I was travelling by train to Southall and noticed that my neighbour was reading Bhai Randhir Singh’s (founder of AKJ) autobiography. We talked very nicely until my fellow traveller asked me if I had been to Nanded and I answered that I did not visit Hindu shrines like Patna and Nanded.
My new friend was a bit shocked and mumbled something about mine being an interesting view and about Guru’s weapons that were in Nanded, and then we arrived in Southall, which ended our conversation.
I have this habit of speaking my mind regardless of circumstances. I will not go into the details of this habit, but my particular sin here is that I started a discussion about a complex issue at a first encounter when there was no chance of properly explaining what I meant.
So here goes : we are the followers of Guru, of the Guru of Gurus, or as Guru Nanak explained to the Sidhs, our Guru is the Formless One. I love and admire the spiritual giants that are our Gurus and Bhagats, who are God’s mouthpieces, but that does not mean that the places where they were born or where they died are ‘holy places’ or should be made into Takhats.
I went to Nankana Sahib and loved it, as the centre of the town looks as if Guru Nanak could appear from around the corner any moment. But it is a town like any other, with some good people, some bad people and a lot of people of the in-between type. The same goes for Anandpur or Amritsar.
I stayed in Panjab from 1996 till 2000 and spent a lot of time at Harmandr Sahib. I was not at all impressed by most of the people connected with the SGPC and I met some really good members of the sangat, but there were also good SGPC employees and bad members of the sangat. I had some wonderful experiences at Harmandr Sahib, but also some pretty bad ones.
The Patna and Nanded ‘Takhats’ perform even more unnecessary ritual than ordinary Gurdwaras, where the ‘Dasam Granth’ is put on equal footing with the Guru Granth Sahib, and whose Jathedars have a habit of taking positions based on South Asian culture and not on Gurmat.
Only Akal Takhat was founded by Guru, but even that never meant that the person in charge of this Takhat is the pope or the archbishop of the Sikhs.
The whole concept of holy places does not stand up in the light of Gurmat. Holiness is connected to deeds, and no doubt Guru Gobind Singh did very good and holy things in Patna and Nanded, but even in his days others did things in those places that were indifferent, not so wonderful or thoroughly bad. Feel free to visit wherever you feel like going, and read whatever book you want to read, but there is only One God and One Guru Granth.