The Life of Guru Nanak
Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru was born at Rae Bhoe di Talwandi in Shekhupura district of Panjab (now in Pakistan). This place is now called as Nankaana Sahib due to being the birthplace of Guru Nanak. His father’s name was Shri Kalyan Rai and mother’s Mata Tripta. Kalyan Rai being the minister of Rae Bulaar and the revenue officer (Patwari ) of 10 villages, was called Mehta, so was nick named as Mehta Kaalu. He had one sister, Bebe Nanki, who was 5 years senior in age to him. Guru Nanak was married to Mata Sulkhni ji daughter of Shri Mool Chand Chona Khatri of Batala in Gurdaspur district . He had two sons Baba Sri Chand ji (who became a sanyasi and formed a new sect Udasi) and Baba Lakhmi Chand.
Guru Nanak was sent to pandit Gopal for learning Hindi, pandit Brij Nath for Sanskrit and a maulvi for Urdu , Arabian and Persian. All of them were astonished upon his higher intellect , reasoning power and of devotion to Lord Almighty, even at his tender age .
He was a Guru since his birth and it was pre-ordained from the Lord Almighty, so he did not need to take any Guru. Bhatt Keerat writes about it, which has been incorporated in Guru Granth Sahib at page 1395. ” Awip nrwiexu klw Dwir jg mih prvirXo] inrMkwr Awkwru joiq jg mMfil kirXau]” “Aap narayan kala dhaar jag meh parvario. Nirankaar akkar jot jag mandal kario.” It means, “The Lord Almighty gave him the light and sent to this world and he lighted His flame for salvation of the common masses. He himself has composed in his hymn at page 599, “AprMpr pwrbRhmu prmysru nwnk gur imilAw soeI jIau]” “Aparnapar paarbrahm parmesar Nanak Gur milia soee jeeo.” “which means, “I have met to the Lord Almighty and He is my Guru .” Again at page 943, he himself writes, ” pvn ArMBu siqgur miq vylw] Sbdu gurU suriq Duin cylw]” “Pawan arambh satgur matt vela. Sabad Guru surat dhun chela.” It means , “ From the earlier time , it was the Lord Almighty, His preachings are my Guru and following soulfully to them is the disciple.” First of all his sister Babe Nanki recognized his spiritual power and took him as the Lord Almighty’s representative. Rae Bular the ruler of the land was the second person who became his devout follower and respected him as Allah.
He took Mrdaana , a low – caste Muslim Mairasee , as his companion and hit a hard blow on the caste classification minded people and gave him the status of a brother (Bhaee) by baptizing him as a Sikh . Another attack an un-touch-ability, was common congregations by seating everyone at the same place without any distinction of high or low and giving sermons for a high thinking thoughts through his hymns.
Guru Nanak refused to wear Janeoo (cotton thread worn by Hindus around neck)at the age of 10 from Pandit Hardial and declared that the Brahmin , through this ritual does not attach a person to the Lord Almighty but makes the wearer of Janeo his own follower and exploits him for the entire life through numerous other rituals. In this way, Guru Nanak discarded Hinduism and clearly shunned its slavery.
He grazed the cattle, which was his ancestral profession and also held shop – keeping and preached to the common masses in the morning and evening .Out of 19 musical modes (Raag) in which he has composed his hymns, 18 are meant for singing in the morning or evening and only one is meant for afternoon, so it is clear that the congregations were held at both the times.
While going to Chooharkana , a nearby town to purchase the merchandise for his shop , he met with a group of hungry saints. He cooked the food with their help and fed them along with other passers by and seating them in a single row. That was another hit to the caste-ism. This episode in the Sikh history is called as “Sacha Sauda.”
At the age of 35 in the year 1504, when he went to take a bath in the river Beinee near Sultanpur Lodhi of Jullundur district, he disappeared for 3 days and went to some isolated place for chalking out his next programme. He came back and pronounced, “nw ko ihMdU nw muslmwxu” -“Neither there is any Hindu nor Muslim.” It was the times of Muslim rulers. They could not tolerate it and asked him to join Namaaz (Muslim prayer) if he did not discriminate among Hindus &Muslims. He went with them to the mosque but did not join them .On enquiry, he revealed that at the time of Namaz, the Nawab’s mind was busy in purchasing the horses from Qandhar and the Maulvi was thinking about the newly born calf of his mare . The truthful prayer is by paying complete attention. Both of them realized their mistake and fell to the feet of Guru Nanak.
