Guru Nanak Dev is one of the most revered Guru because of his noble teachings. This article takes you through the biography, teachings of Guru Nanak Dev.
Do you know that Sikhism is based on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev?
He is not just a spiritual master, but also a philosopher, poet, traveller, political rebel, social leveller, and mass communicator.
Sikhs across the globe celebrate Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th birth anniversary on 12th November.
Why Guru Nanak Dev so important and what are his teachings? All of this will be discussed in this article.
About Guru Nanak Dev
Guru Nanak Dev, the founder and first Guru of Sikhism, was born in the year 1469, in the village of 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.
The auspicious day of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth is commemorated by Sikhs all over the world on the Pooranmashi (full moon) day in the lunar month of Katak (October–November), which varies every year.
Guru Nanak Dev was inclined to spiritualism and displayed a spiritual and intellectual side from a young age, despite working as an accountant for a time.
According to Sikh beliefs, he experienced certain things in his early years that set him apart from other people and proved he was unique.
He performed meditation and hymns while Bhai Mardana played the rabab (a stringed instrument). One early morning, while Guru Nanak Dev was taking a bath in “Vain Nadi,” a little river, he received a call from God to devote himself entirely to serve people .
Guru Nanak Dev completed four significant spiritual trips over the following 30 years, traveling around 30,000 kilometres across India, South Asia, Tibet, and Arabia with Bhai Mardana by his side.
Guru Nanak Dev and religionism
He preached the new definition of God during these journeys: “Supreme, All-Powerful and Truthful, Formless (Nirankar), Fearless (Nirbhau), Without Hatred (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 taught people that all of God’s creations include the “One” God and that everyone has direct access to God without the need for priests or ceremonies.
Guru Nanak Dev opposed the stronghold of the Hindu Caste System and denounced the theocracy of the Mughal emperors, erecting a distinctive spiritual, social, and political platform founded on equality and fraternal love.
He warned the crowd about the perils of egotism, deception, and hypocrisy while urging them to express their worship through the “Naam” (God’s name).
His emphasis was on a householder’s (family) life centred on moral behaviour, selfless service (Sewa), and ongoing devotion to the memory of God’s name. He opposed the road of renunciation (Tyaga).
Asserting the equality of women was a particular focus of Guru Nanak Dev’s advocacy for human equality and the issues of the oppressed and the underprivileged.
Guru founded and made his home in the Punjabi township of Kartarpur, also known as the “creator’s town,” in the last years of his life.
He put on the garb of a peasant here and worked the field to make an honest living for himself. People from near and far gathered to hear the master’s speech.
At Kartarpur, he established the Langar (free communal kitchen) institution, establishing the fundamental equality of all individuals regardless of their social or economic status.
Teachings Of Guru Nanak Dev
Guru Nanak Dev founded and formalized the three pillars of Sikhism:
- Simran and Naam Japna are practices that Guru introduced the Sikhs to first. Simran is a form of meditation on God that involves repeating, chanting, singing, and persistent remembering, followed by in-depth study and comprehension of God’s Name and attributes.
- To pursue and walk the path of Dharam (righteousness) in actual life, the Sikh’s inner mind is therefore perpetually engulfed in adoration and awe of the Creator and the ONE ETERNAL GOD Waheguru.
- He expected the Sikhs to practice Kirat Karni, which means to honestly earn money via physical and mental labour while accepting both pleasures and sorrows as God’s gifts and blessings.
- One is to stay truthful at all times and fear none but the Eternal Super Soul.
- Live a life founded on decency immersed in Dharam – a life controlled by high spiritual, moral, and social values.
- The Sikhs were asked to share their wealth within the community by practicing Vand Chakna – “Share and consume together”.
- An essential component of Sikhism is the Sadh Sangat or community. One must be a part of a group that upholds the ideals that the Sikh Gurus set out, and each Sikh is required to give back to the group in whatever way they can.
- Sikhism also lays a lot of importance on charity and selfless service.
- Many concepts of Hinduism are also seen in Sikhism such as the concept of Maya, Kali Yuga, Jivamukta (salvation), reincarnation, and karma.
- Many believe Sikhism to be a bridge between Hinduism and Islam.
- Guru Nanak Dev denounced idol worship and pilgrimages.
Lessons from Guru Nanak Dev
1. Never Forget the Poor
This mantra was held in 1500, a time before the idea of poverty alleviation, and it is true today when poverty still exists in many parts of the world.
At the age of 12, Guru Nanak Dev’s father gave him Rs. 20 to start a company. Nanak purchased food for 20 rupees and distributed it.
Nanak explained to his father that this investment was a “real business” when he questioned him about it.
