Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Guru Nanak (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ) (Saturday 15 April 1469 - Monday 22 September, 1539) is the founder of Sikhism and is the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, the eleventh guru being the living Guru, Guru Granth Sahib. His birth is celebrated world-wide on Kartik Puranmashi, the full-moon day which falls on different dates each year in the month of Katak, October-November. As Guru's Birth Anniversary (also called "Guru Nanak Jayanti") is lunar linked, it celebrated on the full moon in November. The event was celebrated on 15 November in 2005; 5 November in 2006; 24 November in 2007; 13 November in 2008; and will be celebrated on 2 November 2009, 21 November 2010, 10 November 2011 28 November 2012, 17 November 2013 6 November 2014, 25 November 2015, 14 November 2016, 4 November 2017, 23 November 2018, 12 November 2019 and 30 November 2020.
Guru Nanak travelled to places far and wide teaching people the message of one God who dwells in every one of God's creations and constitutes the eternal Truth. He setup a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternity love, goodness, and virtue.
Guru Nanak travelled to places far and wide teaching people the message of one God who dwells in every one of God's creations and constitutes the eternal Truth. He setup a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternity love, goodness, and virtue. Before Guru Nanak merged (passed away) with God in 1539, his name had travelled not only throughout India's north, south, east and west, but also far beyond into Arabia, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Afghanistan, Turkey, Burma and Tibet.
The name "Nanak" was used by all subsequent Gurus who wrote any sacred text in the Sikh holy scripture called the Guru Granth Sahib. So the second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad is also called the "Second Nanak" or "Nanak II". It is believed by the Sikhs that all subsequent Gurus carried the same message as that of Guru Nanak and so they have used the name "Nanak" in their holy text instead of their own name and hence are all referred to as the "Light of Nanak."
Guru Nanak also called Satguru Nanak, Baba Nanak, Nanak Shah Faqir, Bhagat Nanak, Nanak Kalandar etc. by different people of religions and Cults. It is part of Sikh belief's that the spirit of Guru Nanak's sanctity, divinity and religious authority descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus when the Guruship was devolved on to them.
The following is a summary of the main highlights of Guru Ji's life:
• Universal message for all people.
• Equality of humanity (including women).
• Naam Japna: Meditating on God's name to control your 5 evils to eliminate suffering and live a happy life.
• Vaṇḍ Chakkō: Sharing with others, helping those with less who are in need.
• Kirat Karō: Earning/making a living honestly, without exploitation or fraud.
Family and early life
Nanak was born on 15 April 1469, now celebrated as Guru Nanak Gurpurab, at Rāi Bhoi Kī Talvaṇḍī, now called Nankana Sahib, near Lahore, in present day Pakistan. Today, his birthplace is marked by Gurdwara Janam Asthan. His parents were Kalyan Chand Das Bedi, popularly shortened to Mehta Kalu, and Mata Tripta. His father was a patwari (accountant) for crop revenue in the village of Talwandi, employed by a Muslim landlord of that area, Rai Bular Bhatti.
He had one sister, Bibi Nanaki, who was five years older than him and became a spiritual figure in her own right. In 1475 she married Jai Ram and went to his town of Sultanpur, where he was the steward (modi) to Daulat Khan Lodi, the eventual governor of Lahore during the Afghan Lodhi dynasty. Nanak was attached to his older sister, and, in traditional Indian fashion, he followed her to Sultanpur to live with her and her husband. Nanak also found work with Daulat Khan, when he was around 16 years old. This was a formative time for Nanak, as the Puratan (traditional) Janam Sakhi suggests, and in his numerous allusions to governmental structure in his hymns, most likely gained at this time.
Commentaries on his life give details of his blossoming awareness from a young age. At the age of five, Nanak is said to have voiced interest in divine subjects. At age seven, his father enrolled him at the village school as was the custom. Notable lore recounts that as a child Nanak astonished his teacher by describing the implicit symbolism of the first letter of the alphabet, which is an almost straight stroke in Persian or Arabic, resembling the mathematical version of one, as denoting the unity or oneness of God. Other childhood accounts refer to strange and miraculous events about Nanak, such as one witnessed by Rai Bular, in which the sleeping child's head was shaded from the harsh sunlight, in one account, by the stationary shadow of a tree or, in another, by a poisonous cobra.
On 24 September 1487 Nanak married Mata Sulakkhani, daughter of Mūl Chand and Chando Rāṇī, in the town of Batala. The couple had two sons, Sri Chand (8 September 1494 – 13 January 1629) and Lakhmi Chand (12 February 1497 – 9 April 1555).
The earliest biographical sources on Nanak's life recognised today are the Janamsākhīs (life accounts) and the vārs (expounding verses) of the scribe Bhai Gurdas. The most popular Janamsākhī were allegedly written by a close companion of the Guru, Bhai Bala. However, the writing style and language employed have left scholars, such as Max Arthur Macauliffe, certain that they were composed after his death.
Gurdas, a purported scribe of the Gurū Granth Sahib, also wrote about Nanak's life in his vārs. Although these too were compiled some time after Nanak's time, they are less detailed than the Janamsākhīs. The Janamsākhīs recount in minute detail the circumstances of the birth of the guru.
Gyan Ratnavali, Janamsakhi, written by Bhai Mani Singh
The important Janam Sakhis are:
• 1540: Bhai Bala’s Janam Sakhis dated 1540
• 1635: Puratan or Hafizabad or Wilayatwali Janam Sakhi dated 1635 (This book was found by an Englishman named Cole Brooke. He brought it to England. Most of the Sikh historians have drawn references from this book)
• 1650: Mehrban’s Janam Sakhis dated 1650 (Mehrban was a nephew of Guru Arjan)
• 1711: Sri Gur Sobha by Sainapat, (a court poet of Guru Gobind Singh) dated 1711
• 1712: Gyan Ratnavli, by Bhai Mani Singh dated 1712
• 1751: Gurbilas Padshahi dus, by Koer Singh dated 1751
• 1769: Bansiwala Nama dus Padshahian, by Kesar Singh Chibber dated 1769
• 1776: Mehma Prakash Vartik, by Bawa Kirpal Singh dated 1776
• 1776: Mehma Prakash Kavita, by Sarup Das Bhalla dated 1776
• 1797: Gurbilas Dasvi Padshahi, by Bhai Sukha Singh dated 1797
Rai Bular, the local landlord and Nanak's sister Bibi Nanaki were the first people who recognised divine qualities in the boy. They encouraged and supported him to study and travel. Sikh tradition states that at around 1499, at the age of 30, he had a vision. After he failed to return from his ablutions, his clothes were found on the bank of a local stream called the Kali Bein. The townspeople assumed he had drowned in the river; Daulat Khan had the river dragged, but no body was found. Three days after disappearing, Nanak reappeared, staying silent. The next day, he spoke to pronounce:
"There is neither Hindu nor Mussulman (Muslim) so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow God's path. God is neither Hindu nor Mussulman and the path which I follow is God's."
Nanak said that he had been taken to God's court. There, he was offered a cup filled with amrita (nectar) and given the command,
"This is the cup of the adoration of God's name. Drink it. I am with you. I bless you and raise you up. Whoever remembers you will enjoy my favour. Go, rejoice of my name and teach others to do so. I have bestowed the gift of my name upon you. Let this be your calling."
From this point onwards, Nanak is described in accounts as a Guru, and Sikhism was born.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Sakhis (Stories)
Guru Nanak's Philosophy And Teachings
Guru Nanak’s teachings can be found in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, as a vast collection of revelatory verses recorded in Gurmukhi.
From these some common principles seem discernible. Firstly a supreme Godhead who although incomprehensible, manifests in all major religions, the Singular "Doer" and formless. It is described as the indestructible (undying) form.
Nanak describes the dangers of egotism (haumai- "I am") and calls upon devotees to engage in worship through the word of God. Naam, implies God, the Reality, mystical word or formula to recite or meditate upon (shabad in Gurbani), divine order (hukam) and at places divine teacher (guru) and guru’s instructions) and singing of God’s qualities, discarding doubt in the process. However, such worship must be selfless (sewa). The word of God, cleanses the individual to make such worship possible. This is related to the revelation that God is the Doer and without God there is no other. Nanak warned against hypocrisy and falsehood saying that these are pervasive in humanity and that religious actions can also be in vain. It may also be said that ascetic practices are disfavoured by Nanak, who suggests remaining inwardly detached whilst living as a householder.
Through popular tradition, Nanak’s teaching is understood to be practised in three ways:
• Vaṇḍ Chakkō: Sharing with others, helping those with less who are in need
• Kirat Karō: Earning/making a living honestly, without exploitation or fraud
• Naam Japna: Meditating on God's name to control your 5 evils to eliminate suffering and live a happy life. Nanak put the greatest emphasis on the worship of the Word of God (Naam Japna). One should follow the direction of awakened individuals (Gurmukh or God willed) rather than the mind (state of Manmukh- being led by self will)- the latter being perilous and leading only to frustration. Reforms that occurred in the institution and both Godhead and Devotion, are seen as transcending any religious consideration or divide, as God is not separate from any individual.
Fresco of Guru Nanak at Sri Goindwal Sahib
Let no man in the world live in delusion. Without a Guru none can cross over to the other shore.
Whoever, styling himself as a teacher lives on the charity of others, never bow before him. He who earns his livelihood by the sweat of Hasbro and shares it with others. O Nanak only he can know the way.
The word is the Guru, The Guru is the Word, For all nectar is enshrined in the world Blessed is the word which reveal the Lord's name But more is the one who knows by the Guru's grace.
God is one, but he has innumerable forms. He is the creator of all and He himself takes the human form.
The lord can never be established nor created; the formless one is limitlessly complete in Himself.
One cannot comprehend Him through reason, even if one reasoned for ages.
The word is the Guru, The Guru is the Word, For all nectar is enshrined in the world Blessed is the word which reveal the Lord's name But more is the one who knows by the Guru's grace.
He who shows the real home in this body is the Guru. He makes the five sounded word reverberate in man.
Even Kings and emperors with heaps of wealth and vast dominion cannot compare with an ant filled with the love of God.
As fragrance abides in the flower,
As reflection is within the mirror,
So does your Lord abide within you,
Why search for him without?
Philosophy and Teachings can be summarized as:
There is only one God, who is known by different names in different religions.
Strive hard and make a whole hearted effort to help others, because service to mankind is the biggest service to God.
Follow the path of honesty.
In the eyes of God, all are equal, irrespective of the caste, age, creed or sex.
Be compassionate towards all living beings.
Lead a simple life.
Don't get scared of anything and just keep performing good deeds.
Guru Nanak's Divine Journeys
Although the exact account of his itinerary is disputed, he is widely acknowledged to have made four major journeys, spanning thousands of kilometres, the first tour being east towards Bengal and Assam, the second south towards Sri Lanka, the third north towards Kashmir, Ladakh, and Tibet, and the final tour west towards Baghdad, Mecca and Medina on the Arabian Peninsula.
Guru Nanak with the Sikh Gurus and Bhai Bala and Bhai Mardana
Nanak crossed into Arunachal Pradesh and visited most of the part. First while going to Lhasa (Tibet) he passed through Tawang after crossing from Bhutan and entered Tibet from Samdurang Chu. He returned from Lhasa and went to the famous monastery Samye and entered Pemoshubu Menchukha in Arunachal Pradesh. He meditated for some time at this location. From Menchukha he went back to Tibet, brought the residents of Southern Tibet and got them settled in Menchukha. Thereafter through Gelling and Tuiting he proceeded to Saidya and Braham-Kund, before entering the state of Assam again.
Nanak was moved by the plight of the people of world and wanted to tell them about the "real message of God". The people of the world were confused by the conflicting message given by priests, pundits, qazis, mullahs, etc. He was determined to bring his message to the masses; so in 1499, he decided to set out on his sacred mission to spread the holy message of peace and compassion to all of mankind.
Most of his journeys were made on foot with his companion Bhai Mardana. He travelled in all four directions - North, East, West and South. The founder Sikh Guru is believed to have travelled more than 28,000 km in five major tours of the world during the period from 1500 to 1524.
Nanak saw the world suffering out of hatred, fanaticism, falsehood and hypocrisy. The world had sunk in wickedness and sin. So he decided that he had to travel and educate and press home the message of Almighty Lord. So he set out in 1499 on his mission for the regeneration of humanity on this earth. He carried the torch of truth, heavenly love, peace and joy for mankind. For 1 year he spread his message of peace, compassion, righteousness and truth to the people in and around his home.
Then in 1500, he embarked on his Divine Mission and went towards east, west, north and south and visited various centers of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jainis, Sufis, Yogis and Sidhas. He met people of different religions, tribes, cultures and races. He travelled on foot with his Muslim companion named Bhai Mardana, a minstrel. His travels are called Udasis. In his first Udasi (travel), Nanak covered east of India and returned home after spending about 6 years. He started from Sultanpur in 1500 and went to his village Talwandi to meet and inform his parents about his long journey. His parents wanted their young son to provide comfort and protection for them in their old age and so they told him they would prefer it if he did not go. But he told them that the world was burning in the fire of Kalyug and that thousands and thousands were waiting for the Divine message of the Almighty for comfort, love and salvation. The Guru, therefore, told his parents, "There is a call from God, I must go whither He directs me to go." Upon hearing these words, his parents agreed and gave their blessings. So Nanak started his mission and the roots of Sikhism were laid down first towards the east of India.
