Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Guru Nanak and the hand print

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Legend has it that the great Guru Nanak having reached Hasan Abdal tired and thirsty on a hot day sought a drink. But there was no water to be had in town; the only source being up on a hill and jealously guarded by Hasan Abdal also known as Wali Kandahari (deputy of God from Kandahar). The guru sent one of his disciples to get some water from the Muslim ascetic who refused to oblige one whom he considered heathen.

Twice did Guru Nanak send up his man and twice was he returned empty handed by Wali Kandahari. In a fit of ire, the guru struck the earth with his staff causing a clear and copious spring to burst forth and, at that moment, drying up the spring on the hill. Not to be outdone, Wali on the hilltop cast a small pebble at the guru. As it rolled down the hill, the pebble grew in size until it was a boulder large enough to smother the spring and the guru.

The guru held out his hand and without even touching it, stopped the boulder in mid-flight. Then, with his hand still clear of it, he slowly guided the rock down beside his gushing spring. Miraculously, even though his hand had never come in contact with the rock, there imprinted on it was an impression of Guru Nanak’s hand. When Sikhism was established, the rock of the hand print became the centre of a shrine sacred to the hirsute followers of Guru Nanak and the legend lives on to this day.

History tells another tale, however. For one, according to the 17th century historian Mir Masum, Hasan Abdal was one of the saints buried at Kandahar whose funeral was attended by Shah Rukh Mirza, a grandson of Taimur the Lame. This would place the death of the saint prior to 1447, the year of the Mirza’s death. Guru Nanak, on the other hand, was born in 1469.

The Tuzk e Jehangiri tells us of Emperor Jehangir pausing at the ‘enchanting place’ Hasan Abdal in April 1607. The gushing spring and the large pond formed by it was already a much favoured spot with the pleasure house of a Mughal nobleman sitting on a tiny island in its middle. From the locals, the emperor made inquiries concerning Hasan Abdal and turned up only blanks: nobody remembered who this man was whose name the village bore. Neither did the emperor see a celebrated rock with a hand print.

Three years later an English merchant, William Finch, also passed through noticing the pond and the fish. He too mentions neither the fable of the duel between the two saints nor a rock with a hand print. Two centuries later, when the Panja Sahib shine was already famous, Delmerick, deputy commissioner of Rawalpindi, recorded in the Rawalpindi District Gazetteer 1893 that elderly Sikh residents of Hasan Abdal reported knowing that it was a Muslim stone-mason called Kamma who carved out his hand on the rock by the spring. Subsequently, so he was told, a fakir named Naju invented the fable during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Not strange then, that within a century and a half of the miracle having supposedly taken place, it was already forgotten by the time of Jehangir and William Finch.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 09:50,


At 9 March 2013 at 10:00, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! How things change? How tales are made up?

At 12 May 2013 at 00:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

its a realty not a tale

At 11 January 2014 at 16:02, Blogger Unknown said...

Check with the writing of Mool Singh Cheema, who was an engineer and was the man who was instrumental in laying the Railway to Punja Sahib and he has a different story. For this he was declared non Sikh from Sri Akal Takhat. You can dig into the resources. I had read about this in a Punjabi monthly "Jeewan Preeti" published from Chandigarh. (1974-75)

At 11 January 2014 at 21:46, Blogger Unknown said...

Not only this fairy tale, not only in this religion, but this is precisely how the trade of superstitions is established all around the world, in whole of the human history. However the scenario of such fables linked to the same Nanak, whose greatness solely dependent on his being a rabble against the superstitions, is particularly disturbing. The Sikhs, traveling to places like so called Panja Sahib or Hemkund on pilgrimage, just make a fool of themselves and give the rational mind an opportunity to laugh at themselves. Nanak however may be a revolutionary in his ideas against the superstitions, but the Sikhs are just as blind as their fellow believers - Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists or

At 12 January 2014 at 20:06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no logic in the story connecting Guru Nanak with the spring and the stone at Hassan Abdal.. ! The stone is jutting out of a bank of the spring and could not have rolled down from the place from where it is alleged to have rolled down by the saint sitting at the so-called hill top ... ! The writer of this blog may like to visit the place once again to see for himself the topography of the stone's route ... ! The fact is that there is no straight slope between the two points and the route is full of ups and downs and so much so that thhere cannot be an eye contact between the two points at all ...! Yes, I dare say, the story is concocted for the people with blind faith ... !

At 12 January 2014 at 21:01, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jehangir was a muslim zealot who had the 5th Guru tortured to death and was heavily anti-Sikh. The last thing you'll find him doing is writing about Sikh holy places. If you read Tuzk e Jehangiri, you'll find precious little else about Sikhs and the many temples and other important places in Punjab or elsewhere either. That doesnt mean they existed.

The whole tilt of this story is all wrong and nothing unexpected really from a Pakistani muslim.

At 15 January 2014 at 16:22, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Kanwal Dhaliwal, I have written this story not to belittle anyone's belief. This is what history tells us. Thank you for appreciating.

At 6 November 2014 at 17:54, Blogger Rehan Afzal said...

Sire we must visit this place together to check out Jani Zirakpuria's claim

At 6 November 2014 at 18:09, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Rehan, I wouldn't waste any time on it.

At 18 January 2016 at 06:57, Anonymous Pardeep Kumar said...

Miracles are the creation of the clever people, for whom religion is a source of making money, by befooling innocent people. Religions can't flourish without miracles. Gullible people come to follow religion only on account of miracles. Gurus can't become gods without miracles.

At 18 January 2016 at 15:58, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sikh religion is same as hindu religion. Lots of fake stories and myths.

At 21 January 2016 at 12:10, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Anonymous, all religions are based on fake stories. Sikhism and Hinduism cannot be singled out.

At 24 April 2016 at 16:36, Blogger fertileeast said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 12 November 2016 at 11:12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the High caste Chandu Shah that caused the shahedee of Guru Arjan Sahib ji.
Chandu Shah was also the initiator in causing the jail of Guru Hargovind Sahib ji.

After the meeting between Janhaghir and
Guru Hargovind Ji, Chandu was released to the Sikhs who put him to his death.

At 12 November 2016 at 11:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the High caste Chandu Shah that caused the shahedee of Guru Arjan Sahib ji.
Chandu Shah was also the initiator in causing the jail of Guru Hargovind Sahib ji.

After the meeting between Janhaghir and
Guru Hargovind Ji, Chandu was released to the Sikhs who put him to his death.

At 31 January 2017 at 11:49, Blogger Unknown said...

ur debunk story will not stand ground because you do not possess adequate reasoning..there is a similar incident with guru nanak in Leh laddakh where a boulder was thrown at him and melted into wax and has the imprint of his entire body is that fake too??
Did William Finch also crossed leh at that time and noticed nothing? u make ur self look like fools check out the link and clear your mind of any doubts..

At 25 February 2017 at 01:16, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the stories are not at all fake,if you get a chance do visit Nanak jhira at Maharashtra it has a similar true story.I am sure you will realise that you are wrong.

At 19 April 2018 at 01:30, Blogger Unknown said...

Just like Islam and flying donkeys

At 19 April 2018 at 11:55, Blogger Salman Rashid said...

Dear Unknown, religious myths are just the same: devoid of sense and logic.


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