Impact of Guru Nanak and His Communication

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Dalvinder Singh Grewal

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Impact of Guru Nanak and His Communication
Dr. Dalvinder Singh Grewal

Guru Nanak’s followers have been counted to be 14 million Sikhs in the world at present according to a study.[1] Since Guru Nanak started his communication, around 10 generations have passed. It means his following has been around 100 million Sikhs so far. The increase in following of Guru Nanak has been in a continuous progression. The nine Gurus in succession were so enmeshed into his teaching that they very strictly followed the philosophy set by Guru Nanak. They even did not differentiate themselves from Guru Nanak with their names and recorded themselves as mahla or a connective number of body e.g mahla 5 meaning Guru Arjan the fifth body of Guru Nanak’s jyoti or soul. This continuous jyoti transfer was permanently enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib by the 10th Master. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the real essence of the over all philosophy propagated by Guru Nanak which has been regularly followed till date among all his Sikhs. The essence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the mantra “1E”, further expanded to is ‘mool mantra’ (1E to Gurparsad(i) the essence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the exposition of this essence in Japuji. The expansion goes on developing exponentially maintaining “1E”as the fulcrum and philosophy of Japuji. Guru Nanak’s teaching are thus the key to Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Now Sri Guru Granth Sahib is reverred not only among his ardent followers; the Sikhs but also among many others. It has the propensity to be accepted as global guide in this strife ridden world to spread peace, tranquility, equality, fraternity and brotherhood.

The teachings of Guru Nanak are practical hence his Sikhs too are practical like him, “always up and doing bubbling with energy, ready to be yoked to solve the problems of life”. They are never afraid to put their hand to any type of work that comes their way. They strive hard in every service to make it a success. By sheer dint of hard work, they have won a place for themselves in their occupation and profession. The world knows them as special brand of soldiers, both of peace and war. With his hand at the handle of the plough or at the steer of a tractor the Sikh is the hardiest peasant who becomes one with land for raising the crops.[2]

Guru Nanak’s belief in the unity of God and selfless service of mankind has given to the Sikhs their character of unwavering faith in God and Guru and in patriotism and sacrifice with which they not only freed their country from under the yoke of oppressors and usurpers in the eighteenth century but also carved for it, under Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the first half of the 19th century, a place of strength and honour on the international map and made a gift of it to India to stand as a sentinel on its northern frontier to defend it against all future invasions from that quarter.[3]

The quality of character and capacity to work has taken the Sikhs to new heights. India is now blessed with a Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh who is a devoted Sikh. They have their representations in auigust top constitutional bodies of not only India but also in the leading countries of the world e.g., USA, Canada, England. The teachings of Guru Nanak are related more to the spiritual upliftment of mankind and social good with an understating among different creeds and classes based on the common fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. According to him, there is but one God and who is all truth, Immortal, Unborn and Self Existing creator, Fearless and Sans Hate. He does not belong to a particular religion; he is the God of the universe of all mankind and of all religions. For the promotion and advancement of human good to establish happy relations, Guru Nanak refused to accept the man made distinctions of castes, creed and classes of high and low; rich and poor. He condemned forcefully the aggression of one over the others; of the rulers over their subjects, both in the fields of politics and religion. He stood for the freedom of conscience and expression. He was the strongest advocate of equality, equality between man and man, equality between man and women. He would attach no impurity to the woman because of their sex nor would he hold them in compulsory subjection to men. He gave them the future responsibility in all matter spiritual and social and regarded them in every way equal in the right of God. He took the woman out of the blind allay and put on an enlightened path of self realization.

At the time of advent of Guru Nanak, there was no true religious spirit. The spirit of Hinduism and Islam was hidden beneath a mass of rituals, formalities and material wealth. Tyranny reigned supreme; the tyranny of might, the tyranny of forms and the tyranny of names. The unity of Godhead was lost in the worship of numerous avatars and divinities, peers and dargahs; pilgrimages and empty ritualistic practices had taken the place of the real devotion of the heart; blind faith and superstitions had driven truth away. The Hindus and Mohammedans quarreled; the Brahman and the Mullah wrangled. Social and political inequalities reigned rampant and there was strife, eternal strife, every where. All aspects of life-social, religious and political presented the same spectacle. Guru Nanak Dev cried out in despair, “How the deliverances shall be obtained?”[4]

At the time, both the prevailing religions; Hinduism and Islam had become corrupt and degenerated. They had lost their pristine purity and glory. The Vedas were unintelligible to the people and had been replaced by tantric literature. Castes had grown rigid and had split into numerous sub castes… Similar was the state of affairs in Islam.. Political conditions were much worse…[5]

Guru Nanak took upon to propagate ‘Unity of God’, ‘Worship of One God and no idols’, ‘Fatherhood of God’, ‘Brotherhood of man’, ‘Equality of Man’, ‘Inner autonomy of man’ and ‘Meaninglessness of ritualism.’ Nanak did first things first. He exhorted the people to forget all supposed agencies of creation, sustenance and death. He restored their faith and undivided loyalty to One God (Ik Onkar) as source of all creation.

