Saturday, November 8, 2014

Guru Nanak and his Visit to Dacca

Guru Nanak is the founder of the Sikh religion. The Guru was born in 1469 and before he had touched 40 he had completed 4 major tours. These tours involved travels to Baghdad, Mecca, Tibet, Eastern India and Ceylon. Guru Nanak completed all his travels at a young age and then settled down in the Punjab, where he preached his message of one god. Guru Nanak travelled to East India around 1499. He was accompanied by his aide and ministeral, Mardana. This tour is recorded in the Janam Sakhi ( life story) as related by Bhai Bala. There are many versions of the Janam Sakhi, but all of them agree that he visited Bengal and Assam which in the Janam Sakhi is referred to asKamrup.Guru Nanak travelled in the garb of a holy man (Fakir). He and Mardana normally travelled along with a caravan or a group of travelers.
The Janam Sakhi also records a miracle at Sylhet (now in Bangladesh). As per the Sakhi (story) when Guru Nanak visited Sylhet, A great magician converted Mardana into a lamb. Guru Nanak however recognized Mardana as a sheep and broke the magical spell and freed Mardana. This greatly relieved Mardana who as sheep had realized his helplessness. This had a profound effect on the Pir who became the follower of the Guru. This miraculous story is not being taken in the literal sense, but points to the great power of the Guru. There is also Sakhi of Guru Nanak meeting a witch in Assam, who had the power of flying on broom stick. Guru Nanak by his miraculous power made the witch to accept him as her master. This tale is again symbolic. Guru Nanak also visited Dacca and spent many days there. He held discourses and spread his message of one God. There is Gurudwara in Dacca that commemorates the visit of Guru Nanak in the Dacca university campus. I am told there are 7 Gurudwara in Bangladesh. There are about 18000 Sikhs in Bangladesh who form a vibrant community there. Dacca can be easily reached by a direct AC bus from Calcutta or a direct flight from Delhi/Calcutta.