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Gurus Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in 1469. He was send to earth by God to teach people about the true meaning of life and educate them about God. Guru Nanak’s father, Mehta Kalu was a Patwari- an accountant of land revenue in the government. Guru's mother was Mata Tripta and he had one older sister, Bibi Nanki. From the very childhood, Bibi Nanki saw the Light of God in Guru Nanak but did not reveal this secret to anyone. She is known as the first disciple of Guru Nanak.

Before the birth of Guru Nanak, there were no Sikhs in this world. The major religions in India were Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. People who became he followers of Guru Nanak were known as Sikhs. Guru Nanak did not follow Muslim ritual nor did he follow Hindu beliefs. Rather he proclaimed that all humans are equal regardless of class, color, religion, caste and gender. As instructed by God, he introduced a faith called Sikhism in this world whose sole purpose is to eliminate all superstitions and unite one with God and attain salvation.

At the age of seven, Guru Nanak was sent to school, which was run by teacher, Pandit Gopal Das, at his village. As usual the teacher started the lesson with an alphabet but the teacher was wonder-stuck when the Guru asked him to explain the meanings of the letters of the alphabet. However at the helplessness of his teacher, the Guru wrote the meanings of each and every letter of the alphabet. This was the first Divine Message delivered by Guru Nanak. This was an explanation of deeper truth about human beings and God and the way to realize God in terms of the alphabet. Then teacher asked him some questions, to his astonishment Guru Nanak answered all the questions on his very first day of school. The teacher stood abashed before the Divine Master and bowed to him. He then took him back to his father and said, “Mehta Ji, your son is a prophet. He knows everything, there is nothing that I can teach him.”

Many scholars of history have not grasped the basic fundamental fact about the divinity of Guru Nanak. He was born with divine status, thus his teachings were heavenly. These writers seem to be very much ignorant of the fact that Guru Nanak was an Embodiment of Divine Light and had united with God before he was sent to this world. The Message that Guru Nanak gave to this world, came to him direct from God as he confirms himself:

I am saying what He commands me to say.” (Guru Granth Sahib, 566).

O Lalo, as comes the Divine Word from God to me So do I narrate it.” (Guru Granth Sahib, 722)

Guru Nanak was nine years old and according to the custom among the higher castes of Hindus, he was required to invest himself with the sacred thread called 'Janaeu'. Great preparations were made by his father for this ceremony. The family priest named Hardyal, started chanting Mantras (Hindu hymns) and was ready to put the thread around Guru's neck when he refused to wear it. The whole assembly was astonished. They tried to persuade him every way to wear the Janaeu but in vain. The priest asked Guru Nanak the reason why he wouldn’t wear the sacred thread. Guru Nanak said that by wearing the thread people think they have washed away all of their sin. By believing this they live in ignorance. They continue to do sin and believe that the holy thread will wash their sins and save them. There is no point in wearing such superstitious thing.”

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s father once sent Guru Nanak Dev Ji to graze buffaloes in the pastures. While grazing the buffaloes, Guru Nanak Dev ji sat under a tree and started meditating on God. Meanwhile, the herd of buffaloes went into the neighboring farmer’s field destroying his crop. The farmer saw his crops getting damaged. He became furious and lodged a complaint with Rai Bular, the officer-in-charge of that area. Rai Bular came to inspect the fields, and to his astonishment, he found no damage was done to the crops; rather, the crops were blossoming. The place, at which this miracle took place, is known as Kiara Sahib.

On another occasion, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was sent to graze the buffaloes in the pastures and he fell asleep under the shade of a tree. As the sun rose higher, the shadow moved away. The rays of the hot summer sun began to fall on his face. A big cobra came at that place and provided shadow with its hood over the face of the Divine Master. Rai Bular happened to be passing by that side with his attendants. When he saw this strange scene, he was convinced that Guru Nanak Dev Ji is not an ordinary man. God had sent him to this world. Rai Bular then touched the Guru's feet in great reverence and thus became his disciple.

Guru Nanak would spend most of his time in meditating on God. He was in deep love with God and preached about God to everyone. He told everyone to lead a simple, truthful and honest life. He told everyone to worship one God and none else. Guru Nanak said that one does not have to go on renunciation in order to meet God and neither he has to belong to a particular religion to do so. One can meet Him while living a family life and by meditating on Him. Guru Nanak abandoned the religious and social customs of both Hinduism and Islam. He spoke against the irrational rituals like animal sacrifice, idol worship, making pilgrimages, fasting and sati system.

When his father saw Guru Nanak talking about God and spirituality, Mehta Kalu got concerned and wanted to bring Guru Nanak in worldly matters. Guru Nanak was married to Sulakhni, the daughter of Bhai Mula. She gave birth to two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. His father soon found out that even the married life did not divest him of his pre-occupation with matters pertaining to his Divine mission. As a matter of fact, his concept of duty was not to serve himself and his family rather to transcend it so that the self might participate in the divine scheme of things and spiritualize the world around him. Humanity was his family and serving the humanity was the service of the Lord. Bhai Gurdas writes that the Guru saw the whole world in flames; flames of falsehood, tyranny, hypocrisy and bigotry. He had to go and extinguish that fire with eternal love, truth and dedication. He had the divine mission to teach to humanity, the lesson of the brotherhood of mankind and the fatherhood of God.

One day Guru Nanak went to bathe in the neighboring river called Baeen. While bathing he disappeared in water and remained as such for three days. During that period he had a vision of God's presence where he was entrusted by the Almighty with the task of preaching the Divine Name (Naam) to the world. The Almighty gave him a goblet brimming with nectar of 'Naam' which Master Nanak drank and then Almighty commanded:

"Thou art welcome, O Nanak, that hath absorbed thyself in Naam.
Do go hence and do the work for which thou wast born.
People of Kalyug have adopted horrible practices and are extremely degraded in mind.
They worship a variety of gods, have forsaken the Name and are immersed in sin
Go thou, spread Love and Devotion to the Name, and lighten the burden of the earth.
Go thou, and glorify the name of God and destroy hypocrisy."

So Guru Nanak set out for the regeneration of humanity on this earth. He carried the torch of truth, heavenly love, peace and joy for mankind. He embarked on his Divine Mission and went towards east, west, north and south and visited various centers of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jainis, Sufis, Yogis and Sidhas. He met people of different religions, tribes, cultures and races. He traveled on foot with his companion named Mardana.

In his first journey, Guru Nanak covered east and south of India and returned home after spending a little more than eight years. He started from Sultanpur in August, 1507 and went to his village Talwandi to meet and inform his parents about his long journey. The old parents wanted comfort and protection from their young son in their old age and so they asked him not to go. But there were thousands and thousands others waiting for the Divine Master for comfort, love and salvation. The Guru, therefore, told his parents, "There is a call from Heaven, I must go whither He directs me to go."
Accompanied by Mardana, the Guru embarked on his mission. He made his first stop at Saidpur, now known as Eminabad. Before Guru ji arrived at Saidpur the word has spread in the whole city that a holy man is going to visit their town. Malik Bhago was the chief of the town. He was a corrupt person and had amassed wealth through unfair means. He would charge extra tax to the poor farmers and would take most of their crop, leaving them hungry. In this way he had become a wealthy person. When Malik heard the news of Gurus arrival, he started preparing for Guru’s stay at his home.

When Guru Nanak reached Saidpur, he knocked on the door of a poor carpenter named Lalo. Guru ji chose to stay with Lalo for sometime as a guest. Lalo would serve him with the little food that he had and Guru ji would eat the simple food with love. News reached Malik Bhago that Guru ji was staying with Lalo. Malik held a big gathering and invited all the holy men including Guru ji. Guru ji, however, did not accept his invitation.

Malik became angry that Guru Nanak Dev ji had refused his proposal and ordered to force the Guru to visit his place. Two guards were sent to Lalo’s home to escort the Guru and Guru Nanak ji decided to go with them. Upon reaching Malik’s place, Malik Bhago said, “O holy man, I have prepared so many dishes for you, but you are staying with a poor carpenter and eating his dry bread. Why?”

The Guru replied, “I cannot eat your food because your bread is ill-begotten and has been made with money sucked from the poor through unfair means, while Lalo's bread is made from the hard-earned money.” This made Malik Bhago very mad and he asked the Guru to prove his point. Guru ji then sent for a loaf of bread from Lalo's house. In one hand the Guru held Lalo's bread and in the other that of Malik Bhago's, and when he squeezed both. Milk dripped out from Lalo's bread and blood dripped from Malik Bhago's bread. Malik Bhago was completely shaken by his guilt and asked for forgiveness. The Guru asked him to distribute his ill-gotten wealth among the poor and henceforth live an honest life. Malik Bhago was re-born with the Guru's blessing.

