Development Of Interfaith Dialogue By Guru Nanak

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by dalvindersingh grewal, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. dalvindersingh grewal

    dalvindersingh grewal Writer Historian SPNer Thinker

    Jan 3, 2010
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    Dr Dalvinder Singh Grewal
    Desh Bhagat University


    The paper presented in an international seminar: ‘Importance of Inter-religious Understanding: Its Implications for Mankind’ conducted by ‘Forum for Inter-religious Understanding: Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi’ on 24-25 September 2016 at Magadh University, Bodh Gaya Bihar


    Dialogue is formed by two words 'dia' and 'logos', interpreted as 'dual meaning' or the 'two way flow/ exchange' of meaning (Boehm). Effective dialogue occurs (1) when participants with differing points of view listen to one another, as indicated by paraphrasing the other's point of view to the other's satisfaction, (2) when each one acknowledges the conditions under which the other's point of view can be accepted as valid, and (3) when each one acknowledges the overlap or similarity of both points of view. [1] Here interfaith dialogue connotes ‘exchange of communication between representatives of different faiths’.

    Guru Nanak period was the period of Ottoman Empire in West Asia and of Lodhis in India when Babar attacked India creating mayhem all over. In the words of Guru Nanak “Modesty and righteousness have gone into hiding and falsehood spread the false glory. [2] The rulers became tigers and their officers, hounds who awakened the peacefully sleeping public and their subordinates wounded them with their claws and sucked their blood and splitting marrow. The religious leaders the Qazi and Mullahs modified the religious edicts according to the wishes of rulers and according to their own selfish ends. The cows and the Brahmins were taxed.[3] The Mullahs and Brahmins acted as self styled gurus/guides to lead the people to salvation. They however, were themselves ignorant about the true path to the God. They only tricked the people to increase their earnings but provided no solution. They had created a net of rites and rituals which squeezed the public of their hard earned money”. [4]

    “Evil as king and avarice as his minister,

    Falsehood as the mint master; the lust his deputy;

    They all sat in confabulate positions together;

    The subject was ignorant and bereft of understanding.

    They submitted to their will like the dead.

    The qazi (judge) uttered lie like eating filth.

    The Brahman butchered living beings yet had bath to show piety.

    The yogi, blind of insight, did not know his true self.

    All three led the people to desolation.

    Need to awaken souls.” [5]

    Under such a critical situation it was essential to awaken the souls of the general public and to make them to understand that the real sufferers should stand against the gross injustice. The kings, ministers, officials, judges, mullahs and pundits; who all were involved in looting and suppressing the public on the name of religion were required to be restrained. Religion was being made as a tool of suppression and the public being befooled by the name of religion; they had to be explained the real religion. Barriers on the name of religions were to be removed and religion was required to be used to unite all the people and to stand against the injustice. Uniting people through religion being important, it was essential that the artificial barriers were removed. Sense of equality, fraternity and justice was required to be created. This could be done through interfaith dialogue which the Guru initiated.

    Inter Faith Dialogue

    Guru Nanak had to enter into interfaith dialogue at a time when the two religions were at loggerheads; one had become oppressor; the other oppressed. Speaking against religions or denigrating one religion against the other or speaking against the established institutions invited sure death or segregation. The people were living under fear, mistrust, external influences and poor communication conditions. Dialogue is a delicate process. Many obstacles inhibit dialogue and favour more confrontational communication forms such as discussion and debate. Common obstacles including fear, the display or exercise of power, mistrust, external influences, distractions, and poor communication conditions can all prevent dialogue from emerging. But Guru Nanak took the daring step of establishing interfaith dialogue despite of unfavourable situation and ventured to awaken the public against the established institutions. Analyzing roots of problem he analyzed the situation and found that the propagators of these religions were converting the religions to their own advantage.

