|Written by Administrator|
|Wednesday, 28 March 2012 22:31|
Birth of Guru Nanak
This was the period when India was in a bad dilemma. Babar invaded India, his armies assaulted and sacked several cities. The ascetic captives were forced to do rigorous work. There was wholesale massacre everywhere. The kings were bloodthirsty, cruel and tyrannical. There was no real religion. There was religious persecution. The real spirit of religion was crushed by ritualism. The hearts of the people were filled with falsehood, cunningness, selfishness and greed. At such a time Guru Nanak came to the world with a message of peace, unity, love and devotion to God. He came at a time when there was fight between the Hindus and the Mohammedans when real religion was replaced by mere rituals and forms. Guru Nanak came to preach the gospel of peace, brotherhood or the unity of humanity, love and sacrifice.
Guru Nanak, the Khatri mystic and poet and founder of the Sikh religion, he was born in 1469 A.D. in the village of Talwandi on the Ravi, in the Lahore district of Punjab. On one side of the house in which Guru Nanak was born, now the famous shrine called ‘Nankana Sahib’. Nanak has been called the ‘Prophet of the Punjab and Sind’. Guru Nanak’s father name was Mehta Kalu Chand, known popularly as Kalu. He was the accountant of the village and was an agriculturist also. Nanak’s mother was Tripta. Even in his childhood, Nanak had a mystic disposition and he used to talk about God with Sadhus. He had a contemplative mind and a pious nature. He began to spend his time in meditation and spiritual practices. He was, by habit, reserved in nature. He would eat but little.
Origin of Sikhism
Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikh religion though today the English media and large sections of Sikhs believe that Sikhism is a different religion but this only one extension of Hinduism. Sardar Khushwant Singh had to say in the Outlook “The roots of Sikhism lie deep in the Bhakti form of Hinduism and Vedanta. While the Adi-Granth is essentially a distillation of Vedanta in Punjabi, the last Dasam – tenth is a compilation of tales of the valor of Hindu goddesses. Out of the 15,028 names of Gods that appear in the Adi Granth, Hari occurs over 8,000 times, Ram 2,5333 times followed by Prabhu, Gopal, Govind and other Hindu names for the divine. The popular Sikh coinage Wah Guru appears only 16 times”.
Guru Nanak’s Wanderings
Guru Nanak lived in this world for a period of seventy years. He wandered from place to place and traveled throughout India. He went to Sayyidpur in the district of Gujranwala and then proceeded to Kurukshetra, Hardwar, Brindavan, Varanasi, Agra, Kanpur, Ayodhya, Prayag, Patna, Rajgir, Gaya and Puri. He made four extensive tours to outside India to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mecca and Medina also. He also traveled to Bengal, the Deccan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Arabia, Baghdad, Kabul, Kandahar and Siam. He held controversies with Pundits and Mohammedan priests. He debated with the Pandas of Gaya, Hardwar and other places of pilgrimage. He dispelled the clouds of ignorance and doubts of many people. He enjoined on all people to live righteously and with brotherly love and hospitality. He preached and taught: “Do Nama Smarana. Love God. Be devoted to one God. Serve your fellow beings. God is all-in-all. Pray. Praise Him always. Attain the bliss of union with Him”. Nanak succeeded remarkably in changing the minds of men and winning their love and confidence and in directing them along the path of righteousness and devotion.
Guru Nanak proceeded to Multan. He halted by the side of a river. Multan was a place filled with Fakirs always. Prahlad was born at Multan. Shams Tabriez and Mansoor also lived there. The Peers came to know that Guru Nanak had come to Multan. They sent him milk in a cup, filled to the very brim. Nanak put inside the cup some Batashas – small hollow lumps of sugar-and a flower above them and returned milk. Mardana told his master that a thing like milk should not be returned and should be drunk by him. Guru Nanak replied, “Look here, Mardana. You are a simpleton.
