GURU NANAK HERITAGE OF INTERFAITH UNDERSTANDING
February 18, 2006
Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, PhD
Institute for Understanding Sikhism
4418 Martin-Plouffe, Laval, Quebec, Canada H7W 5L9
Bhai Dr Harbans Lal has already given a detailed report about this
conference. I will be reporting briefly with special emphasis on
the academic point of view.
I reached Lahore with my wife on February 16 after crossing Wagah
Border. All the delegates were invited by Mr Tayab S Hasan for dinner
on February 15. Since I reached one day late, he invited me, my
wife and Dr Harbans Lal for Dinner next day on 16th. Mr Tayab S
Hasan is our SD member, who arranged a special dinner for me without
spices since I am allergic to spices. He is real a very pleasant
and lovable person and we enjoyed the dinner and evening with him.
I had already written about this in my earlier report.
Delegates with Choudhary Hamid Ali Khan, Chief Coordinator,
Reception and Arrangement Committee
at his residence.at his residence for breakfast before going to
In Lahore, the conference originally planned for February 17-19
was reduced to one-day on February 18. This was due to the fact
that most of the speakers from India could not get their travel
visa to Pakistan since the organizers failed to communicate to the
High Commission of Pakistan in Delhi as was told by some who could
not get the visa.
2. Delegates at Nanakana Sahib.
The International Conference on Guru Nanak Heritage of Interfaith
Understanding for Harmony and Peace was held on February 18, 2006
at the Ambassador Hotel of Lahore where Sikh and Muslim scholars
made presentations on contributions of Guru Nanak in bringing Interfaith
Understanding at the Ambassador Hotel of Lahore where Sikh and Muslim
scholars presented their contributions of Guru Nanak in bringing
Interfaith Understanding. Many observers told us that this was the
first conference of its kind ever held in Pakistan.
Delegates at Nanakana Sahib
The stage of this conference was organized by Dr Zafar Cheema,
PhD, Director, Dyal Singh Research & Cultural Forum, Lahore,
Pakistan and Bhai Harbans Lal. It can be said that it was quite
a successful conference and we can call it as the first International
Conference on Guru Nanak Heritage of Interfaith Understanding for
Harmony and Peace. I wish that such conferences should be arranged
in future which should be well planned before.
Academically I would say this conference was very successful. The
first session after inauguration was moderated by Prof Devinder
Singh Chahal, President, IUS and was presided by Honorable Mr Justice
Ali Nawaz Chowhan, Judge United Nation's International Criminal
Tribunal, The Hague, The Netherlands. The first paper, Nanakian
Philosophy and Peace' was presented by Prof Chahal with slide on
power point. It was received very well by the delegates, local guests,
and the audience. It left a very good impression about Nanakian
philosophy for world peace. The paper on, Contributions of Baba
Nanak and Islam for Peace, was presented by Syed Afzal Haider, Senior
Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, and the author of a book, Baba
Nanak. Besides two more papers not very related to the interfaith
understanding were presented in this session. Hon Mr Chowhan in
his presidential address appreciated the speakers for presenting
informative papers and he himself presented very informative information
on Interfaith Understanding to maintain peace between two countries,
India and Pakistan and in the world. It was very clear that holding
of such International Conferences on Guru Nanak Heritage of Interfaith
Understanding can definitely develop harmony and peace between India
and Pakistan in particular and for the humanity of the world in
In the afternoon second successful session was held. It is learnt
from Bhai Dr Harbans Lal that all the papers presented in the conference
will be published in the proceedings.
According to Bhai Harbans Lal this conference was especially rescheduled
to coincide the date February 20 when 139 non violent Sikh volunteers
gave their lives to liberate Janam Asthan Sri Nanakana Sahib from
the corrupt managers and clerics in 1921. This day has not been
commemorated for the past 59 years due to partition. Sardar Ganga
Singh Dhillon of Sri Nanakana Sahib Foundation of which he is the
Founding President and Bhai Harbans Lal is the Founding Executive
Vice President, inspired to start celebrating this event again beginning
from this year. When we reached at Nanakana Sahib on February 20,
2006, there was not even a single person to attend this great event.
The organizers found this situation only when they reached there.
What could be the reasons for not holding this important event might
be well known to the organizers.
However, we commemorated the martyrdom day of those who gave their
lives in a non-violent struggle for the liberation of our shrines.