After leaving Saidpur, Guru Nanak Dev Ji met a Rogue named Sajjan. Sajjan always wore a white dress, displayed his rosary and thus posed to be a holyman. He had built a Hindu temple and a Muslim mosque at the courtyard of his residence. He would invite wayfarers to his residence to rest for the night. But at night, he would take away their goods and money and would kill them. He had a well near his house where he would dump the bodies of the guest he killed.

The Guru went and stayed with him for the night. At night the Guru did not go to bed, which made Sajjan nervous to perform his nefarious act of robbing. Sajjan asked the Guru to take rest and sleep but Guru ji replied,"God's minstrel does not go to sleep, till God sends word that he should retire." The Guru then asked Mardana to play the rebec and he sang, “Houses, mansions, palaces painted on all sides, are left hollow within when thy breath stops. You posses wealth and assets, nothing shall go along with you but the sins you commit. You call yourself clever and smart, but you are unaware that in a moment you shall die. You have not remembered the name of Lord, and are completely drenched in money. You have not loved the one who gave you the body and wealth. And when the death comes you shall tremble helplessly. Have you sung the praises of Lord; He would have been your support and the time of your death.”

When Sajjan listened the Divine melody, he realized that Guru ji’s words were actually addressed to him. Upon this he made his obeisance and fell at the Guru ji’s feet, and prayed to him to pardon his sins. Guru ji said, "Sajjan, in the Sovereignty of God, grace is obtained by two things, open confession and reparation for wrong." Sajjan stood in submission. Guru Nanak Dev ji asked him to give all his ill-gotten wealth to the poor. He obeyed the mandate and became a follower of the Guru.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji then visited Hardwar, the most famous Hindu pilgrimage. As the sun came out in the morning, people started throwing water towards the sun. When Guru Nanak Dev ji asked them as to what they were doing, a priest replied, “We are offering water to our dead ancestors in the region of Sun to quench their thirst.”

Upon this, the Guru started throwing water towards the west. The Hindu pilgrims were astonished and asked what he was doing. The Guru replied, “I am watering my fields in Punjab.” The priest asked, “How can your water reach such a distance?” The Guru retorted, “How far your ancestors are from here?” One of them replied, “in the other world.”

To this Guru Nanak Dev ji stated, “If the water cannot reach my fields which are about four hundred miles away from here, how can your water reach your ancestors who are not even on this earth?” The crowd stood in dumb realization. Some of the listeners came to understand the point made by Guru Nanak Dev ji. They realized that the water that they were throwing simply returned to the river and it is a fake belief that it could reach their ancestors. Guru Nanak Dev ji preached against superstitions and false rituals, worship of demi-gods and goddesses. He stressed that only One God, the Formless, was to be glorified. In this way, he showed the path of truth and enlightenment. There is a Gurdwara called Nanakwara in Hardwar on the bank of the river Ganges where Guru Nanak Dev ji had stayed.

Then Guru ji traveled many miles in the wilderness of Assam. His minstrel,Mardana was very hungry and tired, so they sat under a tree. After sometime, Mardana went to get something to eat. On his way he met Kauda, the cannibal. Kauda took Mardana by surprise and bounded his hand and foot by a rope and then carried him to the spot where he had kept a big pan full of oil for frying the flesh of his victims. Kauda started to lighten fire under the pan. When Mardana saw that, he was very frightened and prayed to Guru ji to come to his rescue. The all-knowing Guru realized what was happening to Mardana, so he started walking towards Kauda’s place in order to rescue Mardana.

Kauda was trying to light the fire when Guru ji appeared. This bewildered Kauda completely. He went towards the Guru and captured him. He lit the fire and within minutes the oil was burning hot. Upon seeing this, the Guru said that he wants be the first one to be fried. Kauda was astonished, bewildered. He had never seen someone like this. Kauda carried on his routine and lifted Guru ji to be put in the big pan.

When the Guru’s feet touched the hot oil, it became cold as ice. Kauda then knew that Guru Nanak Dev ji was not an ordinary person. Guru ji looked at him compassionately and graciously and said, "Kauda! You do not see what you do, would you cast yourself in the burning fire of hell?" Kauda, whose conscience was dead with heinous crimes, suddenly came to realization and was overwhelmed with repentance. The very gracious and holy sight of the Divine Master made him realize his guilt and he fell on the feet of the Master and prayed for mercy. The gracious Master blessed him with the Name. Kauda was completely a changed person and thereafter lived as a devout disciple of the Guru as a completely honest worshipper of God.