The Peers have played a small trick. They have not sent this milk for my use. There is deep philosophy at the back of it. There is profound significance. The meaning is that Multan is already full of Peers and Fakirs, just like the cup that is filled with milk to the very brim, and that there is no room for another religious teacher. I have also paid them in the same coin. My answer is that I will mix with them like the Batashah and would predominate over them like the flower placed in the cup of milk”. The Peers and the Fakirs then came to see Guru Nanak. Nanak sang a song. The proud and arrogant Peers came to their senses now. They became very humble. They said to Guru Nanak: “Pardon us, O revered Guru! We were surely self-conceited. Kindly give us spiritual instructions and bless us”. Guru Nanak blessed them and gave them instructions.
Two Miracles of Guru Nanak
There is a remarkable incident in connection with Nanak’s visit to Mecca. At Mecca, Nanak was found sleeping with his feet towards the Kaaba, before which the Mohammedans prostrated themselves when performing their prayer. Kazi Rukan-ud-din, who observed this, angrily remarked: “Infidel! How dare you dishonor God’s place by turning your feet towards Him?” He also kicked Nanak. Nanak silently replied, “I am tired. Turn my feet in any direction where the place of God is not”. Kazi Rukan-ud-din took hold of Nanak’s feet angrily and moved them towards the opposite direction. The mosque also began to move. The Kazi was struck with wonder. He then recognised the glory of Guru Nanak. (seems a bit far-fetched though but see the truth behind the thoughts).
Guru Nanak visited Hassan Abdul in the Attock district in the North Western Frontier in 1520 A.D. He sat under a Peepul tree at the foot of a hillock. On top of the hill, there lived a Mohammedan saint named Vali Quandhari. There was then a spring of water on top of the hill. Mardana used to get water from the spring. Guru Nanak became very popular in a short time. The Mohammedan saint became jealous. He forbade Mardana from taking water out of the spring. Mardana informed Guru Nanak of the conduct of the Mohammedan saint. Guru Nanak said to Mardana, “O Mardana! Do not be afraid. God will send water down to us soon”. The spring that was on the top of the hill dried up immediately. There arose a spring at the foot of the hill where Guru Nanak halted. The saint was very much enraged. He hurled a big rock from the top of the hill down to the spot where Nanak was sitting. Guru Nanak stopped the rock by his open hand. The impression of his hand on the rock exists even now. Then the saint came to the Guru, prostrated at his feet and asked for pardon. Guru Nanak smiled and pardoned the arrogant saint. There now stands a beautiful shrine by the side of the spring which is called “Punja Sahib”.
Teaching of Guru Nanak
Guru Nanak felt that it would be improper to postpone Nama Smarana or remembering the Name of the Lord, even by a single breath, because no one could tell whether the breath that had gone in would come out or not. Nanak says, “We are men of one breath. I know not a longer time-limit”. Guru Nanak calls him alone a true saint who remembers the Name of the Lord with every incoming and outgoing breath. The ideal is practical and within the reach of every man. He tells the people not to lose any time but to begin at once. He also says that there are no barriers of race, class, caste, creed or color, which check the progress of any in reaching the goal. He realized the great truth of the brotherhood of religions. He preached the universal brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God to all people.
Guru Nanak was a reformer. He attacked the corruptions in society. He strongly protested against formalism and ritualism. He carried the message of peace and of love for everybody. He was very liberal in his views. He did not observe the rules of caste. He tried his level best to remove the superstitions of the people. He preached purity, justice, goodness and the love of God. He endeavored to remove the moral putrefaction that was prevalent amongst the people and to infuse real spirit in the worship of God and true faith in religion and God. He introduced the singing of God’s praise along with music, as a means of linking the soul of man with God. Wherever he moved, he took Mardana with him to play on the rebeck while he sang. He said, “Serve God. Serve humanity. Only service to humanity shall secure for us a place in heaven”. Guru Nanak had great reverence for women. He allowed them to join all religious gatherings and conferences and to sing the praises of God. He gave them their full share in religious functions.
Guru Nanak clearly says: “The road to the abode of God is long and arduous. There are no short cuts for rich people. Everyone must undergo the same discipline. Everyone must purify his mind through service of humanity and Nama Smarana. Everyone must live according to the will of the Lord without grumbling or murmuring. How to find Him? There is one way. Make His will your own. Be in true with the Infinite. There is no other way”. The first stage in making the divine will one’s own is attained through prayer for divine grace or favour-Ardas for Guru Prasad. Guru Nanak attaches very great importance to prayer. He says that nothing can be achieved by man without divine favor. He says: “Approach God with perfect humility. Throw yourself on His mercy. Give up pride, show and egoism. Beg for his kindness and favor. Do not think of your own merits, abilities, faculties and capacities. Be prepared to die in the pursuit of His love and union with Him. Love God as a woman loves her husband. Make absolute unreserved self-surrender. You can get divine favor and love”.
The beautiful composition of mystic poems uttered by Nanak is contained in ‘Japji’. It is sung by every Sikh at daybreak. The ‘Sohila’. Contains the evening prayers. In ‘Japji’. Guru Nanak has given a vivid and concise description of the stages through which man must pass in order to each the final resting place or abode of eternal bliss. There are live stages or Khandas. The first is called Dharm Khand or “The Realm of Duty”. Everyone must do this duty properly. Everyone must tread the path of righteousness. Everyone will be judged according to his actions.
The next stage is Gyan Khand or “The Realm of knowledge” where the spirit of divine knowledge reigns. The aspirant does his duty with intense faith and sincerity. He has the knowledge now, that only by doing his duty in a perfect manner, he can reach the abode of bliss or the goal of life.
The fifth or the final stage is Sach Khand or “The Realm of Truth”. The formless One reigns here. Here the aspirants becomes one with God. He has attained Godhead. He has transmuted himself into Divinity. He has attained the goal of his life. He has found out his permanent resting place. Now ends the arduous journey of the soul.
Guru Nanak again and again insists thus: “Realise your unity with all. Love God. Love God in man. Sing the love of God. Repeat God’s Name Sing His glory. Love God as the lotus loves water, as the bird Chatak loves rain, as the wife loves her husband. Make divine love thy pen and thy heart the writer. If you repeat the Name, you live; if you forget it, you die. Open your heart to Him. Enter into communion with Him. Sink into arms and feel the divine embrace”.
Guru Nanak has given a beautiful summary of his teachings in one of his hymns as follows: -
“Wahe Guru” is the Guru Mantra for the followers of Guru Nanak. The other important Mantra for repetition is: “Ek Omkar Satnam Karta Purkh Nirbhav Nirvair, Akalmurat Ajuni Savai Bhang Gur Parsad-God is but one, His Name is true, He is the Creator, He pervades the whole universe, He is without fear, He is without enmity, He is immortal, He is birth less, He is self-born and self-existent, He is the remover of the darkness (of ignorance) and He is merciful”. The Lord is eternal. He has no beginning and no end.
The Granth Sahib
Guru Nanak invented the Gurumukhi characters by simplifying the Sanskrit characters. The holy Granth of the Sikhs is in Gurumukhi. It is worshipped by the Sikhs and the Sindhis. Every Gurudwara has a Granth Sahib. The holy Granth, popularly known as Adi Granth, contains the hymns of the first five Gurus. They were all collected, arranged and formed into one volume called Guru Granth Sahib by the fifth Guru. It contains a few selections from the hymns of Kabir and other contemporary Vaishnavite saints. Later on, the hymns of the ninth Guru were incorporated in the Holy Granth by the tenth Guru. The compositions of Guru Nanak are very extensive.
The Granth Sahib begins with the following: “There is but one God whose name is true-the Creator”. It contains a code of high morals. Purity of life, obedience to Guru, mercy, charity, temperance, justice, straightforwardness, truthfulness, sacrifice, service, love and abstinence from animal food are among the virtues on which great emphasis is laid; While lust, anger, pride, hatred, egoism, greed, selfishness, cruelty, back-biting and falsehood are vehemently condemned.