Gurudwara Nanakwara – Hardwar
During his longest tour called first Udasi Guru Nanak yisited Hardwar, a pilgrimage centre of the Hindus. It was believed that a dip in the holy Ganges would absolve the bather of all his sins. The Guru himself entered the river at Kushwan Ghat and started splashing water with his left hand towards the west, while other pilgrims were splashing water towards east. When questioned by others ,the Guru informed them that he was directing water to his thirsty fields in Punjab. The priests laughed and asked him how water could reach his crops situated 460 km away. Guru Nanak politely told them if water sent by him could not reach his fields in Punjab, how could it reach their ancestors in the heaven. The Guru’s reply startled the people. At first they were a bit perplexed but later began to realise the truth in the Guru’s statement.
image courtesy: ithaasikgurudwaras
GURU NANAK DEV JI while on his eastward journey reached Haridwar. It is a big city in Uttarakhand, on the banks of the river Ganges and is one of the major centers for Hindu pilgrimage. The people, gathered there in large numbers, were bathing in the holy river. GURU NANAK DEV JI observed many people throwing water towards the sun in the east. These people who throwing handfuls of water from river Ganges, towards the sun in the east, believed that by this ritual they could offer water to their dead elders in the next world. This next world was in the East from where the Sun rose. SHRI GURU NANAK DEV JI entered the river for purposes of bathing as other common pilgrims were doing. Instead of throwing water to the east, he, however, started throwing water in the opposite direction towards the west where GURU SAHIB farm was. Taking him as a new visitor, the nearby bathers told him that he was not performing the rituals correctly. They advised him to throw water to the east. Guru Nanak Dev continued throwing water towards the west pretending that he was very much absorbed in the ‘holy’ act and had not heard anything. Soon, many people gathered there to tell him that the proper method of performing the ritual was to throw water in the other direction. His water thrown to the west was of no use to him or to his dead ancestors. The pilgrims thought that the GURU SAHIB was acting strangely and soon many hundreds of bathers surrounded him and were tell GURU SAHIB that he was throwing the water in the wrong direction and that it will never get to his ancestors – who live in the East. They flocked to the GURU SAHIB and laughed at what they thought was a very funny action. The leader of the pilgrims approached and asked GURU SAHIB, “Why are you throwing the holy water to the West in the wrong direction?” By this time many thousand of bather were watching GURU SAHIB. “The water is to be thrown towards the rising sun in the east so that it reaches your dead ancestors.”
GURU SAHIB calmly replied, “I am watering my crops in Punjab. All my crops in my village are dying as there has been no rain” and continued to splash the water to the west. He wanted to irrigate those crops. Hearing GURU SAHIB reply the people started laughing.
The curious spectators asked, “Are you crazy? How can your water reach hundreds of miles away to Punjab from here?” GURU SAHIB replied, “The very same way as yours reaches your ancestors in the other world many millions of miles away. In fact, my farm is quite closer on this very earth.” GURU SAHIB stopped splashing the water. GURU SAHIB became serious and asked, “If the water thrown by me cannot reach a few hundred miles away on this very earth, how can water thrown by you to your dead ancestors reach them in the heavens?” The leader of the pilgrims had no answer to this. The people became silent and started thinking over the reply given by the GURU SAHIB. They had no logical argument to challenge his statement. This made the people think about the uselessness of their ritual. GURU NANAK DEV JI came out of the river and the crowd followed him. The GURU SAHIB calmly told them the truth. He explained that hollow rituals do not have any religious value. They should love, respect and take care of their people, friends and religions when they are alive rather then perform these useless rituals afterward. When people die, they do not need anything from us and neither can we send them anything after they have left this world. After death, people get what they have given to the needy, out of their honest earnings, while living on this earth.
Gurdwara dedicated to Guru Amar Das (at Kankhal near Sati Ghat) – Haridwar,the famous Hindu pilgrimage centre on the banks of Ganga River (the Ganges) was visited by several Gurus at different times, but the only historical Sikh shrine is the Gurdwara at Kankhal near Sati Ghat, three kilometres south of Haridwar. It is dedicated to Guru Amar Das and is managed by Nirmala Sikhs