S S Sodhi
On the way to Leh, do spend some time at the holy Gurudwara Pathar Sahib to meditate and experience the powerful blessings of Guru Nanak Dev ji, who had spent some of his time here on the way to Srinagar.
The place is presently maintained by the local residents and the Indian Army.
Gurdwara Pathar Sahib, is a beautiful Gurudwara Sahib constructed in the memory of Guru Nanak Dev ji, about 25 miles away from Leh, on the Leh-Kargil road, 12000 ft above sea level. The Gurdwara Sahib was built in 1517 to commemorate the visit to the Ladakh region of Guru Nanak Dev ji, who is the founder Guru of the Sikh faith.
During his lifetime Guru Nanak Dev ji travelled to many distant places and one such place was Tibet. Guru Nanak Dev ji was well respected by Tibetan Buddhists who consider him a saint. The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Buddhists in Tibet has confirmed this in his discussions with some Sikh leaders saying that Tibetans revere Guru Nanak Dev ji as a Buddhist saint under the name of Guru Gompka.
In the late 1970s, during the construction of the Leh-Nimu road, a large boulder was found by Lamas in the middle of the road bed covered with Buddhists prayer flags. The boulder was covered with Buddhist prayer flags -the type of flags that are often found/strung by Buddhist Lamas, along mountain ridges and peaks high in the Himalayas to bless the surrounding countryside.
The bulldozer driver tried to push the huge stone to the side but it refused to move. Gunning the engine, he pushed the powerful machine to its limits, but the boulder refused to give way. Suddenly, with a large snap the blade broke and the work stopped. That night the driver had a dream in which a voice told him not to move the stone.
In the morning, he narrated his dream to one of the army officers who guarded the mountain passes of Ladakh. The soldier told him, not to give any importance to the dream. When all efforts to remove the boulder had failed, it was decided to blow it apart with dynamite the next day. That night the army officer also had a dream not to remove the stone. He too decided the dream should be ignored, but early that morning, being Sunday, he and the workers were visited by several Lamas and other Ladakhis who came to tell them the story of a Holy Saint they called Nanak Lama and the unyielding boulder.
Once a wicked demon lived in the area who terrorized the people where the Gurdwara Pathar Sahib is now situated. The people prayed to the Almighty for help. It is said that Guru Nanak Dev ji heard their woes and came to their aid. He settled down on the bank of the river below the hill where the wicked demon lived. Guru Nanak Dev ji blessed the people with sermons and became popular in the area. The locals called him Nanak Lama. Seeing this the demon got into a rage and decided to kill Guru Nanak Dev ji.
One morning when Guru Nanak Dev ji was sitting in meditation, the demon pushed a large ‘pathar ‘ (boulder), down from the hilltop, with the intention of killing Guru Nanak Dev ji. The boulder gained speed as it rumbled down the hillside, but when it touched Guru Nanak Dev ji’s body, it softened like warm wax and came to a halt against his back. Guru Nanak Dev ji kept on meditating unhurt and undisturbed. Thinking that his target had been killed, the demon came down to see but was taken aback to see Guru Nanak Dev ji sitting deep in meditation. In a fit of anger, he tried to push the boulder with his right foot, but as the ‘pathar’ still had the softness of warm wax, his foot got embedded in it. Pulling his foot out from the boulder the demon was dumfounded to see the impression his foot had just left in the stone.
On seeing this, the demon realized his own powerlessness in comparison to the spiritual power of the great Guru Nanak Dev ji. He fell at his feet and begged for forgiveness. Guru Nanak Dev ji advised him to get rid of his wicked ways and asked him to lead a life of a noble person. This changed the life of the demon, who gave up evil deeds and started serving the people.
Guru Nanak Dev ji thereafter continued his holy journey towards Srinagar via Kargil. The ‘pathar’ pushed down by the demon, with the imprint of the body of Guru Nanak Dev ji and the footprint of the demon, is at present on display in Gurdwara Pathar Sahib. It is said that since the visit of Guru Nanak Dev ji (in 1517) to the building of the roadway in 1965, the local Lamas had held the ‘pathar’ sacred and offered prayers to it as, no doubt, they do to this day.
Currently, it is kept inside the Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, which is taken care of by the local residents and the Indian army.
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(The author is a Social Activist and an Education Consultant)
S S Sodhi