    ‘The Qazi was telling lies; the Brahmin was killing animals on the name of sacrifices and then taking bath to cleanse his self of the crime. The Yogi being ignorant did not know the Way to God. Thus it appeared that the three of them devised their own destruction”.[6]

    Reaching the roots of problem

    He found that a wall of falsehood had been created by vested interests. They had become the self-appointed interpreters of God and felt that the wall of falsehood should be broken by following God’s order i.e. the natural laws and not the man made laws. The natural laws equate everyone. He planned to reach the very roots of the religions in the existing shape and form. This meant to propagate that there is only one God of all who created no religion.

    “There is no Hindu or Muslim; no high or low for Him. All religions were started by the followers of those who came close to the God. All human beings are equal to him”. [7]“ Everyone is answerable to God and no one is saved but for his good deeds”. “Only those will be ultimately saved who are attached to God and none else.” [8]

    Philosophy for interfaith dialogue

    For this strife torn world caused by religious barriers, Guru Nanak took upon the task of creating bridges between religions through dialogue. People were in darkness of ignorance about the real path to reach the God and to live in a dignified manner with freedom in society. Guru Nanak took upon to remove the ignorance and spread light of knowledge, the real Truth about the True God and the true religion. He spread the message of equality, fraternity and justice especially when all were equal in the eyes of God and remove fallacies of rites and rituals created by the religious leaders. He stressed on Truth, Truthful Conduct, ‘Unity of God’, ‘Worship of One God and no idols’, ‘Fatherhood of God’, ‘Brotherhood of man’, ‘Equality of Man’, ‘Inner autonomy of man’ and ‘futility of ritualism’ ‘service to humanity’ and ‘peaceful living to all’: This was instantly accepted by all. With the philosophy of One God and universal brotherhood he broke the barriers of religious misunderstanding and created a bridge of fraternity under one God; the God who is same for all hence all are brethren. He restored their faith and undivided loyalty to One God (Ik Onkar) as source of all creation. He preached loving and serving His beings is the true service to God.

    Philosophy of Communication

    To the poor he was to convey that they are not the slaves or unpaid servants. He conveyed to the powerful that they being the creation of the same God as others; are in no way higher and better than others. All have equal right on God; all have equal right to survive and to live peacefully and enjoy their hard labour. They must share rather than snatch. No one had the right to oppress others. Poor should be neither secluded nor rejected.

    To the religious leaders he was to convey that the religion does not permit oppression and suppression as the role of the religion is to make the life easy for all and not to create barriers or distinctions since God knows no distinction between man and man and loves all equally hence all should remember Him and no one else.

    He planned to reach the maximum. For this he traveled widely around the globe; met the kings and courtiers, qazis, mullahs, siddhas and pundits, the controllers of states as well as the religions along with the ordinary people and explained them the truth. He confronted the misleading elements i.e., Pundits at Hardwar, Banaras or elsewhere and Mullahs at Sultanpur, Mecca or elsewhere; the proponents of two chief religions and the kings, ministers and officials who had used religion as a tool for repression. Guru Nanak advocated intense love towards God and his beings.

    Methodology of interfaith dialogue

    Interfaith dialogue is the two way communication between two people having different faiths and the communication is done in such a way that what is said is rightly understood. Guru Nanak gained intense knowledge about society and religions and communicated with people to share knowledge about God and society. He used discussions, discourses, descriptions, actions, examples and question-answer technique and used poetry and music to be more lucrative

    Progressing communication

    Immediately after receiving God’s message at Vein River; he spread the message that “There is no Hindu no Muslim,” [9] meaning religions are not created by God but by the beings only. He transferred his philosophy of interfaith dialogue gradually to the people systematically. He took upon the leaders and commoners of the two religions alike and explained them the underlying phlosophy which ought to be followed for becoming God’s own, rather than of a particular commune.


    A discourse is an address or a verbal expression of a religious nature in the form of verbal exchange or conversation in speech or in writing. It is considered to be a formalized way of thinking that can be manifested through language, a social boundary defining what can be said about a specific topic. It is considered as the delivery of matter to a group or en-mass in a gathering and discourse competence is the competence in this delivery.

