Context: Prime Minister inaugurated Integrated Check Post and flagged off the first batch of pilgrims at Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in Gurdaspur, Punjab. The first jatha of over 500 Indian pilgrims crossed the 4.2-km stretch from Gurdaspur to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur on November 9.
Kartarpur corridor: Kartarpur marks the most significant and constructive phase in the life of Guru Nanak Dev.
The Union Cabinet passed a resolution in 2018 to celebrate the historic occasion of 550th Birth Anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Devji in a grand and befitting manner, throughout the country and across the globe. Nanak’s followers started observing the day of his enlightenment as his birth anniversary, even though he was born in April 1469.
The Union Cabinet approved the building and development of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the International Boundary, to facilitate pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, round the year, in a smooth and easy manner.
Portal for Registration: prakashpurb550.mha.gov.in
The Agreement with Pakistan: It provides a formal framework for operationalisation of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.
Highlights of the agreement:
- Indian pilgrims of all faiths and people of Indian origin can use the corridor;
- The travel will be Visa Free.
- Pilgrims need to carry only a valid passport/
- Persons of Indian Origin need to carry OCI card along with the passport of their country;
- The Corridor is open from dawn to dusk. Pilgrims travelling in the morning will have to return on the same day;
- The Corridor will be operational throughout the year, except on notified days, to be informed in advance.
- Pilgrims will have a choice to visit as individuals or in groups, and also to travel on foot;
- India will send the list of pilgrims to Pakistan 10 days ahead of travel date. Confirmation will be sent to pilgrims 4 days before the travel date.
- The Pakistan side has assured India on sufficient provision for ‘Langar’ and distribution of ‘Prasad’.
Integrated Check Post, Kartarpur Corridor:
- Integrated Check Post would facilitate, Indian Pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartapur Sahib in Pakistan.
- Provisions made for facilitation of Pilgrims:
- The 4.2 Kmfour-lane highway connecting Dera Baba Nanak from Amritsar – Gurdaspur Highway is constructed.
- Passenger Terminal Building: The fully air-conditioned building akin to an airport has over 50 immigration counters for facilitating about 5000 pilgrims a day.
It has all the necessary public amenities like kiosks, washrooms, childcare, first aid medical facilities, prayer room and snacks counters inside the main building.
- Robust security infrastructure: it includes CCTV surveillance and public address systems.
The importance of Kartarpur in the Sikh religion
- “It was at Kartarpur where Guru Nanak gave the three Gs — Gurdwara, the Granth, and the Guru himself — that underpin the Sikh faith.
- Guru Nanak’s compositions: Japuji Sahib, is the starting point of Guru Granth sahib. Besides kirtan (praise of God), Nanak also introduced his followers to ‘katha’, exposition of his composition or other issues.
- Guru Nanak dev:
- He laid foundation of new faith on the banks of the River Ravi.
- Talwandi to Kartarpur: He had spent the formative years of his life at Talwandi. Guru Nanak came to the town between 1520 and 1522, after he had travelled widely across continents. The next 10 years of Guru Nanak’s life were spent at Sultanpur Lodhi, where he gained enlightenment. He finally came to Kartarpur rich with experiences gained from his interactions with rulers, common people, clergymen, and thinkers. He was offered this piece of land by a ‘karori’ (administrator of a pargana), that’s why he named it as Kartarpur.
- Goal of life:
- The supreme purpose of human life is to gain enlightenment or a state of union with God. It was at Kartarpur that he taught his followers the way to liberation.
- According to Guru NanaK a person who works hard and shares the fruits of his labour can recognise the true path and the path of Liberation is “naam japo, kirrt karo, wand chhako (worship, work, and share)”.
- Nanak believed in the importance of singing the praises of God as a way to gain liberation. Nanak preached that every human being, regardless of his family, caste, creed or gender, can attain liberation by following the three principles of work, worship and sharing.
- Nanak believed that spiritual life is better pursued as a householder, for it allows you to help others. It was at Kartarpur that he gave the distinctive feature of Sikh identity – service before self.
- Guru Nanak and his followers cultivated the land at Kartarpur, and also reared cattle. Guru Nanak used to bring his cattle to graze at the well of Ranjita Randhawa, a landlord at Pakhoke Randhawa, now called Dera Baba Nanak from where the Kartarpur Corridor starts, a few kilometres from Kartarpur.
- ‘Dharamsal’ (a place where dharma or merit is earned) at Kartarpur, where he and his followers would sing his compositions in the morning and evening.
- Introduction of Langar: It was at Kartarpur that Nanak started the concept of ‘langar’, a community meal prepared in a community kitchen where everyone would sit on the floor and eat together regardless of their social background.
- He made the Guru and disciple interchangeable.
Who are Nanak Naam Lewa?
The core values of Guru Nanak’s philosophy are not based on any one religion and nor are the Nanak Naam Lewa Sangat, who belong to other religions too.
- Nanak Naam Lewa: Any person who believes in Guru Nanak and follows his teachings in life, irrespective of belonging to any religion is a Nanak Naam Lewa/Nanakpanthi. There are syncretic groups of people in this region who are followers of Guru Nanak irrespective of them being Sikhs or Hindus. Guru Nanak had spread the message of oneness and people from different faiths had become his followers. Nanak simply cannot be limited to just one religion and he is known as Jagat Guru. There is a segment of Nanakpanthis who go to gurdwara as well as temple in Pakistan. According to rough estimates, there are 12-15 crore Nanak Naam Lewas across the world but then there is no specific count and there cannot be. Within India alone, they are spread across states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana among others
- Nanakpanthi culture: The syncretic faith of the ‘Nanakpanthi’ communities continues to be practiced in the Indus belt, which their forefathers’ followed before the Partition in 1947. There is no defining line drawn between cultures and faiths. People might identify them as Hindus or Sikhs, but Guru Nanak is the essential fabric of their existence.
- Why Kartarpur should be open to all religions:
- It is against the basic teachings of Nanak to differentiate his followers on the basis of religion. If Pakistan had to waive off certain conditions, it should be done for all and not just the Sikhs. Guru’s ghar (gurdwara) is open for everyone all the time and none can be differentiated on the basis of religion. In fact, Nanak believed in humanity not religions.
- Guru Nanak broke religious barriers: From Mecca to Haridwar, from Sylhet to Mt Kailash, Guru Nanak visited hundreds of interfaith sites related to Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism throughout his journeys. To spread the message of oneness and to break barriers across faiths by engaging in spiritual dialogues, the Guru travelled far and wide during the 15th and 16th centuries
- The Mausoleum: According to Baba Sukhdeep Singh Bedi(the 17th descendent) ,when Guru Nanak died the followers found flowers as his remains. Both Hindus and Muslims divided the white sheet and flowers into two. While the Muslims buried these under a mazaar, the Hindus put these in an urn and buried it alongside. Gurdwara Darbar Sahib came up on this place and the locals still pray at the mazaar there.
When the place got flooded, Nanak’s son Sri Chand dug up the urn and brought it to Pakhoke Randhawa (Dera Baba Nanak) where Gurdwara Dera Sahib was built on it.