By conquering your mind. You conquer the world.
Guru Nanak Dev
I was at an airport quite recently when I met an interesting man from India and we started to talk. He informed me that he always had 5 particular things about his person that symbolized his faith.
These are known as the Five K’s and are as follows:-
- uncut hair (Kesh)
- a metal bracelet (Kara)
- a curved sword (Kirpan)
- a wooden comb (Kangha)
- a particular type of cotton underwear (Kachera)
He was a confident quiet man, and his unique appearance and way of doing things whetted my appetite to learn more about his religion: Sikhism.
The Sikh religion was founded in the early 1500’s by Guru Nanak Dev,
Guru Nanak Dev was born into a Hindu family in a village named Talwandi, which is today known as Nankana and lies in Pakistan.
Guru Nanak Dev was a curious and intelligent child and from an early age he did not make distinctions on the grounds of religion and made friends with both Muslim and Hindu children.
He spent much of his time as a child in meditation and his family were often frustrated with him and felt that he was being lazy. From an early age Nanak questioned Hinduism and the rituals that go with it.
Nanak was an excellent poet who impressed his teachers at school with his compositions which were deeply spiritual in nature. His first act of rebellion against the Hindu rituals was to refuse to take part in a particular ceremony.
His second act of rebellion was to give away money from his father’s business to feed those who were hungry. When asked by his father how he had spent the money, Nanak told him not to worry that he had spent the money very well.
Soon Nanak became old enough to marry and after an arranged marriage he started his own family.
However, his mind was set on one thing, and one thing only, and that was to be in touch with God. He also had close ties with a Muslim poet whose work deeply influenced Nanak and formed part of the origins of Sikhism.
Even though Nanak and his Muslim bard were from different religions they had a common love of philosophy combined with a mutual love of God. They meditated together and in this way shared a communion with the creator and with creation. They soon became deeply spiritual.
At the age of 30 Nanak Dev attained spiritual nirvana.
Mardana, the Muslim bard and Nanak went out on a mission to explain to the world the truths that they had learned.
Guru Nanak Dev preached that there was one God and that idolatry and castes were not good. Nanak traveled widely and visited not only places in India but also the Middle East and China.
Sikhism is a comparatively young religion at just 500 years old. The message preached by Nanak is both simple and profound, he said that everybody is one and that there is only one Creator.
Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings were pretty radical because at that time, different castes lived in India and sectarianism had raised its evil head. There were plenty of religious factions and many people were fanatical about their beliefs.
Nanak refused to associate with any particular religion and his message was very simple: respect every religion. His message carried strength in it’s simplicity and everyone could understand the concept that one God created us all and that there are different paths to Him.
He called his God the Truth or Sat Nam.
The teachings of Guru Nanak Dev did not fall on deaf ears and soon people from both the Hindu and the Muslim faiths began to follow him. He asked his believers to bow in front of God and to follow the true path.
According to Nanak, there were several practices that his followers should adhere to. First of all, they should get up before sun rise and cleanse their bodies, meditate and recite hymns that would help them purify their minds. After the morning rituals, and throughout the day, his followers should remember the name of God with every breath taken.
He also exhorted his followers to work hard, earn a livelihood, be good family members and to practice truthfulness and honesty. After working and earning a livelihood his followers should share the fruits of their labor with others less fortunate and always think of others before themselves. He also encouraged his followers to live as a community.
The Guru Granth Sahib is the Bible of Sikhism. This book is unlike other similar books, as it does not say the things that you normally expect from a scripture. Several Sikh gurus compiled the Book and it contains their writings.
The writings of the Gurus did not encourage followers to think of Sikhism as an exclusive religion. It has a pluralistic view of the world and they talk of different paths that can lead followers to the Divine. The only caveat is that followers must follow the path of love.
Because Sikhism is all about a pluralistic view of the world, it does not encourage any one mission in life and nor does it proselytize. Guru Nanak believed in equality of men and women
One thing that really struck me about Sikhism is that Sikhs are known for standing for true justice. Thus, Sikhs will stand up for the defenseless and they are also against any form of political oppression.
Sikhs really are remarkable and unique people.
This website contains information about Sikhism — the fifth largest religion in the world and its founder — Guru Nanak.
- The life story of Sri Guru Nanak
- Universal love: God is love.
- Sikhism and Inequalities
- Guru Nanak’s Divine Wisdom and Teaching
- The holy Lotus Feet
- The Sikh religion – effects on weight
- Audio recordings of Bachans in .ram format.
- The Second Nanak: Sri Guru Angad Sahib Dev Ji
- The Symbolism of Sikh attire or Traditional Dress
- Showing grace, mercy compassion and humility.
- Sri Guru Nanak Sahib was the incarnation of the Lord Almighty