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Gurudwara Panja Sahib

Hasan Abdal is an Ancient city situated at a distance of 45 kilometres from Rawalpindi to the west side of the mountain. It is hilly area. A few places have natural fountains. Saintly persons usually take abode there. Wali Qandhari had established a celebrated dera at Hasan Abdal, near a natural fountain. The dera had a specific significance for giving boon to the man of the faith and punishing the non-believers. Guru Nanak along with Bhai Mardana reached Hasan Abdal in Baisakh Samwat 1578 B.K. corresponding to 1521 A.D. in the summer season. Under a shady cool tree, Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana started reciting Kirtan, the devotees gathered together which annoyed Wali Qandhari but he was helpless. According to a legend, Bhai Mardana was sent three times to Wali Qandhari so that the former might quench his thirst. Wali Qandhari refused and even used harsh words for him. Despite all of this, Mardana still very politely stuck to his demand. The Wali ironically remarked : Why don't you ask your Master whom you serve? Mardana reached the holy presence of Guru in a miserable state and qouthed. "Oh lord ! I prefer to death to thirst but will not approach the Wali, the egoist." The true Lord said smilingly," Oh Bhai Mardana ! Repeat the Name of God, the Almighty; and drink the water to your heart's content." The Guru put aside a big piece of stone lying nearby, Where a pure fountain of water sprang up and began to flow endlessly. Bhai Mardana quenched his thirst and felt grateful to the Creater. On the other hand, the fountain of Wali Qandhari got dried up like vanishing of comforts and conveniences of an unfortunate fellow. On witnessing the wondrous act, the Wali in rage, threw a part of a mountain towards the Guru from the top of the hill. The true Lord halted the hurled stone with his hand. An indelibe mark of Guru's hand was inserted in the stone. Observing that miracle, the ego of Wali vanished and he became the Guru's fast devotee. Several attempts were made to deface the impression of the hand of the Guru but all of non avial and the mark remained for ever and ever. This holy and revered place is now known as Panja Sahib. Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa after conquering the Sindh province during the Sikh rule, got erected a huge building of Gurdwara and a sarovar there. The control of the administration of the Gurdwara remained with the hereditery Mahant. After passing away of Mahant Mittha Singh about whom the people had grievances, a march was led by Bhai Kartar Singh Jhabbar, to get control of Gurdwara. The Jatha reached Panja Sahib on 18 november, 1920 and the S.G.P.C. gained possession. The local managing committee. erected a new building of the Gurdwara and extended the existed sarai for more accomodation. The Baisakhi fair held at Panja Sahib was worth seeing. During the peaceful morcha of Guru-Ka-Bagh, one of the jathas of the sikhs was brutally beaten by the British administrators and the capacity of the Sikhs for suffering and resisitance was put to trail. While the authorities indulged in lathi charge, the peaceful Singhs were raising the slogan : Ultimate victory belongs to the truth (Sat Sri Akal). The wounded were carried on motor vehicles to Amritsar. They were hungry for the last two-three days and were despatched to Attock jail by Rail. The Sikh Sangats at Panja Sahib received an intimation that the hungry Singhs were taken to Attock by rail. Arrangements were made for their food at Railway Station. The Jathedar requested the station master to stop the train but he refused to do so as it was not destined to halt the train. Jathedar Karam Singh argued with the station master and said that if there were any such instructions from his masters for not stopping the train, It was the ordered by his master, the Almighty, that the train must stop. After concluding an Ardasa, the Singhs lied down on the railway lines. The Jatha was being led by Bhai Karam Singh (Manager Gurdwara Panja Sahib) and Bhai Partap Singh. Thus, the Singhs stopped the train on 31st October, 1922 by laying down there lives. The train which was not destined to make halt there, made stoppage for one and a half hour and the food was duly servrd to the Singhs. Bhai Karam Singh and Bhai Partap Singh were martyred and six Sikhs received serious injuries. There stands no memorial for this incident. The administration of this Gurdwara is with Pakistan Waqf board. A particular Jatha visits this place on the eve of the Baisakhi festival. A Singh resides in the campus of the Gurdwara from the board and maintains tha pious Maryada.
Gurudwara Panja (lit. palm) Sahib was established during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Its control remained with a line of mahants until Jathedar Kartar Singh Jhabbar and his small band of Akali reformers occupied it on 17th-18th September 1920. A heroic incident which occurred at Hasan Abdal on 30th October 1922 made the place more prominent. Guru Ka Bagh Morcha was on. A train full of Sikh prisoners was on its way to Miariwali Central Jail. Sikh sangat of Panja Sahib arranged to serve meals to the prisoners at Hasan Abdal railway station, but the authorities refused to stop the train there. A band of Sikhs headed by Bhai Partap Singh, an empolyee of the Gurudwara, and Bhai Karam Singh, a pilgrim to the shrine, squatted on the rail track in order to force the train to halt. The train did stop but not before mowing down a number of nonviolent resistors of whom the above two succumbed to their injuries.
The foundation of the beautiful three-storey building, designed after the samadh of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Lahore, was laid on 14th October 1932 by five eminent holymen, Panj Piare. Built with grey sandstone, its exterior is spotted with protruding domed bay windows. The central fluted dome is surrounded by several symmetrically placed big and small domed kiosks. Unlike the Maharaja's samadh in Lahore, it has porches covering entrances to the sanctum which stands within the sarovar that receives water gushing forth from around the rock bearing the sacred Parija Sahib or the palm-imprint of the Guru. Several other buildings for staff and pilgrims and other ,ancillaries were added subsequently. Guru ka Langar at Panija Sahib was famous for the quality of food and service at all hours day and night. Congregational fair used to be held on Baisakhi (mid-April) and On 30th October until 1947. Now only ,organised bands of pilgrims occasionally visit Panja Sahib with the permission of the Pakistan government. One of such regular visits coincides with the Baisakhi festival.

Acknowledgements:

Text and photographs: Gurdwara Gurdham at Pakistan, written by Roop Singh and Published by SGPC
Photographs : Kanwer Sosheel Singh  from Pakistan
Photographs: S. Rajinder Singh Narang

 

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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