Patna is the capital and largest city of the State of Bihar. One of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. Patna was founded in 490 BC by the King of Magadha.
Ancient Patna, known as Pataliputra, was the capital of the Magadha Empire under the Haryanka, Nanda, Mauryan, Shunga, Gupta and Pala empires.
Pataliputra was a seat of learning and fine arts. Its population during the Maurya period (around 300 BCE) was about 400,000.
There are 7 Historic Sikh Gurdwaras in Patna.
Gurdwara Sri Gau Ghat Sahib, also known as Gurdwara Pehla Bara, was Bhai Jaita Mal's house. This Gurdwara is situated in Alamganj Mohalla area of Patna. It was sanctified first by Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji in 1509 AD and later by Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji along with his family in 1666 AD.
When Guru Nanak first arrived in Patna with Bhai Mardana, he stayed here. Bhai Jaita Mal, a pious man, confectioner by trade, became Guru Nanak's follower and converted his house into a dharmsal. Bhai Jaita Mal was too old to bathe in the River Ganga, instead with the blessing of Guru Ji a cow would help him bathe. The congregation that gathered here came to be called Bari Sangat or Gai Ghat Sangat. Later Salas Rai, a wealthy jeweler, became a Sikh and took the Guru to his own place in Patna where, too, a small community of Sikh believers was formed into what was known as Choti Sangat.
When Guru Tegh Bahadur arranged the reconstruction of the dharmsal, the labourers said the Tham's (wooden pillars) were too short. Guru Tegh Bahadur said they only looked small, when the tham's were lifted they became the correct size.
A new building comprising a spacious square hall with the sanctum in the middle was constructed during the 1980s. Gurdwara Sri Gau Ghat Sahib is about 4 km's from Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna, on the Ashok Raj Path. The following things are preserved here.
1. Rabab of Bhai Mardana.
2. Grind stone (Chakki) of Mata Gujri.
3. Tree, where Guru Tegh Bahadur tied his horse.
4. Thara Sahib, a place where Guru Tegh Bahadur used to sit.
5. Tham Sahib, wooden pillars
Gurdwara Sri Sunaartoli Sahib is situated about 1 km from Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna.
The site of the Gurdwara relates to a sakhi of Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji. When Guru Nanak arrived in Patna he stayed at Bhai Jaita Mal's house. One afternoon Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana his company were resting on the banks of the Ganges at Patna. Mardana was idly inspecting a stone he had picked up along the road, thinking of the vast throngs who had come to hear the Guru. "Master," said Mardana, "you teach a way for every person to find liberation. But many of those who listen still seem to spend much of their time in conflict, and in seeking out excitement and other idle pursuits. Why do they waste away their lives so?"
"Most people don't recognize its value," replied the Guru, "although human life is the dearest treasure on this earth." "Surly everyone can see the value of life," said Mardana. "No," said Nanak. "Each individual places a value on things according to their judgement. A different individual with different knowledge will place a different value. That stone you found in the dirt will make a good example. Take it to the marketplace and see what you can get for it."
Bhai Mardana Ji went to the Sunaar Toli market. No one rated it right. A Sunaar Murli Dhar took Bhai Mardana Ji to Salas Rai Johri. Salas Rai was amazed to see the stone, he bowed and presented 100 rupees as darshan bheta (just to see the priceless stone). Bhai Mardana Ji gave the money to Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak asked Mardana to return the money, which Salas Rai declined to accept back again.
Each individual places a value on things according to their judgement.
Eventually Salis Rai Johri took Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana back to his haveli. Salis Rai was so influenced by the teachings of Guru Nanak that he converted his palatial house into a dharamsala, which became a Gurdwara and the present Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna.
Gurdwara Sri Bal Lila Maini Sahib is also called as Maini Sangat. The Gurdwara is just 200 meters away from Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib, Patna. Gurdwara Sri Bal Lila Maini Sahib, in a narrow lane close to Takht Sahib, marks the house where Raja Fateh Chand Maini lived.
The Raja's childless Rani (Queen) had developed special fondness for the young Gobind Rai (Guru Tegh Bahadur's son, the future Guru Gobind Singh), who often came here to play and sit in the Rani's lap giving her immense delight and spiritual solace. The Rani prayed to God to have a son like Guru Ji. One day she was praying to God when Guru Ji came and sat in her lap.
Guru Ji addressed her as mother. She was amazed and overjoyed to hear this as nobody had called her with that name before. The Rani fed the the child Gobind Rai and his playmates, at their demand, with boiled and salted gram. Even now boiled and salted gram is served as prasad (consecrated food) in this Gurdwara, which, unlike the other Gurdwaras in Patna Sahib, is served by Nirmala Sikhs. A pair of Kheen Khaab which Guru Ji wore in his childhood are preserved here.
