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Above: detail from illustration from Inni Kaur's "Journey With The Gurus".


The Magic of Kartarpur





After the Fourth Udasi (journey) Bhai Mardana, Guru Nanak’s disciple, friend and fellow-traveler, had shed his mortal frame.

“Tootee tant rabaab kee vajao nahee vijog” [GGS:934.5] - “The separated soul is like the broken string of a rebeck; it no longer vibrate, no longer produces sound”.

The Guru donned the typical clothes of a farmer and began to cultivate his land in Kartarpur. Soon his family - including his father, mother, wife and sons - joined him. Thereafter, he lived the life of a householder for 18 years. 

This is where the tradition of Guru ka Langar was started. It was where everyone sat in a pangat in full equality, with no distinction of gender, caste, creed, wealth or colour. This was the first time such a bold step had been taken anywhere. The food was grown, prepared and served by ever-willing volunteers

He also added rooms for the pilgrims. There was the dharamsal where the congregation gathered daily to listen to kirtan and Guru’s discourses. 

This tradition continues to be practised to this day in gurdwaras around the world. 

It was at the conclusion of this period in Kartarpur when Lehna succeeded Guru Nanak and became Angad the Guru after he had passed some stringent tests which Nanak’s own sons had failed.

When Guru Nanak passed away, both Hindus and Muslims staked their claims to his remains and last rites, each declaring that he was their Guru and Pir, respectively.

Today, the place is marked by both a Muslim grave and a Hindu samadh, adjacent to the Gurdwara commemorating his life.

There are a lot of fascinating saakhis connected with Guru Sahib.

Here is just one to show the magic of Kartarpur. 

One day Guru Nanak was going to his fields when he saw an elderly Sikh standing in front of two big piles of grain. He was transferring grain from one pile to another. Guru Nanak asked why he was doing that. He replied that he and a brother had an equal share in the harvest.

“My younger brother is married and has a big family,” explained the farmer, “hence his needs are more than mine. I am doing this hurriedly so that he does not see what I’ve done.“  

On Guru Nanak’s return to the village, he found that the younger brother was doing the same thing. When asked the reason why, he replied: “Although my brother has no children, he does have a lot of satsangis and visitors who visit him daily and he is always very hospitable. His needs are much more than mine. I want to do this before he returns so that he doesn’t see what I am doing.” 

This was the magic of Kartarpur.

November 17, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Sarvjit Singh (Millis, Massachusetts, USA), November 17, 2015, 7:14 AM.

This is so touching!

2: Dya Singh (Melbourne, Australia), November 17, 2015, 7:45 PM.

S. Sangat Singh ji has provided me with 'pearls' from lived Sikhi from time to time. His most recent was when I queried about 'So Dar' and beyond ... recently. Are the 'khands' in the mind or are they physical places? One statement from him stunned me into an altogether different direction. He asked - "So what does 'Nanak hosi bhi sach' mean?" And being my usual self, I said: "... and Nanak, forevermore the Truth" ... as most translations say. "But," he said, "that has already been said at 'jugaadh sach'! Before, now and after, or what you call 'forevermore' has already been mentioned. What it means, in a word, is 'timelessness'. Think timelessness and the question whether the 'khands' are in the mind or are they physical places becomes meaningless! Think about it. 'There' mind does not exist; physical place does not exist; form does not exist because it is all in timelessness! That is where Waheguru exists. Sach Khand is in timelessness." I am still pondering over that. Sangat Singh is a true gem amongst us. May he live long and keep dishing out these pearls.

3: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), November 18, 2015, 3:22 AM.

Guru Nanak's vision produced fundamentals of a system of values which is now popularly known as The Sikh Religion. Although Guru Sahib made his base in Kartarpur for the last 18 years of his life (1521 to 1539), he still traveled to many places across Greater Punjab, sometimes village to village in order to reform mankind. Basically, Guru Nanak was Guru of all mankind; historical fact being that when he died Hindus and Muslims clashed in laying claim to his earthly remains. Bhai Gurdas, in his Vaar: "charhia sodan dharat lukaayee". That is, "Guru Sahib set out for regeneration of all mankind". Guru Nanak carried the message of hope for all, to every nook and corner on his vast journeys.

4: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), November 19, 2015, 7:14 PM.

@2: Sach Khand - "Nanak kathna karrha saar" - That is, "Nanak says, the description of this essence is difficult". Bhai Vir singh translates it: 'that description is iron clad, it is outside the framework of human effort. It cannot be explained. Guru Nanak's response here is not based on any intellectual reasoning but on revelation.

5: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), November 20, 2015, 4:14 AM.

It is only by gurparsad (grace). "Aapan lee-aa jay milai taa sabh ko bhaagath ho-ay" [GGS:156.19] - 'If one could obtain the wealth of Naam by one's own efforts, then every one would have it!"

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