A Sabd was recited by Dr Kuldip Singh Hanjan of California, a poem
written by Dr Teja Singh (SD Member) from Edmonton was recited by
Mr Iqbal Qaiser, all the delegates spoke on the subject of Gurdwara
Reformation Movement of the past century and its relevance to our
Gurdwara problems today. This commemoration was revived after 59
years of a pause due to partition of 1947. This commemoration was
held in the outer Hall where the controversial and much talked Golden
Palki was installed in a glass by the DSGMC, New Delhi. The Aad
Guru Granth Sahib was also installed (Parkashed) in this Palki.
We also visited other Gurdwaras in Nanakana Sahib associated with
Guru Nanak. Besides, we also visited a Khalsa School in Nanakana
Sahib City. We met with the Principal, Mr M Afzal, who explained
that there are about 100 Sikh students all of them kesadhari with
patkas on their heads.
After visiting Gurdwara in Lahore on 17th and finishing conference
on 18th we visited Gurdwara Kartarpur on 19th. Before departure,
breakfast was served to all the delegates by Choudhary Hamid Ali
Khan, Chief Coordinator, Reception and Arrangement Committee at
his residence. We held a congregation to pray for world peace. Guru
Nanak (1469-1539) spent last 18 years of his life in this town that
he founded to build a community of spiritual householders who would
spread peace and harmony. We paid our homage to his burial mausoleum
built by Muslims and his cremation ground where Samadhi was built
by the Hindus, both laying side by side, bearing witness to his
teachings for the whole humanity irrespective of any caste, race,
class status, etc. Dr Kuldip Singh Hanjan of California recited
a Sabd and Mr Iqbal Qaiser recited a poem written by Dr Teja Singh
of Edmonton, Canada who could not participate in the conference.
Mr Manjit Singh who was still busy there in renovation of the Gurdwara
and Mr Iqbal Qaiser, the author of Sikh Shrines in Pakistan told
us that this Gurdwara was in ruin after the flood and mud and water
was flowing on the ground floor of the Gurdwara for a long time.
Almost all other house nearby were destroyed by flood in river Ravi
but Gurdwara still stayed there. They told that the first aid of
$20,000 for restoration of Gurdwara came from Dr Teja Singh of Edmonton
(SD member) followed by more such aids. Further financial aid from
other sources has enabled the sevadars to restore to its present
Now a proposal to build a corridor of about a couple of kilometers
between Kartarpur and Fateh Garh Sahib and a bridge over the river
Ravi is going on. This will not only help the people of India to
visit this important Sikh shrine easily but will also build a strong
friendship between India and Pakistan.
Now Dr Teja Singh and me are looking forward to initiate a project
for including Kartarpur Gurdwara in the list of UNESCO Heritage
We should not forget to mention another milestone. We successfully
negotiated a plan to establish a Sikh Resource and Research Center
at Dyal Singh Library in Lahore. This center will welcome donations
books and other research material, and provide facility for scholars
to produce Urdu literature on Sikhs and their religion. Although
Lahore bears many imprints of Muslim Sikh relationship, there is
no source of information on Sikhism for the new generation of Muslim
communities in Pakistan. This center should be a step in the right
I, on behalf of the Institute for Understanding Sikhism, presented
the latest issue of UNDERSTANDING SIKHISM, a copy of JAP: The Essence
of Nanakian Philosophy by DS Chahal, Sabd Guru to Granth Guru by
DS Chahal, and a booklet - Some Salient Principles of Philosophy
of Sikhism to Dr Zafar Cheema, Director, Dyal Singh Library. The
IUS will continue to send it future publications free of cost.
Mr Iqbal Qaise, Mr Syed Afzel Haider, Prof Devinder Singh
Chahal trying to decipher the
script about Guru Nanak from a picture on the stone plaque in Istanbul,
The most important achievement is that I was able to decipher the
writings on a big stone plaque (10 ft high and 4 feet wide) installed
in a park on the sea shore of Istanbul, Turkey. Mr Iqbal Qaiser,
the author of the Sikh Shrines in Pakistan and Mr Syed Afzal Haider,
Senior Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan and the author of a book,
Baba Nanak, helped me to decipher the writing which indicated that
it is definitely connected with Guru Nanak. It is surprising that
a plaque with writings about Guru Nanak is installed in Istanbul.
We are visualizing that Guru Nanak's travel could be extended to
Turkey after his visit to Mecca and Medina before coming back to
India via Bagdad. Our further research for deciphering the whole
writing is going on.
Mr Iqbal Qaise, Mr Syed Afzel Haider, Prof Devinder Singh Chahal
trying to decipher the script about Guru Nanak from a picture on
the stone plaque in Istanbul, Turkey