Journeying across the mountainous terrains, ancient valleys, and the spiritual landscapes of India and beyond, the remarkable Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder of the Sikh religion (1469-1539), spent 24 years traversing thousands of miles by foot. He ventured not only across the vast stretches of his homeland but also across distant shores, weaving the fabric of co-existent humanity.
Embarking on four extensive journeys known as Udasis, Guru Nanak Dev Ji traversed through landscapes both physically and spiritually demanding. The third Udasi, between 1515 to 1517, saw him navigating mountains to reach Sumer Parbat. Each step of his journey was imbued with the mission of spreading a universal message that resonated with all of humanity.
A Shepherd’s Enlightenment
As Guru Ji reached places like Amarnath, Pahalgam, and Ashu Mukam, encounters with humble shepherds marked moments of profound wisdom. In one instance, after receiving goat’s milk from a shepherd, Guru Ji was mistakenly called a dacoit by another shepherd named Pali Hasna. The subsequent events led to an awakening in Pali, who saw his flock resurrected after reciting ‘Waheguru’ at Guru Ji’s guidance. This was a lesson in faith and humility that transcended ordinary understanding.
The Fish’s Tale
At Bhawan Kund, a mystical episode unfolded when Guru Ji bathed in the waters filled with fish. A touch to Guru Ji’s feet transformed one fish into a human being. This miracle not only awed the Pandits but also led them to become Guru Ji’s followers. The newly transformed human narrated his story, adding a touch of the miraculous to the spiritual journey.
A Scholar’s Pride and Redemption
A tale of ego and redemption involved Pandit Brahmdas of Bejbehara, a scholar who flew on a magical carpet and looked down on Guru Nanak Sahib. Trying to impress Guru Ji with miracles, Brahmdas found himself unable to see Guru Ji, blinded by his own arrogance. An enlightening conversation with Guru Ji led to his realization of humility, teaching that there is no darkness greater than ego. Guru ji uttered this Shabad after breaking the ego and corrupt soul of Brahmdas:
Dhud bin dhain pankh bin pankhee , Jal bin utbhuj kaam nahin,
Kya sultan salam veetuna , Andhi kothi tera naam nahin
Guru Ji, upon seeing Pandit Braham Das coming with a huge stock of books, Sung the following couplet:
Padh padh gaddi ladiye, padh padh bhariye saath
Padh padh beri payiae, padh padh sadiye khaat
Padiye jaite baras baras , padiye jaite maas
Padiye jeti aarja padiye jete saas , Nanak lekhe ek gal hor haumai jhakna jhak
A Sanctuary of Faith
Guru Ji’s wisdom and compassion led to the establishment of Dharamshala, a spiritual sanctuary at Mattan. Despite its destruction during Muslim rule, it remains a symbol of Guru Nanak’s enduring legacy in the Kashmir Valley. Whether advising the local chief Pandit Munkda or enlightening seekers like the Faqir named Juma Chopa, Guru Ji’s presence turned Mattan into a beacon of spiritual awakening.
The place where Guru Nanak once sat and discussed truth has seen the rise of majestic Gurdwaras and the reverence of rulers like Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Historians and authors like R K Parmu have acknowledged the significance of Guru Nanak’s visit to the Valley, commemorated now at the Gurdwara at Matan, Anantnag.
The waters of the spring pond where Guru Ji had his enlightened discussions with Pandit Brahm Das still hold the remnants of history. Structures have evolved, with splendorous Gurdwaras built in the 18th and 19th centuries. The memory of Guru Nanak’s teachings continues to resonate, transforming hearts and guiding seekers on the path of prayer.
A Timeless Journey
In the annals of history, Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s journey stands as a testament to the universal pursuit of truth, compassion, and humility. From the majestic mountains to the humble abodes of shepherds, his path illuminated lives and transcended barriers.
Now, at the tranquil spots like Mattan Sahib, where he once sat and sang Malar di Var, echoes of Guru Ji’s words continue to inspire and awaken souls. His message is a timeless treasure, a guiding star that leads humanity towards the sacred light of understanding and love.