• Welcome to all New Sikh Philosophy Network Forums!
    Explore Sikh Sikhi Sikhism...
    Sign up Log in

Gurus Guru Nanak's True Parkash: Vaisakhi


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Depending on how you look at it, this article is either too late or too early. I just found it on the net and wanted to post anyway. It can be stuck at the time of Vaisakhi when SPN will remember the birth of Guru Nanak, since we follow the 2003 Nanakshahi calendar. The article is related to our remembrance of Guru Gobind Singh, as you will discover after reading on.


Pal Singh Purewal | Alberta, Canada
December 02, 2012

Guru Nanak's True Parkash - Vaisakh

The beginning of Vaisakhi celebrations by Guru Amar Das ji, and the selecting of this day for creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh ji was not coincidental - but because it was Guru Nanak ji’s birthday.

Over the past 100 years a lot has been written about the birth date of Guru Nanak ji. Perhaps it might be thought that the issue has been discussed ad nauseum. But there is one aspect that has been overlooked by all researchers so far…

Let me first summarize the views of two opposing schools of thought.

Traditional View

Traditionalists maintain that Guru ji was born on Kartik sudi pooranmasi (full moon), 1526 Bikrami Calendar. But they also adhere to the view that Guru ji's jyoti jot date was Asu vadi 10, 1596 Bikrami, as mentioned in Bhai Bala's Janamsakhi and various other entries made in very old hand-written copies of the Adi Granth Sahib.

Because older texts give Guru ji's age as 70 years, 5 months and 7 days, they are unable to reconcile the birth date, the jyoti jot date, and age. So they believe that the historical age of 70 years, 5 months and 7 days is incorrect, and calculate Guru ji’s age as less than 70 years.

Modern View

Modern researchers begin from the belief that the jyoti jot date is Asu sudi 10, 1596 Bikrami, which is 15 days later than what the traditionalists believe. But they accept 70 years, 5 months and 7 days as Guru ji’s correct age.

Calculating backwards, and citing various janamsakhis, they arrive at the birth date of Vaisakh sudi 3, 1526 Bikrami, therefore rejecting Kartik pooranmasi. There was no full moon on that date.

Proponents of Vaisakh sudi 3, 1526 Bikrami, as the birth date should bear in mind that it is not the originally recorded date. It is a calculated date using the luni-solar Bikrami calendar. It has been arrived at by a simple subtraction of 70 years 5 months and 7 days from the assumed date of jyoti jot: Asu sudi 10.

Lunar vs. Solar Calculations

The lunar year is shorter than the solar year by about 11 days. To keep this year in step with the solar year, an extra lunar month is added to the lunar year every two or three years, and has 13 lunar months in those years. The additional month is known as an ‘intercalary’ month.

Because lunar months differ from solar months by the number of days in the month, and because the lunar years frequently contain intercalary months, the age of a person reckoned in the two systems will rarely be exactly the same.

It is common knowledge that the age of a person is reckoned by solar calendar, and not by lunar calendar. This can be easily confirmed by going to a village and asking an elderly illiterate person his date of birth. If he knows, he shall tell the date by solar Bikrami calendar, saying the number of days of the month that had gone when he was born. He shall not answer in vadis and sudis, the lunar Bikrami calendar, which differentiate the two periods of the waning and the rising moon in a lunar month, respectively. Why Sikh writers have been using vadis and sudis to calculate ages and periods of guruship of the Gurus is not known.

It may be surmised, however, that since the vadis and sudis are used to fix most religious festivals, Sikh writers may have used them to also calculate periods between dates.

An example of a lunar calendar being used for calculating age may be found in the book ‘Ma'asre Alamgiri’ by Must'ad Khan, in which he gives the age of Aurangzeb according to lunar as well as solar calendars. But more importantly, he does not fail to mention the calendar used in each case. It must also be borne in mind that the Hijri calendar used by Muslims is a purely lunar one.

