You can divide a piece of land but you cannot divide a belief. This was my first impression when I reached Kartarpur, a historic and sacred place, located just three kilometres away from the Indian border in the north-eastern city of Narowal, in Pakistani Punjab.
“The very ink with which history is written,” allegorised Mark Twain, “is merely fluid prejudice.” By that rationale, religion can often be the quill which defaces the truth with its broad strokes, perverting history than promulgating it. And like the bastard child of these perversions, a few counter-narratives manage to wade through the tides of public opinion, carrying the dim outline of the ossified ideas that led to its tragic pursuit. But one has to have the right kind of eyes, says Hunter S. Thompson, to “see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
As a child I gave my mother a tough time with all sorts of questions about the world; she would often not have answers. I would ask, for instance, why we couldn’t just go to Nankana Saheb as and when we wanted. Nankana Saheb is the birthplace of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh faith. It is in Pakistan, on the outskirts of Lahore.
Sikhism must be the only religion in the world whose official prayers include a plea for visa relaxation. Believe it or not, millions of Sikhs all over the world do that as part of their daily prayer, the Ardas, in which we pray to almighty to grant us free access (“khulle darshan deedaar”) to the birth place of Guru Nanak and other places in present-day Pakistan, considered holy by Sikhs. Continue reading A Visa for Mahiwaal: Maheep Singh→