Guru Nanak’s great philosophy of One God and Universal brotherhood; 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. 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. Kauda the cannibal; Bhumia, the thief, Sajjan, the Thhagg, 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.

Here it was that the gentle Nanak preaching his marvelous love for the world. Here it was that his broad heart was opened, and his arms outstretched to embrace the whole world, not only of Hindus but of Mohammedans too.[6]

An example is here given from Janamsakhi Meharban how Guru Nanak converted the hardened criminals to saintly persons changing their attitude from looting the people to serving the humanity.

‘Then from Narbda River the Guru Baba Nanak stood on the lands of the thhaggs. The thhaggs got into his company. Thhaggs thought, “This person appears to have a great wealth with him. He is in the dress of a faqir, but he has great wealth. Wealth shines on his face. The dress is of faqir but the shine on his face is of the worldly men. And they moved along. Guru Baba Nanak understood their intention, saw towards them and laughed. Guru Nanak then sang a hymn directed to them: “piru sagi moothhdi:e: khabri na pa:i:e: ji:eek::…(Dhnasari Chhant M.1, p.222) Their mind woke up, “He is not the worldly person. He is not a faqir either. He is a great man. He has reached the God. To our good, we have met a God’s man. Let us touch his feet and leave this dirty profession for ever and do as the Baba guides us. They then threw away the killing ropes and fell at Guru Nanak’s feet. Guru Nanak asked them, “Gentlemen, who are you?” They replied,” We are the thhuggs. We have been looting the entire area. We have these ropes to hang the people. We were after you since last three days. We thought you to be a worldly person in the garb of a faqir. We wanted to hang you with the rope and take away what you have.” Guru Nanak asked, “What sign of wealth did you see on me?” They said, “You had the shine on your forehead which depicted that you are a wealthy person. We expected to get the wealth from you enough for our generations to enjoy. We had not realized then that you are a great man. Now we realize this.” The Thhaggs were impressed and touched Guru Nanak’s feet. …. Guru Nanak asked their leader, “How many murders have you committed? Their leader (Sajjan Thhagg) spoke, “I have murdered many.” Guru Nanak asked him to bring all that he had looted so far and distribute among the people on the name of God, which he did. He started reciting Gurbani and became a permanent follower of Guru Nanak. The first Dharamsal (Sikh place of worship) started from that place. [7]

Guru Nanak had increased his following with continuous contact with the people world over. Similarly his discourses with Siddhs are great philosophical document in the form of Siddh Godhti. The Siddhs tried their best to get Guru Nanak to follow their path but in turn were subdued. Bhai Gurdas explains this situation:

Siddhs enquired: O boy! Which power did bring you here (at Kailash)? Guru Nanak replied: I have meditated on God with love, affection and dedication.

The Siddhs again asked: O boy! Tell us your name. Guru Nanak said: I am the Nanak who has recited Lord’s Name and got emancipated.
The Siddhs were impressed and thought of the way this boy could become their disciple: Such a disciple will make our Siddh path famous in this Dark Age.

Guru Nanak thus won over the Siddhs through the power of the word and spread his path among them. The Name of the Lord was made easier to recite in the dark age (by making it a household practice)

The end of the discussion is described as follows: The Siddhs then bowed before him and asked for orders from him. Guru Nanak asked them to follow God’s Order.”[8] Not only Siddhs but also Muslim saints and faqirs too bowed before his magnanimity. His impression on Shah Abdul Rehman has been described as follows:

‘The Guru held discourses with Shah Abdul Rehman. He (Shah Abdul Rehman) was much pleased. He got into Guru’s colours and said, “It is God’s blessings that I was able to enjoy the company of God’s own. I must have done something worth it.” Shah Abdul Rehman got up and went to his home, where he met his follower Mia Mithha, who asked: Shah ji! You look very colourful. Shah said, “I met a gem of God today. Meeting him I have become red myself. His name is Nanak. You also go and pay your obeisance. You will benefit from it.”

So great was the reverence of his for him that Peer Bahauddin, the great Sufi teacher who counted his followers by thousands, one morning suddenly turned his back to Qaba (which no Muslim would ever do) and began bowing, in his Namaz, in the direction of Kartarpur. “Why so?” cried his faithful followers, in alarm, “This morning I saw the light of God in this direction, my fiends!” said he.[9]

Guru Nanak traversed the four quarters of the earth on foot.… In every land that he visited 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.[10]

Impact of the teachings of Guru Nanak was immense. It not only raised his followers spiritually into, “men of truthful word, devout austerity and of accepted prayer-mindedness, looking upon friends and foes alike”[11] 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.[12]

He stirred the inner soul of the people and freed them from the thralldom of the priestly classes. 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.