According to the Puratan Janamsakhi, which is one of the oldest accounts of the life history of Guru Nanak, the Guru undertook five missionary journeys (udasiya) to the far away places of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Mecca, Baghdad, Kamroop (Assam), Tashkand and many more. Guru Ji travelled far and wide to spread the word of Gurbani and covered most of India, present day Bangladesh, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, South West China, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
The Five Journeys
Below is a brief summary of the confirmed places visited by Nanak:
The 5 Udasi's and other locations visited by Guru Nanak
• First Udasi: (1500-1506 AD) Lasted about 7 years and covered the following towns and regions: Sultanpur, Tulamba (modern Makhdumpur, zila Multan), Panipat, Delhi, Banaras (Varanasi), Nanakmata (zila Nainital, Uttranchal), Tanda Vanjara (zila Rampur), Kamrup (Assam), Asa Desh (Assam), Saidpur (modern Eminabad, Pakistan), Pasrur (Pakistan), Sialkot (Pakistan).
• Second Udasi: (1506-1513 AD) Lasted about 7 years and covered the following towns and regions: Dhanasri Valley, Sangladip (Ceylon).
• Third Udasi: (1514-1518 AD) Lasted about 5 years and covered the following towns and regions: Kashmir, Sumer Parbat, Nepal, Tashkand, Sikkim, Tibet.
• Fourth Udasi: (1519-1521 AD) Lasted about 3 years and covered the following towns and regions: Mecca and the Arab countries.
• Fifth Udasi: (1523-1524 AD) Lasted about 2 years and covered places within the Punjab.
To spread his knowledge, Nanak traveled widely throughout Asia. To this end he undertook four Udasis (Tours). The first udasi (1500-1505) was to the central and eastern parts of India. Second udasi (1506-1509) took him to important towns and religious centers of south India, including Sri Lanka. During the third udasi (1514-1516) Nanak traveled to the Gangetic plains, Bihar, Nepal, Lhasa, Leh, as far as Tashkand and then back to Punjab via the Kashmir valley. The fourth udasi (1518-1521) took him to various Arab countries. The fifth udasi (1523-1524) took place around the Punjab.
Nanak appointed Bhai Lehna as the successor Guru, renaming him as Guru Angad, meaning "one’s very own" or "part of you". Shortly after proclaiming Bhai Lehna as his successor, Guru Nanak became Joti Jot (merged with God) on 22 September 1539 in Kartarpur, at the age of 70.
Joti Jot (Merging with God)
Kartarpur (meaning: The City of God), was established by Guru Nanak in 1522. On Asu sudi 10, 1596 Bikrmi [Monday September 22, 1539 AD] Guru Nanak breathed his last at Kartarpur. Since the Guru's followers had been raised as Hindus or Muslims (each of which had different methods of dealing with one's earthly remains), an argument arose over whether the Guru's body should be cremated or buried. Traditionally, Hindus cremate while Muslims bury the bodies of loved ones after death.
Ultimately it was decided that flowers would be placed by each group on his body. Whosoever's flowers were found withered the next morning would loose the claim. It is related that the next morning when the cloth sheet was removed the Guru's body was missing and both sets of flowers were found as fresh as when they were placed.
The two communities then decided to divide the cloth sheet that covered the Guru's body and together with the flowers that they had place, one burying it and the other consigning it to fire. Therefore, both a samadh (Hindu tradition monument of remembrance) lies in the Gurdwara at Kartarpur and a grave (according to Muslim traditions) lies on the premises as a reminder of this joint claim to Guru Nanak by both the communities.
The gurdwara is located next to a small village named Kothay Pind (village) on the West bank of the Ravi River in Punjab, Pakistan. The original abode established by Guru Nanak was washed away by floods of the river Ravi.
The Gurudwara at Kartarpur can be seen from another Gurdwara located across the border at the historical town of Dehra Baba Nanak in India (It is not Dera, as so many people wrongly call it. Dehra is derived from the word Deh or body). Both sites are one of the holiest places in Sikhism located in the Majha region.
Recently, there has been lobbying to open the corridor for Sikhs from India to visit the shrine without any hindrance or visa. It lies only 3 km from the border.