“The First” and from the heart!!!



Desperately Seeking Nanak …




Find me not in temples of stone; But in your heart, O’ devout!”


As per history and janamsakhis, Guru Nanak came to Sri Lanka during his Second Udaasi (journey).

The route taken was from Puri to Gantur to Kanchipuran to Tiruvannamalai to Tiruchchirupalli, and sailing all the way from there to Batticoloa.

My search for the ”charan padak”- the place where he set foot – took me to The Archaeological Survey of Sri Lanka.

There are no records of a place called Dibar, some seven odd miles from Batticoloa, where the Guru set foot for the first time in this island nation.

Conflicting reports off the internet pointed me towards Trincomalee, and I set off to search the land there. The east coast of Sri Lanka – the famed Shaivite kingdom where the Guru was welcomed by the Hindu ruler – welcomed me with a smile.

Torn by the recent civil war, this region shows marks of a painful and bloody era, that is now the latest addition to the history books. It tears my heart to see that this holy place, which supposedly marks the first step of Guru Nanak, the Prince of Peace, in the land of the Buddha – the preacher of ahimsa – bears so many marks of suffering, torture and destruction.

With no leads on the temple linking to the Udaasi Mutth, which is supposed to have the Mool Mantar written in the Sinhala script, I reach a dead end. In various conversations with people from the area.

I reluctantly come to the conclusion that tsunamis in the past and coastal erosion could have been responsible for erasing all links.

Some even point towards the strict religious sentiments of the Sinhala Kings or the destruction caused by the Portuguese invaders. What stand there today are two ancient temples dedicated to the deity, Shiva – the “Destroyer” of Hindu mythology.

Constant badgering of the personnel at the Archaeological Survey offices is also not helpful as no one knows of any stone inscription bearing the name “Nanakacharya” which was said to be at the Anuradhapura Museum.

The search takes me to Anuradhapura, one of the glorious ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. I pass towns and villages with their Christian churches, Hindu kovils, Buddhist viharas and Muslim mosques.

I remember the Guru’s teachings of a universal God. All living here in harmony and praying to this one God in their own ways. I draw a blank at Anuradhapura too and feel a bit disheartened.

My restless mind looking for footprints from the Guru’s journey across the ocean, and then it dawns on me that it is not in the temples of stone or ancient scriptures that I can find him, I can find him within me and within the hearts of so many Sindhi settlers from Pakistan, who migrated to Sri Lanka during the Partition of 1947- with images of Guru Nanak, and the presence of Guru Granth Sahib and the teachings in them.

Here, they were blessed by the Guru and started a life afresh with all the dedication and humility that symbolizes Guru Nanak. Every Year, on Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary, a beautiful darbar is held at the Sindhi Community Centre on Galle Road in Colombo.

Kirtan by the sangat is followed by parshad in His memory, and then, langar.


The author was born and brought up in Amritsar, Punjab. Married to Maninder Singh Bakshi and a mother of 2 boys, she has been living in Sri Lanka since 2000. An MBA in International Banking and Finance, she is currently teaching in an International School in Sri Lanka.

April 12, 2012


Grandmother’s Tales or Little Pearls of Wisdom?

( Saved as a draft since 2014……..was posted on http://www.talkingcranes.com that year 🙂 )

Life turns a full cycle and has the last laugh! Many a times I had dismissed what my grandmother had to say, ” Biji, you are very old fashioned. I belong to the modern age and all these things don’t make sense.” I have even dismissed the little pearls of wisdom my mother tried to give me, assuring her that I was a mature and confident woman, capable of handling all that life threw at me, ” Mom, I know how to make lemonade from the lemons life throws at me. And better still, with added tequila, I can swing past all curve balls. Don’t worry!!” But as life takes a full circle and finds me in my mother’s shoes, realisation is creeping in that what she said then, holds true today too as it did during my grandmother’s time.
Dedicated to mothers and grandmothers everywhere……
And now I see life go a full circle
Parenthood, I always wonder
Days of soaring high and sometimes under
Love, joy and sometimes anxiety
I always wondered why Mom didn’t take things lightly
Dos and donts, can’ts and won’ts
All made me sigh and moan
” u will remember my words one day for sure”,
” when your own kids make u scream and roar ”
Mom I remember these words quite clearly
Little pearls of wisdom that now I wear dearly!!!

