Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Importance of a Story

If TRUTH and STORY  ....The two beautiful sisters can weave a magic,and have been doing so for centuries,the it is evident that we need to bring back the culture of story telling.

The Importance of Story
 Stories have been used for many millennia to teach the new generation. The elders of ancient civilisations used stories to teach the young generation. The lessons might have related to the values of the society, their particular version of how they came to be, their purpose on the earth, hunting......and fertility.
In the Victorian era fairy tales were found to kindle imaginations and thinking power of a child. Since then, they have become an all time favourite amongst children of all ages.

Then there are moral stories that teach lessons of life to children and also help them cope with different situation in life.... Stories based on mythology and Guru’s are considered to be the most knowledgeable stories from which children imbibe virtues and ethics. Traditional stories are a great way to carry on traditional beliefs and values from one generation to another.
 Then, there are funny stories that entertain children and bedtime stories that help them have a peaceful sleep all night. Similarly, there are various other types of kid's stories that directly or indirectly influence the entire life a child

One key to seamless flow of traditions from generation to generation is a "story". Storytelling is an age old Punjabi experience - not just the great stories of the past but even human interest subject which touch each one of us.

What we are trying to say is that all around us there are personal stories; Tales of courage, adventure, faith etc....All these are stories, stories worth telling and experiences worth sharing.
         Do You have a story to tell?

Write To Me ....

Monday, December 27, 2010

If Truth be Told

If Truth be Told

If Truth be told

I came across this Jewish parable and found it a very powerful...... 
Two beautiful sisters lived in their little cottage across the little wooden bridge, at the edge of the woods. One day sitting under a big elm tree, they bantered with each other to who was more beautiful and popular.

 It was sundown...well almost, and the moot point was put to test for the village folks to decide.Come twilight they dressed each to their own style and to begin with one sister walked down the village main street..... The townsfolk disdainfully ignored her...she reached the far end and thought to herself...  ‘Something is amiss’, why do people turn their back on me, perhaps I should be more audacious. Hmmm!!! Perhaps I could  disrobe....Now when she walked back, naked and startlingly beautiful in the amber sunset, the few people left on the streets turned their back on her and shut the door on her face and left her standing all alone.She was so distraught that sobbing she ran towards the woods, her sister came out and heard the story.
Do you know the name of the sisters...TRUTH and STORY.

TRUTH told STORY all the townsfolk mistreated her, how sad and lonely she was, how much she wanted to accepted and appreciated.
STORY replied, "Of course they all reject you",said STORY and looked at TRUTH, eyes a bit lowered to the side and remarked assiduously, ‘My dear, no-one wants to look at the naked truth.’

So STORY gave TRUTH, her shimmering beautiful robes to wear. And they walked into the town looking radiant together , TRUTH with STORY. And the towns people greeted them with warmth and love and appreciation, for TRUTH wrapped in STORY’s clothing is a beautiful thing and easy to behold.
And ever since then, truth travels with story, and they are always accepted and loved. And that's the way it was and the way it is and the way it will always be.......So my dear friends truth I will tell.....but as stories....soon ...very soon.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Lil' Santa.....Big Santa

Lil' Santa .....Big Santa

He was dressed all in red and fur, from his head to his foot.
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread

Our Lil' Santa

Merry Christmas & Happy Days To ALL

Friday, December 24, 2010

Who is Santa Claus?

Who is Santa Claus?
Ho Ho Ho!!!

For all the kids’ world over Santa Claus is real….But let me share a story with you that he was really real…. And this is the true story of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus, is also known as Saint Nicholas, is called Kris Kringle as well, or we could simply call him "Santa". He is a lovable figure in the western world and is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children on Christmas eve.
By 1920 Santa Claus was generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white fur trimmed collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots—
This is Santa of the 20th century brought to life by works of popular illustrators….And this how we picture Santa today, living at The North Pole north, in a land of everlasting snow…. With his wife Mrs Claus, and large number  of magical elves, and at least eight or nine reindeer.

Wake up Santa.....Sleigh is ready and waiting
Mrs Claus would wake up Santa on Christmas eve and say...Be on your way Santa the children of the world are waiting for you.