Then he set out for preaching missionary tours to teach the people the truthful way of life. He started his first tour to the Hindu pilgrimage places, were there ware large gatherings at the times like festivals. He went to see his parents at Talwandi via Lahore. From there he gone to Saidpur, Haridwar , Gorakh matta (now Nanak matta) Ayudhia, Paryag (Allahbad), Banaras, Gaya, Kaamrup , Bengal ,Jagan Nath Puri , Rameshwaram, Sri lanka ,Dwarka , Ujjain , Chittour , Ajmer , Gokul ,Mathura , Kurukshetra,Sultanpur and back to Talwandi and it lasted for about 8 years from 1507 to 1515 and covered approximately 1,00,000 kilometers.
After one year, he set out for another tour for three years to Sialkot, Jammu, Veshodevi, Sumer mountains, where he preached the Sidh Community to shun the path of isolation from the world.
Third & last tour was far about one year and he met at Pakpatan with Shekh Brahm, the descendent of Shekh Farid and collected the hymns composed by Farid ji. From there, he went to Tulambha for the salvation of Sajan the Thug, then to Qabba, Macca, Madina, Basra, Bagdad, Kabul, Jallalabad, Hassan Abdal (Panja Sahib), Multan & Sialkot.
During these entourages, he collected the hymns of various saints of India, who belonged to different castes and communities and many of them were even from the so-called untouchables and low castes. Farid was a Muslim. Kabir, Sadna, Sain, Namdev, Ravi Dass were among them and were being discarded by the self-proclaimed high castes.
He preached that there are not many religions but there is only one truthful religion and that is of the Lord Almighty and we can attains salvation by practising truthful life guided by the Guru, who can lead us to this path. “ swchu ErY sBu ko aUpir scu Awcwru” “ Sacho Oreh Sabh Ko Ooper Sach Aachaar” (Page 62) meaning “ Truth is greater, greater still is truthful living”. He never believed in rituals like penances, ringing the bells, fastings, bathing at the religious places, sacred marks on the forehead (Tilak), horoscopes, auspicious times, sacred lines around the kitchens, un-touch-ability, mausoleums, whim and fallacies about auspicious days, donations, caste-classifications, morning-evening rituals. He also discarded worshiping of Idols, photos, plants, animals, gods, goddesses, rivers and trees etc. etc. The Lord Almighty does not take birth and is omniscient and omnipresent and is above the race, colour, creed or body.
He established a new preaching center in the year 1516 at the northern shore of the river Ravi in the district of Syalkot and named it as Kartarpur (abode of the Lord Almighty) and spent the remaining 18 years of his life at this place, since 1521. In the year 1530, from here he went to Achal near Batala at the occasion of Shivraatri fair, where the Sidhs were challenged in another Gosht i.e. the exchange of views with them. Guru Nanak spent his remaining life by cultivating the fields by his own hands and here he meets, Bhai Lehna; who was a devout goddess-worshiper and changed his life. He, also by making a committed service to the ideals of his master served him for 7 years and passed the every test of self-sacrifice.
On 22-09-1539 before breathing his last, he transferred the responsibility of Guru Ship to Bhai Lehna ji and bowed before him in the presence of a large congregation and also transferred to him the treasure of his own hymns and the compositions of the Bhagats. Applying of tilak (sacred Hindu mark which is made on foreheads by Brahmins) and offering coconut is the misconception to inter-mingle Sikhs with the Hindus and there is no sanctity in the Sikh scriptures about any such rituals. Sikhs must be aware about such misleading practices and must shun such rituals at all their social functions.
Guru Nanak composed “Japi” the leading Baani of Guru Granth Sahib starting with “Mool Mantra” (Principal text about the salutation to Lord Almighty), 38 stanzas and one salok at the start and one at the end. There are 206 Shabad, 121 Octaves, 25 Chhant, 3 epics containing 78 stanzas interspread with 256 Saloks and remaining entered under the tittle “Salok Vaaran te Vadheek” pehre -2, Patti (alphabet) -1, Allahnian (mourning compositions) -5, Suchajji (well-mannered lady) -1, Kuchajji (bad-mannered lady) -1, Onkar – 54 stanzas, Sidh Gosth -73 stanzas and Soleh-22.