Guru Nanak Dev
Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, was born on 15 April 1469 in a humble cottage at Talwandi in the district of Lahore (now in Pakistan). In those days India was ruled by the Pathans.
The condition of the people, especially in respect of religion, was far from satisfactory. Undue importance was given to rituals and very few cared for real spiritual life.
It was at this juncture that the great guru was born. From his childhood, Guru Nanak was of a spiritual temperament and his teachers and schoolmates were astonished to see his sincere devotion and inborn knowledge about spiritual matters.
After schooling, his father asked him to look after the cattle and to take them for grazing. While the cattle grazed, Guru Nanak would be found sitting under a tree absorbed in deep contemplation. He was put to severe tests for negligence of duty, but everytime he was miraculously saved by an invisible hand.
Once his father gave him twenty rupees to do some ‘good, beneficial and truthful work’ with it. Guru Nanak spent the entire amount in feeding some sadhus and felt immense satisfaction that he had obeyed his father’s behest in the true spirit.
Seeing his non-attachment to the things of the world even at a tender age, people came to the conclusion that he was born to fulfill a divine purpose.
A few years later, he started his mission of spreading a new gospel to propagate divine love. He was opposed by the Emperor, scholars, and mullahs. But his spirituality, devotion and honesty of purpose soon silenced everybody. His critics were convinced of the sincerity of his purpose and became his followers.
Nanak traveled extensively throughout the length and breadth of India and went abroad and visited Mecca, Medina, Persia, Kabul etc. Wherever he went, he spread his catholic and universal message which was accepted with great regard by Hindus and Muslims alike.
The main theme of his message was:
God is one, God is love, God is unity. The same God resides in the temple and in the mosque and outside as well. All human beings are equal in the eyes of God. They are born and they die in the same way. Devotion to God and service to mankind, irrespective of caste, creed or color are the duty of every one.
He was regarded as a Sadguru or true spiritual teacher by the age of forty and his disciples came to be known as Sikhs.
He taught through verses that came to him from heaven through divine inspiration and communion with God. The collection of most of these teachings is called Japji Sahib and the famous Guru Granth Sahib also embodies them. They are literally worshiped by all Sikhs with devotion and sincerity.
Guru Nanak was loved and adored both by the Hindus and the Muslims. After his de- mise in 1539, both people claimed to dispose his body according to their respective customs.
But when the shroud was removed the next morning, there was only a heap of choicest flowers, instead of the guru’s body. Poet Nannihal Singh Layal has beautifully described him as:
- Pure he was: purity he preached.
- Lovely he was: so love he preached.
- Humble he was: so humility he preached. Divine he was: so divinity he preached.
- Apostle of peace and justice he was, Incarnation of equality and purity he was, Devotion and Bhakti he pleaded of course. Give Nanak’s message to all.
- That God, above all, is the Lord of all.
Sikhism accepted some of the basic doctrines of Hinduism. Sikhism is strictly monotheistic, believing in nothing but the one Supreme God. He is Absolute, All-pervading and eternal.
He is the creator, the Cause of causes, without enmity, without hatred, both immanent in His creation and transcendent to it. The two basic postulates of Sikhism are that life is not sinful in its origin but having emanated from a pure source, remains pure in essence even in its existence.
Sikhism says that no caste is high or low, no man is a condemned sinner or a sanctified being.
God is one, but He has innumerable forms. He is the creator of all and He Himself takes human form.
He is without any kind of fear. He has no enemy and He is beyond death and free from rebirths.
There is only One Being, who is the Creator and the uncaused Cause of all. He has created the whole universe through His ever-active will which is diffused throughout.
Whoever knows the mystery expressed by the numeral One, becomes one with Him. To make His will one’s own, is the means to achieve Him.
The Absolute is wordless, imageless and nameless. When It came into being, It was called Word, which is the cause of all creation.
He who gives himself up to His supreme will win the goal. No other action counts in achieving this end. The divine will is revealed to man by communion with the Holy Word.
The creation and the ultimate dissolution of the universe is caused through the Word. Again through the Word, it takes its existence anew.
Whoever searches for eternal joy, let him seek that in the all-pervading spirit (Naam).
In misery and pleasure, the whole world is stuck fast. All their doings are directed by assertion of egoism. Without Word superstition cannot be ended, and ego cannot be got rid of.
One cannot comprehend Him through reason, even if one reasoned for ages.
One cannot achieve inner peace by outward silence, even if he sits dumb for ages.
One can never buy contentment with the riches of the world.
