Kids Corner


This Needs Research - I:
Did Guru Nanak Visit The Vatican?





EDITOR'S PREFACE:  We live at a time when all the tools are at our disposal to do excellent research and make serious inroads into areas of Sikh history and thought which have hitherto been neglected.

There are good men and women around the world who have dedicated their careers to Sikh Studies and have both the independence and the resources to turn their attention to important questions which remain either unanswered to date or remain vague in the fog of time.

This is a new series on wherein we will attempt to pose some of these questions which come to mind, hoping that those entrusted with the mantle of scholarship will then find them worthy of attention, if they aren‘t already being delved into.

We invite readers to share with us any questions or areas of interest which intrigues them as deserving new or continuing research, and also explain briefly why such fields should be explored.

We begin today with the question: “Did Guru Nanak visit The Vatican?”   

*   *   *   *   *


In recent years there have been articles reporting the surfacing of new material pointing to a possible visit by Guru Nanak to Rome.

After a very short spurt of such reportage, the story then quickly disappeared, with no further follow-up.

The article in question had little substance or detail, and no firm evidence was presented or leads alluded to. Who was behind the revelation? Where is the documentation? When did the story emerge? How? In what context?

The possibility of this story being true is strong. For long, scholars have toyed around with, for example, a possible meeting between Martin Luther and Guru Nanak not long after the latter’s visit to the Middle-East. Along the same lines, a meeting between Guru Sahib and a contemporary Pope is not beyond the realm of probability.

The Vatican was going through an interesting phase at the time. To take but one example, it was in that very era that St Peter’s Basilica was being erected. And it was around that time that Michelangelo was working on the neighbouring Sistine ceiling.

Is there any serious study being undertaken by Sikh scholars today in this whole area that begs digging, applying approved standards of research and professionalism?

If not, it should be.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear more from you on the subject.

December 14, 2016 

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), December 14, 2016, 6:02 PM.

This from the official record of Vatican: Guru Nanak's visit to Rome, Italy in the year 1520. The Vatican FINALLY confirms the visit of Il Prima Guru Dei Sikhs, the first Guru of the Sikhs. Ufficio Papa (office of the Pope) confirms about Satguru Nanak Sahib's visit to Rome and other towns of Italy (by courtesy of Pope Benedict-12 and his Archbishop, Dom Jose Ronaldo Rebeiro dated Feb 27, 2013). Archbishop Dom Jose Ronaldo of Pope Benedict-XII speaks about Satguru Nanak Sahib's visit to Rome with a musician, in 1518 AD, and Satguru stayed in Mussoleum-F of Old St. Peter’s Basilica. Satguru advocated to Leo-X, (the Pope) “Liberty of Slavery”. He told the Pope that nobody has the right to enslave others. Almighty Satguru told the worthy Pope that every human being has the same blood in his or her veins. Satguru discussed in detail the “Missionario Humantario (Universal Human Mission). [by courtesy of Ufficio Scavi, Vatican, Rome, dated March 2, 2013] “Sanctus Nanacus Di Indi, Prima Gorium Di Secta, Avec Musei” - Meaning thereby, Saint Satguru Nanak Sahib, the First Guru of the Sikhs, with a musician, came to Rome and others towns of Italy in the last week of May, 1520 [by courtesy of the office of Scavi (Ufficio Scavi) Saturday (Sabato), dated March 2, 2013]. Thomas Nelson, US Ambassador to Italy, (1913-19), confirms from Vatican records that Satguru Nanak visited Florence, Gobbio etc. [by courtesy of “Nelson’s Encyclopaedia, 1913]

2: Taran Kaur (Los Angeles, California, USA), December 14, 2016, 6:19 PM.

Thank you, S. Sangat Singh ji. This underlines the great importance of doing immediate further research. The documents described are mere starting points, that is, pointers to the fact that much more serious research is needed. I agree with T. Sher Singh ji -- this needs the urgent attention of our serious academics.

3: Inderjit Kaur (Utah, USA), December 14, 2016, 6:23 PM.

There have to me more records, more writings ... inscriptions, illustrations, drawings, memorials, architectural markers, etc. A team of scholars should be digging for more in Rome. Surely, one of our ultra-rich millionaires and billionaires could alone finance such a worthy project.