This is the Santa of today….
Long long ago the true story was different. 
Born nearly 2000 years ago, not too long after the days of Jesus Christ, just about 3 centuries  you could say,Nicholas was born to wealthy parents in a tiny village ‘Patara’ in Greece but it would be Turkey today.
Though Nicholas was a child born in a well to do house, he was raised a Christian and at a very young age was devoted to the faith.
Nicholas' parents died while he was a little boy. He was lost and knew not what to do with himself or the fortune he inherited. He turned to his Bible and read the words that Christ gave to a wealthy man: "Sell all thou hath and give it to the poor and follow me".
Nicholas went to his village priest, and expressed the desires of his heart. He wished to become a priest.
Patara Turkey

St Nicholas

Because he was an orphan, the priest took him in. And soon he found that Nicholas was no ordinary boy. Legend tells the story of a young Nicholas visiting the Holy Land with his village priest. On the return voyage, over stormy waters, their ship was cast about and all aboard feared for their lives. Nicholas prayed for the safety of the passengers and crew. The storm passed and the waters calmed. . His faith amazed  the people.
The village priest was fond of Nicholas. But he knew Nicholas lacked the education and the credentials necessary to become a priest. He would need a miracle if it was to happen.
 And a miracle is just what happened.
In the not too distant city of Myra, the Bishop of the church passed away and the powers that be of the church assembled to consider his replacement.
 The man considered wisest amongst them had a dream and was visited by an angel  and he asked him…. "Who should the new Bishop be?”.
The angel said that all of you just wait by the door of the church  and select the first person named Nicholas to walk through the doors.
St Nicholas ...Bishop of Myra
Nicholas had his miracle and was named the youngest bishop of the church ever on record.
As a young Bishop, Nicholas was plucky. And outspoken in his defense of the faith.

Nicholas was loved dearly by the people of Myra for his kindness especially to children. One such story  became a legend that has survived for centuries. In his town where he was Bishop, Nicholas once gave an anonymous gift to a man with three daughters. The family was destitute of means. The custom of the time was that each daughter would need to be provided with a dowry in order to marry. Because they were poor, the father of the three daughters was contemplating selling his children into slavery.
Nicholas heard of their plight and on a dark night soon after the eldest daughter came to marrying age, he tossed a small bag of gold through an open window …though some say he tossed it down the chimney. As the second daughter came of age he repeated the deed, again doing so anonymously.
As the third daughter came of age the father waited up nights to catch the gift-giver in order to express his gratitude. His persistence paid off as he caught Bishop Nicholas in the act.
This story is told in many lands, although some of the details change from one telling to another.
 Some say it was not bags of gold but rather balls of gold that Nicholas left.
 Some say he tossed them into the chimney where they landed in the hanging stockings or the drying shoes of the unmarried girls.

 That is why some, to remember this event, by celebrating Christmas with an an orange in the toe of a stocking.

Nicholas was known for many such deeds. Miracles were attributed to the Bishop of Myra because of his great faith.
Reputation of Nicholas to spread. He became, over time, the patron saint of children and of innocents.
So famous did Nicholas become that no other name in the church, save Jesus and the Virgin Mary were so widely known or respected. More than 2000 churches in the Old World bore the name of Saint Nicholas. And his legend only grew as the centuries passed.
This is just the beginning of the story of Santa Claus. ……from the good Bishop of Myra to a man in red robes, a man with a long beard, and a man known for anonymous giving -- especially to children.

And Ho Ho Ho.....Santa comes down the chimney even today bringing gifts for all the kids on his reindeer sleigh.

I would appreciate your feedback....Comments....etc



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gently Flows the Ravi in Land of Nanak

The area between the rivers Ravi and the Chenab is locally known as Sandal Bar, within which lies the legendary city of Nankana Sahib where our ‘Pehali Patshahi’ Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born.

Towards the south of Nankana Sahib lies a mound ,it is called Dhaular.  You would be surprised that Dhaular bears reference in the Guru Granth Sahib as well. It was the  royal palace and  is spread over hundreds of square yards and is  less than half a kilometre from the town of Nankana Sahib

What more, it is supposed that during pre- historic times, when Kurus and Pandvas fought the battle of Kurukshetra, there was one Raja Virat of Multan at a place by the name of Kotli. The mound with its two wells at its base seems to be the remains of the ruins of Kotli.

The well towards the north of the mound is an old drinking water well called Sitawala. This well with deep flight of steps built in heavy lime masonry leads to its underground spring ….the women of the palace maybe took these steep steps to reach the pure cold spring water. This well in fact, authenticates the antiquity of the site, it was called after one of the princesses and who was perhaps called Sita, it’s her name that the well bears to this day.

Another equally old well to the east of the mound is known as Bala wala well in the revenue records of the place.It appears to have derived its name from  Bhai Bala, a contemporary of Guru Nanak.

Any further excavation of the mound to trace its past history has not been possible so far, as almost the entire mound is covered with Muslim tombs and it would be considered as an extreme disrespect and blasphemy, to dig up the graves.

That was the distant past of this land on the banks of river Ravi …..

In the year 1469 AD , Guru Nanak was born in Rai Bhoi di Talwandi. This town some centuries later later came to be called Nankana sahib in Sheikhupura district near Lahore. Today it is a new district in Pakistan under its own aegis and called Nankana sahib.

