Guru Nanak in Nepal

Little or no attention is paid to the hardship endured by Guru Nanak and Mardana, but superficially hidden in tales and stories of mystical powers

Photo: Pixabay
By Paguman Singh | OPINION

An evening breeze had blown away the haze of dust over the skyline of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. The setting sun created bright colors of spring revealing the hills in the west while the gentle and soft rays filled the air.

My mind floated into history. I visualized an enlightened traveler with the greatness and power equivalent to the sun with his companion steadily emerging from the slopes of the steep hills.

As he appeared the yogis and high priests of the Hindu faith felt the earth move, as it did in the earthquake in 2015. Shocked by the simplicity of this great Guru, they admired the youthful strength and radiance. They accompanied the king and queen of Kathmandu to welcome Guru Nanak. The king and queen had invited the Guru when their paths crossed in Banaras.

At an evening Satsang, the attendees were mesmerized by the sweetness and melody of the heart piecing shabad rendered by Guru Ji, accompanied by the rebab played by Bhai Mardana. The praises of the creator replaced the one-word chant that people of the land were accustomed to. The fine sounds of the rebab replaced the tinkling of bronze bells. The atmosphere melted the ego of the accomplished yogis and settled the minds of the devotees who had been used to ritualistic religious ceremonies.

Spreading the fragrance of spirituality and bringing realization that ritualism offered no benefit on the path of realizing the Creator but was a source of exploitation required a high price to be paid. Both Guru Ji and Mardana endured the discomforts of danger-filled travels. Unarmed they travelled for days over difficult terrain, faced the unknown dangers that lay hidden in the forests and rivers that they crossed.


There was no magic to manage the weather as Hukum, and accepting it, was the path the Guru wanted to establish for his Sikhs and as the leader set the example. They missed the comforts of home, warm hot meals, had to sleep on rocks — roodeh di gur kari vasahi  (Bhai Gurdas Vaar) — and the company of wife and children. Sri Chand and Lakhsmi Das grew missing the fatherly warmth and guidance. The families of Guru Nanak and Mardana also endured the emotional and mental stress of not knowing how they were fairing.

As the extent of sacrifice extended its border in my mind. It dawned upon me that little or no attention had been paid to the hardship endured by Guru Nanak and Mardana. In many a case history had superficially hidden them in tales and stories of mystical powers used by the great Guru. Such fables have reduced the value of the tremendous effort, energy, perseverance and sacrifices in spreading the way of realization of the spiritual path.

When celebrating the Birth Gurpurb of Guru Nanak, the missionary preachers have focused only on the fables related to the childhood of the Guru. None has emphasized the great sacrifice and super human effort to deliver the NAAM of the creator to the whole of mankind. Imagine being attacked at villages, confronted by egoistic so called learned pandits, being jailed in Ahmedabad and many more attacks. These have been transformed with magical movement of the chakis in Babar’s prison and Guru ji being released unscratched.

On the other hand, Sikhs have emotionalized the history related to Guru Gobind Singh and have laid great emphasis on his sacrifice of the whole family: his father Guru Teg Bahadur, mother and four sons. The wife, Mata Ji, of Guru Ji has been an omission in this string of sacrifices. What happened to Mata ji remains a mystery. An examination of Sikhs celebrating Gurpurb related to Guru Gobind Singh begins with the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, Prakash or birth of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Vaisakhi the Creation of the Khalsa, Chamkaur and the sacrifice of the Waddeh Sahib Jadehs, Sarhind the bricking of the Shoteh Sahib Jadehs and then Gur gaddi of Guru Granth Sahib in Nanded. They total 6 where missionary preachers connect us to Guru Gobind Singh and his sacrifices, his battles and greatness to such an extent each year that the youth have emotionalized their attachment.

This over emphasis has obliviated so a certain extent the contributions of the other Gurus. As the process of emotionalization peaks, it also reduces the abilities of those Sikhs to rationalize and better understand Gurbani. As an example, many Sikhs strongly adhere to the Bana, the outward requirements of the articles of faith, without understanding the inner spiritual value. As such using the slippery path of blind faith ritualism has established itself in Sikhism. Understanding Gurbani as delivered to us by Guru Nanak and transforming ourselves accordingly to self-realization has taken a back seat.

The final rays of the setting sun encouraged my mind to focus on the “Saach Achaar” message delivered for the world with such sacrifices, to be revisited and the vision of Guru Nanak a gift to be accepted with remembrance of sacrifices in a journey of 55,000 miles and years of endurance.      

Paguman Singh, a retired senior official of a Malaysian-based social security organisation, has been involved in Sikhi parchaar for more than three decades. He now resides in New Zealand.

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.


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Talking about Nanakpanthis and forgotten Sikh forts in Pakistan (Asia Samachar, 16 Jan 2018)


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    Shailender Singh: It is good of you to have penned your thoughts in the open. I had recently thought the same thoughts and there is a dire need to get back and start from the beginning before the plot is forever lost. The religion is maturing rapidly and it is important that we keep it simple and remember and emphasise the 3 pillars Guru Nanak has blessed us with.

    Manjit Grewal: Indeed we have myopic preoccupation with the bana and the processes to be observed at the Gurudawaras.

    Satahsivam Arumugam: Damn!! Guru Nanak went to Nepal oso???