On this day, 30 years ago, we saw the fall of the Berlin Wall that had created a deep physical and emotional barrier between East and West Germany, and indeed the world. Today, on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, we are seeing the fall of another wall. This is the wall created in 1947 and the partition of Panjab.
But today, with the blessings of Baba Nanak and his message of peace, justice, spirituality and universalism, we are once again seeing history being made with the destruction of the border at Kartarpur. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the unification of Panjab! When hearts and minds of people become one, then nothing can stop man made walls from tumbling down.
Today is also the birth anniversary of the great Panjabi poet Allama Iqbal. It is fitting that as we remember Guru Nanak’s 550th anniversary and the opening up of the Kartarpur Corridor we recall Iqbal’s love and appreciation of Nanak’s teaching. Like Nanak, for Iqbal, exploitation and deceit in the name of the God was a perversion of faith; that to be a good human was to fight social justice and equality. This could not be clear from Iqbal’s poem “Bang-e-Dara” which pays profound homage to Nanak.
Iqbal’s poem hinges mainly upon four themes – Gautama Buddha (563 BC-483 BC) and his teachings, essence of truth and monotheism, spirit of social justice and equality, and Guru Nanak (1469-1539). Out of eight couplets in the poem, the top six are dedicated to the first three themes; while the last two couplets are dedicated to Guru Nanak. “India was now illuminated after a long time with the birth of Guru Nanak in Punjab; monotheistic commandments would be rejuvenated in Punjab,” said Iqbal.
Freedom for Iqbal is predicated on the eradication of exploitation and oppression. And it is the foremost duty of faith to help the masses to end exploitation. With such a vision, Guru Nanak, the mard-e-kamil (the perfect man) for Iqbal, started his mission and awakened the slumbering souls of India.
Let’s hope that today, not only are we seeing the opening of a border post but the unification of hearts and minds and ultimately peoples, nations and the whole of humanity.
[Gurnam Singh is an academic activist dedicated to human rights, liberty, equality, social and environmental justice. He is a Visiting Fellow in Race and Education at University of Arts London and a Visiting Professor of Social Work at University of Chester as well as a presenter at UK-based Akaal channel]
* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Sexual abuse: Sikhs need to act now! (Asia Samachar, 29 Oct 2019)
Pakistan foreign minister visits Singapore exhibition on Guru Nanak (Asia Samachar, 8 Nov 2019)