ਸਿੱਖ ਇਤਿਹਾਸ

Guru Nanak Sahib(1469-1539)

Guru Nanak Sahib (1469-1539)

 Bhai Gurdas Ji described the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the following words

            

              ਸੁਣੀ ਪੁਕਾਰਿ ਦਾਤਾਰ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਗ ਮਾਹਿ ਪਠਾਇਆ, ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਿਆ ਮਿਟੀ ਧੁੰਧ ਜਗ ਚਾਨਣ ਹੋਇਆ1

            “The Bounteous Lord heard the anguished cries (of humanity),

             and so, Guru Nanak, He sent to this world of woe.” – Bhai Gurdas Ji

 

Keerat Bhat writes:-

            ਆਪਿ ਨਾਰਾਇਣ ਕਲਾ ਧਾਰਿ ਜਗ ਮਹਿ ਪਰਵਰਿਉ ,ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਆਕਾਰੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਜਗ ਮੰਡਲ ਕਰਿਯਉ

 

Bhai Nanad Lal says:-
                           ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਆਮਦ ਨਾਰਾਇਣ ਸਰੂਪ 

                           ਹੁਮਾਨਾ ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਰੂਪII

 

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder and first Guru of Sikhism, was born in the year 1469, in the village 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  Pakistan. His parents were Kalyan Das Bedi, popularly shortened to Mehta Kalu. His mother, Mata Tripta, described as a simple and very religious woman.  Mehta Kalu Ji, was on a important post of Patwari  ( chief accountant for crop revenue in the village of Talwandi)  under Rai Bular and was well recognized in the society.  He also had an older sister named Bibi Nanki Ji, who cherished her younger brother.  After the death of Rai Bhoi who was the owner of this village as well as 20 surrounding villages, Rai Bular has taken over, who was very noble, kind, and without religious enmity with non-muslims, residing there. When Nanak was born, as was customary in India in the 1400 A.D, an astrologer was called to cast the horoscope for a newborn infant. He amazed everyone by saying, “This is no ordinary child. This infant is a divine incarnation.” He predicted that this soul would have a profound influence on the world.

 

Guru Nanak from an early age evidenced a questioning and inquiring mind. Nanak was blessed with a deeply contemplative mind and rational thinking. He would often astound his elders and teachers with the sublimity of his knowledge, particularly on divine matters. Picking up both languages. Punjabi and Persian quickly, he surprised his teacher by composing an acrostic on the Persian language and spiritual meaning of Punjabi alphabets. By the age of 16, Guru Nanak had mastered multiple languages including Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, and Hindi, and was writing what many believed were divinely inspired compositions. He had mastered multiple religious texts like Vedas, Puranas, Quran, and the Bible.

 

Nanak would often debate with religious pundits about the nature of God, condemned and often spoke out against several prevalent societal practices such as the Caste System, idolatry, the worship of demi-Gods, and the absolute religious practice. When his father organized a function of putting Jenou to Guru Nanak which was compulsory and a sign of high caste Hindu, Nanak refused to partake in this traditional religious dogma of wearing Jenou.When pundit after chanting the mantras insisted Nanak to wear Jenou, young Nanak, gave logic and went into a trance and sang:

                 ਦਾਇਆ ਕਪਾਹ ਸੰਤੋਖ ਸੂਤ ਜਤ ਗੰਡੀ ਸੁਤ ਵਤ
                  ਏਹ ਜਨੇਓ ਜਿਅ ਕਾ ਹਈ ਤ ਪਾਂਡੇ ਘਤ

 

 

                      Let mercy be the cotton, contentment the thread,

                      Continence the knot and truth the twist.

                     Oh, priest! if you have such a thread,

                     Do give it to me.

 

Because it will not wear out, nor get soiled, nor be burnt, nor lost.

Says Nanak, blessed are those who go about wearing such a thread.

(Rag Asa)

 

People understood the logic of Guru Nanak but Mehta Kalu became very angry and disappointed thinking that our son has broken religious rituals of our forefathers. Despite many efforts of his father, Nanak could not concentrate on the worldly pleasures and always react in a saintly manner. He was rebuked a number of times by his father for doing so but in vain. Mehta Kalu thought that let Nanak be involved in some business as to make him busy. He gave him rupees 20 and instructed him to do a fair deal with this money and buy things from nearby Choorkhana Mandi. He sent Bala with him. When Nanak went, in the way he saw a group of soofis Faquir. He sat with them to listen to their holy sermons. From the people surrounding them, Nanak came to know that they are hungry for so many days. He gave 20 rupees to Bala and ask him to get food for them.

