Gurdwara Nankana Sahib: Birth Place of 1st Guru, Guru Nanak Sahib.
Sikh history originates from Nankana Sahib. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikh faith, was born here in 1469. The name of the place at that time was Rai Bhoi di Talwandi. The landlord contemporary of Guru Nanak Dev was Rai Bular, who himself became a devotee of the Guru. It was renamed Nankana after the Guru. It is located in what is called Nilianwali Bar (forest where nilgais abound), and is about 75 kilometers west-southwest of Lahore. Nankana Sahib is in Sheikhupura district and is connected to the district town by rail and road. There are several shrines connected with the memory of Guru Nanak Dee’s childhood and early youth here. Later Guru Arjan dev and Guru Hargobirid also visited Nankana Sahib and a Gurdwara was also raised subsequently in their honor. During the Sikh rule, these gurdwaras were richly endowed with liberal land grants (over 7,000 hectares). The management was in the hands of Udasi and Nirmala priests until the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee took over during the Gurdwara Reform Movement of 1920-25. The Gurdwaras had to be abandoned in the aftermath of the Partition in 1947. They are now looked after by the Government of Pakistan. Nankana Sahib is one of the three places which can be visited periodically by bands of Sikh pilgrims with the approval of the Government of Pakistan. Since 1947 the traditional Sikh ardaas (supplication prayer) has been supplemented by a single sentence:
“O Merciful and Bounteous God, ever helpful to your Panth, do grant to your Khalsa Ji the boon of seeing, serving and protecting Gurdwaras at Nankana Sahib and other places from which the Panth has been separated.”
In these simple words the community, a minute minority in the populous Indian sub-continent, expresses its loss, its grief, its pangs of separation from its venerable, sacred, historical shrines left behind when they left their homes and hearths in circumstances beyond their control. Also, at the same time, by these words the Sikhs reaffirm their faith in other tenets of their faith expressed in Guru Nanak Dev’s words:
“Union and separation have been created by my Lord, who having created Universe gave it pain and pleasure; but the Guru-oriented ones wearing the Armour of faith are indifferent to pleasure and pain.” (A.G. 1032)
We will share some more history about Nankana Sahib in upcoming Posts.