Guru Nanak Dev ji’s biography and life lessons

Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Introduction: Guru Nanak Dev Ji is the 1st guru of Sikhism . he was a spiritual luminary, a profound philosopher, and a social reformer. He was born in April 15, 1469 at the place of Rae bhoi di Talavandi (known as Nankana sahib , now in Pakistan) . Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s life was marked by divine inspiration, compassion, and a relentless quest for truth. His teachings and the example he set during his lifetime laid the foundation for the Sikh faith, which continues to inspire millions around the world. . 

Guru Nanak traveled far and wide and taught people the message of the one God who resides in all of God’s creatures and constitutes the eternal Truth. He created a unique intellectual, social and political platform based on equality, brotherly love, goodness and virtue.This article explores the life, teachings ,contributions of Guru Nanak dev  Ji and passing of Guru nanak dev ji . This article explores the life, teachings ,contributions of Guru Nanak dev  Ji and passing of Guru nanak dev ji .

Early Life and Divine Calling: Guru Nanak Dev Ji ‘s father name was mehta kalayasn das and mother’s name was mata tripata ji. He was belonging to the Khatri caste. He had an elder sister, whose name was Bibi Nanaki ji. She was 5 years older than him .Rai ballar were the first to realize the divinity of Guru Nanak Guru Nanak was pleased with it and placed Nanak in the school. Guru Nanak was astonished to hear his spiritual poetry and when it was Nanak’s turn to perform the Hindu sacred thread ceremony, he refused to participate. He weaves his sacred thread in goodness, contentment, and self-control, and will not burn, fade, fade, but weave in truth. After this, Guru Nanak Nanak was against the caste system and idolatry and refused to participate. Nanak Dev’s father Kalu felt that his son’s spiritual path was making him indifferent, so he engaged Nanak in business. Being an entrepreneur, Nanak started making profit by feeding the hungry and from there the history of Langar began. Earlier his father gave Nanak 20 rupees when he sent him on a business and told him to make a profit from it. On the way he met a group of saints and poor people, so he prepared money and food for them. When Nanak returned home empty-handed, his father punished him. Guru Nanak Dev first taught the true benefits of selfless service and thus created the basic principle of langar.

 In 1475, Her Sister ( Bibi Nanaki ji )  married Jai Ram and moved to the city of Sultanpur, where she was a servant (mudi) of Daulat Khan Lodi, the ruler of Lahore during the Afghan Lodi dynasty.Guru Nanak was attached to his elder sister and he followed her to Sultanpur to live with his sister and brother in law in traditional Indian fashion. Guru Nanak also found employment with Daulat Khan, at that time guru nanank dev ji was about 16 years old. From November 1504 to October 1507, he stayed in Sultanpur, through the efforts of his brother Jairam, he was placed in incharge of daultan stores,  the governor of Sultanpur. He did his job faithfully. The people and rulers there were very happy with the activities of Daulat Khan Nanak. He gave most of his income to the poor and saints.he had a great regard for the poor and low castes. though he was working there but his thoughts remained with god, one day when he was weighting the ration he was so much engrossed in uttering the word ‘tera’ that he kept repeating it ‘tera, tera’.

in the evening he used to go to nearby jungle accompanied by his friends and recited there the hymns in praise of god during that period had become his admirers they followed him and gave him a company in singing the holy songs. 

Different names of him: Guru Nanak is also known as Satguru Nanak, Baba Nanak, Nanak Shah Fakir, Bhagat Nanak, Nanak Kandar etc. by people of different religions and creeds.

The Sacred Thread: When Nanak was nine years old, his parents decided it was time for him to wear the janeu, the sacred thread, as is the custom among Hindus. It is considered a ceremony similar to baptism among Christians that marks the spiritual rebirth of a male Hindu.

A janeu is a thread made of cotton, hemp or wool worn by men of the three highest castes of Hindus – Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas.

As the preparations for the ceremony were in full swing, Nanak, who was very close to his sister Nanaki, often discussed with her on matters he did not understand, he asked her why she was not wearing a janeau. Nanaki had no answer and told him that his mother didn’t have one either so he would have to ask his father or Pandit Hardayal, the family priest.

Nanak had an inquisitive mind and was always looking for answers to logical questions. He didn’t believe in following rituals because everyone else did. He should understand the full significance of each ritual. The greatest thing for him was true life. He was not afraid to speak the truth throughout his life.