While returning home with empty hands, knowing the anger of his father, He sent Bala to his father and he himself sat under a tree to meditate. When Mehta Kalu came to know this he became very furious, came where Nanak was sitting and out of rage hit Nanak with 5-7 slaps but Bebe Nanaki intervened and saved Nanak from his wrath. Nanak said that Father you have asked me to do fair business, so I did. When a local Landlord Rai Bular Bhatti, his employer, came to know about this, he called Mehta Kalu and said,” Whatever losses u have faced because of Him I will pay but you won’t ever say anything to Nanak. He assured Mehta Kalu that he will think about Nanak’s future, what he has to do.

  As he grew a little older, he avoided company and sought seclusion. For days he would sit silently in solitude and spent his time in meditation. Parents became anxious about his health and to them his unworldliness appeared insane. One day they sent for their physician Hari Das. The physician came and began to feel Guru’s pulse. He withdrew his arm and asked, O physician, what art thou doing? The physician replied that he was diagnosing his disease. Upon this, the Guru laughed and said, “ But  The pain lies deep in the heart because of my separation with God
 If you have any medicine with which I could meet Him(God) u give me. Physician came to know about Nanak and while going told Mehta Kalu, Nanak has come to end the miseries of the world, not an ordinary man.

But  Mehta Kalu Ji could not understand. To divert him from these spiritual activities Mehta Kalu planned his marriage. On 24 September 1487 Nanak married Mata Sulakkhani, daughter of Mool Chand and Chando Rānī, 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). Sri Chand, when young received enlightenment from Guru Nanak’s teachings and went on to become the founder of the  Udasi sect. With the suggestion of Rai Bular and Bebe Nanki, The family, moved to the town of Sultanpur Lodhi to Guru Ji’s brother-in-law, Jai Ram Ji who was in the Revenue Department of Sultanpur Lodhi. He obtained a job as the chief accountant of the government’s granary of Modi khana, for Guru Nanak. After some time he called Mardana also, his childhood Muslim (marasi) friend to Sultanpur. During the early mornings and evenings after the job, Guru Nanak Sahib accompanied with Mardana used to go to the Vahi  Nadi  (a small river near by ). for taking bath, meditating and singing hymns accompanied by Bhai Mardana on the rabab (a stringed instrument which Bebe Nanaki bought for Guru Nanak). Mardana used to play rabab and Nanak used to sing dhur ki baani in ilahi masti

Though Guru Nanak worked sincerely during his job, his heart was somewhere else. Most of the time He was in meditation, spiritual and selfless service to the humanity after his working hours. Guru Nanak used to treat rich and poor equally while weighing grains of Modi khana. Sometimes give them in excess when he sees some poor or needy person. One day a sadhu came to buy grains from Modi Khana, Guru Nanak weighed 12 dharana, and after 13, he went to trance and stuck to tera , tera tera for every dhar, he weight. Sadhu interrupted Guru Sahib that if you weigh this way one day whole Modhi Khana will be at destructed. Guru Nanak said,” this world is destructed by saying Mera , mera, By saying tera tera is always profitable. Some people who were jealous of Guru Ji’s growing popularity complained to Nawab that Guru Nanak was distributing some of the official stock of grains to the sadhus. Lodhi taking Baba Nanak in his custody, (jail) twice the stores were inspected but nothing was found short. It was not a chamtkar but Guru Nanak was giving the part of his own earnings to the poor and needy.

 During one of those early mornings while bathing in “Vain Nadi”  Guru Nanak heard God‘s call to dedicate himself completely to the service of humanity as there is no use sitting at one place and preaching. He saw the world suffering out of hatred, fanaticism, falsehood,hypocrisy, and sunk in wickedness and sin. After waiting and waiting for hours together , Mardana informed Bebe Nanaki. Everybody including Lodhis and people of Sultan Pur came on the bank of the river, but there was no trace of Nanak and was assumed, drowned in the river. But Bebe Nanki was far sure that Nanak who has come in this world to save humanity from sufferings and miseries can not be drowned. After three days  Nanak reappeared on the bank of Sant Ghat just five-six kilometers away. The very first sentence which Guru Nanak uttered, “There is no Hindu, There is no Musalman (Muslim)”.  This sentence was of social significance at that time when there was a theo-political and social conflict between Islam and Hinduism. This sentence may mean that there is no true Hindu and no true Musalman or It can be also an indication of starting a new independent nation other than Hindus and Muslims, which was later founded by Guru Nanak and established by Guru Gobind Singh Ji by the creation of Khalsa Panth.