Use of arms by his followers is best explained in the dialogue between Guru Hargobind; the Sixth Nanak and Samrath Ram Dass who asked Guru Hargobind, “I had heard that you occupy the gaddi of Guru Nanak. Nanak was a tyagi sadhu- a saint who had renounced the world. You are wearing arms and keeping an army and horses. You allow yourself to be called a sacha padshah, a true king. What sort of a sadhu you are?” Guru Hargobind replied: I am internally a hermit and externally a prince. Arms are meant for protection of the poor and helpless and to destroy the tyrant troubling them. Guru Nanak had not renounced the world but renounced maya, the self and ego.” Samrath Ram Dass was pleased to hear this and said, “This is appealing to my mind.”[13] As a result of this discussion, he took upon to initiate Shivaji as a great warrior.

Guru Nanak thus has become a permanent light in the darkness of the world and his scripture will go on redeeming the lost for ever. This following is bound to expand exponentially as it has all good for the humanity and there is nothing against it. It is a positive development which shall have no end. Besides, being the foremost man of his time, Guru Nanak had become one to whom later ages will always pay that tribute which the best of humanity deserve.[14]

Effectiveness of Guru Nanak’s communication

Effectiveness of Guru Nanak’s communication to individuals and masses can be considered in four stages: before contact, during contact, while in dialogue and after contact.

Before contact: Guru Nanak’s philosophy was so magnetic and suiting to the public that it travelled faster than the Guru’s footprints. His path of Truth, faith in one Omnipresent and Omnipotent God; common fraternity of all living beings; equality of all castes, creeds sexes etc., good conduct, compassion, good wishes for entire humanity; dignity of labour, sharing earning etc. spread faster and deep into the world. In most cases Guru Nanak and his qualities were known before by those with whom he came in contact later e.g. King Shivnabh of Sri Lanka knew of him from a Sikh of Guru Nanak. Sheikh Ibrahim came to know about him from his own followers. This caused a favorable impact before the contact and the people were ready to receive him.

During contact: Immediately on contact the radiating face of Guru Nanak spread such energy that the receiver was overwhelmed even before entering into dialogue. His serene, calm and glowing face was so magnetic that it attracted the communicated instantaneously.

In dialogue: Guru Nanak’s method of contact, initiating, developing, development and summing up the dialogue was so charismatic that the listener was spell bound throughout. Through his deep knowledge and logic, Guru Nanak, not only convinced others but made them his followers. His poetic dialogues/monologues in accompaniment of lilting music created such vibrations that it shook the receiver from his very roots and brought him to an ecstatic world. His unique method of communication by stirring the feelings of the listener caused an imprint on the hearts of people and they adopted him from their hearts as well as from their minds. Siddh Gosht is example of his philosophical dialogue which made him acceptable in the entire north and even in Tibet soon after.

After contact: After Guru Nanak left the stage, fragrance of his presence remained for days together. His winning of hearts and radiating a gospel kept them in a stage of ecstasy which they never knew before. A sense of longing and belonging towards the Guru created an atmosphere of developing of brotherly feelings which gradually flowered far and wide, spreading fragrance far beyond. It appeared as if one lighted lamp has started lighting other lamps in series and this progressed harmonically. The sangats and the seats for propagation of his message were gradually developed into full fledged centres of Sikhism; a religion which has been ever expanding and has all the fundamental ingredients to become a world religion.

Impact of Guru Nanak’s Communication

Whomsoever Guru Nanak communicated with was instantly impressed and became his lifelong follower. His personality, methodology of communication, linguistic mastery, and dialogue delivery and above all the philosophy of communication played a stellar role in conveying exactly what he wanted to convey and made the receiver do what the Guru exactly wanted. The lyrical poetry and the accompanying lilting music by Mardana was a real treat for the listener.

Guru Nanak wanted to convey the revealed word to the entire world as was ordered to him at Vein. He was to spread the supremacy of One God of the entire humanity; thereby negating the multiplicity of Gods and religions. He was to convey the importance of truth and help removal of falsehood from the humanity. He was to guide the people on pleasing God through love and continuous recitation of His name for which one does not require to become a recluse. No hard penance was needed. Recitation of God’s Name could be easily done while performing the daily functions at home. When one recites God’s name from every pore of the body (rom rom japna) there is no question of the body getting detracted from Him. Even while mediating, one could keep on performing worldly tasks unperturbed and undisturbed. Hence one must perform his labour to earn sincerely and from his earning he should share with others (kirat karna te vand chakna). Propagation of his philosophy of communication was through mass contact. For this purpose he travelled globally and conveyed the message to all high and low. His methodology of communication was very simple. His fame spread by word of mouth. The message that ‘Nanak; the God revealed’ is going to visit the area spread fast. The people started waiting for his arrival even before he came in contact with them.

