Gurudwara Chola Sahib and the Sacred Robe of Nanak at Dera Baba Nanak
Guru Nanak is regarded as the founder of the Sikh religion. He lived a chequered life and travelled the length and breadth of the known world at that time. He also visited Mecca. Nanak in his last years spent time at 2 places that are adjacent to each other at Kartarpur (now in Pakistan) and Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in Punjab, India. Dera Baba is a small town on the banks of the Jhelum and standing there one can see the gurudwara at Nankana sahib in Pakistan.
Guru Nanak spent 12 years at Dera Baba Nanak and the place is hallowed by 2 gurudwara there. One gurudwara has special significance as it houses the Chola (cloak) worn by Guru Nanak. This place is known as gurudwara Chola Sahib and is looked after by the Bedi family who claim direct descent from the guru Himself.
The Gurudwara probably came after the udasyin (travel) of Guru Nanak and is one of the oldest Sikh gurudwara. It is located at the exact site where the great guru mediated and prayed. The gurudwara interior is decorated with sculptures of Hindu deities.The walls are decorated with frescoes and mirrors . The gurudwara is visited by thousands of pilgrims on the eve of Maghi in the second week of January every year. But the most significant exhibit is the Chola worn by Guru Nanak during his travels. Its significance is not less than the shroud of Jesus Christ, preserved at Turin. Chola Sahib has been kept in a glass case at the house of Guru Jib’s descendants, about 50 metres on the back side of the Gurudwara.
The Chola was brought from Baghdad by a ninth generation descendant of Guru Nanak Dev Jib) from Balkh Bukhara (Baghdad) and is now preserved at this holy place.
The chola itself is extremely curious. One may think that the chola will be identified with Hindu and Sikh scriptures. But a look at the Chola shows that it has verses from the holy Koran handwritten all over it. The Chola accepts Muhammad as the messenger of god and has quotations from the Koran on it. With the passage of time the writings are dimmed but enough evidence is available that the chola eulogises Koran and Muhammad.
Sikhs have not denied the writings or the chola itself. But Muslims, in particular the Ahmadiyya sect consider Nanak a Sufi Muslim saint or Pir. The Gurudwara can be easily reached from Amritsar by Taxi or bus in about an hour’s time. It is a wonder of this world to see the chola worn by Guru Nanak with inscriptions from the Koran. Why did he wear it? There is no doubt he was a man who beloved in truth. One can recollect that Nanak in his verses has castigated the Vedas, but never said a word against the Koran.