Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib – Life at Kartarpur

The Gurdwara, Kartarpur sahib

Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is located in town by the same name Kartarpur (Ravi) in Pakistan. The nearest town on the Indian side of the border is Dera Baba Nanak [1Km. from Border] in the district of Gurdaspur. The shrine is located about 3 kms from the Indo-Pakistan border.

The original abode established by Guru Nanak was washed away by floods of the river Ravi and the present Gurudwara was established by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Recently, there has been lobbying to open the corridor for Sikhs from India to visit the shrine without any hindrance or visa. It lies only 3km from the border.

When Guru Nanak departed for his heavenly abode, Hindus and Muslims disagreed on how to perform the last rites. The Hindus as per their tradition wanted to carry out a cremation while the Muslims wanted to carry out a burial. A samadh (Hindu tradition) lies in the Gurdwara and a grave (according to Muslim traditions) lies on the premises as a reminder of this discord.

The gurdwara is located next to a small village named Kothay Pind (village) on the West bank of the Ravi River in Punjab, Pakistan. The Gurudwara at Kartarpur can be seen from another Gurudwara located across the border at the historical town of Dera Baba Nanak in India (It is not Daara, as so many people wrongly call it. Dehra is derived from the word Deh or body). Both sites are one of the holiest places in Sikhism located in the Majha region. Recently, there has been lobbying to open the corridor for Sikhs from India to visit the shrine without any hindrance or visa. It lies only 3 km from the border.

LIFE AT KARTARPUR (extract from Sarjit Singh Bal, “Life of Guru Nanak”, Punjab University Punjab, 1969)

At Kartarpur, Guru Nanak gave a distinct pattern of life to those who had chosen to reside at Kartarpur. This pattern consisted of threefold activity to which all the residents of Kartarpur had to conform.

In the first place, under the Guru’s watchful eye, they would offer a regular, disciplined devotion to the Almighty. They would be required to do this not only as individuals but also in their corporate capacity. They were required, like the Guru, to arise early in the morning and devote the ‘ambrosial hour’ to meditation upon the divine Name.”

They would then participate in the morning kirtan conducted by the minstrel in the presence of, the Guru. The attendance, at this kirtan would be compulsory for all. The kirtan would be followed by regular instructions imparted by the Guru to constitute the second pattern in Kartarpur life. Such instructions would occasionally be given to individual followers but more often they were given to the regular gathering of the disciples. In these instructions, the Guru would emphasize the greatness of God, His gracious self-revelation when truth and virtue decayed and the paramount necessity of meditation on the divine Name. The Guru would necessarily also expose as essentially futile the adherence to external forms. He would do this sometimes by means of gentle irony but at other times by direct denial of their efficacy. He also ‘admonished very often who placed their confidence in the status conferred by caste or by wealth and roundly condemned anyone who descended to religious hypocrisy.

The third feature of the Kartarpur pattern of life would be the regular daily labour. Guru Nanak had by now completely rejected asceticism, and as a necessary corollary to the disciplined worldliness that he preached, insisted that each of his disciples should live on what he had himself labouted to earn. The Guru and his family themselves acted thus and so none at Kartarpur would be allowed to become an exception.