 Guru Nanak travelled extensively for about 15 years. In the later days of his life, he settled down at Kartarpur in Sialkot district ……again on the banks of river Ravi .It is from here he  left for his heavenly abode at the age of 70.

All his life the all the messages he gave were simple…one of the most crucial one was…That there is no Hindu, there is no Muslim, all are equal in the eyes of God. Today, sadly  the land of  Baba Nanak, that is both his  his ‘Janam bhoomi   and Karam Bhoomi ‘ stands  separated  by manmade borders  created on Hindu Muslim  divides.

Nanakpura sahib from the Indo-Pak border
Bordering the international border,and on the left side of the river Ravi, that is on the India side is Dera Baba Nanak and adjacent to it is the historic village Pakhoke. It was here that Duni Chand, the then Governor of the area met Guru Nanak and offered 100 acres of land to Guru Sahib. ‘Kindly permit me to dedicate all this land to you’ he beseeched….. ‘Allow me to build here a village for you and your disciples’ to live in.’ Let us call the village Nanakpur’ he suggested,  as  it was in  sync with tradition of the time when the landowners name was used to name the village and the neighbourhood.
But the Guru smiled and said, “Let it be as you please, but as the land is of Kartar….. The God is the only  Creator, and you are blessed for dedicating it to divine service. We shall call the village Kartarpur, the seat of Kartar, the Creator.”
This land was on the right and left bank of river Ravi.

  Guru Nanak accepted the gift of land and decided to settle there and build a little community. Kartarpur thus became the first hub which founded many a sikhi traditions .Kartarpur was on the right bank of the river. There is a reference in the historical books that Guru formally laid the foundation of Kartarpur on Magh 13, 1572 Bikrmi year...that corresponds to 1515 AD.

Guru started this small farming commune, he cultivated and ploughed the fields himself, and of course, his devotees worked there as well. By example he showed that salvation could be obtained  honorably through dignity of labour  amidst jollity and laughter,caring and sharing the bounties.Many stories abound of his life and times at Kartarpur.

  •  Jamabandi of years variously
 1922, 23 and 1924..BS oraya

According to historical narrations, The Great Guru spent last  almost 18 years of life from 1522 AD till he left this material world on September 22, 1539 AD, at this village of Kartarpur on the bank of River Ravi in Narowal district of Pakistan cultivating land to earn living for his family and preaching.
It was here the ‘Sangat’ the congregation gathered here daily to listen to Kirtan the   Gurbani music and the Guru’s discourse.
It was for the first time in the history of Indian sub continent perception and conception of ‘Langar’ began.
It was here that the Guru wrote the Japji and made his living by farming.
It was here that Bhai Leha, later Guru Agad, came to receive instruction.
It was here that, after nominating Agad his spiritual successor, he passed away on Assū vādī 10, 1596 Bkirami - 7 September 1539 AD.

Even today Kartarpur is the symbol of international harmony where all the three prominent religion of the region converge, in spite of the religious divides.

KARTĀRPUR - literally meaning the 'Abode of the Creator' - a village on the right bank of the River Rāvī in the present Siālko district of West Punjab and usually called Kartārpur Rāvī to distinguish it from another town of the same name in Jalandhar district of East Punjab. 

This is the sacred 'Bhoomi'' to the Gurū of Gurūs.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One person. One place . Three religions. Three memorials for this one person

Guru Nanak traveled to far-away lands in all four directions. He went towards the East, the North, the South and even westwards to Mecca. Some say , though I cannot substantiate it, that  he went all the way up to Rome .It was at the end of these long journeys ,that  Guru Nanak came and settled down at Kartarpur.He called it the town of Kartar…the Creator…  it was on the bank of river Ravi  in Punjab,that is the erstwhile Greater Punjab, now in the  Pakistan part of Punjab.

 He lived here, a life of a regular house holder with his family till his demise in 1539. But he was always surrounded by people, hordes of people, and all his devoted disciples in great number.

Scores of them ran shops and were what we call today retailers and wholesalers, others were farmers at Kartarpur.  Visitors came to visit the Guru everyday from far and near and the message he succeeded in conveying was simple…lead a normal life,  make an honest living and share your blessings and love.

The life he lead  very clearly  illustrated that to attain our place in heaven we do not have to become a hermit in Himalayas nor do we have to forfeit all, and go into ashrams.
He said renunciation was not the only path for mere mortals.
Once he settled in Kartarpur, for the first time on Indian subcontinent he ran a community kitchen the 'Langar' and asked the so called high and low caste people to dine a ‘pangat'
Bhai Gurdas Ji tells us that usually after the morning meals were served in the community kitchen , all the 'sangat'….even  those  who came as visitors  worked in some labor-intensive job or the other.
 The Guru himself ploughed his land to reap the crops, he used to get up early in the morning, take bath and then hold the morning prayers.  Guru Nanak, like all his ‘sangat’’ labored on the farm, his disciples worked with him in his fields with pleasure. 