The New Date

The author believes that 70 years, 5months and 7 days is the correct age of Guru ji, as mentioned in the earliest records. The author also believes that Asu vadi 10, 1596 Bikarmi, is the correct jyoti jot date because this date has been found recorded in very old handwritten scripts of Adi Granth Sahib ji, and because the story about this date was established even before the time of Guru Arjan ji. If the date were spurious and only a story, surely Guru Arjan ji would have taken steps to rectify it.

If we use these values, in a way that neither of the two schools have done before, Guru ji’s birth date is Vaisak 1, 1526 Bikrami. It also was pooranmasi on that date.

Why no one arrived at this result before is due to two reasons. First, researchers consistently ignored calculation by the solar Bikrami calendar. Second, even if they had done the calculation by the solar calendar, they would have arrived at the wrong date because of a mistaken conversion from Asu vadi 10 to Asu.

Both schools were partly right and partly wrong.

Guru Ji's correct birth date is Vaisakh 1, 1526 Bikrami (Vaisakhi day), Monday, which is also Chet sudi 15 (pooranmasi). The Common Era date is 27 March, 1469.

With this date one does not have to stretch one's imagination to interpret the word 'vasoaa' in Bhai Gurdas's famous line 'Ghar ghar andar dharamsaal hovai keertan sadaa vasoaa'! 'Vasoaa' means 'Vaisakhi' or Vaisakh 1, and nothing else.

The author of this article is convinced in his mind that the beginning of Vaisakhi celebrations by Guru Amar Das ji, and the selecting of this day for creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh ji was not coincidental - but because it was Guru Nanak ji’s birthday.

This paper was accepted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for the history seminar at the World Sikh Sammelan in 1995. It has also been published in the research journals of the Guru Nanak Dev University and Panjabi University. This version contains some additional matter and minor updates.

Changing Parkash Date from Vaisakhi to Kartik Pooranmasi

According to historian, Max Arthur Macauliffe, the parkash gurpurb was originally celebrated in Vaisakh at Nankana Sahib. This was changed to Kartik pooranmashi in 1816 CE, during Maharaja Ranjit Singh 's reign.

Macauliffe writes: 
"All the jandali and modern janamsakhis give Kartik as the month in which Baba Nanak was born. (But) in Mani Singh's and all the old janamsakhis, the Guru's natal month is given as Baisakh. The following is the manner in which Kartik began to be considered as the Guru’s natal month:

There lived in the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at Amritsar, Bhai Sant Singh Gyani, who was held in high estimation by that monarch. Some five miles from Amritsar is an ancient tank called Ram Tirath, or place of pilgrimage of the Hindu God Ram. At that place a Hindu fair was and is still held at the time of the full moon in the month of Kartik.

The spot is essentially Hindu, and it had the further demerit in the eyes of the Bhai of having been repaired by Lakhpat, the prime minister of Zakaria Khan Bahadur, the inhuman prosecutor of the Sikhs. Bhai Sant Singh desired to establish an opposition fair in Amritsar on the same date, and thus prevent the Sikhs from making the Hindu pilgrimage to Ram Tirath.

He gravely adopted the Handali date of Guru Nanak's birth, and proclaimed that his new fair at Amritsar at the full moon in the month of Kartik was in honour of the nativity of the founder of the religion.

There is no doubt that Guru Nanak was born in Baisakh. All the older janamsakhis give that as Guru Nanak's natal month. As late as the Sambat 1872, it was in Baisakh that the anniversary fair of Guru Nanak's 
birth was always celebrated at Nankana.

And finally, the Nanak Parkash, which gives the full moon in Kartik Sambat 1526, as the time of Guru Nanak's birth and the tenth of the dark half of Assu, Sambat 1596, as the date of his death, states with strange inconsistency that he lived seventy years five months and seven days, a total which is irreconcilable with these dates, but it is very nearly reconcilable with the date of the Guru’s birth given in the old janamsakhi.


Pal Singh Purewal is the author of the Nanakshahi Calendar. See his Web site for more information.



📌 Follow the Official Sikh Philosophy Network Channel on WhatsApp: