Who was Guru Nanak?
Guru Nanak Says, ‘He who has no faith in himself can never have faith in God’.
Guru Nanak Devji
Guru Nanak Devji (Guru Nanak) is the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. Sikhs believe that all subsequent Gurus possessed Guru Nanak’s divinity and religious authority. Guru Nanak, the first Guru, and Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, continue to feature prominently in Sikhs’ experience of their religion. He is also known as Nanak Dev Ji, Baba Nanak and Nanak Shah. He was philosopher, Yogi, Religious reformer, Social reformer and Poet. He is said to have traveled far and wide across Asia. He preached the people that the god is one, Ek Omkar.
Birthday of Guru Parv is celebrated worldwide as Guru Parv. In the year 2020, 551st Guru Parv has been celebrated. Guru Nanakji was born in 1469 in Talwandi village near Lahor, Pakistan. His parents were Hindu, Mehta Kalu & Mata Tripta, and had one older sister, named Nanki. As a child, Nanak went on to astound many with his intelligence and his interest towards divine subjects.
History of Guru Nanak Dev
At age of seven, Nanak astonished his teacher by describing the implicit symbolism of Alaf, the first letter, resembling the mathematical version of one, as denoting the unity or oneness of God. According to the Sikh religion, one day he was bathing in the river and disappeared for three days in the forest. His family members were very worried as they had thought he died. When he returned, he looked like a man possessed and did not utter a word. When he finally spoke, he said, “There is no Hindu and no Muslim.” These words were the beginning of his teachings which would culminate in the formation of a new religion.
Preaching of Guru Nanak
Nanak then came to be known as Guru Nanakji (teacher) as he travelled far and wide to spread his teachings. In 1496, although married with two sons, Nanakji set out on a set of spiritual journeys by foot visiting many pilgrimage sites India, Tibet and S. Arabia that lasted nearly 30 years, accompanied with his faithful follower, Bhai Mardana, a Muslim. He took up the noblest principles of Hinduism & Islam to form a new way of thinking. His main message was that through love, devotion and purity of heart one can attain the grace of God.
He advocated four core principles for Sikhs:
- Naam japna: meditating on God’s name
- Kirat karna: earning an honest living
- Vand Chakna: selflessness & sharing with others
- Including Sewa: service to humanity
This is evident in langar, which are open kitchens, where everyone is fed, regardless of wealth, caste or race.
He also advocated:
- Equality: considered everyone to be equal, regardless of gender, caste , race, religion or financial status
- Respect for women.
- Denounced the caste system
- Remove superstition &worship of idols
- Never succumb to oppression. He said with courageous actions, one can overcome any oppression.
- The Music heals: Nankji believed music is the language of the soul. He encouraged Kirtan, which is a way one can sense God.
Nanak’s chief aim was to bring about religious harmony and peaceful co-existence and although he never aimed at starting a new separate religion he ultimately became the founder of Sikhism.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji left for his heavenly abode in Kartarpur at the age of 70. It is claimed that Hindus, Muslims & Sikhs fought to pay their final rights according to their traditions. In the end a sheet was put on the body and the next day only the sheet was left. Hindus and Sikhs cremated half of the sheet and the other half was buried by the Muslims according to their customs.
His teachings, together with five other gurus were immortalized in the form of 974 hymns, which came to be known as ‘Guru Granth Sahib,’ the holy text of Sikhism which were compiled by the fifth Guru, Arjanji.
It was during the time of later Gurus that the followers of Nanak began to be known as Sikhs – a distinct religious unit.
The last Guru, Gobind Singhji, transformed Sikhism into a military mission due to religious persecutions of Hindus by the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb.