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K.S. Duggal

GURU NANAK AND THE SIKH RELIGION
By W.H. McLeod
Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1976, 30.00

VOLUME II NUMBER 3 May-June 1977

As a little child my mother told me the story of the founding of Panja Saheb: Guru Nanak once came into wilderness with his disciple. It was hot. The disci­ple thirsted for water. But water was nowhere except on top of a hill where a dervish lived. The dervish would not give water to the follower of an unbelie­ver. He turned back the disciple once, twice, thrice. At this the Guru asked the disciple to pick up a rock and a spring burst forth from under it. The well of the dervish went dry. Furious, the dervish hurled a boulder to crush the Guru and his disciple. The disciple was panicky. But the Guru said, ‘Praise be to the Al­mighty, the Formless One!’ and stopped the boulder with the palm of his hand. I was enjoying the tale but when it came to the Guru holding back the boulder with his hand, it gave me a rude shock. It was not possible. ‘How could a man hold back a boulder with the palm of his hand?’ I asked. Not many days later we heard that an 'incident' had taken place at Panja Saheb. In a far away city, the white man had opened fire on freedom fighters and killed many of them. Those that remained had been bundled into a train and were being sent to a prison in another city. The prisoners were thirsty and hungry. How could a train of thirsty people pass by Panja Saheb where the Guru had quenched the thirst of his dis­ciple? The inhabitants of Panja Saheb asked the train to be stopped at their railway station. No one listened to them. They piled the platform with food and water and sat on the track. The train came like a storm. The engine whistled frantically. But no one moved from the track. All along the track they chanted, ‘Praise be to the Almighty, the Formless One.’ The train began to slow down but it took a little time to halt. Its wheels ran over many men. Then the train went backward. This time the men under it were cut to pieces. My mother was telling the story of Panja Saheb to my little sister. When she came to the Guru stopping the boul­der with the palm, my sister suddenly protested, ‘But how can anyone hold back a big boulder ...


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