common masses to meditate in God’s name, work honestly and share the gains with the needy. He laid the seed for new religion based on secularism, also started his four voyages in different four directions with his two beloved disciples: Mardana, a Muslim and Bala, a Hindu. He covered a distance of around 40,000 kms on foot on treacherous paths, through jungles with no communication, no light, no rationing facilities besides other means of transportation.
During his last voyage, Guru Nanak’s friend and companion who was with him for most of his journeys , Baba Mardana died on the banks of river Tigris in Baghdad. Thereby, Guru Nanak abandoned the voyages and finally settled in a place on the banks of river Ravi in Pakistan, now known as Kartarpur Sahib. He himself did ploughing and tilling of the land for almost 18 years till he finally left for his heavenly abode at the age of 72 years.
Before leaving the world, he had asked his assembled followers not to disturb him and covered his body with white sheet. Then after long hours of undisturbed sleep, the followers removed the white bed-sheet and found flowers on the bed. These flowers were thus equally divided between Hindus and Mohammadans and now on 550 years of Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav, Pakistan Government has given permission to all pilgrims to pay a visit to this historical place also known to be Sikh model of Utopia.
Guru Nanak lived here with his wife and two sons till he breathed his last and preached the Sikh way of life and gave a message that one could do meditation even while staying with the family instead of wandering like hermits to mountains, river beds or to jungles.
(The writer has authored a book, Guru Nanak Shah Faqir , Hindu ka Guru, Musalmaan ka peer, released on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak)