By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 16 Nov: On the second day of the on-going Valley of Words Literature and Arts Festival being organised here, a tribute was paid to Guru Nanak the first Sikh Guru in commemoration of his 550th birth anniversary. The speakers were veteran journalist Rahul Singh, ex chief secretary of Punjab RI Singh, Narinder Singh Bindra, ex member of Uttarakhand Minority Commission and noted writer Robin Gupta. Initiating the session, veteran journalist Rahul Singh spoke about the historical context of Nanak’s legacy. Noting that Guru Nanak was indeed a great man, he stressed that it was often the circumstances that created great men like him. He observed that Nanak was born at a time where the world was going through lot of turmoil. Islam was already established as a significant religion in India and Delhi was being ruled by the Lodhi dynasty. Qutub Minar was already two hundred years old, he said. It was the time when Columbus was discovering America and Vasco De Gama was on his way to India. He added that at the time when Nanak was growing up in India, atrocities against Non Muslims by Muslim rulers like Lodhi were prevalent. Jajia had been imposed while ill practices like oppression of women, infanticide and ritualism had crept into Hindu religion. He also felt that reform movements like Sufism in Islam and Bhakti movement in Hindu religion had also started around Nanak’s time and probably they had influenced Nanak a great deal. Singh wondered how a pacifist religion that Nanak started had developed later on as a militant religion. He sought the answers from other speakers in this respect. Ex chief secretary of Punjab, RI Singh did answer this query, claiming that Sikh faith was neither pacifist nor militant in nature. There was no place for violence in Sikh religion but as Guru Gobind Singh had stated later, when other means failed to establish peace and harmony, it was necessary to use sword as a last resort. Singh reminded the audience that Guru Nanak was a man of words who communicated through poetry and through over a thousand verses, all composed in ragas. Singh added that Nanak preached that there was one God behind each and every creation and who was formless. He also reminded that Nanak strongly believed and preached that all human beings were equal and women were equal too. Though Nanak did not create miracles but miracles did happen during his lifetime. Singh also reminded to the audience that Nanak had travelled 34,000 miles throughout India and had even composed and sang one very famous Aarti at Jagannath temple in Odisha. Singh said that the great tradition of langar (free food service) was started by Guru Nanak and it was great that this great tradition continued even now and on much larger scale. Bindra said that as a layman, he felt that Nanak did not believe in conversion and reminded the audience that Mardana, a Muslim by faith and a close companion of Nanak stayed with him for over forty years and yet Nanak did not convert him to Sikh or Hindu faith. Bala was a Hindu companion of Nanak and even he was not converted into a Sikh. Bindraemphasied that Nanak did not create Sikh faith as a separate religion but as a Panth, a way of life. He taught that there was one truth and one God and strongly believed in oneness of all human beings regardless of their caste, faith, religion or gender. He was a reformist who believed in Karma. His teachings were not about religion but about way of life who strongly preached that the truth was the supreme. Bindra further reminded that Nanak had visited Nanakmatta in Uttarakhand as well as another place in Garhwal too. Speakers were happy to note that Kartarpur Gurdwara, located in Pakistan had been opened to Indians. Nanak had spent later years of his life at Kartarpur and there his Samadhi and grave both existed. The session was well received by the audience and the panellists thanked the curator, Sanjeev Chopra, for organizing this tributary session.