MASH-HAD is a historic town of Iran. Guru Nanak Sahib and Bhai Mardana visited this town on their way from Mecca and Baghdad in 1519-20. Guru Nanak Dev jee visited Iran during his fourth Udasi towards west. From Baghdad in Iraq he went to Khorramabad, then after that he went to Mashad.
Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran and capital of Razavi Khorasan Province. It is located in the northeast of the country. Its population was 2,749,374 at the 2011 census and its metro area was home to 2,782,976 inhabitants including Mashhad Taman and Torqabeh cities. It was a major oasis along the ancient Silk Road connecting with Merv in the East.
The second-largest holy city in the world, Mashhad attracts more than 20 million tourists and pilgrims every year. Famous philosopher Firdausi and Al Ghazali were born in this town. Muslim Shiaite Khalifa Harun Al Rashid died in this town.
Much has been written about Guru Nanak’s Gurdwara in Baghdad. I would like to add a little more. During his third great travel (1518-1521-Tiji Udasis), Guru Nanak visited some Arabic Muslim countries along with Bhai Mardana. On his way back from Mecca, Guruji came to Baghdad via Medina, Khuram Shahr (Iran), Basra and Karbla. After Mecca, Madina and Karbla are the two other holy shrines of Muslims.
In Baghdad (1520), Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana put their camp in a graveyard, outside Baghdad town. Here Guruji had religious discourse with Pir Dasat Gir successor and Seikh Behlol and his son. Guru Nanak convinced Pir Behlol, his son and others that there are so many patals (earths) and Akashs (sky). Pir Behlol and his son were so much impressed by Guru Nanak that they became his true devotees along with others.
Swami Anadacharya also mentioned Guru Nanak’s visit to Baghdad and religious discourse with Pir Behlol long ago in his famous book “The Snow Bird” published in 1918 from London. Later, a Punjabi poet translated Swami Anadacharya’s poem in Punjabi entitled “Sil Te Betha Faquir” (a saint sitting on a big stone). Pir Behlol and his son soon started living there with Guruji. They requested Guru Nanak to stay there for some more time. Guruji and Mardana stayed at Baghdad for 4-6 months.
The Queen of Baghdad had no child. By the blessings of Guru Nanak, a son was born to the Queen and she offered a chola (robe) to Guru Nanak prepared by herself, having the hymns of Quaran on it. That chola is still lying in Gurdwara Chola Sahib at Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur district, Punjab. From Baghdad, Guruji came back to India in 1521 A.D. via Kabul, Jalalabad, Turkey; through Khyber Pass to Peshawar and Panga Sahib (Hassan Ibdal) near Rawalpindi in West Punjab.
Guru Nanak visited many other places in Arabic and South East Asian countries such as Tibet, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand. Nobody bothered to preserve these holy places. I had a chance to visit Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand and a few Arab countries, especially those visited by Guru Nanak and Guru Teg Bahadur. All are in a bad shape. Only a few local people offer some prayers there. Even the SGPC officials may not know those places; some historic shrines have vanished. We need to take care of them to spread Guru Nanak Dev’s message of universal fatherhood or oneness of God. International brotherhood of mankind, love, peace and harmony can also be spread.
MALKIAT SINGH SAINI, Ropar