After Nimu and Magnetic Hill, a few miles before reaching Leh is the famous Pathar Saheb Gurudwara. Maintained by Indian Army, this Gurudwara is a well-known pilgrim destination for the Sikhs. This was our first ever visit to a Gurudwara.
There are two stories about this temple, though the one surrounding Guru Nanak is more prominent. The story is that Guru Nanak arrived here in 1517 after his sermon in the Sumer mountain. A wicked demon who was troubling the local populace, rolled a boulder down from the top of a mountain to kill the meditating Guru. The boulder apparently became soft on touching the Guru and he sank into the stone, without breaking his mediation. The demon realized his mistake and became a disciple of Guru Nanak.
The boulder with a recess in the shape of a human back in sitting posture is inside the complex and worshipped.
However, there is a second story as well. Tibetan history shows many instances of Buddhists scholars being invited from India to Tibet for religious teachings. Among them, the most respected and highly regarded is Padmasambhava who practiced Tantric Buddhism. He was invited to Tibet during the rule of King Khri-strond-lde-btsan (755-797 AD). It is believed that he planted his wooden staff, made of apricot into a rock in Baltistan and that’s how apricot flourished in Ladakh. From Baltistan, he came to central Ladakh after visitng Phokar Zong and Zangskar where he suppressed many demons. While in Ladakh Gonkhar, demons shot arrows at him and he took refuge in a rock where he left the imprint of his body.
Reading these two stories reminded us of the futility of religious conflicts. Many of the beliefs and religious stories are evolved over a period of time and it is impossible to find a true version. It is unlikely that an absolute version exists. The fear of the unknown, the need for an anchor, the art of storytelling and a powerful imagery—all have contributed to the evolution of religion and beliefs.
Living beings existed 4 billion years back; probably the first man walked the earth 2 million years ago and the last ice age was 13,000 years ago. A trillion stories have emerged over these years, of which we don’t have even a faintest idea of the absolute truth. Yet we have the time, energy and reasons to fight on behalf of religions and Gods.