On the occasion of 549th Anniversary of Baba Nanak Dev Ji
From ancient times, Kashmir, the paradise on earth has been regarded as the revered land of the Sufi saints with scores of divine saints gracing this haven at several points of valley’s history.
The Muslim sufi scholar, poet and preacher ALAMDAR-I-KASHMIR (standard bearer) Shiekh ul Aalam (RA) who is known as the patron saint of Kashmir was the leader of spiritual masters who have shaped and influenced the socio-cultural history of Kashmir.
It was around the same era, about 80 years after the Visaal (demise) of Hazrat Shiekh ul Aalam (RA) when Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji was attracted towards this land of Sufis.
From Kashmir’s adjacent neighbourhood of Punjab, the land of five rivers, Baba Nanak was spreading the same divine light of humanism and spirituality which was lit by Sufis of valley over the millennia.
The great Guru started his most laborious journey as he ventured out towards the valley of Kashmir and Ladakh region, braving hilly terrains and harsh weather via the Pir Panjal mountain range in 1517 A.D.
At that point, Baba Nanak had travelled to almost all the important regions/countries of the world located in four dimensions known as CHAR UDASSIYA, a journey he started in 1507 A.D. alongside his close companion and friend, Bhai Mardaan, a Muslim.
During the summer of 1517 A.D, Baba Nanak reached the valley of Kashmir via Banihal along with Mardaan and other disciples and stayed at Mattan, on the outskirts of Anantnag town where he met several Kashmiri pandit and Muslim scholars.
This was the glorious, peaceful and prosperous era of Shahmeri rule in Kashmir and Sultan Mohammad Shah, grandson of the beloved Kashmiri king, Sultan Zainul Abideen sat upon the throne, while his prime minister, Kaji Chak was the bravest administrator, Kashmir has known.
The divine light spread by Shiekh Noor ud Din Wali (RA) was guiding the people of the land, irrespective of caste, creed or religion and in what can be called divine co-incidence, Baba Nanak’s visit’s coincided with the valley’s glorious era and the possible the golden age of Sufism in Kashmir.
Some historians assert that Nanak saheb’s Kashmir journey started directly from Mattan to Srinagar-Budgam and back to Punjab via Jehlum valley but the authenticity of his Ladakh visit via Pahalgam and then to the lower areas of Kashmir valley is the generally accepted view among the majority of scholars.
Baba Nanak visited almost every major town in the valley such as Srinagar, Budgam, Beerwah, Parihaspora, Pattan, Baramulla, etc, where he met and deliberated with Muslim scholars of the time and spread his spiritual knowledge among the common masses. Gurudawaras were constructed at the very sites where Baba had stayed or visited.
Baba Guru Nanak Dev and his companion started their arduous journey towards Ladakh via Pahalgam, crossing the high altitude snow covered mountain peaks of Pani Kheer. Nanak Saheb’s caravan rested at the famous Buddhist monastery of Lamayuru, where he studied the ancient manuscripts of Buddhist philosophy held deliberations with the learned Lamas of the era.
After visiting the far flung areas of Ladakh/Kargil, Baba Nanak stayed at the famous the Hemis Gumpa for an extended period of time during the summers, where he studied the manuscripts of Lamaland and its socio-cultural and spiritual background.
It was during his stay at the Gumpa and deliberations with the highly learned Buddhist scholars and Lamas who being swayed by his spiritual prowess, immense knowledge and legendary personality, conferred upon him the title of Baba Nanak Lama, the entry of which can still be found in the manuscripts of the Gumpa.
Guru Nanak Dev ji started his return journey to Kashmir valley via SKARDU.
Baba’s historic visit to Kashmir alongwith Mardana is clearly mentioned in authentic documented records of the time like the biography of Baba Nanak Dev ‘JANAM SAKSHI’ wherein there is a painting (photo of the original painting in modern day re-prints) of Nanak Saheb and Mardana in Kashmir in 1735 A.D.
(Harmukh News is grateful to Poet Sardar Suraj Singh Suraj and Ex. Director Doordarshan, Leh, S. Rajindra Singh Raina for providing valuable data about the topic at hand.)