He used poetry in accompaniment of music as an effective tool of communication. His poetry was recorded by him and his followers. This poetry was the word revealed by God: hence easily accepted by the people. It became part of daily prayers even during his times Japuji, Sodar and Assa di Var started to be regularly recited in various sangats and individual homes as well. Similarly the accompaniment of music created a reverberating impact. The lilting and rhythmic music touched the hearts intimately. People gathered in numbers and listened to Guru Nanak’s sabd intently. The language used by Guru Nanak was simple; it was the language of the masses. Primarily he being from Punjab, Punjabi remained the base but he made certain modification by adding certain words of the languages of the areas he visited, so that his message was easily understood. Sadh Bhakha was then widely accepted in India. He used this language too whenever the circumstance rose.

Guru Nanak’s compositions had proper meter and measure; were rhythmic and music tunes in built. His singing in accompaniment with Mardana on rebab created a divine effect and had miraculous impact. He had the mastery in both the fields; poetry and music were both a great source of attraction. Music had no enemy but all friends. It established common grounds for meeting the masses. Whatever could not be understood was explained by the music, hence impact multiplied. Guru Nanak thus faced no opposition and advanced relentlessly.

The beauty of Guru’s compositions lies in the fact that despite many sided experiments of artistic devices, there is neither artificiality nor prudery in it. The hall marks of the poetry are quiet tone and clarity. His verses do their work well. Their simplicity and directness of utterances make an instantaneous appeal. His verse provides the proper and right type of guidance for humanity. His simple, easy and home thrust teachings, his life invigorating hymns and most impressive invocations and prayers have a marvelous effect to imprint the very God on human soul. The intellectual level of his compositions raises them ever higher. Many of his sayings and phrases have come to occupy a guiding role in the hearts of common men.[xv]

The bani of Guru Nanak would continue to exercise its powerful influence on the deeply religious people. His art and genius will always inspire writers. His verse will always remain a fountain of exquisite devotional and lyrical poetry, sweet and sincere. His poetry is valuable for its sublime and literary excellence.[xvi]

Guru Nanak’s teachings have been followed up by later Gurus and his Sikhs in true spirit as his followers concentrate their minds on God, to reflect on God's virtues such as love, benevolence, and kindness. They practice this to inculcate such virtues into their own character. The nine Gurus who were bestowed with his light (jot) after him, propagated his ideas exactly as he communicated. To ensure this, they even used name of Nanak in all their hymns and considered themselves as the mahlas of Guru Nanak. Later the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan compiled Guru Nanak’s bani, the bani collected by Guru Nanak; and the bani of all the Gurus before him as well as of the Bhagats of the period, which truly represented Guru Nanak’s teachings and thought process and composed Adi Granth. Guru Gobind Singh added 9th Guru’s bani into it and established it as the Sabd Guru Sri Guru Granth Sahib just before merging into eternal light. Sri Guru Granth Sahib which contains the entire bani of Guru Nanak and the bani of Gurus, sants and bhagats is truly a progression of the thought process of Guru Nanak. This bani has been accepted globally as a scripture of relevance as saviour of the future world. Guru Nanak’s following is continuously increasing and shall continue so forever till followed by every person on the world. This is going to be the greatest effectiveness of communication of Guru Nanak.


[1] Dalvinder Singh Grewal, The Sikh Review, Calcutta
[2] Ganda Singh , Dr. Guru Nanak’s Impact on History, Sikh Missionary College, Ludhiana
[3] Op.cit.
[4] Bannerjee, I.B., Evolution of the Khalsa, Vol. I, Calcutta, 1930, pp.50-51
[5] Gupta H.R, Dr. A Life Sketch of Guru Nanak, New Delhi, 1969, pp.8-9
[6] Vivekananda Swami from a lecture delivered in 1987 and quoted by Swami Suddhasattwa Nanda, in
Thus Spake Guru Nanak, Madras, 1963, p. iii.
[7] Meharban Sodhi, Janamsakhi Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Goshti no 90, pp. 294-296.
[8] Gurdas Bhai, Va:ra:n Bhai Gurdas, Va:r 1, paudi 28 to 31, SGPC Sri Amritsar.
[9] Puran Singh Book of the Ten Masters, p.25.
[10] Ghulam Muhiuddin alias Bute Shah, Ibrat Namah, 1722 AD
[11] 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
.”
[12] 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
[13] Ibid
[14] Sohan Singh, The Seeker’s Path, Delhi, 1959, p. xiii.
255.Dharam Pal Ashta, Dr., The Poetry of Guru Nanak, The Sikh Review, Feb-Mar 1970, Guru Nanak
Quincentenary Number Vol. III Vol XVIII, No. 197, p.142
256. Op.cit.
 
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