Gurdwara Sri Patti Sahib related to first Sikh Guru and founer of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev. As a young child Guru Nanak Sahib Ji first studied Punjabi with Pandit Gopal, then Sanskrit with Pandit Brij Lal and at 13 years of age he mastered Persian studying with Maulvi Kutab Ud Din. Hence Patti Sahib is also known as Gurdwara Maulvi Patti Sahib. Gurdwara Patti Sahib also called Gurdwara Maulvi Patti Likhi (‘Patti’ means a wooden board on which children learn to write alphabets with a pen made of a soft stem. The board could be washed after the lesson and would be given another coating of soft light clay and is re-used) is located at the site where young Guru Nanak learned the various different languages mainly Persian and Arabic which were then used in the Punjab, each with its own distinct alphabet.
The divine wisdom and spiritual enlightment evident in the young Nanak became well known in his village when at the age of seven he astonished his teacher Pandit Gopal with his eloquence in explaining deeper truths about man and God and even composed an ancrostic on the Punjabi alphabet giving a divinely inspired interpretation to each letter. Guru Nanak always spoke and sang of one God and his love for God and being rich in music and melody he cast an irresistible spell on all those who listened to him.
Guru Nanak while criticising the then prevalent methods of education, which of course meant no education for some, (particularly women and the lower castes) enlightened his teachers to the actual purpose of learning which gave a new meaning to each and every word. The Maulvis and the Pandits were quite ignorant of his new, revolutionary mode of teaching. This sacred Gurdwara lies midway between Gurdwara Janam Asthan and Gurdwara Bal Lila along the road leading from Janam Asthan to the railway station in Nankana Sahib.
Guru Nanak At School
When Guru Nanak was about four or five years old he would wander outside his house for short walks. When men or women spoke to him, they would be astonished to listen to his replies. Guru Nanak would talk like a wise man. People would comment that he spoke so intelligently for one so young. Guru Nanak would often speak of God, he would say ‘He is there and there’ (meaning God is all around).
Guru Nanak would often give household items to those in need. He would give bread and butter to visiting friends and let them have the toys that his family had given him. Guru Nanak was not attached to everyday items, he loved sharing. He did not care for possessions as others did. Once a Sadhu required a jug to drink from, Guru Nanak gave him one from his mother’s kitchen.
Guru Nanak came from a kind and loving family, he was always extremely happy. Mehta Kalu, Guru Nanak’s father, decided that Guru Nanak should start to learn from a proper teacher. He sent Guru Nanak to Pandit Gopal, the village teacher, to learn to read, write and do sums.
When Guru Nanak was about five years old, Mehta Kalu asked Gopal to teach Guru Nanak to read, write, learn arithmetic, learn accounts and whatever other knowledge he had. A Sunday was selected as the most auspicious day for Nanak to begin his school education. Mehta Kalu offered five rupees to Gopal, as a mark of respect and distributed sweets to all the school children.
In India wooden tablets in black were used to teach children the letters of their language. The tutor would write the letters of the alphabet with a chalk on the tablet; and the children repeat aloud with much noise and energy. The tutor wrote the alphabet for Nanak, however much to his surprise Guru Nanak read the alphabet as if he knew it already. Then the tutor wrote numerals, one to ten. Guru Nanak quickly repeated them.
One day the tutor taught Guru Nanak to combine the alphabet. He said, ‘By combining the alphabet, you can write words, and when you learn the words, then you can write a letter or you can write anything that comes to your mind.’
The tutor saw that Guru Nanak had written a word. He asked, ‘Nanak, what have you written?’. Guru Nanak replied, ‘I have written ‘H’. If we put ‘e’ next to it, then it becomes ‘He’. The tutor (with astonishment) asked, ‘What is He?’ Guru Nanak said, ‘He who has created us. ‘He’ is our Lord. ‘He’ who has created the entire world.’