Today, a Gurudwara named Sacha Sauda (true business) exists, where Guru Nanak Dev fed the poor.
2. There is one God
It is terrible to classify people based on their religious beliefs. “There is neither Hindu nor Muslim,” the Guru said.
He observed folks in Hardiwar offering Ganges water toward the sun in the east as a sacrifice to their departed ancestors in heaven. He started tossing water in that direction.
3. Women are Equal to Men
Guru Nanak Dev allowed women to attend religious gatherings and freely laud God at a period when other Indian religions demanded quiet, demure women in the temple and no women in the mosque.
4. Running Away to a Forest Won’t Give You Enlightenment
“…Remember the essence of religion/ is meekness and sympathy/ But a life of goodness and purity/ amid the world’s temptations…” – Guru Nanak Dev Ji
In the past, perhaps, one could find enlightenment in the woods, but not anymore. Furthermore, Guru Nanak doesn’t even demand that you do anything.
He thought that staying at home was preferable to leaving for the pursuit of the ultimate truth. Even after attaining knowledge, Nanak continued to be a farmer.
5. These Five Evils are Probably Ruining Your Life
Most, if not all, the suffering of big city life comes from these five evils.
6. Find Your Guru
To learn how to live morally, you need a mentor. According to Guru Nanak Dev, practicing righteousness is far preferable to traveling to holy places.
7. Be Selfless
Every single day, more than 100,000 people of different faiths are fed at the Golden Temple in Punjab. It is a religious obligation, not because there is some sort of divine advantage.
The idea of unselfish service was a way of life for Nanak.
8. Fight Superstition of Any Kind
Nanak spent his entire life challenging formal procedures, caste, and traditions that were absurd. By removing the clutter of what society tells you to do, you may find meaning and purpose in your own life in the simplest possible way.
9. Simplicity is Beautiful
It is not hard to practice the tenets of Sikhism. There are only three:
i. Vand Chako: Sharing with others
ii. Kirat Karo: Making an honest living
iii. Naam Japna: Remembering God at all times
Your travels will benefit you greatly. At a time when religious leaders didn’t leave their communities, Guru Nanak Dev travelled by foot to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Ladakh, and Tibet.
Guru Nanak Dev: Rise of the Sikh Power
- Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak Dev at the beginning of the sixteenth century.
- He was always prone to profound thought and had no interest in everyday living. Upon turning thirty, he attained enlightenment.
- After that, he preached his message while traveling virtually the entire nation and crossing into Mecca and Baghdad. He was succeeded by nine further Gurus in succession after his death.
- Guru Angad Dev Ji (1504-1552) was Guru for thirteen years (1539-1552). He created a new script Gurmukhi and gave the Sikhs a written language.
- After his death, Guru Amar Das Ji (1479-1574) followed in succession.He showed great devotion and made the langar an integral part of Sikhism.
- Guru Ram Das Ji took over as the fourth Guru, he composed hymns, which were later incorporated into the sacred writings.
- Guru Arjan Dev Ji was elected as the fifth Sikhism guru. In Amritsar, he constructed the renowned Harmandar Sahib, also called the Golden Temple.
- Additionally, he wrote the holy Granth Sahib, a Sikh holy book. After the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev in 1606 came Siri Guru Hargobind(sixth guru), who had a standing army and symbolically donned two swords, signifying spiritual and material authority.
- Guru Siri Har Rai, the seventh Guru was born in 1630 and spent most of his life in devotional meditation and preaching the teachings of Guru Nanak.
- He passed away in 1661 and ordained his second son, Harkishan as the Guru. Guru Siri Har Krishan Ji got enlightenment in 1661.
- He died while helping and mending Delhi’s epidemic-stricken residents. He passed away in Delhi, at the well-known Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, which is located there. In 1664, Siri Guru Tegh Bahadur attained guru status.
- Guru Tegh Bahadur decided to fight when the Mughal Governor of Kashmir used coercion to convert Hindus. Delhi’s Gurdwara Sisganj and Gurdwara Rakabganj are located at the locations of Guru Sahib’s martyrdom and cremation, respectively.
- The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, was born in 1666 and became Guru after the martyrdom of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur.
- When Guru Gobind Singh passed away, he invested the “Guru Granth Sahib” as the Sikhs’ supreme leader, effectively ending the practice of choosing a religious leader.
Read more about Adi Shankaracharya click here.
Article Written by: Remya
Kundan Kumar says
Sir there is a mistake in above article. In this article, Shri Guru Arjan Dev ji termed as 6th Guru but he was 5th Guru and there is no mention of 6th Guru Shri Guru Hargobind Singh ji. so please correct this.
ClearIAS Team says
Thankyou for pointing. Article updated.