 Guru Nanak told his family that He was on God’s call and God has given him a divine mission to preach his unique doctrine in every nook and corner of the World, instead of sitting at one place. Guru Nanak then began his mission by traveling all over the world which is called Udasis. He quit his job and distributed all that what he had, to the poor and needy. Accompanied by Mardana who had always played the rebab while Nanak sang, they left town for Talwandi to meet his parents. His parents initially didn’t want him to go as they have become old and were need of Nanak,s support. However, Nanak felt he had a compelling mission to offer God’s real message to suffering humanity, and he felt this mission outweighed his personal family obligations.

Before starting long journeys, he traveled Punjab and shown the true path of meeting God to the people of all religions, established Sangat, opened Dharmsals for Parchar, Parsaar, and Sanchar. He even appointed certain able and dedicated followers as preachers of Sikhism who were observed, sowing the seeds of Sikhism all over India and abroad in a planned manner. Crossing Beas, guru Nanak stayed at the place where third Guru, Guru Amardas has built Goindwal Sahib, then he went to the place where Guru Ram Das had founded a city which was called Amritsar.

For the next 30 years, accompanied by Bhai Mardana, Guru Nanak undertook four major spiritual journeys, some historians say five, called Udasis, running across all the four directions of India,  Pakpattan Sri Lanka, present Pakistan, South Asia, Tibet, Shri Nagar, Kashmir Afghanisthan, Nepal, Bhutan, China Russia, Turkey, Mecca Madeena, Baghdad, Iram Iraq, Israel, Egypt. Europe, and Arabia, traveled far and wide covering about 50,000 kilometers at the time when there was no mode of communication. The record for the most traveled person is held by Ibn Battuta of Morocco. It is believed that  Guru Nanak is the second most traveled person in the world; most of his journeys were made on foot with his companion  Bhai Mardana. 

This was the time when The peoples of the world were confused by the conflicting message given by priests, pundits, qazis, mullahs,  sadhus, yogi, sidh, etc. Guru Nanak was moved by the plight of the people of the world and wanted to tell them about the “real message of God”. He brought all confused people together on the right path, from all walks of life, from beggars to kings, thieves, daku, adam Khor, murderers, jaguar, and slaves. Guru Nanak visited head centers of all religions and had discourses with head priests of various sects of Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Parsees, Yogees, Sidhas, Sufis, Muslims, Christians. He met people of different religions, tribes, cultures, and races. He spoke in the temples, mosques, churches and at various pilgrimage sites. Wherever he went, Guru Nanak spoke out against the false rituals of the society, caste-system in the society, the difference between poor and rich people, the difference between different religious sects. Guru Nanak promoted the equality of all mankind and upheld the causes of the downtrodden and the poor, laying special emphasis to assert the equality of women.  Guru Nanak attacked and condemned the theocracy of Mughals rulers Everywhere he out came in Spiritual discussions which resulted in having followers from all religious backgrounds. Never did he ask his listeners to follow him. He asked the Muslims to be true Muslims, the Hindus to be true Hindu and  Christian to be true Christian.

 In these journeys, he preached the new concept of God as “Supreme, All-powerful and Truthful, Formless (Nirankar), Fearless (Nirbhau), Without hate (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 ji taught people that the ‘One’ God dwells in every one of his creations and that all human beings can have direct access to God without the need of any rituals or priests. Setting up a unique spiritual, social and political platform based on equality and fraternal love, Guru Nanak attacked the citadel of the Hindu Caste System and condemned the theocracy of Mughal rulers. He described the dangers of egotism, falsehood, and hypocrisy, and called upon the people to engage in worship through the “Naam” (the name of God). He rejected the path of renunciation (Tyaga), emphasizing a householder’s (family) life based on honest conduct, selfless service (Sewa), and constant devotion and remembrance of God’s name. Guru Nanak promoted the equality of all mankind and upheld the causes of the downtrodden and the poor, laying special emphasis to assert the equality of women

In 1521 After his fourth Udasi guru, Nanak Sahib came to Eminabad to meet Bhai Lalo, He happened to come across Baber in Ahmedabad. He openly criticized Babar for his dictatorship and atrocities, his army was doing on the people.  He strongly opposed Lodhis who were responsible for the prevailing social conditions of the society, which was not easy at that time.  Once Pundit Bodhin said to Sikandar Lodhi that Hinduism and Islam both are good religions, he could not tolerate and got him murdered. After watching atrocities of Baber’s army, looting and murdering public with no fault of theirs, Guru Nanak Sahib challenged Babar also:- 

