The Life of Sri Guru Nanak
Guru Nanek Dev is well known as the founder and the first of the ten gurus of the Sikh religion.
Guru Nanak Dev was born in April of 1469 in a small, Punjab village called Talwandi, which is now named Nankhana Sahib and is situated in Pakistan about 65 kms from Lahore.
His family were of the Hindu religion and his father, known as Kalu Mehta, was responsible for looking after the accounts relating to the local crops that belonged to a local Muslim landlord.
Early accounts of Guru Nanek Dev describe his intense interest, from a very early age, in divine matters and ideas. At the tender age of six he joined the local village school where he studied Islamic literature and both Persian and Arabic languages.
He was an extremely gifted student and amazed his teachers with his uncanny knowledge of topics way beyond his years and experience.
Guru Nanak enjoyed discussions and the company of all faiths, not just Hindus and by the age of 13 he refused the sacred thread in a ceremony which was key to him accepting his true place in the Hindu caste system and therefore, the religion and society.
This is quite extraordinary when put into the context of the times. Hinduism was characterized by rigid caste systems and the associated religious ideas of ‘untouchables’ and pollution. Hinduism is highly ritualistic and scriptural as well.
All gods are one. There is no difference between a Hindu
and a Muslim. Mosque and Temple are the same.
Sai Baba (Indian Guru 1926 – 2011)
Guru Nanak married a merchant’s daughter, Sulakhani, in 1487 aged 16. He had a happy marriage, by all accounts, which produced two sons, Sri Chand and Lakshmi Chand.
With his own growing family, Guru Nanak took a job arranged by his brother-in-law as a manager of the stores of a Muslim ruler in Sultanpur.
Mardana, a childhood friend from his village, and first follower of Guru Nanak, joined him here at Sultanpur.
Mardana and Guru Nanak would complete their work duties but in the early morning and late evenings they would sing hymns and meditate together. Mardana was a keen musician and played a string instrument.
These late night spiritual, musical sessions began to attract some followers and other people would come and join them too.
Communion With God:
In the year of 1946 Guru Nanak experienced his communion with God.
One morning, Guru Nanak and Mardana went to the river as usual to bathe. However after submerging himself into the water, he quite simply … disappeared.
Despite Mardana raising the alarm and an extensive search, there was no sign of Guru Nanak.
Three days later he reappeared at the same place and revealed that he had been in direct communion with God. Guru Nanak Dev had received direct knowledge and wisdom from God on the nature of divinity, reality, and the human condition. This was the point of his enlightenment.
Guru Nanak Dev recorded his visionary experiences in a song called ‘Japji Sahib‘ and translates to ‘Song of the Soul‘ This song and other experiences and knowledge that were received by Nanak are written in the Sikh Holy Scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib.
Contemplation and meditation on these scriptures, that are read as direct messages from God, are a central tenant of the Sikh religion.
Nanak’s teachings are understood, even today, to be practised in three main ways:-
- Vaṇḍ Chakkō: Loving thy neighbour as thyself. In other words helping others who are more in need or who have less than you.
- Kirat Karō: Being a householder: making an honest living without exploiting others or committing criminal acts in order to amass more wealth.
- Naam Japna: Daily Meditations and contemplations on God’s name and teachings. This serves to control your 5 evils and to help eliminate any suffering and live a fulfilled and happy life.
Once Guru Nanak Dev had received spiritual wisdom he spent the next 25 years touring around the world to spread the direct word of God.
He is believed to have travelled over 30,000 miles, mainly on foot with his trusted friend and follower, Mardana.
He visited North, East, South and West of his homeland. His first journey covered Bengal , Assam and Manipur.
These travels helped Guru Nanak to spread his message at the very heart of the old religious centres and systems and be able to organise his new followers for gatherings and worship.
Much of his teachings were conveyed by this specific plan for slimming down, group meditations and hymns and scripture readings.
Following his extensive travels around the world and spreading his spiritual insights for reform, that were quite revolutionary for the times, Guru Nanak returned home to Punjab.
He eventually settled in Kartharpur with his wife and sons. Followers and pilgrims came from all over the lands to hear his stories, hymns and spiritual wisdom.
We can judge the character of a person by how he treats
somebody who can do nothing for him