Worship of Shiv's idol by Hindus is very common in southern India at that time. Southern India was also ridden with caste system. Guru Nanak had to visit all such places to show the people the path of Eternal Truth i.e. the worship of Almighty, the Formless. This was fruitful than the worship of the idols because salvation can only be attain through the worship of One Almighty God and none else. The Guru reached Cochin on his way back journey. The Guru preached against the idol worship and stressed that one should only worship One God, the Formless.

After enlightening numerous people, Guru Nanak went to a place called Nainadevi. It is the place where Hindus worship the idols of Naina Devi. Hindus worship Naina Devi and ask for offering from her. Just below the mountain a man named Bhai Lehna had a shelter for the pilgrim traveling to Nainadevi. Guru Nanak Dev Ji stayed at Bhai Lehna’s place. Bhai Lehna humbly welcomed Guru Nanak and gave him a room to stay. At night Bhai Lehna heard some noises outside. He looked outside his window and what he saw was astonishing. Naina Devi was sweeping the floor in front of the room where Guru Nanak was staying. Upon asking, Naina Devi told Bhai Lehna that she is sweeping the floor of Guru Nanak because a lot of people ask offerings from her when they worship her. So she serves God and his devotees and asks offerings from them to further give the offerings to the people. Bhai Lehna asks that if she can grant salvation upon her worship. Naina Devi said that she can give his worshipper gold, wealth and any materialistic thing but salvation is the only thing she cannot give. Bhai Lehna asked that from where can I learn about salvation and know how do I achieve it? Naina Devi said that no other knows salvation better than Guru Nanak. From then on Bhai Lehna become a follower of Guru Nanak and started worshipping God. After watching Bhai Lehna’s devotion to God, Guru Nanak renamed him Angad, meaning a part of Guru Nanak’s own body.

After that, Guru traveled towards the west to Mecca. As Guru ji was walking with Mardana, he met a group of muslims going towards Mecca on camels. Mardana asked Guru Nanak to go with them, as it would take a long time by foot to reach Mecca. In those days it took seven days to reach Mecca from Punjab, India on camels. When Mardana asked the group of Muslims to go along with them they said that they do not want to take any more people with them and they left Guru Nanak Dev ji and Mardana walking.

When Guru Nanak reached Mecca, he went inside the mosque where the pilgrims were engaged in their devotions. Muslims bow their head toward the mosque in Mecca because they believe that God resides there. When Guru Nanak Dev ji lay down to sleep at night, he turned his feet towards the Mosque. Watching Guru Nanak sleeping with his feet towards the Mosque, the qazi (Muslim priest), Jiwan kicked him and asked who this infidel was. Why is this person sleeping with his legs spread towards God? Guru ji replied, turn my feet in the direction in which God is not. Upon this, he seized Guru ji’s feet and dragged them in the opposite direction and what he saw was astonishing. Wherever he moved the Guru’s feet, the mosque revolved in that direction. The qazi then came to the realization that God is everywhere. Those who witnessed this miracle were astonished and saluted Guru ji (Bhai Gurdas Ji’s Vaars, 1).

The group of Muslims that met Guru Nanak on the way arrived to Mecca on Camel. They were astonished to see Guru Nanak sitting under a tree. They asked Jiwan that how long is this person has been here. Jiwan told him that Guru Nanak has been here for seven days and also told him about the incident of the revolution of the Mosque. Upon hearing this, the group of Muslim apologized to the Guru and asked him to forgive them.

From Mecca the Guru went to Baghdad, Iran, Afghanistan and then reached Pakistan. Guru Nanak showed the way of enlightenment to all from the way he passed. Upon reaching Pakistan Guru took a shelter under a small hill at a place called Hassan Abdal. It is about fifty kilometers from Rawalpindi in Pakistan. He halted there at the foot of a hill. Soon, people began to gather around him. He talked to them of God. He told them the greatness of God and His creations. Many more people began to gather around him every day.

On the top of that hill, there lived a Muslim Priest. His name was Bawa Wali Qandhari. His house was near a spring of fresh water. From there the water flowed down to the town and was used by the people for all their needs. There was no other source of water at that place.