             ਪਾਪ ਦੀ ਜੰਝ ਲੈ ਕਾਬੁਲਹੁ ਧਾਇਆ ਜੋਰੀ ਮੰਗੇ ਦਾਨ ਵੈ ਲਾਲੋ

             ਸਰਮੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦੁਇ ਛਪਿ ਖਲੋਇ ਕੂੜ ਫਿਰੇ ਪਰਧਾਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ

 Guru Nanak Sahib could not tolerate the physical voilence on innocent people and complained to God

            ਖੁਰਾਸਾਨ ਖਸਮਾਨਾ ਕਿਆ ਹਿਦੁਸਤਾਨ ਡਰਾਇਆ 11

            ਆਪਿ ਦੋਸੁ ਨਾ  ਦੇਇ ਕਰਤਾ ਜਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਮੁਗਲੁ ਚੜਾਇਆ 11

            ਏਤੀ ਮਾਰ ਪਈ ਕੁਰਲਾਣੇ ਤੈ ਕੀ ਦਰਦ ਨਾ ਆਇਆ 11

 Baber put all the peers and fkeers who dared to criticized Baber in jail of Amenabaad which was called Saidpur but when Baber came to knew that Guru Nanak is not an ordinary man but a ilahi Noor, He came to meet Guru Nanak himself. Before coming he asked Ibrahim Lodhi that what gift I should take for Guru Nanak. Ibrahim Lodhi told that Nanak himself is the malik of Meeri and Peeri, You have nothing to give Him. After talking with Guru Nanak he maid everyone free from prison and stopped all katleaam. Ktleaam was stopped but from here after the enmity started between guru sehibans and Mughal Hkoomt which went a long way till 1765.

 “ਬੰਦੇ ਕੀ ਜੋ ਲੈਣ ਓਟ ਦੀਨ ਦੁਨਿਆ ਮੈਂ ਤਾਕਿਓ ਤੋਟ “    

 His Teachings

The basis of his religious teachings was the belief in a universal God and to worship Him through Nam- Simran. He mentioned in Japuji Sahib on the start of the bani“There is but One God, His name is Truth, He is the Creator, He fears none, he is without hate, He never dies, He is beyond the cycle of births and death, He is self-illuminated, He is realized by the kindness of the True Guru. He was True in the beginning, He was True when the ages commenced and have ever been True, He is also True now.”

According to Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the concept of religion is based on two principles, the unity of God and the universal brotherhood of man. He did his best to convey the message that all human beings are equal and blessed by one creator i.e God. He rejected the path of renunciation (Tyaga), emphasizing the importance of the concept of family life based on honest conduct, selfless service (Sewa), and constant devotion and remembrance of God’s name. He continued to carry out the mission of his life – to lead people on the true path of God to dispel superstition, to bring people out of ritualistic practices, to lead them directly to follow Gurbani without the need for priest and clergies and to restrain and guard against the five thieves within – Pride, Anger, Greed, Attachment, and Lust. The foundations laid by Guru Nanak was a big blow to the socio-religious set up of India, especially  Brahmins and Molvis who were misguiding people.

Guru Nanak’ Sahib basic philosophy based on three  principles

       1. Kirt kro

       2.Vand chhako

       3.Simran kro

After completing his mission of Udasis, Guru Nanak settled himself in Kartarpur. He applied his teachings first on himself. He did farming (kirt), opened a common institution called  ‘Sangat’ and “Pangat”.  In a bid to eradicate the distinctions between people of different caste, creed or religion inculcated a common kitchen where everyone will sit together and eat langar irrespective of caste, creed, religion, or status, called ‘Langar”. The concept of Pangat before joining Sangat was made compulsory by third Nanak-Guru Amardas Ji. Even Moughal Badshah Akar also had langar sitting in the Pangat before meeting Guru Amardas Ji. Akbar was so happy to see this that he wanted to give jageers for the langar institution but Guru Sahib did not take saying that I do not want this langar institution is run by a single person -but should be a joint effort of Sangat.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji felt for the suffering womankind of his times. People all over the World used to consider women inferior to men. She was not allowed to visit religious places. She was not allowed to come out of the house without Purda (veil). She was called footwear (Meer Manu), without any sense or power to think, and entertaining (unique/interesting) mistake of God (England) Guru Nanak Sahib raised voice against this practice and placed womankind on a high pedestal which He conveyed in his Bani.

ਸੋ ਕਿਓਂ ਮੰਦਾ ਆਖੀਐ ਜਿਤਿ ਜੰਮੈ ਰਾਜਾਨ
(“So Ko Manda Aakhiyan, Jit Jammay Rajaan!”)

“Why call a woman inferior who gives birth even to kings and all.”