    Guru Nanak held discourses for all high or low and spoke/sang giving examples and advice according to the situations ensuring that the communicated person feels concerned, listens to carefully and thereafter acted on the advice given. The motto of communication was throughout maintained and the outcome was always positive. There is not a single instant where what Guru Nanak said was followed sincerely and was not opposed ever. Examples of his discourses in the form of guidance to emperors, kings, rulers, courtiers, mullah, maulvis, brahmins, pundits, sanyasis and all those who mattered to improve the society are given next.

    Discourses to kings, rulers & monarchs

    He found kings, rulers and monarchs enjoying pleasures and told them that pleasures are nothing but poison of Maya. They get in love with pleasures and want to have more and more, stealing the wealth of others. They do not trust their own children or spouses; they are totally attached to the love of Maya. But even as they look on, Maya cheats them, and they come to regret and repent. Bound and gagged at Death’s door, they are beaten and punished. He asked them not to get bound to the pleasure and do as it pleases the Lord. [10]

    He further said: “Neither the kings, nor their subjects, nor the leaders shall remain. The shops, the cities and the streets shall eventually disintegrate, by the Hukam of the Lord’s Command. Those solid and beautiful mansions—the fools think that they belong to them. The treasure-houses, filled with wealth, shall be emptied out in an instant. The horses, chariots, camels and elephants, with all their decorations; the gardens, lands, houses, tents, soft beds and satin pavilions—Oh, where are those things, which they believe to be their own? The True One is the Giver of all; He is revealed through His All-powerful Creative Nature”. [11]

    He explained to the Muslims the true religion: “It is difficult to be called a Muslim. One can be called a true Muslim only when he understand the religion of the Prophet in its true spirit and does not feel pride in his acquired material wealth. To become a true Muslim; a disciple of the faith of Mohammed; he must put aside the delusion of death and life. He must submit to God’s Will; surrenders to the Creator and get rid of selfishness and conceit. By becoming merciful to all beings, he shall become a true Muslim”. Explaining the real importance of prayer, he said: “There are five prayers done five times a day; known by five different names. Let the first be truthfulness, the second honest living, and the third charity in the Name of God. Let the fourth be good will to all, and the fifth -the praise of the Lord. Repeat the prayer of good deeds, and, you may call yourself a Muslim only then.” [12]

    Discourses to Mullah and Qazi

    He explained to Mullah that the death is ultimate and has to come, so live in the Fear of God the Creator. You are a Mullah or a Qazi, only when you worship the Name of God. You may be very educated, but no one can remain when the measure of life is full. Giving the right characteristics of a judge he said: “He alone is a Qazi, who renounces selfishness and conceit, and makes the One Name his Support.” [13]

    Discourses to Brahmins

    “O Brahmin, you worship and believe in your stone-god, and wear your ceremonial rosary beads. Chant the Name of the Lord. Build your boat, and pray, “O Merciful Lord, please be merciful to me.” “Why do you irrigate the barren, alkaline soil? You are wasting your life away! This wall of mud is crumbling. Why bother to patch it with plaster? Let your hands be the buckets, strung on the chain, and yoke the mind as the ox to pull it; draw the water up from the well. Irrigate your fields with the Ambrosial Nectar, and you shall be owned by God the Gardener. Let sexual desire and anger be your two shovels, to dig up the dirt of your farm, O Siblings of Destiny. The more you dig, the more peace you shall find. Your past actions cannot be erased. The crane is again transformed into a swan, if You so will, O Merciful Lord. [14]

    Discourses to Pundits

    Those who have truth as their fast, contentment as their sacred shrine of pilgrimage, spiritual wisdom and meditation as their cleansing bath, kindness as their deity, and forgiveness as their chanting beads — they are the most excellent people. Those who take the Way as their loincloth, and intuitive awareness their ritualistically purified enclosure, with good deeds their ceremonial forehead mark, and love their food — O Nanak, they are very rare. He advised on fasting: “On the ninth day of the month, make a vow to speak the Truth, and your sexual desire, anger and desire shall be eaten up. On the tenth day, regulate your ten doors; on the eleventh day, know that the Lord is One. On the twelfth day, the five thieves are subdued, and then, O Nanak, the mind is pleased and appeased. Observe such a fast as this, O Pandit, O religious scholar. [15]