Flooding the markets are all these self help books written by experts- doctors, psychologists, celebrities, that make you feel like you do need their help. They sit up on their tall pedestals and impart wisdom. And we like little minions( a species I learnt about,thanks to watching Pixar films with my boys) absorb all that is written and try and model our lives on their lives, take in their values and their perception soon starts looking like our own. God help us!!!! I have spent enough money and wasted enough time on these self help, morale uplifting, positivity enhancing books, to finally come to the conclusion that I should have looked in my own backyard for help and guidance. All the wisdom was mine had I only paid attention and gathered the pearls. Needless to say, we all stumble, learn from our mistakes, have various trials and tests, make errors- some trivial and some so grave that they change the course of our lives and the lives that we touch. But still, learning from the mistakes and trials of our loved ones lessens the burden we carry and sometimes also gives us the solace that only comes from shared experiences.

Time flows like a river never going upstream. I cannot stop it, rewind it or reduce the pace. But here is what I have decided to do- take every little quote, every pearl of wisdom and pen it down. Add to it my experiences and by the end of it, I might just have something priceless to pass on and leave a mark in the lives of my dear ones.

Bali Calling!!!!!!

Swasti Prapta Ring Bali ( Welcome to Bali)!!!!!!
Bali conjures up an image created by Elizabeth Gilbert in ” Eat, Pray, Love”, as an island of rice fields and hip beach parties. Thanks to the book and the movie made subsequently, it is now known world over as an island where you rediscover yourself and find love.
We didn’t need to rediscover ourselves or find love when we decided on Bali as our family holiday destination this year. Our agenda was totally different!! The keyword was FAMILY !!!!!

Fact Time:- Bali is called “The Island Of The Gods”. It is the only island in the Indonesian archipelago, which has a Hindu majority. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its dances, temples, artworks including sculptures, paintings and jewellery .

Places to stay:- depending on your budget and agenda, Bali offers various staying options from B&B villas to 5 star hotels and boutique villas. The popular tourist areas are Ubud, Nusa Dua, Kuta, Sanur, Seminyak, Amed and Jimbaran Bay.

Here’s my take on what to do in Bali when you are there only for three to four days and with family!!!!!

1. Bali is known as” the island of a thousand temples” and given the fact that one cannot see all in a short span and definitely can’t force the family to go temple exploring, my recommendation is to see just a couple to get the Balinese feel.
A Pura is a Balinese Hindu temple.
Uluwatu Temple is one of the key temples in Bali, known to be built around 10th Century. More than the temple itself, the sunset at Uluwatu is something that takes your breath away! To etch the memory of your Balinese holiday forever, be patient and stay for the famous Kecak dance. Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, this form of Balinese dance is performed by a circle of 150 or more performers mostly men, wearing checked cloth around their waists. Their trance like chant provides a mystical background music to the epic battle between Rama and Ravana aided by the monkey army. On that note, be warned that the Uluwatu complex is home to monkeys who can be a little unwelcoming, so be cautious.
If time permits, there are other temples such as Tanah Lot, Besakih Temple( Mother Temple) and Goa Lawah Temple( Bat Cave). You cannot leave Bali without a little dose to culture!!!!

2. A trip to Ubud is a must. With it’s rice paddies and steep ravines, Ubud is one of Bali’s major arts and culture centres. It is also the place where most of the shooting of Eat, Pray, Love took place. The cabbies and guides love to point out that they have caught a glimpse of Julia Roberts cycling her way across the paddy fields!!!! The Ubud Art Market is bursting to the seams with handicrafts and art. Batik shirts and sarongs line the pavements. An ideal place for bargain hunters, who want to carry off little pieces of Bali with them.
The Ubud Monkey Forest is a sacred nature reserve, which houses a temple and approximately 300 Crab-eating Macaque monkeys.
The Ubud Palace and Tegalaland Rice Terraces add to the day trip to Ubud.

3. Why would someone go holidaying on an island if not for the sun, surf and beach fun. Bali offers a wide variety of beach and water fun for the adventurous. From water sports like parasailing, flying fish, jet skiing to surfing the waves and snorkelling and scuba diving. Well trained instructors make the Indian Ocean experience pleasurable and safe for first timers too. Waterbom Park offers a day of fun day for the young and the young at heart with rides to get the adrenalin pumping. The park is located in Kuta. Beach front restaurants all over Bali offer an array of multicultural cuisine. If you are not a beach and water bum, get a nice book or your iPod and lounge on the beach. You also have an option of the famed Balinese foot massage while you chill out. Most hotels have spas to pamper you while in Bali! While in Bali, a Balinese massage is a must!!!

4. Shopping!!!!!! Bali caters to budget shoppers and collectors. Exclusive stores in the hip Bali Collection precinct in Nusa Dua, Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud have specially selected artefacts for shoppers with limitless credit cards. For bargain hunters, there is a large variety of stores and beach front shacks that sell handicrafts, beads, junk jewellery and clothing. As Indonesia is one of the centres for worldwide designer manufacturing, you can find stores specialising in surplus or second grade clothing.

SUKSMA( Thank You)