A 'Ber' tree, which grew as an off-shoot of Guru Ji wooden teeth cleaning stick, still exists. This 'Ber' tree is well maintained and guarded. A wood carving above the old front door is dated Assu sudi 1, 1725 Bikrami corresponding to 28th August 1668, but the hall housing the sanctum and other blocks of rooms in the inner compound have been reconstructed during recent decades.
There is an old Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, hand written under the supervision of Bhai Nand Lal Ji Goya, which is very well maintained. Unless there is a fully occupied diwan hall, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is not allowed to be shown to any individual in order to limit its usage on account of its old age. Within the Gurdwara there beautiful ornamented marble columns which belong to the original house.
Gurdwara Sri Kangan Ghat Sahib is situated on the bank of the river Ganga is about 300 meters from Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib.
In his childhood, the yound Gobind Rai would play by the river bank with his friends. Baal Gobind Rai would make two groups of soldiers and play fight with each other. Gobind Rai would train his friends to overcome their enemies and to win forts. The winning group would be honoured with gifts.
Once young Gobind Rai was given a gift of some very expensive Gold Kangan (bangles). Gobind Rai did not value maya (material possessions) and threw one of his Kangan into the river. When Mata Gujri asked him where he had thrown his Kangan, the young Gobind Rai removed his remaining Kangan and threw it after the first. Mata Gujri loved her son very much and was never cross with him. She asked him why he threw his Kangan away, Guru Ji explained that they were worthless to him as was all maya. By throwing his Kangan away Gobind Rai taught people to reject maya. Unfortunately, this lesson is lost on many Punjabi men and women who value gold kangan. Some fools even wear gold kara which makes a mockery of their Sikh values.
On the same river bank Gobind Rai had blessed Pandit Shiv Dutt, a devotee of Sri Ram Chandra, with peace. The pandit became a Sikh and directed people not to worship stone idols but devote themselves to the One True God.
Ghat means a place on the bank, usually paved, for bathing, drawing water or for landing or harbouring boats. This river was near Gurdwara Sri Kangan Ghat Sahib but has with time receded since away to the north. At present there is a small Gurdwara but according to a new scheme, more land has been alloted to the Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna Committee adjoining to the present structure of Kangan Ghat. According to this scheme old structure of Gurudwara is to be rebuilt as per the architecture of Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna.
About 3 km's east of Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib is where Guru Tegh Bahadur first stopped in a Bagh (garden) belonging to Nawabs Rahim Bakhsh and Karim Bakhsh, nobles of Patna. This was where the sangat of Patna along with the young Guru Gobind Singh came out to receive him back from his four-year-long odyssey. After the Guru's visit the dry Bagh became lush and green with plantlife. This miracle is also mentioned in Dukh Bhanjani Sahib. When people informed the owners of the bagh, they were delighted. The Nawabs approached Guru Tegh Bahadur and after taking blessings they gifted the whole bagh to Guru Ji. Hence the name of the Gurdwara, Guru Ka Bagh.
A hindu sadhu who had been living in the bagh for some time believed the miracle to be magic, he accused the Guru of being a magician. Guru Tegh Bahadur confronted the sadhu and said that although the sadhu had worshiped a lot he was not free from maya. To bring him back onto the right path, Guru Ji ordered a Sikh to bring some things from the nearby well. Obeying the order the Sikh took out one lota (gadvi) and one beragan from the well. Guru Tegh Bahadur put both the things before the sadhu and explained that these were his belongings that floated away in the river when he was taking a bath however his belongins like his deeds has not gone anywhere. The sadhu recognized his belongings and fell before Guru Tegh Bahadur asking for forgiveness. Conveying him the message of One God, Guru Tegh Bahadur freed him from the world.
In Guru Ka Bagh, a tree of Krondhe which gives fruits through out the year. It grew through the Datun (wooden toothbrush) of Guru Tegh Bahadur. An old well, still in use, and a dried stump of the Imli tree (Tamarind tree), under which the sangat met Guru Tegh Bahadur, still exists. A Gurdwara commemorative of the first meeting of Tegh Bahadur and Gobind Singh was established here. Its present building was constructed during the 1970s and 1980s.
Gurdwara Handi Sahib is situated in the Danapur part of Patna, 20 km west of Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib.
