Thousands of pilgrims travelling to Kartarpur, where Nanak spent the last 18 yrs of his life.
Guru Nanak Devji’s 550th birthday is upon us. The Guru is one among the very great seers, saints and spiritualists Indian has given birth to. The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt. Amarinder Singh made superb arrangements for the board and lodging of tens of thousands of pilgrims travelling to the holy shrine at Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak spent the last eighteen years of his life. The Patiala family has close association with Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib. The original Gurudwara was badly damaged in the devastating floods of 1924. In 1925 Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala (1891-1938) built the present one. It is four kilometres from the Indian border.
I will relate two remarkable episodes from Guru Nanak’s life. When he was a young man his father and a local priest of Rai Bhoi of Talwandi suggested that he wear the janeu to purify his body. He refused to do so. He, later wrote a poem which gave the reasons for not wearing the janeu.
From the cotton of compassion,
Spin the thread of contentment,
Give knots of continence and twists of Truth,
This is the sacred threat of soul,
If thou hast one such,
O Brahma, put it on me.
It will not snap, nor soil, nor will it be burnt or lost
Blessed is the man, O Nanak,
Who wears such a threat around his neck
The other relates to Guru Nanak’s death. I quote from Haroon Khalids book, “Walking with Nanak”.
“When Nanak passed away a controversy erupted. His followers started to argue about the rites that they should perform over his body. The Hindus argued that since he was born into a Hindu household they should cremate him, whereas the Muslims argued that since he had challenged the doctrines of Hinduism, he was a Muslim and should be buried as a Muslim…. while this argument was brewing, it turned into a fight and the group to decided to postpone the decision till the next day.
“The next day when the followers of Guru Nanak gathered, they found that the body had disappeared, an there were flowers in its place. It was decided that the flowers be divided into tow parts. One of which was cremated and then a Samadhi was constructed on top. While the other was buried like a Muslim. The Sikhs say that even in death Guru Nanak had performed a miracle”.
Sikhs from all over the world arrived in Kartarpur Sahib to pay homage to their greatest Guru and founder of Sikhism.
Confusion has prevailed in Pakistan relating to this historic anniversary. A few days back, Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that pilgrims coming to Kartarpur Sahib from outside Pakistan would not be required to pay U.S. dollars twenty or carry their passports. Two days ago a Major General publicly contradicted his Prime Minister by declaring that this was not so, passports were a must and twenty dollars were to be paid at the entry point.
What a way to run a country. India Today, Outlook, The Week and all newspapers have brought out special issues for the anniversary. Both countries have issued Rs. 50 coins with the Guru’s image on one side.
I was distressed to learn of the passing away of Nabameeta Dev Sen (1938-2019) in Kolkota on Thursday the seventh. One had ofcourse, first heard of her as the lady who married Amartya Sen in 1959. They separated in 1976 My personal contacts with her were few and far between. The last time we met was at the Raj Bhawan in Kolkata in 2010, at the release of my book, “Walking with Lions” by Governor Narayanan. She spoke generously about the book. We also spoke about Nirad C. Chandhuri. Swapandas Gupta had edited a book of Tributes to Nirad Babu on his 100th birthday in 1997. It included tributes by Nabaneeta and myself.
In her last column published on 3rd November, the gravely ill Nabaneeta had written, “So what if I have cancer. It has settled down like bad luck in so many households. Why should I be left out? Why should there be outpouring of grief for octogenarian Nabaneeta?” Grief there certainly was.
-K Natwar Singh, Former Minister of External Affairs of India