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Opinion Op Ed 11 Oct 2019 Mystic mantra: The l ...
Kulbir Kaur teaches sociology at Shyama Prasad Mukherji College, Delhi University

Mystic mantra: The legend of Gurdwara Panja Sahib

Published Oct 11, 2019, 12:22 am IST
Updated Oct 11, 2019, 12:22 am IST
As the divine word resonated in the air, people flocked to the Guru and started visiting him.
Guru Nanak.
 Guru Nanak.

Once Guru Nanak, along with his lifelong companion Mardana, reached a place known as Hasan Abdul, near Rawalpindi. They decided to rest at the foot of a hill. Sitting under a tree, Guru Nanak recited a Shabad while Mardana played the musical instrument, the rabab.

As the divine word resonated in the air, people flocked to the Guru and started visiting him. There used to live a Muslim fakir called Wali Khandhar on the top of a hill. He could see a larger number of people visiting Guru Nanak than him. Wali Khandar also had access to a spring of fresh water on the top of the hill.


Annoyed by Guru Nanak’s popularity, he took a very strange decision. He thought if he couldn’t stop the flow of people towards the Guru, he could stop the flow of water to the hamlet below. And this is exactly what he did. When people pleaded to him to release the water, Wali Khandhar flatly refused.

Guru Nanak asked Mardana, who was feeling very thirsty with no access to water, to approach Wali Khandhar and request him to release water. Mardana went up to the hill and asked for water to quench his thirst. Wali Khandhar sent him back and said if the Guru was so accomplished why didn’t he produce water for the people.


Mardana narrated the entire incident but Guru Nanak still insisted that he should try one more time and ask for water with more humility. But even this time Mardana came back empty-handed.

The people requested the Guru to guide them and solve their problem. Guru Nanak asked them to have faith in God and directed them to remove a large stone. When they pushed the stone aside, fresh water gushed forth from the ground, like new hope. Wali Khandhar was shocked to discover his own spring had meanwhile dried up. Full of resentment and anger, he pushed a huge boulder down the hill in the direction of the Guru, hoping the boulder would crush him. The Guru gently stopped the huge stone with his hand and the imprint of his palm (panja) got engraved on the stone.


When Wali Khandhar saw this, he required no further proof and became the Guru’s follower. The rock with the hand imprint is embedded at a place now known as Panja Sahib gurdwara. Clear, fresh spring water gushes out from behind the rock and drops into a sacred pool. A deep imprint of a right hand is clearly visible on the rock.

A beautiful gurdwara, Panja Sahib, is built at the spot, now in Pakistan. From the courtyard of the shrine one can see the hilltop where Baba Wali Khandhar used to live and from where he is supposed to have rolled the rock. The hilltop has also a shrine named after Baba Khandhar and attracts many devotees from the surrounding areas.


In this simple sakhi, Guru Nanak has presented the attributes of the Almighty who, like an all pervasive nature, is merciful, and offers all the resources universally. Compared to the vastness and scope of God, what we are — but tiny particles on the creative canvas.

“Humility”, “sabr”(patience), “naam-simran” and “Sarat da bhala” (welfare of entire humanity) are the traits of a true Sikh.