Family, neighbors and villagers gathered in large numbers for the ceremony. After Pandit Hardayal performed the initial rites, the priest led Nanak away wearing the sacred thread. Nanak took it with his hand and asked the priest what he was doing and what was the use of threading it on his shoulder.

The priest told him that thread-wearing was an ancient Hindu custom dating back to Vedic times and without it a man could only be a Shudra, the lowest of all castes. Wearing it leads to greatness in this world and happiness in the Hereafter.

As various problems and questions arose in Nanak’s mind, he became unconvinced. He asked, “How can you distinguish a man with such a thread. Man becomes high by his actions and deeds. How can a cruel or wicked man become high caste by wearing such a thread? Also, this thread does not last. Long. When the thread is dirty it breaks.”

The priest tried to persuade her: “This is a sacred thread and to be a Khatri (Kshatriya caste) one must wear it like all the ancestors.” Nanak smiled and said, “You buy a thread for four cows in the market, then twist it to wear your disciple while sitting on the stage. But when the wearer dies, the thread falls off and the soul goes to the next world. If you want me to wear such a thread, give me one that will wear me.” Will support me in the next world as well, which will give me spiritual benefits.”

The priest got angry and said to him: “You are a child and you think you are wiser than our priests?” Nanak insisted, “I want to wear such a body that prevents me from doing bad deeds, leads me to good deeds and makes me a spiritual being.”

The family had to give up the idea of ceremony and Guru Nanak in one of his hymns explains the concept of Janeu and other initiation ceremonies.

Let mercy be the cotton, contentment the thread,

Continence the knot and truth the twist.

Such a thread is for the soul, O Panday! put it on me only if you have it.

Such a thread will neither get broken nor will it become dirty,

Nor will it get burnt, nor will it go waste.

Nanak says, ” Blessed are those persons, who live by wearing such a thread.”

A thread purchased for four shells is worn sitting in the courtyard

The priest whispers in the ear and thus he becomes a guru

He dies, the thread falls away and he leaves without it!

 

Marriage: Guru Nanak dev ji was married to Mata Sulakhni Ji at the age of 15 years.   Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s marriage was held in the city of Batala , Punjab, in the early 16th century, in the year 1487.  Mata Sulakhni Ji was the daughter of Mul Chand Chona. She was the resident of Batala. her marriage was arranged by her parents to guru nanak dev ji. This marriage was happened according to Hindu rituals, traditional at that time. After marriage he transition into new phase, where he would start on his new spiritual journey spread his message of love, equality and devotion to the devine. After their marriage, Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Mata Sulakhni Ji had two sons. There name was Sri Chand and Lakhmi Chand.  Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s spiritual calling  him to devote himself properly to his divine mission, and he left his family and worldly possessions behind to travel and spread his teachings. It is said that Guru Nanak Dev Ji attained enlightenment and received a divine calling to preach the message of God’s unity and compassion to all humanity.

The Divine Revelation: At the age of 30. While he was bathing in beign river , he experienced a profound spiritual revelation. He come out from the waters with a divine calling , preached that “Ik Onkar” means there is one god and proclaiming there is no Hindu or Muslim, only a universal brotherhood of humanity. This marked the beginning of his lifelong mission to spread the message of love, equality, and devotion to the one Supreme Creator. He forcefully opposed caste-based discrimination and social heirarchies. He always promoting for the equality of all individuals and the idea of Sangat (community) , Pangat (shared meals) where all castes and religions peoples sit together, breaking barriers of caste and Social Status. Do Worship only one God.  The Creator of the universe is present in all places and in all beings.  Those who worship God do not fear.  Do not think of bad deeds and do not harm anyone.  After earning with hard and honest work, something should be given to the needy also. 

Travels and Interfaith Dialogue: Guru Nanak Dev Ji embarked on 4 Major udasis  During his lifetime, udasis term known as travels. These journeys were essential in spreading his divine Message and teachings to diverse communities across different regions.

 Guru Nanak dev ji’s 1st  udasi began around the age of 30, and lasted for approximately 15 years. He strart this journey with his close companion bhai mardana . In 1st udasi , they travelled in Punjab, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. During this udasi guru nanak dev ji visited various villages, towns and sacred places. In this journey he highlight the importance of devotion righteousness and living a truth full life.

