H C Singh

Teachings of Guru Nanak – Founder of Sikhism

Nanak was born on 15th April 1469 in village Talwandi, close to Lahore, now called Nankana sahib (in Pakistan). His father was Mehta Kaalu, a devout Hindu. Nanak as a child was precocious and exceptionally intelligent. Though he studied Punjabi and Sanskrit he was not interested in normal schooling. He was often found in the company of holy men both Hindus and Muslims. He listened to them very attentively and even questioned them quite often. Nanak was about 10 year old when he astonished family priest Pandit Hardyal that ‘there is no Hindu, no Mussalman. At the age of 11 Nanak openly revolted by refusing to wear the customary Janeu. Not only that, boy Nanak recited his own views before the Pundits and guests of Mehta Kaalu’s family in Punjabi. (English Translation) is as under:-

Out of the cotton of compassion,

Spin the thread of contentment,

Tie the knot of continence,

And the twist of virtue,

Make such a sacred thread,

O Pandit, for your inner self.

Pandit Hardyal then predicted and told the guests and Nanak’s parents and others that Nanak would be a great philosopher and learned personality as he is gifted by Ram (God) to be a teacher of men. He would have many followers, both Hindus and Muslims. At this young age of 11-12 his teachers were impressed by Nanak’s efforts for spiritual enlightenment.

Mehta Kaalu wanted his son Nanak to be good in studies and thereafter attend to family business. So to divert Nanak form his spiritual quest he sent him to mind the cattle and thereafter to sit on the shop. Nanak was not interested in worldly professions like farming and business.

Nanak always wanted to do something good for all. So he did not like to remain under the protection and guidance of his father. The only member of the family who understood Nanak was his sister Nanki. Thus after marriage and two sons, Nanak left his home quietly, like Sidharath Gautam, a thousand years before. He commenced his long journey with two companions (disciples) one Muslim Rabab (Rebeck) player, Mardana and the other a Hindu, Bala who would also recite Nanak’s sayings and poems to the gathering of devotees. Wherever Nanak went people listened to him attentively and were so impressed that they stared calling him Guru (Teacher) Nanak. Guru Nanak never discriminated between Hindus and Muslims. Babar, while invading India and capturing parts of India killed, if not lakhs, thousands of Hindus who refused to abandon their Hindu religion and become Muslims. Babar the Mughal tyrant even imprisoned Guru Nanak. After his release Guru Nanak complained to Almighty Lord, Allah or Ram, as to why he allowed Babar to commit such atrocities on peaceful people of Hindustan. Here is the famous couplet:-

There was so much bloodshed and crying by innocent victims Oh Lord! didn’t you feel the pain?

The people of Hindustan were wailing under tyranny of Mughals.

Why Oh Lord you didn’t take pity on them.

Nanak concluded – If powerful were to slay another powerful I would not grieve

Inspite of being imprisoned by Barbar and inspite of having been witness to his cruelties on people of Hindustan, Guru Nanak did not become anti Muslim. He always considered Hindus and Muslims alike.

After visiting holy places all over India in North, South, East and West, Guru Nanak turned towards Muslim holy places in Arabia, Baghdad and Mecca. In Mecca, Nanak ‘Darvesh’ (Holyman) was questioned by Quazis and Maulvis as to why he was lying with his legs towards West, Allah is in the West. So Muslim pray and bow towards West. Guru Nanak replied Allah is every where on all the sides of earth. Thereafter Baba Nanak was asked: which of the two religions is better Hinduism or Islam. Darnesh (as he was called by Muslims) replied: Without good deeds (Shubh Ammal) none is better. Without good deeds both Hindu and Muslim would cry.

Then to the surprise of all the Muslim gathering, without fear, Darvesh Nanak advised Muslims to be courteous and truthful, as under:

 Make love thy mosque

Sincerity thy prayer carpet

Modesty thy circumcision

Courtesy thy Kabba

Truth thy creed

Rosary thy will of God

Guru Nanak’s advice to all, Hindus, Muslims alike was to work, even also do hard work as first priority, then remember Allah and Ram and thereafter out of earnings from work set aside one-tenth of earnings for poor and needy.

Guru Nanak was against caste system which was and, even after 500 years, is prevalent in Hindus. Guru Nanak explained: The Hindus say there are four castes, but they are all of one seed. It is like clay of which pots are made in diverse shapes and forms. Yet the clay is the same. How can one amongst them be high and other low?

Guru Nanak felt very sad that women were being discriminated by both Hindus and Muslims. Guru Nanak proclaimed:

Why should we consider women cursed and condemned. When from women are born leaders and rulers. From woman alone is born a woman. Without woman there can be no human births.

 Guru Nanak speaks about good conduct and good manners

To all his advice, even today, is universal truth:

If one is rude or harsh to another,

Not only the one who is treated harshly,

But even the one who utters harsh words,

His body and soul suffer.

And further

Sweetness in speech and behaviour,

And absence of pride and ego

Says Nanak, is the essence of all goodness.

To sum up Guru Nanak worked for, spoke, wrote for harmony between Hindus and Muslims, two dominant religions in India during his times and even today, in the Indian subcontinent.

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment