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November 28, 2018

The historic importance of Kartarpur border for Sikhs


November 28, 2018

LAHORE: Pakistani Premier Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone of the Kartarpur border corridor with India on November 28 (today) in Punjab’s tehsil Shakargarh, District Narowal, to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539), the founder of Sikhism.

The first of the 10 Sikh gurus, Guru Nanak, had spent the last 17 years of his life at Kartarpur. Having seen some fighting around it during 1965 and 1971 wars between Pakistan and India, Kartarpur was established by Guru Nanak in 1522. The town houses the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, the first Sikh Gurdwara (temple) ever built, where Guru Nanak is said to have died. The present gurdwara, located by the River Ravi within a distance of four kilometres from the Dera Sahib Railway station, was built on the site where Guru Nanak had died in 1539. The present building was built at a cost of Rs.1, 35,600, donated by Sardar Bhupindar Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala. It was repaired by the Government of Pakistan in 1995, and fully restored in 2004, incurring expenditure in crores of rupees. (Reference: The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, the Indian Express and the Times of India)

Guru Nanak Dev was born at Nanakana Sahib (57 miles from Lahore), to Hindu Khatris, Mehta Kalyan Das and Mata Tripta. While Guru Nanak's father, Mehta Kalyan Das, was a crop revenue accountant of a local baron in the village of Talwandi (near Kasur district), his mother was Mata Tripta, a simple and religious woman. Guru Nanak had an elder sister, Nanki Ji, who was five years older to him. (References: A New Zealand scholar W.H. McLeod’s book “The A to Z of Sikhism” and “A history of the Sikhs” by author Joseph Davey Cunningham)

The Official Website of the “Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee” in Amritsar states: “Guru Nanak was married to Mata Sulakhni ji, who gave birth to two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. In November 1504, Guru Nanak's elder sister Nanaki ji took him to Sultanpurlodhi where her husband Jai Ram ji got him the Job of storekeeper at Nawab Daulat Khan Lodhi’s darbar (court).” The Sikh website adds: “In the year 1520, Babar attacked India. His troops slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians of all walks of life. Women and children were held captives and all their property was looted. Guru Nanak Sahib challenged this act of barbarity in strong words. He was arrested and released, shortly after making Babar realize his blunder. All the prisoners were also released.”

It further states: “Guru Nanak Sahib settled down at Kartarpur city (now in Pakistan) which was founded by him in 1522 and spent the rest of his life there.” Guru Nanak was a born poet. He wrote 974 hymns. The collection of his holy hymns were compiled and sent to distant Sikh communities for use in morning and evening prayers. These later formed part of the Sikh holy book “Guru Granth Sahib,” which was written in Gurmukhi (literal meaning: From the Guru's mouth) script. This script was modified, standardized and used by the second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad Dev, in the 16th century.

The Gurmukhi script is still used by Sikhs and Indian Punjabi Hindus to write Punjabi language.

The “Guru Granth Sahib” was composed by the following Sikh Gurus: Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Angad Dev, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh.

The Sikh holy book’s text consists of 1,430 pages and 6,000 line compositions. He was also a perfect musician. He composed captivating tunes in various Indian classical Ragas that even charmed Moghul Emperor, Zaheerud Din Babar. Great Muslim saint, Hazrat Mir Mohammed Muayyinul Islam, popularly known as Mian Mir Sahib (1550-1635), had gone on to lay the foundation stone of Golden Temple (also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib) at Amritsar in 1589 on request of the Fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606). (References: Ghulam Muhayy-ud-Din alias Bute Shah’s 1848 book “Tawarikh-i-Punjab” and eminent Sikh scholar Pashaura Singh’s book “Life and work of Guru Arjan: History, memory and biography in the Sikh tradition)

However, as research shows, “Sakinat al-Aulia,” the biography of Hazrat Mian Mir Sahib, compiled by Dara Shikoh (the eldest son and heir-apparent of the fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan) during the 17th century does not mention this account. The temple was repeatedly rebuilt by the Sikhs after it became a target of persecution and was destroyed several times by the raging Muslim armies from Afghanistan and the Mughal Empire. (References: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Jean Marie Lafont’s book “Maharaja Ranjit Singh: the lord of five rivers” and the Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies, published by the Oxford University Press)

The army led by Ahmed Shah Abadali, for example, had demolished it in 1757 and again in 1762, filling the pool with filth and garbage. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the leader of the Sikh Empire that ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century, had rebuilt it in marble and copper in 1809. He had overlaid the temple’s sanctum or the shrine within a temple, with gold foil in 1830. This had actually led to the name “Golden Temple.”

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