November 14, 2016: The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak was known for his social, political, and spiritual beliefs which were based on love, virtue, fraternity and equality. Guru Nanak spread the message of ‘one God’, and also that God constitutes the eternal truth and he resides in his creations. On his 547 Birth anniversary here are some of the interesting facts that you must know about Guru Nanak.
• Guru Nanak was born on April 15, 1469. His birth anniversary is celebrated on the full moon day or Kartik Puranmashi of October or November.
• Guru Nanak believed that he was neither Hindu nor Muslim, though he was born to Hindu parents.
• At the age of seven Guru Nanak started going to school, and at the age of 18, Guru Nanak married Mata Sulakkhani. He had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakshmi Chand.
• Sri Chand became the founder of the Udasi religion
• One day, Guru Nanak went for a bath and didn’t return back, his clothes were later found on the banks of a stream. The locals thought that maybe he died. After three days, he came back and remained silent. Later, he confessed that he had been taken to the God’s court and there he was offered amrit and was blessed
• Guru Nanak said, ”There is neither Hindu nor Muslim so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow God’s path. God is neither Hindu nor Muslim and the path which I follow is God’s.”
• The Sikh sacred scripture, Guru Granth Sahib was founded by him
• His teaching majorly included three things; ‘Vand Chakko’, ‘Kirat Karo’ and ‘Naam Japna’. Vand Chakko means sharing with others and helping those in need. Kirat Karo means making an honest living without exploiting anyone and ‘Naam Japna’ which means meditating by the name of God and controlling the evils in us.
• Guru Nanak travelled the world to spread the holy message. He travelled on foot with his Muslim companion Bhai Mardana to Mecca, , Kashmir, Bengal, Tibet, Manipur, Rome etc.
• Guru Nanak died at the age of 70. Bhai Lena was appointed by him as his successor and was renamed him as Guru Angad.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan led a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for a new border crossing with arch rival India, days after New Delhi announced it would support a corridor to facilitate its minority Sikh community to visit one of their holiest sites across the border.
The fenced crossing dubbed a “corridor of peace” will link Indian border city Dera Baba Nanak, to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the final resting place of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak in Pakistani Punjab.
The Kartarpur corridor is supposed to be completed and opened well ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikh guru on November 23, 2019. It will provide year round visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims from India after more than seven decades.
In a speech after laying the foundation stone, Khan said Pakistan and India have both made mistakes in the past but they now need to work together to improve ties.
“War is out of question between our two countries, which are equipped with nuclear weapons. It will be really crazy for both of them to even think about going to war,” the Pakistani leader warned. “Our countries must stop blame game. If France and Germany can leave their bloody past behind why can’t India and Pakistan break the shackles of the past.”
Khan assured Sikh visitors from India that they will find their worship place and surrounding complex a completely developed structure equipped with all facilities and comforts when they visit Pakistan for the 550th birthday celebration of the Sikh guru.
India’s and Pakistan’s independence from Britain in 1947 divided the Punjab province, where Sikhism was born.
The idea to open the corridor has been floated around since the 1980s, never coming to fruition due to the tumultuous relationship between the two nuclear armed South Asian neighbors.
The proposal received a fresh impetus in August when Pakistan’s army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, told Indian minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was in Pakistan to attend the oath taking ceremony of Khan, Islamabad would be willing to open the corridor.
General Bajwa was among the big gathering of guests at the groundbreaking ceremony, including diplomats, Indian journalists, Sikh devotees and a ministerial level delegation representing Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Last week, the Indian cabinet, chaired by Modi, approved the move.
On the Indian side
Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu performed the groundbreaking Monday on his side of the corridor at a ceremony just two kilometers from the Pakistani border.
Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj Wednesday played down expectations the corridor could lead to the revival of official talks between the two countries.
“The moment Pakistan stops terrorist activities in India, the dialogue can start but the dialogue is not connected with only the Kartarpur corridor,” Indian media quoted her as telling reporters in Hyderabad ahead of the groundbreaking on the Pakistani side.
The Indian external affairs minister had also been invited to attend the ceremony by her Pakistani counterpart, but she expressed her inability to undertake the visit due to prior commitments.
Swaraj also requested in a tweet that Islamabad “expedite construction of the corridor in order to ensure that our citizens can pay their respects at the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib using the corridor as soon as possible.”
Previously, Indian pilgrims had to take a visa and arrive in the Pakistani border city Lahore before taking the 2-3 hour journey to the shrine. The new corridor, which is planned to remain open year round, will cut their journey to a mere 6 kilometers.
The temple is visible on clear days from a viewing stage on the Indian side, where religious devotees gather every day to have a glimpse of it.
Impetus for peace
Politicians on both sides have hailed the decision as an impetus for peace between the two countries that have fought several wars in their seventy-year existence. In the last few years, violence, including cross border shelling from both sides, has intensified in the disputed Kashmir region that both sides claim.
Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry called it a victory for the peace lobby in both countries.
However, other analysts were less optimistic.
“I don’t think it has any enduring significance apart from being stand alone. I see it as pure symbolism and I don’t see it as any change in either country’s basic positions,” said Ajai Sahni, the executive director of New Delhi based Institute for Conflict Management.
He said the move was an effort by the Indian government to please the Sikh community ahead of next year’s general elections.
“Everyone is looking for whatever they can do to get a few extra votes,” he said.
Days before the ground-breaking ceremony, India complained to Pakistan about not allowing officials from its High Commission access to Indian pilgrims visiting Pakistan for the Guru Nanak birth anniversary.
The Indian Foreign Minister released a statement expressing “grave concern at the reports of attempts being made during the ongoing visit of the Indian pilgrims to Pakistan, to incite communal disharmony and intolerance and promote secessionist tendencies with the objective of undermining India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal rejected the charges. “India is a habitual alleger and it has become its second nature to blame Pakistan for any negative development, without blinking an eye,” he asserted.
India blamed Pakistan for supporting a Sikh separatist movement several decades ago and allowing the remaining leadership of that movement to live in Pakistan.
The chief minister of Indian Punjab, Amarinder Singh, while welcoming the Kartarpur corridor opening, refused an invitation to attend the ground-breaking ceremony citing Pakistan’s support for terrorism in Indian Punjab.
“In the past 18 months we have smashed more than 15 terror modules. We have found Kashmiri terrorists in Punjab. How are we expected to tolerate all this?” he told Indian newspaper The Hindu. (VOA)