Guru Nanak Sahib considered the institution of marriage as a sacred tie, essential for the progress of mankind. Guru Nanak Dev Ji also criticized the practice of “Sati” and advocated the practice of ethical values of daily life such as justice, truth, honesty, humility, fearlessness, and gratitude which made a man a true human being. He rejected the notion of divisions between people based on religion. He taught that there is only One Creator who created all of us, so there exist a fundamental brotherhood and sisterhood among all human beings. His simple but profound teachings were firmly rooted in the basic divine identity of all people. When living with an awareness of the Divine Light within everyone, human life becomes a profound experience of love and truth, bringing patience, peace, and contentment. His universal message is as true today as it was then.

Guru  Nanak Sahib was a poet and a singer, a great saint, seer, mystic, and prophet. Guru Nanak’s writings, in the form of 974 spiritual hymns comprising the Japuji sahib, Asa di var, Barah Mahn, Sidh Goshti, and Dakhni Onkar were incorporated in the scripture Guru Granth Sahib by the fifth Guru Arjun Dev Ji. All the Sikh Gurus after Guru Nanak continued to identify themselves as Nanak while penning down their sacred writings. Thus, Sikhs  believe that all the Gurus possessed the same divine light and further strengthened the same doctrine as was propagated by Guru Nanak Dev

  In the later years of his life in 1522, Guru Nanak settled down at the township of Kartarpur( which means Creator’s Town) on the banks of river Ravi in Punjab which was founded and established by Guru Nanak himself earlier and stayed there for the rest of his life till his jyot jot in 1539. He had worked as a peasant, earning his own honest living by cultivating the lands and doing Sewa , Satsng and Simran  Followers came from near and far to listen to the Master. .In the year 1539, knowing that his end was drawing near, Guru Ji, after having tested his own two sons and some followers over the years, installed Bhai Lehna Ji (Guru Angad Dev Ji) as the Second Guru.

  Baba Budha ji met Guru Nanak Sahib here in Kartarpur. When at Kartar Pur, guru Nanak sahib used to cross Ravi and initiated Kirtan at the early hours of the morning. A boy of seven years of age use to bring milk for Guru Nanak and use to present Him with great reverence. He used to sit there to listen to Kirtan. One day the Guru asked the boy, “O boy, why do you come so early while your age requires to eat, play and sleep.” The boy replied, “Sir, one day my mother asked me to lit the fire. When I put fire on the wood, I observed that the little sticks burned first than the big ones. From that time I am afraid of early death. I am doubtful whether I will live to be old and so I attend your holy communion.” The Guru was very much pleased to hear these words of wisdom from the lips of the boy of 7 years and said, “Although you are only a little boy, yet you speak like a ‘buddha’ (an old man).”From that day the boy was called Bhai Buddha. He was held in such high esteem that he was commissioned to impress the saffron tilaks or patches of Gurudom on the foreheads of the first five successors of Guru Nanak and had darshan of eight Gurus. Bhai Buddha’s original name was Ram Das, and his village was named after him. In 1539 before jyoti jyot of Guru Nanak, Bhai Lehna was appointed as a successor of Guru Nanak renaming him Guru Angad – meaning ‘part of you’.  Baba Budha had done the gurgadi ceremony. Here began the tradition of Guru lineage.

 The guru by then had become widely renowned and respected by everyone for the love and guidance he’d bestowed on humanity. The Sikh, Hindu and Muslim devotees all claimed the guru as one of their own prophets. When it became apparent that Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s end was imminent, an argument ensued as to who would claim the guru’s body for funeral rites. The Muslims wished to bury him according to their customs, while the Sikhs and Hindus wished to cremate his body according to their beliefs. The guru requested his devotees to place flowers on his right and left side after his death. Whose flowers were fresh in the morning at the time of cremation, he will have the right to do my last rites.

.On Asu sudi 10, 1596 Bikrmi, Monday, September 22, 1539 AD Guru Nanak breathed his last at Kartarpur. Hindu and Muslims both grieved and placed flowers on his dead body as instructed by Guru Nanak himself. The next morning when Hindu, Sikhs, and Muslims returned to do the last rites, carefully lifted and remove the sheet, they were astonished to see that there was no trace at all remained of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s mortal body. Only fresh flowers remained there as fresh as they were.  Both Hindus,  and Muslims divided the flowers among themselves and did the last rites according to their own way and wishes. Therefore, both a samadhi (Hindu traditional monument of remembrance) and a grave (according to Muslim traditions) were created by each community. There was a wall in between both the memorials. The light which illuminated him was the divine and imperishable was passed to his successor, Guru Angad Dev. Guru Nanak lived 17 years at Kartarpur.

 

                                                    ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਫਤਹਿ

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Nirmal Anand

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