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Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Guru Nanak Dev Ji


Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder and first Guru of Sikhism, was born in the year 1469, in the village Talwandi which is located in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. The village, now known as Nankana Sahib, is situated near the city of Lahore in present day Pakistan. Sikhs around the world celebrate the auspicious occasion of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birth on the Pooranmashi (full moon) day in the Lunar month of Katak (October-November), which falls on a different date every year.

Guru Nanak's father, Mehta Kalu ji, was a village accountant. His mother, Mata Tripta ji, was described as a simple and very religious woman. He also had an older sister named Bebe Nanki ji, who cherished her younger brother. From an early age, it was evident that Nanak was an extraordinary child, distinguished by his divine grace. Blessed with a deeply contemplative mind and rational thinking, young Nanak would often astound his elders and teachers with the sublimity of his knowledge, particularly on divine matters. Growing up, he refused to partake in traditional religious rituals, and often spoke out against several prevalent societal practices such as the Caste System, idolatry, and the worship of demi-Gods. By the age of 16, Guru Nanak had mastered multiple religious texts and languages including Sanskrit, Persian, and Hindi, and was writing what many believed were divinely inspired compositions.

In the year 1487, Guru Nanak was married to Mata Sulakhni ji, and they had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. The family, accompanied by Bhai Mardana, a Muslim childhood friend of Guru Nanak, then moved to the town of Sultanpur Lodhi, where Guru ji took the job of an accountant in charge of the stores of the local Governor. Here, Guru Nanak worked during the days, but during the early mornings and late nights, he meditated and sang hymns accompanied by Bhai Mardana on the rabab (a stringed instrument). During one of those early mornings while bathing in “Vain Nadi” (a small river), Guru Nanak heard God‘s call to dedicate himself completely to the service of humanity. The very first sentence which he uttered then was, "There is no Hindu, no Musalman (Muslim)". Stating that he had been taken to the God's court and given a divine mission, Guru Nanak then began the next stage of his life, to preach his unique doctrine (Sikhi) to the entire world.

For the next 30 years, accompanied by Bhai Mardana, Guru Nanak undertook four major spiritual journeys, running across India, South Asia, Tibet and Arabia, covering about 30,000 kilometers. In these journeys, he preached the new concept of God as "Supreme, All powerful and Truthful, Formless (Nirankar), Fearless (Nirbhau), Without hate (Nirvair), the Sole (Ik), the Self-Existent (Saibhang), the Incomprehensible and Everlasting creator of all things (Karta Purakh), and the Eternal and Absolute Truth (Satnam)". Guru ji taught people that the 'One' God dwells in every one of his creations, and that all human beings can have direct access to God without the need of any rituals or priests. Setting up a unique spiritual, social and political platform based on equality and fraternal love, Guru Nanak attacked the citadel of the Hindu Caste System, and condemned the theocracy of Mughal rulers. He described the dangers of egotism, falsehood, and hypocrisy, and called upon the people to engage in worship through the "Naam" (the name of God). He rejected the path of renunciation (Tyaga), emphasizing a householder's (family) life based on honest conduct, selfless service (Sewa), and constant devotion and remembrance of God's name. Guru Nanak promoted the equality of all mankind and upheld the causes of the downtrodden and the poor, laying special emphasis to assert the equality of women.

In the later years of his life, Guru ji founded and settled down at the township of Kartarpur ("creator's town"), on the banks of river Ravi in Punjab. Here, he donned the robes of a peasant, earning his own honest living by cultivating the lands. Followers came from near and far to listen to the Master. He introduced the institution of Langar (free communal kitchen) at Kartarpur, establishing the basic equality of all people regardless of their social and economic status. In the year 1539, knowing that the end was drawing near, Guru Ji, after having tested his own two sons and some followers over the years, installed Bhai Lehna ji (Guru Angad Dev Ji) as the Second Nanak, and after a few days passed into Sachkhand.

Guru Nanak's writings, in the form of 974 spiritual hymns comprising the Japji Sahib, Asa di Var, Bara Mah, Sidh Gosht and Dakhni Onkar were incorporated in the scripture Guru Granth Sahib by the fifth Guru Arjan Dev ji. All the Sikh Gurus after Guru Nanak continued to identify themselves as Nanak while penning down their sacred writings. Thus, Sikhs believe that all the Gurus possessed the same divine light and further strengthened the same doctrine as was propagated by Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Among people of various faiths and traditions, Guru Nanak Dev Ji is variously revered as Satguru Nanak, Jagat Guru Nanak, Baba Nanak, Nanak Shah Faqir, Bhagat Nanak, Nanak Kalandar.His path

It was a dark and moonless night; the clouds were heavy with rain as it was the monsoon season. Suddenly lightning flashed and thunder sounded as a few raindrops started to fall. The village was asleep. Only Nanak was awake and the echo of his song filled the air.

Nanak’s mother was worried because it was pitch dark and day break was far away. The lamp in his room was burning. She could hear his melodious voice as he sang, restraining herself no longer she knocked at his door. “Go to sleep, my son, the sun is a long way ahead.” Nanak became silent. From the darkness sounded the call of the sparrow-hawk. “Piyu, piyu, piyu!” it called.

“Listen, mother!” Nanak called out. “The sparrow-hawk is calling to his beloved; how can I be silent, because I am competing with it? I will call my beloved before he calls his – even for longer because his beloved is nearby, perhaps in the next tree! My beloved is so far away. I will have to sing for lives upon lives before my voice reaches Him.” Nanak resumed his song.

Guru Nanak’s path was, is and will ever remain decorated with endless rows of true flowers; he realised God by singing virtues of God and following a life of true deeds. Guru Nanak did not practise normal Hindu austerities, meditation or yoga; he only sang in the beautiful poetic forms of the time. Singing, often extemporaneously, with all his heart and soul, so much so that his singing became his meditation, his purification and his yugam (yoking ones self to the almighty, to Satguru. This was Nanak’s path; decorated with true flowers of song, songs of glory and praise of the Almighty Lord.

Whatever he has said was said in verse straight from GOD. His blissful and mesmerizing songs are not those of an ordinary singer; they have sprung from within one who has known. There is the ring of truth, the reflection of God within them. It is these songs, songs of love and expressions of truthfulness and worship, along with the songs of Guru Nanak's nine successors, that form the eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib.