Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Guru Nanak in Turkey Part 2


I was attending an International Conferenceon Bioenergy in Istanbul, Turkey in 1994 where I also presented my research work on the ”Production of Ethanolas a Source of Energy from Wood". On the last day of the conference all the participants went on a cruise in the Straits of the Bosporus (literally cattle crossing), which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmora (about 32 km) long. The Straits of the Bosporus divide the East (the Mainland of Turkey in on the Asian Continent) and the West (Istanbul is situated on the European Continent).

On my return from the cruise, when I was walking towards the bus waiting for us, I discovered a big monument. This monument is about 15 ft high and about 6ft wide constructed in mortar. It is situated in a public park at the shore of the Straits of Bosporus towards Istanbul, Turkey. It has an inscription in Arabic/Persian script. When I looked at the inscription on this monument I found very clearly "Nanak" inscribed at the end of the first line of its inscription. The bulk of the inscription is not legible because of the effects of weathering. There are some small and big cracks which have been filled with cement.

Moreover, it is in the old Turkish language in an Arabic script which is difficult to decipher. However, I was able to make out the word — "Nanak" for sure, since I know the Arabic alphabet. I decided to take a picture of the monument with its inscription for further investigation later. Next morning I returned home to Canada. On my return I consulted a student of mine from Turkey to decipher the inscription. She was, however, unable to decipher the inscription because the severe weathering had rendered it unlegible. Then I consulted a couple of more people from Turkey, again without any success. Further research to decipher its inscription remained dormant for 12 years until I visited Lahore, Pakistan to participate in an International Conference on "Guru Nanak Heritage for Peace" on February 18,2006


I found the importance of the monument only when Mr. Iqbal Kaiser, the author of a book, "Sikh Shrines in Pakistan", and Mr. Syed Afzal Haider, Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, who is the author of a book, Baba Nanak, helped me to decipher the first line of the inscription, which is in the Turkish language. It seemed to clearly indicate that it was dedicated to Guru Nanak. The first line deciphered by them is as follows:

In Turkish language (Transliterated in Gurmukhi Script):
ਜਹਾਂਗੀਰ ਜਮਾਂ ਹਿੰਦ ਲਤ ਅਬਦ ਅਲ ਮਾਜੀਦ ਨਾਨਕ ।
(Jehangir jaman hind lat abd al majid Nanak.)
Meanings in Punjabi:
ਜਮਾਨੇਦਾ ਮਾਲਕ, ਹਿੰਦ ਦਾ ਬੰਦਾ,ਰਬ ਦਾ ਨਾਨਕ ।
(jamanay-da malik, hind dabanda, rab da Nanak)
Meanings in English:
The Lord of the time, resident of India, Nanak the man of God.

The rest of the long inscription is not legible and is still to be deciphered.


The above new discovery of a monument of Guru Nanak may connect the travel of Guru Nanak from Mecca to Israel, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey and then to Baghdad rather than directly to Baghdad from Mecca as is generally accepted. The general accepted travel of Guru Nanak, entirely based on the information given by Fauja Singh and Kirpal Singh, is drawn in solid lines. According to them, Guru Nanak started his travel from Talwandi to Sultanpur to meet his sister before proceeding to a long travel.

From Sultanpur he went to Pakpattan (Ajodhan) to renew his old contacts with Sheikh Ibrahim Farid II. From there he proceeded to Multan to meet Baha-ud-Din, a descendant and successor of famous Sheikh Baha-ud-Din Zakria, founder of Suhrawardhy Sufi Silslah in India. From Multan, Guru Nanak proceeded to Uch (Deogarh). Here Guru Nanak had a meeting with Sheikh Haji Abdulla Bukhari (d.1526 CE), a successor of Kalal-ud-Din Bhukhari.

From Uch to Sukkur to Lakhpat (Basta Bander) probably by boat (in river Sind?). There is an old Gurdwara here in the memory of Guru Nanak's visit. From here he proceeded to the sea shore where at Kuriani, he visited old temples of Koteshwar and Narayna Swami. From there he proceeded further to Sonmiani(or simply Miani). Before boarding a boat to Mecca he visited a Hindu temple in Hinglaj. There is a Nanak Dharamsala (inn) in this town.

According to Fauja Singh and Kirpal Singh, Guru Nanak boarded a boat which sailed from Sonmiani through Gulf of Eden and Red Sea to Jeddah (Al Aswad),a port near Mecca. They say that after visiting Mecca and Medina, Guru Nanak travelled directly to Baghdad in Iraq then to Tehran and Kabul and finally back to (Talwandi) Kartarpur. They argued that Guru Nanak followed direct and shortest route to Baghdad than that of long route through Palestine, Syria, and Turkey as mentioned in some Janam Sakhis.

However, Dr Trilochan Singh has reported that there are some indications that Guru Nanak visited Cairo(Egypt) where during the war Sikh soldiers were shown a place on the out skirts of the town where there was a stone memorial (Captain Bhag Singh, Founding Managing Editor of the Sikh Review, was told about the existence of this monument when he was at Cairo during World War II. Unfortunately he could not go there and see. Dr Trilochan Singh has also reported from the work of Sydney Nettleton Fisher that in Egypt or in Istanbul(Turkey) Guru Nanak had met the Emperor of Rum Salim (1511-1520CA). Dr Trilochan Singh further says that Guru Nanak might have visited Jerusalem.

Because of a lack of any solid evidence, Fauja Singh and Kirpal Singh further strengthened their views that the shortest route from Baghdad to Mecca was first marked and prepared for Khalifa Harun Rashid's wife, Zubaida Begum, for Hajj (the pilgrimage) to Mecca. And then during 14th century Ibn Batula adopted the same route for his journey from Baghdad to Mecca. They have ignored the fact that the passage to Palestine, Syria, and Turkey and then to Baghdad might be easier than that of direct route proposed by them.

They have also ignored another fact that while in Mecca, Guru Nanak was very close to the center of ancient civilization in Cairo (Egypt) and the center of the Jews, Jerusalem (Israel), and a Sufi center established by Hazrat Moulana Jallaluddin Rumi in Konya (Turkey), whose philosophy was very prevalent not only in the Middle East but also in India and now in the West.

Since Guru Nanak has not left any place connected with Sufism, and religious centers, therefore, there is every possibility that Guru Nanak might have visited the ancient civilization in Cairo(Egypt), Wailing Wall of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem, Sufi center started by Sufi Rumiin Konya (Turkey) and might have met the Emperor of Rum, Salim, in Istanbul(Turkey). If the inscription on the newly discovered monument confirms that it is a memorial to Guru Nanak then it will confirm that Guru Nanak did not proceed from Mecca directly to Baghdad but went to Cairo, Jerusalem, Syria, and Konya and Istanbul in Turkey and then to Baghdad

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