Wali Qandhari was an arrogant person. When he saw people gathering around Guru Nanak instead of his place, he became very angry. So, he stopped the spring water from flowing down to the town. The people became frustrated. How could they and their cattle live without water! A group of them went to Bawa Wali Qandhari. They begged him to let the water flow down as before. But Bawa Wali Qandhari said angrily, "Go to your Guru, the one you visit everyday now and ask for water from him." The poeple went to the Guru and told him the whole story. The Guru said, “Don't lose your heart. Trust in God. He will not let you die of thirst”. The Guru then said to Bhai Mardana, “Go and appeal to Bawa Wali Qandhari and request him to let the water flow down to the town.” When Bhai Mardana went to the top of the hill, Bawa Wali Qandhari shouted angrily, “Go back to your Guru and ask him to give water to the people.”

Bhai Mardana returned to the Guru and narrated what Bawa Wali Qandhari said to him. The Guru sent him once again. But again he came back with the same story. The frustration of the public grew each second. The Guru said, “Don't lose your heart. God is great and merciful. He can make springs flow from where He likes. Let us all pray to Him.” They all prayed. Then Guru Nanak Dev Ji lifted a stone. At once, a stream of cool, clean water began to flow from the place Guru lifted the stone.

At the same time, Bawa Wali Qanhari's spring dried up. He was red with anger and from the top of the hill he pushed a large rock towards the Guru. The rock came rolling down towards the Guru. Bawa Wali Qanhari thought that the rock would crush the Guru to death but the Guru quietly raised his hand and the rock stopped at the instant it struck Guru’s hand. The Guru’s hand was imprinted on the rock. Bawa Wali Qundhari's pride was broken. He came down and fell at the Guru's feet. The Guru said to him, “Rise my friend. Live as lovers of God should live. Be kind to all.” The rock still exists. There is a beautiful Gurdwara at that place called the Panja Sahib or the Holy Hand Print.

Guru Nanak never asked a Muslim or a Hindu to become his disciple in order to attain salvation and neither did he say that he is God. He told everyone to meditate on Almighty God in order to attain salvation. His message was to consider all human races equal, not to believe in any superstitions and irrational rituals like fasting, sati system, caste system and animal sacrifice, not to worship any idol and be a devotee of One Almighty God. Furthermore, Guru Nanak told people to consider women equal and give them equal status and equal rights.

After traveling to all four directions, Guru came back to home. First he formed the Holy Communion, which was called Sangat, and the place where the Holy Communion was held called Gurdwara Sahib (House of the Guru). Divine measures (Kirtan) were sung in the morning as well as in the evening in Gurdwara Sahib. The practice of Langar was started. Langar is free food served in Gurdwara Sahib, which is prepared by the congregation and then consumed by them and their guests while sitting at the same level next to each other. The purpose of the langar is to eliminate any type of caste system and look to view all humans as equal. While eating Langar together, there remains no difference between rich and poor, and a superior or inferior person, for all present are eating the same food at the same level. Langar is still served in all Gurdwara Sahibs around the globe twenty-four hours a day.

The Guru, knowing that his time to depart was approaching, had to appoint his successor. Bhai Lehna had become a true worshipper of God and he was bold enough to carry the torch of enlightenment (Sikhism) further. As commanded by God, Guru Nanak placed five Paise (Indian currency) before Bhai Lehna and bowed to him in token of his succession to the Guruship and thus passed on the Divine Light to Bhai Lehna. He renamed Bhai Lehna as Angad Dev, by Angad meaning a part of his own body. Thus, he created another Nanak and called him Guru Angad Dev. Thus God created a second Nanak. “Divine Light is the same. Way and Mode are the same. The Master has only changed the body.” (Guru Granth Sahib, 966).

When Guruship was passed on to Guru Angad Dev Ji, people realized that Guru Nanak was soon to depart bodily from the world. The Sikhs (disciples of Guru Nanak), the Hindus and the Muslims came from all over to have holy glimpse of Guru Nanak. Guru's Muslim devotees wanted to bury him after his death while his Hindu followers desired to cremate his body. When the Guru was asked for his decision, he replied, "Let the Hindus place flowers on my right and the Muslims on my left side of body. Those whose flowers are found fresh in the morning, may have the disposal rights of my body."

The Guru drew a sheet over him. When the sheet was removed next morning, body was not found underneath, but the flowers on both sides were fresh. The light blended with Light and the spirit went back and merged with the Almighty Spirit God. It confirms that the Guru was not a body but he was the Divine Light. He was about seventy and a half years of age when he left this world. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, First Guru of Sikhs

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