Saturday, December 10, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

Gurdwara Chevvin Patshahi Rajouri

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Located in the scenic Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajouri is a district of composite cultural heritage, in which people of various castes and creeds live in a cordial atmosphere. The Sikh population in the district is about 15000. This tiny minority comprises only 2.42% of the total population of the district. However, the Sikh community of Rajouri has maintained their distinct identity and cultural heritage. A number of Gurudwaras exist in the district, but Gurudwara Chatti Padshahi Rajouri is a very important religious place which has been constructed in the memory of 6th Guru Hargobind Sahib ji (1595-1646) who stayed at this place in 1616 AD when he was on the way to Kashmir along with the Caravan of Emperor Jahangir.

As per the legend, once Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji Maharaj had a dream that Mai Bhagwanti (popularly known as Mai Bhagpari) in Kashmir had prepared a cholla (long shirt) for Guru Ji and she was praying to God for the glimpses of Guru Ji so that she could present it to him, as she was too old and not in a position to visit Punjab and fulfill her aspirations. Therefore, Guru Ji decided to visit Kashmir and take present from the devotee Mai Bhagwanti and to preach Sikhism in the mountainous belt of Peer Panchal and Kashmir.

As per the inscription in Gurudwara Sahib Nowshera, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji entered Rajouri district in the year 1616 AD. Firstly, Guru Ji reached Jhangar and stayed in a house of a Brahman namely Jhangir Dass. (Later on, the name of the area also became Jhangar). At Jhangar, Guru Ji also met Bawa Beeram Shah Ji Dutt and after detail deliberations with Bawa Beeram Shah Ji regarding the religious matter, Guru Ji selected him for preaching of Sikhism in the foothills of Panchal range starting from Poonch to Dharmasal in Kalakote and posted him at Jhangar.

Guru Ji then came to Nowshera along with the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. The Emperor's Darbar was set up in Nowshera fort while Guru Ji preferred to stay with the people living opposite Nowshera fort. Presently, a well-designed Gurudwara is being constructed at that place in the memory of the visit of Guru Ji.

After relaxing at Nowshera, the Mughal Caravan left for Rajouri via Chingus Sarai. At Rajouri, Emperor Jahangir camped at Baradari opposite Rajouri town on the bank of Salaini Nallah which was constructed by the great Irani Engineer Ali Mardan Khan on the orders of the Mughal Emperor. However, Guru Hargobind Ji stayed in the house of a Sehajdari Sikhim, in the town that opposite the Sarai that was constructed by the Jaral Rajas of Rajouri (Presently, this Sarai is being used as police post).

During the reign of Jehangir , Guru Hargobind ji visited Kashmir ( 1620 A D precisely ) .Guru ji is reported to have met Bhai Ram Dass a sikh convert who was living just outside the fort wall . Mata Bhag Bhari an old Kashmir Pandit saintess lived in Rainawari . Kashmiri Pandits used to worship Mata Bhag Bari as a saintess of high order. She is reported to have walked to the house of Bhai Ram dass from Rainawari to present a Cloak to Guru Ji. Mata Bhag Bhari had worn her eyes out while weaving the white cloak for guru ji. It is further mentioned in sikh scriptures that Guru Ji shot an arrow into the ground and water gushed out . He took the water and sprinkled it on her eyes restoring her eyesight . The present Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara has come up exactly at this spot only. Interaction between Mata Bhag Bhari and Guru Hargobind ji is well preserved and documented in various sikh scriptures .

Initially a small wooden structure was built over here but later during the rule of Sikhs in Kashmir( 1819-1821 ) a Gurudwara and a Dharmshala was constructed by Hari Singh Nalwa the then sikh Governor of Kashmir . Pandit Seva Ram ( who later came to be known as Bhai seva ji )son of Mata Bhag Bhari was appointed as the first attendant of this shrine. As a matter of fact ,kashmiri Pandits have a history of close interaction with sikh Gurus . For example Guru Nanak Dev ji met Pandit Brahm Dass at Mattan . Brahm Dass was a direct ancestor of Pandit Kripa Ram who led the delegation of Pandits to Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. Pandit Kripa Ram was so much touched with the sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji that he decided to stay with Guru Gobind singh ji and teach him Sanskrit classics and Shastras . Pandit Kirpa Ram too adopted the new Faith later and became a Khalsa never to return to Kashmir . Late Badri Nath Sidha a saintly Purohit of Mattan had identified the descendents of Pandit Kirpa Ram living near Tsaka, Bongam Mattan to me long back in 1988 .

The present Gurudwara of Chatti Padshahi is built exactly at the place where Guru Hargobind ji camped . The place is outside the Kathi Darwaza or gate to the wall of Akbar’s Fort .One can have a commanding view of the shrine of Maqdoom Sahib or the fort atop the hill nearby from this Gurudwara.. The shrine of Sharika is on the other side of the hill. The gurudwara is just a kilometer away from the Saida kadal bridge on the canal connecting Dal lake with Nageen lake . Nageen lake is just two Kms away from the Gurudwara . The highly revered shrine of Hazrat Bal is also just 2.5 kms from this Gurudwara .Badam Wari ( Almond garden ) where the annual spring fair is held is close by .

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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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