NANKĀṆĀ SĀHIB (31º -28'N, 73º -35'E), named after Gurū Nānak (1469-1539), who was born here on Baisākh sudī 3, 1526 Bk/ 15 April 1469, is a sub-divisional town in Sheikhūpurā district in Pakistan. Its old name was Talvaṇḍī Rāi Bhoe Kī or Talvaṇḍī of Rāi Bhoe, a Muslim Rājpūt of Bhaṭṭī clan and retainer of the Delhi rulers of early fifteenth century. His descendant, Rāi Bulār, the chief of Talvaṇḍī, was contemporary of Gurū Nānak. The first 15 or 16 years of Gurū Nānak's life were spent at Talvaṇḍī. Later, he shifted to Sultānpur Lodhī, in present-day Kapūrthalā district of the Punjab, where his sister Bībī Nānakī lived. From there he set out on his long preaching odysseys, visiting his parents at Talvaṇḍī only now and then, his last visit to his native place being in 1510. Several shrines in the town, raised long after his death, mark places where he was born, where he played with other children, where he studied and where he tended cattle.

        GURDWĀRĀ JANAM ASTHĀN, commemorating the birthplace of Gurū Nānak is the premier shrine at Nankāṇā Sāhib. A room first built here by his son, Bābā Lakhmī Dās (1497-1555), more probably by his grandson, Bābā Dharam Chand (1523-1618), was known as Kālū kā Koṭhā, lit. house of (Mahitā) Kālū, father of Gurū Nānak. Later it came to be known as Nānakāyaṇ, lit. Home of (Gurū) Nānak. Mahārājā Ranjīt Siṅgh (1780-1839), at the instance of Akālī Phūlā Siṅgh and Bābā Sāhib Siṅgh Bedī, constructed the present building, a domed square sanctum with a pavilion in front standing on a spacious, raised platform, and made an endowment of about 20,000 acres of land for the maintenance of Gurū kā Laṅgar. The management remained with Udāsī priests until the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee took it over after the gruesome events of 20 February 1921. With the partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 and the migration of Sikh population from Pakistan, the management of all Sikh gurdwārā in the newly created State, including those at Nankāṇā Sāhib, passed to the Waqf Board. The Government of Pakistan later allowed 15 Sikhs to stay in Nankāṇā Sāhib to perform the daily services in the shrines. In 1968 the number was reduced to 5. Now only a granthī or scripture-reader and a few Sindhi Sikhs stay at Gurdwārā Janam Asthān. Batches of pilgrims from India are occasionally allowed to visit with special permission from the Pakistan Government.

        GURDWĀRĀ PAṬṬĪ SĀHIB, within town, marks the place where stood Gurū Nānak's school. The child Nānak, a quick learner, soon became proficient in Hindi, Persian, arithmetic and accounting. The Gurdwārā is a small square room with a fluted lotus dome above it and ornate masonry work on the exterior. It is also called Gurdwārā Maulawī Paṭṭī.

        GURDWĀRĀ BĀL LĪLĀ, about 300 metres southeast of Gurdwārā Janam Asthān, marks the field where Gurū Nānak used to play in the company of other children. Gurū Hargobind during his visit to the town is said to have marked the site. Dīwān Kauṛā Mall, a Hindu noble (d. 1752), after his victory over Multān with the assistance of the Sikhs in 1748, built this Gurdwārā and brick-lined two sides of the nearby tank originally got dug by Rāi Bulār. Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh had the building renovated and the tank enlarged and properly lined. Of the land donated by him, about 3,000 acres were allotted to Gurdwārā Bāl Līlā. After the 1921 tragedy at Gurdwārā Janam Asthān, the custodian mahants of this shrine voluntarily handed it over to the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee in exchange for suitable maintenance allowance for their families. The Gurdwārā was reconstructed during the 1930's and 1940's under the supervision of Sant Gurmukh Siṅgh Sevāvāle (1849-1947). The new building on the bank of the adjoining sarovar is a multi-storeyed domed edifice.

        GURDWĀRĀ KIĀRĀ SĀHIB, about two kilometres to the east of Gurdwārā Bāl Līlā, commemorates an event connected with the early years of Gurū Nānak. While tending his father's herd of cattle, it was common for him to let the animals roam freely while he himself sat engrossed in meditation. Once a peasant complained to Rāi Bulār that Nānak's cattle had damaged the crop in his field, but when the field was inspected, no damage was discovered. The people considered it a miracle and that particular field came to be reverently called Kiārā (lit. field or plot) Sāhib. A shrine was raised here which was reconstructed by Sant Gurmukh Siṅgh Sevāvale during the decade preceding the partition of 1947. The new building comprises a square, domed sanctum and a circumambulatory verandah built on a raised plinth.

        GURDWĀRĀ MĀL JĪ SĀHIB stands one-and-a-half kilometre east of Gurdwārā Janam Asthān. Janam Sākhīs record an anecdote stating how Gurū Nānak was one day sleeping on the ground under a māl tree, also called vāṇ (Quercus incana) and how in the afternoon as Rāi Bulār and his men were passing by they noticed that while all shadows had lengthened and shifted eastward, the shade of that particular tree stood still over the sleeping Nānak. The Bālā Janam Sākhī has a slightly different version saying that as the shadow of the tree shifted, a cobra was seen spreading its hood over Gurū Nānak's face protecting it from the sun. Rāi Bulār, impressed by the miracle became a devotee. The Gurdwārā on this site was first built by Dīwān Kauṛā Mall and renovated during the time of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh.

        GURDWĀRĀ TAMBŪ SĀHIB, about 300 metres east of Gurdwārā Janam Asthān, was raised by a Nihaṅg Sikh about the middle of the nineteenth century. It stands near a huge vaṇ tree spreading its branches like a tent (tambū, in Punjabi). Tradition recounts how Mahitā Kālū once gave his son, Gurū Nānak, some money for buying merchandise from Chūhāṛkāṇā, a nearby market town. Gurū Nānak, however, spent the money feeding a group of hungry sādhūs. Coming back empty-handed and apprehensive of his father's wrath, he is said to have hid himself under the tent-like tree by the side of which now stands Gurdwārā Tambū Sāhib.

        GURDWĀRĀ CHHAṬĪ PĀTSHĀHĪ, about 200 metres east of Gurdwārā Janam Asthān, is dedicated to Gurū Hargobind (Nānak VI) who visited Nankāṇā Sāhib in 1620-21. This, too, was built and managed by Nihaṅg Sikhs and came under the control of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee in 1921.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Narotam, Tārā Siṅgh, Srī Guru Tīrath Sangrahī. Kankhal, 1975
  2. Ṭhākar Siṅgh, Giānī, Srī Gurduāre Darshan. Amritsar, 1923
  3. Khan Mohammad Waliullah Khan, Sikh Shrines in West Pakistan. Karachi, 1962
  4. Sahi, J.S., Sikh Shrines in India and Abroad. Faridabad, 1978

Naraiṇ Siṅgh