The Guru was enthusiastic and took delight in sowing wheat, and reaping the golden harvest….The joy he exhibited, was childlike in a way.
According to historical narrations, Kartarpur Sahib is the place where the Great  Guru Nanak Dev spent about 18 years of life from 1522 AD till he left this material world on September 22, 1539 AD, at this village of Kartarpur on the bank of River Ravi in Narowal district of Pakistan cultivating land to earn living for his family and preaching.

 We know that anything and everything that is born in life as flesh must perish and die one day. As it is said ’dust on to dust’. Everyone is mortal and his or her earthly stopover must end. So, for Guru Nanak also the time came for an end to his earthly existence. 
By the time the call of the creator came ,Guru Nanak  had a large following of Hindus who regarded him a Guru and an equally large and devoted following of Muslims who regarded him a Pir …..or wise one. His message was to unite humanity through introspection ,but ironical as it may seem at the time of his ‘deh tyag’ the country side erupted in a controversial dispute, and the community stood divided.

Since the Guru's followers had been raised as Hindus or Muslims  and they had different methods of performing the last rites, an argument arose over whether the Guru's body should be cremated or buried. Traditionally, Hindus cremate while Muslims bury the bodies of loved ones after death.
The folklore, parables and history set a picture for us…..It is said, that at his death a bitter argument broke out between his followers, both who were followers of Hinduisms and those who followed the tennets of Islam. The discord was tearing down the harmony that Nanak had worked tirelessly to forge….What does this tell us, more or less it is frailties of human nature….and that it is hard to transform or change our spots and stripes. Well, I presume, the extra baggage accumulated over the years isn’t always easy to shake off.
Nanak was no more now, but his body was there and his followers loved him too much and they were acrimoniously divided to stake claim.

What to do they do now?
 The Muslims wanted to bury him in accordance with Islamic requirements and rites. The Hindus wanted to follow the Hindu way and cremate Nanak. Emotions ran high; compromise was not in sight.
It is rightly said that people will argue for religion, have petty squabble over it, come to blows and kill for it and even die with a notion of martyrdom.
But what is really surprising is that we have not and maybe never learn to love and live in the name of our belief.
However coming back to the day when Guru Nanak left for his heavenly abode. The war of words was fought over Nanak's body bitterly and the atmospherics were charged with palpable emotive arguments.

Ultimately it was decided that flowers would be placed by each group on his body. Whosoever's flowers were found withered the next morning would loose the claim. 
 The wait lasted through the night.
Now what  would happen when the day dawned?

It is said that the next morning when the cloth sheet was removed the Guru's body was missing and both sets of flowers were found as fresh as when they were placed.
In the morning, when they lifted the sheet that covered Nanak's corpse, there was no Nanak but only a sheet and a bunch of fresh flowers.
 What do we call this …A miracle?
Well that’s what all the people thought at that time. For them it was redemption, they had been saved .Now there was an acceptable solution…..Baba had saved them from a potentially hostile situation.
Now they could amicably divide the cover sheet and the flowers - The Hindus could cremate them; those who followed the tenets of Islam would bury their half.
The Hindus were satisfied. The Muslim were satisfied.
Hindus built a Samadhi to Nanak; the Muslims erected the grave of their own

The Mazar
The Samadhi

Even today the two stand, next to each other within the Gurudwara and the place is equally important for the Muslims as they had constructed the grave of their Hazrat Baba Guru Nanak,out of respect and love.
This gurdwara at  Narowal  in Kartarpur is considered to be one of the eminent  holy places for Sikhs because it is a kind of a memorial to commemorate his life….. where he had spent the last 18 years of his life.
This is the story which has travelled down to us as tradition and folklore ….. Somehow I for one have never heard a differing version…… This is what I have heard all through my life from childhood. …Perhaps some vital facts are overlooked as historical aberrance, nevertheless, today I chose to follow my heart and believe in it in  toto and leave the arguments for another  day for rationalist.
The two communities then decided to divide the cloth sheet that covered the Guru's body and together with the flowers that they had place, one burying it and the other consigning it to fire. Therefore, both a samadhi  as per Hindu tradition a monument of remembrance lies in the Gurdwara at Kartarpur and so does the  grave according to Muslim ritual .Thus a reminder stands for posterity of this joint claim on Guru Nanak by both the communities.
What a wonderful tribute to Nanak; the man, his life and his work.
One person. One place . Three religions. Three memorials for this one person.
How awe-inspiring Nanak's life must have been?