    Discourses to Yogis

    “You smear your outer body with ashes, but within, you are filled with darkness. You wear the patched coat and all the right clothes and robes, but you are still egotistical and proud. You do not chant the Word of Your Lord and Master; you are attached to the expanse of Maya. Within, you are filled with greed and doubt; you wander around like a fool. Says Nanak, you never even think of the Naam; you have lost the game of life in the gamble.” [16]

    “Yoga is not the patched coat, Yoga is not the walking stick. Yoga is not smearing the body with ashes. Yoga is not the ear-rings, and not the shaven head”. …….“Yoga is not the blowing of the horn…..By mere words, Yoga is not attained”. …….”Yoga is not wandering to the tombs of the dead; Yoga is not sitting in trances. Yoga is not wandering through foreign lands; Yoga is not bathing at sacred shrines of pilgrimage”…..“Remaining unblemished in the midst of the filth of the world is the way to attain Yoga. Meeting with the True Guru, doubt is dispelled, and the wandering mind is restrained. Nectar rains down, celestial music resounds, and deep within, wisdom is obtained. Remain dead while yet alive — practice such Yoga. When the horn is blown without being blown, then you shall attain the state of fearless dignity”. “One who looks upon all with a single eye, and knows them to be one and the same — he alone is known as a Yogi.” [17]

    Discourses to Sanyasis

    Renounce sexual desire, anger, falsehood and slander; forsake Maya and eliminate egotistical pride and promiscuity, and give up emotional attachment. Only then shall you obtain the Immaculate Lord amidst the darkness of the world. They must renounce selfishness, conceit and arrogant pride, and love for their children and spouse. They must abandon their thirsty hopes and desires, and embrace love for the Lord. Then only the True Lord shall come to dwell in their mind. Through the True Word, they shall be absorbed in the Name of the Lord”. [18]

    If God so pleases, one can meditate on Him. The soul is attracted and gets concentrated on Him. The soul and the God have to become one. The internal strife is then killed inside only. Remembering the True Lord in meditation, one is enlightened. Then, in the midst of Maya, he remains detached. Such is the Glory of the True Guru; in the midst of children and spouses, they attain emancipation. [19]

    Dialogue as course of communication

    Guru Nanak entered into dialogue with all high and low; near and dear ones, leant and the ignorant in a cordial and congenial atmosphere and conveyed his philosophy very clearly which affected all whomsoever he communicated with. He held dialogues even with self and God. His dialogues can be seen in all his compositions e.g., Japuji, Sohila, Rehras, Ramkali, Siddh Gosht, the last one having very comprehensive discussion on spirituality as well as the path of Siddhas and that of Guru Nanak. Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Janamsakhis have ample examples of his dialogues.

    His dialogues were meaningful, thoughtful, to the point, exact, set according to the situation and very effective specially when directed to the soul. These were proactive, beginning with the end in mind, putting first things first, thinking positively, understanding first how to be rightly understood, synergizing the interaction of the individuals for greater combined effect and sharpening effectiveness with every development progressively leading to create end effect.

    Discussions with Siddhas

    The entire composition is so meaningful, to the point and exact that it is said to be a storehouse of spiritual knowledge and Guru Nanak’s philosophy can be easily understood through this dialogue as compared to the knowledge and philosophy of Siddhas is much more practical, workable and embedded in life. Considering its importance as a repertoire of philosophy of Guru Nanak and an as a wonderful example of impacting dialogue' the Siddh Godhti is discussed first.

    It is addressed as Ramkali, First Mahal, Siddh Gosht: Conversations with the Siddhas. From this itself one can understand the pattern of the matter in side. The Siddhas formed an assembly; and were sitting in their Yogic postures. This is the setting in which Guru Nanak was to start the dialogue. The description of the scene of dialogue is so suited to the discussion (goshti) that it builds a clear base for what is to come first:

    The opening words give out as to what type of the other party was going to be as they shouted, “Salute this gathering of Saints.” Guru Nanak immediately understood that they are going to treat him as unequal since it was sort of an order for him to pay regards to them as superiors; elders and purified ones.


    Guru Nanak held dialogue with teachers, religious authorities, people in power, relatives followers and commoners.

    (a) Teachers Guru Nanak was taught by Gopal Pandha, Hardyal Pundit and Maulvi Qutubudin etc.

    (b) Religious authorities and saints: Pundit Hardyal at the ritual of sacred thread (janeu), With Vaidya With Pundits at Haridwar 3. With Siddhas 4. With Mullahs at Sultanpur Lodhi and at Mecca 5. With Sheikh Ibrahim etc

    (c) People in Power Rai Bullar, Malik Bhago, Daulat Khan Lodhi, King Shivnabh of Sri

    Lanka, Emperor Salim, Emperor Babar etc

    (d) Relatives, Mother , Father, Sister, Brother-in-law, Wife, Sons, Father-in Law etc

    (e) Followers and commoners: Mardana, Guru Angad, Ajita Randhawa, Karoria etc.

    Question answer technique

    His dialogue on question-answer based is exemplary e.g., in the first step of Japuji the Master poses a question “How to break away from falsehood?” and gives a brief answer: “Through complete surrender unto His will, O Nanak that is the writ Devine.” [20]

    O man why should you worry? The Lord gives what He has to give: He gives what is destined for us keep watch on all and has His will carried out. Do not blame anyone, blame lies which your own destiny. What I get is the reward or punishment for that and nobody else is to be blamed for that.

    O pundit why do you waste your time writing useless things that smack of Strife and involvement? Pray, write only of the Lord’s name and enjoy the Guru’s Grace. (Dakhni Ongkar) [21] What is the use of wandering? Purification can be attained through Truth alone; And without the world of the True Lord. No one can achieve salvation. (Siddh Gosht) [22]

    Table 1: Guru Nanak’s dialogue with Yogis

    Questions of Yogis
    Charpat Nath: The Ocean of Existence is said to be impassable. How then can we cross it and safely reach the other shore? (p.938)
    Answers of Guru Nanak
    As the lotus remains above the water; and does not drown as the duck swims and does not become wet while swimming so can we cross safely and unaffected, the ocean of existence by attuning our minds to the word of Guru and repeating Holy name of God (p.938)

    Siddhas enquired for Guru Nanak’s name and how he got emancipated? (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1:28:6)

    Guru Nanak said: My name is Nanak and I got emancipation through God’s Name.(Bhai Gurdas Vaar1:28:7-8)

    Siddhas enquired further: Which power brought you here? (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1:28)

    Guru Nanak answered: “I have meditated on God with love and dedication” (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1:28)

    Yogi Bhangar Nath was irritated at the success and following of Guru Nanak. He questioned the Guru: “Why have you mixed sour in milk? The entire vessel of milk is spoilt and by billowing it butter cannot be obtained. Why have you removed the dress of a renunciate and adopted the system of a family life?”(Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1: 40:4)

    Guru Nanak answered in the same tone:” Your mother was ill mannered. She did not know how to clean the vessel properly and used base flowers to clean it. You too left the family and went begging to the same house. To get something you have to pay for it. (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1:40:8)

    Siddhas spoke:” O Nanak! Tell us what miracle did you show to the world? Why do you delay? Show some to us as well. (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1:42:2)

    Guru Nanak replied: Nath ji! Hear the Word of the Lord coming out of my mouth. Without Lord’s True Name I have no other miracle.( Bhai Gurdas Vaar `1:43:2)