Guru Tegh Bahadur had returned to Punjab in April 1671 leaving his family behind at Patna. It was only after he had been at Kiratpur and Chakk Nanaki for a few months that he sent for the rest of the family to return. Young Gobind Rai's departure from Patna caused great displeasure and sorrow to the inhabitants of Patna City. On the day of his departure, men and women, hindus and muslims, old and young, rich and poor, and his playmates came a considerable way out of the city to see off the revered young prophet Gobind Rai.
It was the most torturing scene when they bade farewell to Gobind Rai and his family members. All the admirers and Sikhs prayed for their happy journey. The perennial consolation left behind for Sikhs in Patna are sacred relics, which were dear to Gobind Rai during his playtime with his companions. When Gobind Rai would return home in the evening their would be late evening prayers. This has now become a tradition with evening and before bedtime prayers.
After departing their home in Patna, the first rest point was made at Danapur in the little house of an old Sikh lady. This devoted old lady prepared Khichri (rice and lentils) for Gobind Rai in a little earthen pot (Handi). The remaining Khichri was served to a large number of Sikhs and did not finish until everyone was satisfied. The house of the lady became Gurdwara Sri Handi Sahib after the pot named 'Handi'.
The lady asked for Gobind Rai to stay and he said that as long as the khichri was cooked in the handi and distributed his presence would be here. The lady followed Guru Ji's words and converted her house to a dharamshala. She cooked the khichri in the handi and kept serving the Sangat. An annual function is held under the management of the prabandhak committee of Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib.
Takht which literally means a throne or seat of authority is a result of the historical growth of Sikhism. There are five Takhts and these Takhts are the five gurdwaras which have a very special significance for the Sikh community. In 1666, Takht Sri Patna Sahib was the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Guru Gobind Singh spent his early years in Patna Sahib before moving to Anandpur Sahib with his family.
After Guru Nanak's planned departure from Patna, his followers asked when he would visit again. Guru Nanak predicted he would retuen as the 9th Nanak (Guru Tegh Bahadur). When the 9th successor of Guru Nanak reached Patna the Sikhs gave them the warmest of welcomes, providing all they could for his family. Mother Gujri, the wife of Guru Tegh Bahadur was chose to stay at Patna to give birth to her only child. In accordance with the circumstances, the family was given everything they needed. Guru Tegh Bahadur, while leaving his family under the supervision of Bhai Kirpal Chand, his brother-in-law and devoted Sikhs, proceeded on his journey to the east ie. Assam and Bengal.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was at Dhubri (Assam) when he received the happy news of the birth of his child at Patna. Great rejoicing took place and donations were given to the poor and needy on a large scale. Sikhs and other admirers travelled to Patna to see the sacred soul (Gobind Rai). A muslim Sufi saint of great repute Pir Bihar Shah of Guam bowed his head towards East (Patna). At this, his muslim disciples demurred that being muslim in the true sense he should not make such a respectful gesture except towards Kawa in the west. Pir Bihar Shah could feel the presence of the newborn child (Gobind Rai). He had not paid any homage to the mortal or man-made God (statue). It was homage to the great soul.
After few days hard journey on foot, Pir Bihar Shah reached Patna to seek the blessings of new child prophet. Pir was in a confused state of mind as to whether the new child prophet would protect the hindus or the muslims. The child Gobind Rai was too little to be placed in the hands of an outside visitor or devotee. After two days hunger strike and resistance, Pir Bihar Shah was allowed to see the child. Pir Bihar Shah devised a test. He put two sweet pots in front of the child with intention that if Gobind Rai put his hand on the right, he would protect hindus. If Gobind Rai put his hand on the left, he would mean to protect the muslims. Pir Bihar Shah was surprised to see that Gobind Rai placed his both hands on both the sweet pots to show that he would protect both hindus and muslims. Guru Gobind Singh would establish the righteousness to protect the meek and punish the evildoers.
From childhood the saint and warrior activities of Gobind Rai had become the object of wonder and adoration for many admirers in Patna. Gobind Rai's favorite toys were bows, arrows, swords etc. The daily games for Gobind Rai were to make artificial fortifications and the art of war. The defensive party was to take protection in the fort. Under the directions of Commander Gobind Rai the instructions were given how to attack and the methods to make it successful on the defensive side. The winning party was awarded and all the playmates were served with delicious food at the end of day's play and fighting. Gobind Rai's great pleasure consisted of leading his companions through mock maneuvers. Both mother Mata Gujri and grandmother Mata Nanaki Ji were delighted to see and serve the companions of Gobind Rai. They both prayed daily to the almighty God for the protection of the child.
Gurmat Gyan (Knowledge)
Other Gurbani Contributors