Guru Nanak Dev Biography - First Guru of the Sikhs.

Guru Nanak Dev Biography - First Guru of the Sikhs.

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Guru Nanak Dev Biography



Guru Nanak's Teachings

  1. God is Formless and He is to be found within through the grace of the Guru -- the spiritual teacher.
  2. People should not renounce the world and go to forests or secluded mountains to realize God. Just as a lotus grows in water and yet remains out of it, similarly a man should lead a worldly life yet he should be above all worldly attachments.
  3. God's love can be realized only through faith, sincere devotion, love, righteous life, and above all tuning oneself to the God's eternal word.
  4. A devotee needs a spiritual teacher or Guru to help him on the spiritual journey.
  5. Fanaticism and narrowness of all kinds, engendering hate for any section of humanity, is irreligious.
Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith was a great reformer and one of the prominent leaders of the Bhakti movement. Nanak appeared during a period of great social, political and spiritual crisis in the history of India. Guru Nanak was much distressed at this religious conflict and pleaded for liberalization. The message of Guru Nanak was a great blessing at that time and the right path was shown to the suffering humanity.

Guru Nanak was born in 1469 AD., at Talwandi, later known in his honour as 'Nankuna Sahib', now in Pakistan. His father Mehta Kalu belonged to a Hindu Khatri family of modest means. In his childhood Guru Nanak was of a withdrawn nature, contemplative and fond of religious company. His education included book-keeping, Sanskrit and Persian. His parents were anxious to set him up in some trade or occupation, so that he might become a prosperous man of the world. But his company of wandering mystics and his detachment from the world made them somewhat unhappy. Nanak devoted most of his spare time to meditation upon God, the Absolute (Nirankar).

At the age of eightee, he got married to Sulakshna Devi. Two sons named Luxmi Chand and Sri Chand were born to them. His marriage in a prosperous family and the birth of two sons had no effect on his detachment from the world. He got an appointment as store-keeper to the Chief of Sultanpur. During this period of appointment, Divine revelation came to him as he went into the Bein rivulet. The first words which he uttered were : "There is no Hindu and no Mussalman." The meaning of this cryptic announcement was that humanity being all one, and all being the children of God, artificial divisions of creeds are false.

Nanak condemned all kinds of rituals, dignities, superstitions prevalent in the religious life of contemporary society and placed supreme stress on true faith, simplicity and purity of life and religious tolerance. By fusing together the fundamental and essential percepts of Hinduuism and Islam, Nanak founded a new religion -- Sikhism.

Love and equality were the foundations of his religion. For the propagation of his religious views, Nanak left his home and travelled over large areas of India. He also went outside its confines, into the remote Himalayas, Afghanistan and Iran, and also to Baghdad and Mecca. Visiting the centres of Brahmanical Hinduism of Hathayoga, Tantrism, Shaivism, Sufistic Islam and various other creeds, he exhorted everybody, everywhere to discard barren rituals and false shows of piety and to concentrate on realization of God and to practise the widest humanitarianism. On his many journeys he was accompanied by the Muslim minstrel, Mardana who sang on his rabab the hymns of 'Divine devotion'. He made four itineraries which are called Udasis and during his course of travels he composed most of his hymns and Shabads.

After travelling extensively for nearly twenty five years, Guru Nanak settled in Kartarpur and continued to preach from there, leading the life of an ordinary peasant. Through the teachings, a fuller picture of just society emerges. Guru Nanak after spreading his message of love and unity of manhood, rejoined his family in Punjab where he preached, gathered his disciples and eventually breathed his last in 1539 and merged into eternity.

Guru Nanak preached to man his duty To God, to his brethren and to his own self. He condemned the caste system. He was a strong advocate of the cause of women. He said, "It is from woman that we are conceived and it is from her that we are born." He, therefore, declared that she had before God a status and responsibility equal to those of man. He was against ascetic isolation and stressed the point that his followers could achieve enlightenment, while still living as householders. Guru Nanak laid special emphasis on three values : Nam, Krit and Wand, i.e. meditation upon God, honest labour and the sharing of one's possessions with others.

The hymns of Guru Nanak are included in the Adi Granth the holy book of the Sikhs. The text of Adi Granth begins with the first morning prayer of the Sikhs known as 'japji'. It was composed by Guru Nanak, as communicated to him by the Almighty God. It is termed as key to Sikh Scripture and contains the fundamentals of the Sikh religion. 'Japji' is preceded by 'Mul Mantar' (The Basic Formula) which is the most important part of the teachings of the Sikh religion.