The tutor was wonder struck to hear this, for sometime he was quiet. Then he asked, ‘Anything else?’. Guru Nanak, ‘Yes, ‘H’ is humility. Service to God with humility is fruitful.’ The tutor asked, ‘Dear child, what is fruitful?’. Guru Nanak said, ‘Good deeds. The effort to do good deeds is fruitful. It doesn’t go waste.’
The tutor was amazed. In deep thought he went and sat on his carpet. ‘So, the boys are right,’ said he, ‘when they say that you keep on humming and composing poems. You really are a Shair (poet)’. He found on the slate an acrostic, written in couplets of extremely simple Panjabi language. What surprised him was the profound thoughts of the poems. Guru Nanak kept his writing board in front of him and sat down with eyes closed and quiet. Guru Nanak continued learning for some more days.
One day, the tutor called him and asked, ‘I have taught you to write sentences. Have you written any?’. Guru Nanak brought his writing board and showed it to the tutor. On the writing board was written, ‘It is He, who is the creator, one Lord of all. Those who remember God from their heart, are serving God. Their life has become fruitful. When the tutor read all that he had written, he looked at the child’s face and at his feet. The tutor’s head bowed down in respect and he thought, this young child knows so much about God. Even the pandits don’t know as much. Maybe he has come as a prophet from God.
The acrostic, called the patti or tablet in the Raag Asa, that Guru Nanak created while very young is as follows:
Raag Asa, Mahala 1, Ang 432, SGGS
Raag Aasaa, First Mehl, Patti Likhee ~ The Poem Of The Alphabet:
One Universal Creator God. By The Grace Of The True Guru:
Sassa: He who created the world, is the One Lord and Master of all.
Those whose consciousness remains committed to His Service – blessed is their birth and their coming into the world. ||1||
O mind, why forget Him? You foolish mind!
When your account is adjusted, O brother, only then shall you be judged wise. ||1||Pause||
Eevree: The Primal Lord is the Giver; He alone is True.
No accounting is due from the Gurmukh who understands the Lord through these letters. ||2||
Ooraa: Sing the Praises of the One whose limit cannot be found.
Those who perform service and practice truth, obtain the fruits of their rewards. ||3||
Nganga: One who understands spiritual wisdom becomes a Pandit, a religious scholar.
One who recognizes the One Lord among all beings does not talk of ego. ||4||
Kakka: When the hair grows grey, then it shines without shampoo.
The hunters of the King of Death come, and bind him in the chains of Maya. ||5||
Khakha: The Creator is the King of the world; He enslaves by giving nourishment.
By His Binding, all the world is bound; no other Command prevails. ||6||
Gagga: One who renounces the singing of the songs of the Lord of the Universe, becomes arrogant in his speech.
One who has shaped the pots, and made the world the kiln, decides when to put them in it. ||7||
Ghagha: The servant who performs service, remains attached to the Word of the Guru’s Shabad.
One who recognizes bad and good as one and the same – in this way he is absorbed into the Lord and Master. ||8||
Chacha: He created the four Vedas, the four sources of creation, and the four ages – through each and every age, He Himself has been the Yogi, the enjoyer, the Pandit and the scholar. ||9||
Chhachha: Ignorance exists within everyone; doubt is Your doing, O Lord.
Having created doubt, You Yourself cause them to wander in delusion; those whom You bless with Your Mercy meet with the Guru. ||10||
Jajja: That humble being who begs for wisdom has wandered begging through 8.4 million incarnations.
The One Lord takes away, and the One Lord gives; I have not heard of any other. ||11||
Jhajha: O mortal being, why are you dying of anxiety? Whatever the Lord is to give, He shall keep on giving.
He gives, and gives, and watches over us; according to the Orders which He issues, His beings receive nourishment. ||12||
Nyanya: When the Lord bestows His Glance of Grace, then I do not behold any other.
The One Lord is totally pervading everywhere; the One Lord abides within the mind. ||13||
Taynka: Why do you practice hypocrisy, O mortal? In a moment, in an instant, you shall have to get up and depart.
Don’t lose your life in the gamble – hurry to the Lord’s Sanctuary. ||14||
T’hat’ha: Peace pervades within those who link their consciousness to the Lord’s Lotus Feet.
Those humble beings, whose consciousness is so linked, are saved; by Your Grace, they obtain peace. ||15||
Dadda: Why do you make such ostentatious shows, O mortal? Whatever exists, shall all pass away.
So serve Him, who is contained and pervading among everyone, and you shall obtain peace. ||16||
Dhadha: He Himself establishes and disestablishes; as it pleases His Will, so does He act.
Having created the creation, He watches over it; He issues His Commands, and emancipates those, upon whom He casts His Glance of Grace. ||17||
Nanna: One whose heart is filled with the Lord, sings His Glorious Praises.
One whom the Creator Lord unites with Himself, is not consigned to reincarnation. ||18||
Taynka: The terrible world-ocean is so very deep; its limits cannot be found.
I do not have a boat, or even a raft; I am drowning – save me, O Savior King! ||19||
T’hat’ha: In all places and interspaces, He is; everything which exists, is by His doing.
What is doubt? What is called Maya? Whatever pleases Him is good. ||20||
Dadda: Do not blame anyone else; blame instead your own actions.
Whatever I did, for that I have suffered; I do not blame anyone else. ||21||
Dhadha: His power established and upholds the earth; the Lord has imparted His color to everything.
His gifts are received by everyone; all act according to His Command. ||22||
Nanna: The Husband Lord enjoys eternal pleasures, but He is not seen or understood.
I am called the happy soul-bride, O sister, but my Husband Lord has never met me. ||23||
Pappa: The Supreme King, the Transcendent Lord, created the world, and watches over it.
He sees and understands, and knows everything; inwardly and outwardly, he is fully pervading. ||24||
Faffa: The whole world is caught in the noose of Death, and all are bound by its chains.
By Guru’s Grace, they alone are saved, who hurry to enter the Lord’s Sanctuary. ||25||
Babba: He set out to play the game, on the chess-board of the four ages.
He made all beings and creatures his chessmen, and He Himself threw the dice. ||26||
Bhabha: Those who search, find the fruits of their rewards; by Guru’s Grace, they live in the Fear of God.
The self-willed manmukhs wander around, and they do not remember the Lord; the fools are consigned to the cycle of 8.4 million incarnations. ||27||
Mamma: In emotional attachment, he dies; he only thinks of the Lord, the Love of Nectar, when he dies.
As long as the body is alive, he reads other things, and forgets the letter ‘m’, which stands for marnaa – death. ||28||
Yaya: He is never reincarnated again, if he recognizes the True Lord.
The Gurmukh speaks, the Gurmukh understands, and the Gurmukh knows only the One Lord. ||29||
Rarra: The Lord is contained among all; He created all beings.
Having created His beings, He has put them all to work; they alone remember the Naam, upon whom He bestows His Grace. ||30||
Lalla: He has assigned people to their tasks, and made the love of Maya seem sweet to them.
We eat and drink; we should endure equally whatever occurs, by His Will, by His Command. ||31||
Wawa: The all-pervading Transcendent Lord beholds the world; He created the form it wears.
He beholds, tastes, and knows everything; He is pervading and permeating inwardly and outwardly. ||32||
Rarra: Why do you quarrel, O mortal? Meditate on the Imperishable Lord, and be absorbed into the True One. Become a sacrifice to Him. ||33||
Haha: There is no other Giver than Him; having created the creatures, He gives them nourishment.
Meditate on the Lord’s Name, be absorbed into the Lord’s Name, and night and day, reap the Profit of the Lord’s Name. ||34||
Airaa: He Himself created the world; whatever He has to do, He continues to do.
He acts, and causes others to act, and He knows everything; so says Nanak, the poet. ||35||1||