    Guru Nanak’s dialogue with Mullahs, Qazis & Muslim Faqirs


    Guru Nanak

    Guru Nanak got out of the fair and went around Multan. The Peer of Multan presented a cup full of milk (to show that there is no space in Multan for any other God man) (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1:44:6)

    Guru Nanak took a flower of jasmine and kept on the milk. It settled on milk as does Ganges in ocean. (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1:44:8)

    Guru Nanak slept at night keeping his feet towards Qaba. Jeevan, the caretaker of the mosque, kicked him and said: ‘Who is this non-believer sleeping here?’ Everyone was astonished and showed annoyance: “Why have kept your legs towards God?” They enquired (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1:32:7)

    On having replied by Guru Nanak to move his legs to the direction where God is not there, Jeevan dragged him around catching his legs. The Mecca moved where ever his feet moved. Everyone considered him a miracle man. (Bhai Gurdas Vaar 1:32:7, 8)

    Guru Nanak’s clarification to Ali Yar (Gosht: Janamsakhi Bhai Bala p.476)

    Peer Ali Shah

    O Darvesh! Where have you come from and what is your name?
    Guru Nanak
    I have come from Punjab, the land of five rivers and my name is Nanak Nirankari

    I do not understand the meaning of the word Nirankari.

    Nirankar is the name of God. Nirankar means one who belongs to Him. Being one of God’s men and associated with Him as such.

    Who is your guide and teacher?

    God, our Creator.

    How have you attained God?

    By subduing my ego and by dwelling on nothing else but God.

    Sheikh Farid
    A tree was flowered in the part of the night and got its fruit in the later part of the night. Those who remain awake, get the blessing of the Lord. (SGGS, p.1384)
    Guru Nanak
    The blessings of the Lord do not go with a man always. Some do not get into Him while awake while others may be woken by the Lord Himself to give the blessings. (SGGS, p.1384)

    The float could not be controlled at the required time. When the lake is full and overflows, it is difficult to cross it. (SGGS, p.794)

    Have a float of meditation and remembrance of God so that you can cross in difficult time. There will be no lake nor overflowing waters; the path will be easy. (SGGS, p.729)

    Sheikh Ibrahim
    One side you want the world and the other side you wish for God. You cannot keep your legs on two boats; it may drown you in between. (Puratan Janamsakhi p. 49)
    Guru Nanak

    Keep you legs on both the boats, have your floats on both. One may drown while other will get you accross. ( Puratan Janamsakhi, p.48)

    Farid Says: O! the one engrossed in the wife‘s beauty; the world is false secret. Even when you keep a watch, your field will be destroyed.(Puratan janamsakhi, p.49)

    Guru Nanak replied Farid: The wife’s beauty has been a matter of attraction from the very beginning. The field will not be destroyed if the protector is cautious. (Puratan janamsakhi, p.49)

    God has two boundaries. I do not know which to serve and which to reject.

    There is only one God who has got only one boundry. You serve Him and reject any other.

    Mian Mitha
    First comes the name of God; second the Prophet Mohammed. O Nanak if you read qalma, you will be accepted in God’s court
    Guru Nanak
    First comes the name of God; whose gatekeeper is Mohammed. O Sheikh! You must mend your nature so as to be acceptable to God

    Guru Nanak’s clarification to Peer Ruqndeen

    Peer Ruqndeen
    My life time is complete and I am ready to depart. Pray bless me too with your grace ( for journey to next life)
    Guru Nanak
    He whose life time is complete shall surely deopart taking with him result of his deeds; for all are bound by the will of God. They who depart after living truthfully are honoured by the Lord and their faces radiate glory

    Guru Nanak also created an impression though his actions. At Hardwar he threw water towards north as against others who were throwing water to the east. This attracted everyone’s attentions. The dialogue between the two is interesting.

    ‘Why are you throwing water to the north?’

    ‘I am watering my plants in Kartarpur which is in the north.’ ‘How can the water reach Kartarpur?’

