Commentary

The Great Indian Traveller

By S.R. Phadke

Key Highlights

  • Total distance of 28000 kilometers
  • Mostly covered by foot
  • 24 years spent in travel between 1500 to 1524 AD
  • Five major travels called as the ‘Udasis’

He is non other than the great GURU- GURU NANAK SAHIB. In our School history books we read about Yuan Tzung, Bhahiyan, Ibn Battuta, Marcopolo, Megasthanis and among others, but never our own great Indian spiritual guru who travelled 28000 km in his lifetime. this series from The Viyug is an attempt to uncover the real Indian history for you.

After the well-known Moroccan scholar and explorer, Ibn Battuta (1304-1369), Guruji Guru Nanak (1469 – 1539) is the second most traveled person in world history.

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Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji ( Image Credit Here)

Guru Nanak wished to go out and enlighten people’s lives with his message of connecting with God. He felt it was necessary to go around the world to spread his spiritual message. Puratan Janamsakhi records the earliest accounts of Guru Nanak’s UDASIS (journeys). When he was around 30 years, he started his Udasis. He continued for 24 long years and in his lifespan of 71 years that is one-third of his life he travelled.

Some Historians believe that Guru has taken Five Udasis. But some believe that he has undertaken Four udasis covering the four directions – East, West, North, South. As most are informing it as five, we will go with that and get a brief account of each.

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Map depicting the epic route taken by Guru Nanak Sahib

First Udasi: (1500 – 1506) Eastern Journey

Duration: around 7 years Guru Nanak’s age: 30 – 37 years

He has to pacify his parents to get their permission for his mission travel. Then he set out for the travel with his childhood friend Bhai Mardana. Guru Nanak’s age during the time was 30 years. He visited some parts of Pakistan, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Utter Pradesh, and Assam.

Second Udasi: (1506 – 1513) – The Southern Journey

Duration: around 7 years Guru Nanak’s age: 37 – 44 years

Within India, he visited Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala, and Sri Lanka.

Third Udasi: (1514 – 1518)- The Northern journey

Duration: around 5 years. Guru Nanak’s age: 45 – 49 years

He visited Himachal, Uttarakhand, Kashmir, Sikkim, Lhasa- Tibet, and Nepal.

Fourth Udasi: (1519 – 1521) – The Western journey

Duration: around 3 years Guru Nanak’s age: 50 – 52 years

He visited present day Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Greece, and Saudi Arabia.

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Fifth Udasi: (1523 – 1524)

Duration: around 2 years Guru Nanak’s age: 54 – 56 years

After finally settling down in Kartarpur in present-day Pakistan, Guru Nanak’s Fifth Udasi was within Punjab region in India.

During the Travels, he used to observe and notice the ills of society. When he settled for rest, he would write down what he observed in form of poetry. He always kept a copy of all such writings in his notebook, which was known as Pothi. During the Udasis, Guru Nanak Ji collected the divine writings of many God-conscious people, such as Namdev, Kabir, Ramanand, Trilochan, Ravidas, Jai Dev, Dhanna, Farid, Sain, Sadhna, etc. The same has been handed over to the Second Guru selected by Gurunankji himself. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a perfect musician.

He with the company of Bhai Mardana, composed tunes in 19 Indian classical Ragas. The Great Tradition of Sikhism- an institution of Langar, “free kitchen” was introduced by Dev Guru Nanak Ji during his final phase of life. Finally he left his physical form in 1539.

The unanswered questions about travel are continuing as a part of History, and we have to try to solve the questions and shed light on the following;

  1. Did he meet the pope during his travel?
  2. Is the monument in Constantinople is constructed to commemorate Guru Nanak’s visit? 
  3. Guru Nanak’s travel from Mecca to Israel, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey and then to Baghdad. 
  4. Guru Nanak’s visit to – Jerusalem city.
  5. Guruji’s encounter with Babur (the mogul emperor).
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As a proud Indian, I rest my views here and hand over the unanswered questions that you have to research, prove evidence, document details clearly, about all of his travels and it should be passed on to the next generation. Always THE HISTORY SPEAKS & MOULDS THE FUTURE.

Sources

  1. https://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2013/11/26/The-Udasis-of-Guru-Nanak.html
  2. Sikhmachinerysociety page on google.
  3. https://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Guru_Nanak_in_Turkey

(The views and opinions expressed are those of the author)

Author’s Profile

S.R. Phadke is the Chief Advisor/Mentor of The Viyug. He owns a private seafood consultancy services known as SRISHTY EXIM.

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