The Miracle of GuruNanak at Panja Sahib at Hasanbal( Pakistan)
Recently the Gurdwara at Hassan Bal referred to by `Sikhs as Punja Sahib, close to Rawalpindi was in the news. The Chief of the Pakistan Army General Bajwa proceeded to Hasan Bal along with 45 military attaches of various governments for a fact-finding visit to Punja Sahib. The aim was to show the tolerant face of the Pakistan government. General Bajwa and the visiting dignitaries partook of the holy Langar, the common communal meal of the Sikhs as well as payed homage at the Gurdwara.
The Sikh gurdwaras and holy places in Pakistan are very well maintained by the Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee(PGPC). The Pakistan Constitution also codifies the rights of the minorities and their freedom to worship their religion. The partition of the subcontinent in 1947 was a historical tragedy and has resulted in most holy places of the Sikhs remaining in Pakistan.
Guru Nanak(1469-1539) is the founder of the Sikh faith. During his life, he made 4 Udayans( Travels) to the known world. These travels are well documented. He is reported to have visited Baghdad and Mecca as well as Tibet, Ceylon, and Assam. The latest research points out that he may have visited Istanbul as well, as a stupa with his inscription is found there.
The life and travels of the guru are well documented but the most authentic account of his life is narrated by one of his companions named Bhai Bala. Guru Nanak used to travel along with two companions, one of whom was a Muslim named Mardana and the other a Hindu name Bala. Various incidents in his life have been written down by Bhai Bala and are called "Janam Sakhis"( Eternal Stories).
Many wondrous miracles are recounted by Bhai Bala, but quite a few of them appear implausible like the Guru traveling in the heavens to the Moon and stars. But there are many tales which are factual and have been investigated by historians and found to be true. One such tale regarding a miracle of the great Guru is at Hasanbal, about 70 km from Rawalpindi. The place is commemorated by a gurudwara.
GuruNanak is supposed to have visited this place in 1521. He was accompanied by Bala and Mardana. To commemorate his visit and the miracle that took place here Maharajah Ranjit Singh(1789-1839) built a Gurdwara in the Moghul style. The Sikh general Hari Singh Nalwa supervised the construction.
Bhai Bala narrates the story of Nanak. He writes that Guru Nanak came to Hasanbal and rested under a cool shady tree. As was his won't he started reciting religious songs (Kirtan) and many devotees gathered around him. The congregation of the devotees annoyed a local saint named Shah Wali Kandhari. He considered Nanak an imposter and resolved to have nothing to do with him.
It so happened that after sometime Bhai Mardana felt thirsty. He requested the Guru to arrange for water. The guru told him to go up the hill and request Shah Qandhari for a glass of water. Mardana duly climbed up the hill and knocked on the door Shah Kandhari. He said," Hazoor, I have come with Baba Nanak and I am thirsty. Can you please give me a glass of water to drink."
Sian Kandhari was irritated by this request. He told Mardana, " I cannot give you any water and in case your guru is so powerful, he can arrange water on his own."
Mardana duly went back to Baba Nanak and related to him the entire story of Shah Kandhari refusing to give him water. The guru smiled and told Madana, "Look, Don't worry, go again and request Shah Qandhari for water."
Once again Bhai Mardana went up the hill and requested water. He got the same answer and now Mardana was very thirsty. The guru requested him to go one more time. Mardana duly climbed up the hill and requested Shah Qandhari for water. This time Shah Qandhari became very angry and shouted at Mardana. He told him, " Look, don't come here again. Ask your Baba to arrange water."
A crestfallen Mardana went back to Guru Nanak and narrated the entire incident to him. Just as he had finished his tale, the Guru put aside a rock lying nearby and lo and behold a small water spring began to sprout from the earth. All the devotees gathered around the spring and began to quench their thirst.
Hearing the commotion Shah Wali came out of his house and looked down. He was shocked to see that a small fountain had sprung from the earth. Qandhari looked at his fountain and found that it had become dry.. He realized that water from his spring had gone down the hill. He was infuriated and in his anger pushed a large boulder down towards Nanak.
As the boulder hurtled down, the devotees were greatly frightened. Baba Nanak, however, sat calmly and just held up his hand towords the incoming boulder. The boulder which had gathered momentum while coming down the hill suddenly stopped on the touch of Nanak's hand. What had happened was nothing short of a miracle.
Wali Shah saw the rock being stopped by the guru. The devotees observed that the boulder had stopped and thus defied the laws of gravity. `They also observed that a handprint of Guru Nanaks hand had emerged on the rock.
Wali Shah Qandhari was wonderstruck. He realized that he was in the company of a great prophet of God. He came down and fell at the feet of the guru and asked for forgiveness. He looked at the boulder and found that the Guru's hand was imprinted on it. He was in awe and announced that the Guru was God himself.
The boulder and the print of Nanak's hand are still visible as well as the small spring that flows through. The gurudwara is one of the holiest places for Sikhs and believers from all over the world congregate here for prayer and salvation. Every year there are 2 big Akhand Paths( celebrations) held here.
Hasanbal can easily be reached by Taxi and bus from Rawalpindi which is well connected by both air and rail. A pilgrim who comes to Punja Sahib can stay in the Gurudwara rest house or the many hotels nearby. All in all the place is a wonder and worth a visit.