    ‘You earlier said, the water of Hardwar can reach the sun million of miles away. My village is just hundreds of miles. Should it not be reaching there?’

    The point went home.

    Once, some Yogis came to meet Guru Nanak. As they were reaching Kartarpur they found some men working in fields. Their leader asked one of them to check the location of Guru Nanak’s house. ‘They are too dirty. They will spoil my cloths as well.’ he said. On insistence of the leader, he went and found them reciting Gurbani while working. ‘How? They are reciting God’s name in such a muddy atmosphere?’ he was astonished. He reached them and asked, “Where does Nanak reside?” “Just wait. I will come and guide” Guru Nanak came out and washed his hands. Meanwhile Mata Sulkhani, wife of Guru Nanak came with lunch. Guru Nanak said, “I will take you there. First have lunch.” How can we eat, that is just enough for you?’ “Do not worry there is enough for all.” Guru Nanak asked Mata Sulkhani to distribute to all equally what she had brought and they had their fill. “You do hard labour, you recite God’s Name and you share what you have. You cannot be other than Guru Nanak. You are really great. We have to go nowhere else now,” their leader said.[23]


    Initially his message was not taken seriously. He was scoffed at by Maulvi at Sultanpur Lodhi and Pundits at Hardwar, Mullahs at Mecca and Babar at Saidpur. His follower Ruqun Deen was stoned to death and his other followers were exiled from the country. Babar jailed him and gave the punishment of grinding floor and carriage of stones. But Guru Nanak was undaunted in his effort and ultimately his message was rightly taken by all. [23]

    Delivery of communication

    He offered gentle but sharp and intelligent criticism of prevalent concept, traditions, customs, religions etc. His sweet and attracting behaviour, magnetic personality and the heart-touching poetry sung in rhythm and sweet and lilting voice accompanied with music and the continuously energy generating body attracted the beings instantly. ‘Music makes these ‘poetic arrows’ piercing and the sharp but sweet shots of these arrows leave an undeniable impression on one’s mind.’ [24] He presented every aspect and idea of life in a metaphorical form which helped one attain spiritual height and interpret life in true perspective. His dare and gentleness, sweetness and humility, saying and doing, poetry and music, exquisite dress and smooth but impacting delivery of words caused long lasting impact on whomsoever he communicated with. [25]

    Effectiveness of Guru Nanak’s Inter-faith dialogue

    He traversed the four quarters of the earth on foot and delivered his message. In every land that he visited, an appreciative uproar arose over his utterances and sayings, and in every clime his words and expressions, imbued with truth and reality, stirred up enthusiastic response. He conversed with men of pious hearts who had attained nearness to God and he had garnered gifts from laudable virtues of men possessed of the power of ascertaining the truth. [26]

    Overall impact

    The characteristic discourse discussion or dialogue delivered through poetry and music followed by examples and actions made them speechless and accept him as God’s agent. The echoes of his hymns were heard all over the endless universe and this redeeming boon of the eternal and inexhaustible spiritual treasure showed the true path of salvation to the entire mankind. It bestowed peace on the disturbed heart, bringing the restless mind in tune with the Lord, and by propagating the philosophy or equality as embodied in congregation (sangat) and having meals on one platform together (pangat), spurred the minds to understand, enjoy and derive inspiration from the greatness and uniqueness of the Lord and His creation. It enkindled the soul, dispelled the dark clouds of ignorance and enabled man to attain Sahaj. In addition to the supreme joy and awareness that man enjoyed when he attained this stage, it helped him to lead a dynamic and pious life full of noble deeds in the service of mankind. Thus it ennobled and uplifted the individual as well as the society.


