In most ancient hindu texts, Kurukshetra is not a city but a region ("kshetra" meaning "region" in sanskrit). The boundaries of Kurukshetra correspond roughly to the central and western parts of state of Haryana and southern Punjab.
Before the establishment of a refugee camp named Kurukshetra in 1947, Thanesar was the name of the tehsil headquarters and the town. Thanesar or Sthaneswar is a historical town located adjacent to what is now the newly created Kurukshetra city.
The present town of Thanesar is located on an ancient mound. Thanesar derives its name from the word "Sthaneshwar", which means "Place of God". Local hearsay identifies the legendary 'Kurukshetra' with a place near Thanesar.
Kurukshetra grew so much that on 23rd January 1973, a new district named Kurukshetra district was created, of which Thanesar was the main town. People now tend, mistakenly, to refer to Thanesar town as 'Kurukshetra'.
In 2012, Kurukshetra banned the sale, possession and consumption of meat within the limits of the Municipal Corporation owing to its religious significance.
There are 6 Historic Sikh Gurdwaras in Thanesar and Kurukshetra.
Gurdwara Sri Siddh Vati Sahib marks the site of the visit of Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji during the solar eclipse. Guru Nanak explained that the solar eclipse is a natural phenomenon and has nothing to do with Gods and demons. People consider it a sin to cook on the day of eclipse and cooking meat at pilgrim centres was considered to be an unpardonable sin. A debate about non-vegetarian food started. Large number of people stood there, listening to the debate. It was argued that the hindu scriptures forbade meat eating and that the hindu ancestors only ate vegetarian food.
When Guru Nanak Sahib Ji was at Kurukshetra it was the day of solar eclipse.
The Guru said, "Your holy books say the animals were killed and their flesh offered as sacrifice to fire. Aryans ate flesh. When marriage feasts are held at Kshatriya houses, goats are slaughtered and non-vegetarian food is served. Why do you accept charity from those who are meat eaters?" The Guru did not say whether one should eat non-vegetarian food. He simply opposed hypocrisy. We should not do one thing and say the other. There should be no difference between our words and deeds. The guru made his point of view very clear. He said, "We should not eat the food which harms the body, makes it sick and leads mind astray. Only that food is good which keeps the body healthy and the mind pure".
Gurdwara Sri Guru Amar Das Ate Guru Har Rai Sahib Kurukshetra, is located near Lal Bahadur Shastri Market on the fringe of Thanesar proper, was visited by 3 Sikh Gurus. In 1523, Sri Guru Amar Das Ji came to this place with his family during the solar eclipse. Mughal Emperor Babur had imposed a Jizya (a tax on non-muslims). So Guru Amar Das refused to enter the city and stopped outside denying the muslims the imposed tax. When Babur heard what had happened he allowed Guru Amar Das and his Sikhs into the city without a penalty. Guru Amar Das held a diwan and explained about the uselessness of visiting holy places and bathing in holy water for purification of the soul as a physical ritual. The only tirath to have a dip in, he said, was Naam (the holy word).
On 10th March 1656, on Amavas night, Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji came here and held a diwan for the Sangat. Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji was summoned to Delhi was Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who was looking to destablize the Sikhs. Guru Harkrishan refused to meet Aurangzeb but agreed to meet Raja Jai Singh at the Raja's request. Guru Harkrishan travelled from Kiratpur Sahib via Panjokhrha and arrived in Kurukshetra. Guru Harkrishan stayed in the house of Tarkhan Sikh (carpenter) where Guru Amar Das and Guru Har Rai had stayed. In remembrance of his father Guru Har Rai, a langer was organized. Different varieties of food were prepared and all of the sangat took a meal in pangat.
Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji came here after dealing with Chandu Shah. Chandu Shah, born an upper caste hindu, was a wealthy banker and revenue official at the mughal court at Lahore, and was responsible for the torture and death of Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji.
Emperor Jahangir turned over Chandu Shah to Guru Hargobind. Chandu Shah was dragged through the streets of Lahore by the angry Sikhs who had witnessed the atrocities perpetrated against their beloved Guru Arjan, Chandu Shah died a miserable death. The final blow came, ironically, from the very person whom Chandu Shah had employed to pour hot sand on Guru Arjan's blistered body.
Guru Hargobind's second visit to Kurukshetra was when Guru Ji was travelling to help Baba Almast at Nanakmatta when the siddh's had taken over. Guru Hargobind helped a blind old lady see again and relieved a man from kohar (disease).
Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji visited here during his Malwa tour in 1670.
When Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji came to Kurukshetra on the occasion of the solar eclipse fair in 1701-02 from Anandpur Sahib, he camped at the place now occupied by Gurdwara Sri Pata Sahib. During the occasion of the solar eclipse it was, as it still is, the custom to give rich presents as alms to Brahmans during the eclipse, and receive their benediction in the belief that this would relieve the Sun God from the clutches of demons eating him away (as the eclipse was traditionally interpreted). This would earn the donors riches in the afterlife.
Guru Gobind Singh found a novel way of dispelling this falsehood. He loaded a donkey with costly presents and asked the Brahmans to take it as alms. The Brahmans coveted the presents but hesitated to catch the donkey, lest they were polluted by touching the lowly and unholy animal. The sight amused the onlookers who gathered around the Guru. This was what the Guru had desired. He explained to the people the absurdity of relating the eclipses to mythical gods and demons and the futility of giving alms to greedy priests.
The Guru was, however, pleased with Mani Ram, one of the Brahmans, who, undeterred by other priest's threats of excommunication, took hold of the donkey as Guru's grace and asked for his blessings. Guru Gobind Singh gave him a horse, hukamnama and a katar as gifts. Guru Gobind Singh and his family stayed with Mani Ram whose sister served Mata Gujri with great respect. As a result Guru Gobind Singh gave a Panj Granthi Pothi to the family. The hukamnama is still preserved at the Gurdwara.
Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji is also said to have visited here during his stay at Kurukshetra. Breaking the local rules of not preparing food during the eclipse Guru Gobind Singh had langar prepared. A sadhu increased his hunger with a plan to eat the whole of the langar by himself and make the Sikhs feel ashamed. Guru Gobind Singh asked the Sikh sewadars to serve langar saying Satnam. When Sadhu started eating the langar he became full very quickly, after his first bite, and fell at Guru Gobind Singh's feet.
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