4: Himmat Singh (Amritsar, Punjab), December 14, 2016, 8:31 PM.

Sikh scholarship after the likes of the great researcher-historian Dr Ganda Singh has suffered under the hallmarks of the Indian method of recording history: generalizations, no specifics, no facts, no evidence ... ("He was a great king. He fought many battles. He did many good things ...") Fortunately, we have scholars today who have trained in the West and are based there. Surely, they can get more daring than their Indian counterparts and look into, inter alia, the chapter of history mentioned here and seek answers: When exactly did Guru Nanak arrive in Rome? How did he get there? From where? How long did he stay? Where did he stay? Who all did he meet? What transpired? Where did he go from there? When? What was the impact of his visit? Local records? I am shocked that after the initial reportage - to which S. Sangat Singh ji has alluded - there has been no further discovery or disclosure. Have any of the western Sikh Study Chairs sent any researchers to Rome to scour for the much-needed information?

5: Kulvinder Jit Kaur (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada), December 15, 2016, 4:43 AM.

Guru Nanak's visit has been confirmed by the Vatican in 2013? And since then there has been no further pursuit/research of finding the details of this visit? Great enthusiasm and motivation exhibited by our Sikh scholars and historians! It baffles me to read stupid arguments re: whether one should cover one's head with a topi or not when visiting a gurdwara, whether one should sit on the floor or a chair to eat langar, etc. Waste of energy on pitifully piddly stuff. By now, not one but a horde of historians and scholars should have been digging up relevant and factual details of Guru Nanak's visit to Europe. Perhaps it will reveal that he visited many other places and had discourses with many other spiritual/religious heads of his time.

6: Sarvjit Singh (Millis, Massachussets, USA), December 15, 2016, 9:47 AM.

In my heart I always knew Guru Sahib visited the Vatican because in his time Vatican and Mecca would be two main religious centers of the world outside the subcontinent. In the 1970s, I had seen old maps on the walls of gurudwaras in Bidar and Nanded where it was shown that Guru Nanak and Mardana traveled to Mecca/Medina and Rome/Vatican in addition to the East, North and South. Interestingly, Africa was showed as 'Habsh Desh' and Guru Sahib did not go there. According to a very old man (then in his 80s), Habsh Desh was called so being the 'dark continent'. I always had these two questions in my mind from teenager days. I am glad that the Vatican has confirmed so. They must be commended for keeping track of all the comings and goings. To the best of my knowledge, Guru Nanak was the first person from the subcontinent who is documented to have traveled so far. There might be some traders too, but there is no record.

7: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom ), December 15, 2016, 6:00 PM.

We've just got back from Burdwan, West Bengal, where we visited our favourite gurdwara where Guru Nanak visited here from Dhaka on the way to Jaganath Puri, where Guru Sahib composed the extraordinarily beautiful Aarti "Guggan mein thaal ..."! The reason it is known that Guru Naanak visited Burdwan is because the Maharaja of Burdwan met Guru Nanak and was so impressed by Him that he decreed that the ground where Guru Sahib was staying would never be sold or have anything built on it apart from a place of worship. This information is in the actual municipal deeds of Burdwan and in 2010 academics from far and wide attended a special event to mark the 500th anniversary of the visit of Guru Sahib to Burdwan. Whether Guru Nanak visited the Vatican and the facts around it are indeed important to unearth, but what is even more important is that His followers don't go down the route of other ideologies which tout mindless and senseless, rigid dogma, rituals and superstitions.

8: Harinder Singh (Punjab), December 15, 2016, 9:00 PM.

Taking cue from Guru Nanak, we need to take the message of Guru Granth Sahib to every nook and corner of the earth.

9: Inderpreet Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), December 16, 2016, 5:45 AM.

One way of addressing the problem of the scholarship gap is to send our children, nieces / nephews / grandchildren to graduate school and point them towards Sikh Studies. Let us invest in travel grants for scholars through the Sikh Studies chairs.

10: Bibek Singh (India), December 19, 2016, 3:28 AM.

Interested people may like to go through this website

11: Gurmeet Singh Sekhon (Newark, USA), December 19, 2016, 8:34 PM.

"avar kartut sagli jum daney / gobind bhajan bin til nahi maney ..."

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Did Guru Nanak Visit The Vatican?"

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