    All types, kings and commoners, high and low, religious and criminals all were affected with a positive change. The so called leaders of Hinduism and Islam willingly bowed before Guru Nanak during discussions. Instead of harbouring any ill will they accepted his clarifications that the religion is to serve and unite the humanity and not to create divisions. Kings Babar, Salim, Shivnabh, Kauda the cannibal; Bhumia, the thief, Sajjan, the Thugg, Behlol, the established peer, Chaturdas; the proud pundit, Malik the haughty rich, Siddhas, the egoistic mendicants; all were so changed that their character of anti-society became that of serving the society.[27]



    Impact of the teachings of Guru Nanak was immense. Allama Iqbal rightly said:‘Fir uthi akhir sda tauhid ki Panjab se, Hind ko ek mard(i) kamil na jagaia khab se.’ He was instrumental in causing an awakening in India against foreign rule of oppression. He not only raised his followers spiritually into, “men of truthful words, devout austerity and of accepted prayer-mindedness, looking upon friends and foes alike.”[28] but also transformed them into saint warriors who took upon themselves the protection of the poor and helpless against the tyrannical aggressor of the land. [29] Guru Nanak stirred the inner soul of the people and freed them from the thralldom of the priestly classes and fear of the ruling class. His following increased continuously and has been increasing even now. Freed from the worship of idol and image worship they came to their own and introduced into the country a monotheist casteless and classless society of mainly servants of the people-an order of fearless and saint soldiers, the Khalsa, who in their turn made innumerable sacrifices to free their land from its tyrannous rulers and foreign usurpers. They ultimately succeeded in creating on the north-west an independent sovereign state of the Punjab and made a gift of it to India as the guardian of honour and independence.


    1. Rapoport, 1967, as derived from Rogers' client-centered therapy, 1951.

    2. Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) published by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee , Sri Amritsar, p.722

    3. SGGS, p. 1288

    4. SGGS, p. 114

    5. SGGS, p.468:19

    6. SGGS, p. 662

    7. SGGS, p. 93

    8. Op Cit

    9. SGGS, p. 93

    10. SGGS, p.1245

    11. SGGS, p.141

    12. SGGS, p.141

    13. SGGS, p.24

    14. SGGS, p.117

    15. SGGS, p.1245

    16. SGGS, p.1244

    17. SGGS, p.730

    18. SGGS, p.141

    19. SGGS, p.662

    20. SGGS, p. 1 (Japuji Sahib)

    21. Dakhni Ongkar, Manmohan Singh, Hymns of Guru Nanak, Language Department of Punjab, Patiala.

    22. Sidh Gosht, Manmohan Singh, Hymns of Guru Nanak, Language Department of Punjab, Patiala.

    23. Kirpal Singh (Dr.), 1969, Janamsakhi Prampra, Punjabi University Patiala

    24 Manmohan Singh, Hymns of Guru Nanak, Language Department of Punjab, Patiala, p. i.

    25. Ghulam Muhiuddin alias Bute Shah, Ibrat Namah, 1722 AD

    26. Manmohan Singh, Hymns of Guru Nanak, Language Department of Punjab, Patiala, p. i.

    27. Ibid

    28 Sujan Rai Bhandari, Khulasat-ut-Twarikh, 1695, p.70 “Maqbul-al maqal waahl-i-riazat wa mujtjab-ul-dawat

    Khwesh-o-begana dar nazar-i-eshan yaksan wa dost-o-dushman nizd-i-shan barabar.”

    29 Ganda Singh, The Impact of Guru Nanak’s teachings on the lives of his followers, The Punjab Past and Present,

    Vol. XI Part I-I Punjabi University, Patiala, 1993, p.32
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  2. sukhsingh

    sukhsingh Writer SPNer

    Aug 14, 2012
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    I'm not entirely comfortable with this exegesis but it provides a wonderful gateway to discussing issues thank you
  3. dalvindersingh grewal

    dalvindersingh grewal Writer Historian SPNer Thinker

    Jan 3, 2010
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    May I know what makes you uncomfortable in this paper?
  4. sukhsingh

    sukhsingh Writer SPNer

    Aug 14, 2012
    Likes Received:
    I think a considered response would be appropriate providing my points so will attempt to find time to do this ASAP

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