Guru Nanak dev ji’s 2nd  udasi was end in 12 years. In this udasi they travelled regions such  as Sri Lanka, the southernmost tip of India, Myanmar (Burma), and Tibet. The aim of giuru nanak dev ji ‘s during udasi was spread the message of peace , love, and unity, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries his interaction wth different religious community helped to promote mutual respect and understanding.

Guru Nanak dev ji’s 3rd udasi was end in 5 years. During which they travelled in Arabian Peninsula, particularly Mecca and Medina. This journey was very important because this journey provided  an opportunity for Guru Nanak to interact with Muslims and share his teachings on spiritual unity and divine love. it is believed that Guru Nanak’s visit to Mecca challenged prevailing religious practices and highlighted the universality of God’s message.

Guru Nanak dev ji’s 4rth or last udasi was happened within the indian subcontinent. THey travelled to the eastern parts of present-day India, including Assam, Bengal, and parts of Bangladesh.  This Udasi aimed to strengthen bonds between diverse communities and further promote the principles of equality, social justice, and compassion.

Divine Teachings and Spiritual Philosophy: His teachings was revolved around the core principles of Sikhism. He emphasize on the importance of Naam japna (meditation on the Divine Name), Vand Chakna (sharing with others), and Kirat Karo (earning an honest living). His teachings stressed the unity of God, the equality of all human beings, and the need to lead a morally righteous life.

Social Reforms and Equality: Guru Nanak Dev Ji challenged
societal norms and worked tirelessly to eradicate social injustices. He advocated for the equal treatment of women, rejected the caste system, and spoke out against religious rituals devoid of true spirituality. Guru Nanak Dev Ji promoted a society where all individuals are respected and valued, regardless of their social status or gender.

Final Years of Guru Nanak Dev ji:  At the age of about 55, Nanak settled in Kartarpur, where he remained until his death in September 1539. During this period, he paid short visits to Nath Yogi Kendras in Achal and Sufi Kendras in Pakpattan and Multan. At the time of his death, Nanak had acquired many followers in the Punjab region, although it is difficult to estimate their number on the basis of existing historical evidence. The followers of Nanak were called by others Kartari (meaning ‘people of Kartarpur village’)

Nanak appointed Bhai Lehna as his successor Guru and changed his name to Guru Angad, meaning “your own” or “your share”. Shortly after being declared his successor, Nanak died in Kartarpur on 22 September 1539 at the age of According to Sikh hagiography, his body was never found. When quarreling Hindus and Muslims covered him, they saw instead a heap of flowers – and so the simple faith of Nanak eventually became a religion surrounded by its own contradictions and superstitions

Passing of Guru Nanak Dev ji : Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the
founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, passed away on
September 22, 1539. He died in Kartarpur, a town in present-day Pakistan, where he settled after completing his spiritual journeys (Udasis ). Guru Nanak had chosen his successor before his death. It is said that Guru Nanak merged his consciousness with the divine, an event called “Jyoti Jot”, symbolizing the eternal illumination of his spiritual essence which is to connect with God. After his demise, the Sikh community mourned the loss of their beloved Guru Nanak Dev Ji. However, the second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad Dev Ji
continued the spiritual legacy and guidance started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Hymns of Guru Nanak Dev ji: Guru Nanak Devji’s 974 spiritual verses, Japuji Sahib, Asa Di Var, Bara Mah, Siddha Gosht and Dakhni Omkar were included in Guru Granth Sahib by the fifth Guru Arjan Devji. After Guru Nanak, all Sikh Gurus identified themselves as Nanak while writing their sacred texts. Therefore Sikhs believe that all Gurus have the same divine revelation and reinforce the same principles preached by Guru Nanak Devji.

Legacy and Impact: Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s  teachings and spiritual legacy continue to shape the lives of Sikhs around the world. His message of love, compassion, and equality inspired countless individuals and challenged the prevailing social norms of the time. The Sikh community, grew under his
guidance and subsequent Gurus, evolving into a distinct faith known for its emphasis on community service, selflessness, and justice. Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s legacy is preserved in the Guru Granth Sahib, which includes his compositions, along with those of subsequent Gurus.

Conclusion: Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s life and teachings continue to practise with people across cultures and religions. His profound spiritual insights, commitment to equality, and emphasis on truthful living provide timeless guidance in navigating the complexities of the modern world. As the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s vision of a harmonious and inclusive society serves as an inspiration for individuals seeking spiritual enlightenment, social justice, and universal love.

Guru Nanak Dev ji’s  Saakhis

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