One cannot reach God with mental ingenuity.
Q. How may one know the Truth and break through the cloud of falsehood?
Ans. There is a way, O Nanak, to make our own His will which is already wrought in our existence.
One must know:
All things are manifestations of His will, but His will is beyond description. By His will is matter quickened into life.
By His will is greatness obtained; by His will some are born high and others low.
By His will are men’s joys and sorrows ordained, by His will the pious obtain salvation.
By His will, the impious wander in endless transmigration. All exist under His will and nothing stands outside.
One in tune with His will, O Nanak, is wholly free from ego.
Some sing His greatness, but only according to the power bestowed upon them; some sing of His bounties, taking them as His signs. Some sing of Him as incomprehensible.
Some sing of Him as transmuting dust into life, and life into dust again. He is the Creator and Destroyer, the Giver of life and its Withdrawer.
Some sing of Him as at once the nearest and the most remote. There is no end to our description of Him. Countless have tried, but He still stands beyond description.
True is the Lord, true His holy word; His love has been described as infinite.
Men pray to Him for gifts, which He grants unstintingly. When all is His, what can we offer at His feet, what can we say to win His love?
At the ambrosial hour of the early dawn, have communion with the Divine Word and meditate on His glory.
Our birth is the fruit of our actions, but liberation comes only from His grace.
Nanak, knows the True One as immanent in all.
Those who worship Him are honored; Nanak, ever sing of the treasure-house of all virtues.
Let us sing of Him and hold communion with the Word with a heart full of loving devotion, for only then shall all sorrows end and we be led joyously homewards.
The Master is the song eternal or Word personified. He is the Vedas and scriptures.
He is Siva, He is Vishnu and He is Brahma as well as their consorts Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswati.
The greatness of the Master, even if known, cannot be described with oral eloquence. My Master has taught me one thing. He is the Lord of everything. May I always remember him!
Whichever Way I look I find His creation. None has won salvation without His grace, regardless of Karmas. You can discover untold spiritual riches within yourself, if you abide by the teachings of your Master.
If a man could extend his life to four ages (yugas), nay, make it ten times longer, if he were known throughout the planes of creation and everyone therein followed him with respect, if every creature praised him to the skies: all this and more has no value, if God’s eye looks not kindly upon him.
O Nanak, It is God who bestows virtues on those who have none and adds to the store of the virtuous, but there is no one who can add to His lustre.
He, Nanak says, the Lord is the only doer; there is no one other than He. I am a sacrifice to Him who pervades water, earth and the interspace.
O my ignorant mind, always call Him, by whose grace all your works are accomplished. Keep His presence ever before your mind, by whose grace you reach truth. Attune yourself to Him.
By whose grace you are cast among the noble kind
Forget Him not night or day, nay, never.
By Whose grace you keep your honor,
Nanak, utter His praise, by the Guru’s grace.
All attempts to describe God are in vain; He alone knows Himself.
Although His devotees praise Him, they never attain full knowledge of the Infinite, like streams stumbling into the ocean knowing not the depths thereof.
Even emperors having untold wealth and vast dominions cannot compare with an ant filled with the love of God.
Endless are His praises, endless the words of commendation;
Endless His works and endless His gifts:
Endless His vision and endless His inspiration;
Endless and beyond understanding is His purpose.
His benevolence is manifold and none can record it;
He is the giver of all, wanting nothing in return;
Even warriors are beggars at his door.
Many are those who misusing His gifts decry Him,
Many are the fools who only eat and enjoy but do not think of the Donor,
And many lie afflicted by hunger, misery and pain,
Which too are Your gifts, O Lord.
Peerless is His generosity, peerless His acceptance,
Peerless His mercy and peerless His commands.
His devotees singing His praise have sunk in silence, And so have the Vedas, the Puranas and the learned.
Countless speak of Him and Countless are about to make an attempt and
Countless more have departed while singing of Him. Still He remains and shall remain indescribable.
To Thee sing the gods and goddesses whose beauty is of Your making.
To You sing the siddhas in their contemplation and the sadhus in their meditation.
All lie beyond the ken of Nanak.
He who created all creatures shall never depart.
Though the worlds be destroyed
He is the supreme Master and does what He wishes;
He is the King of kings, the Almighty Lord,
And ours, O Nanak, is only to abide by His will.
Hail to You! You who dwell in nature
There is no end to your manifestations.
From the very beginning God is Truth and Reality. In the past He was Truth and
Reality; He still is Truth and Reality; says Nanak, in future also, He will be Truth and Reality,
By obeying Him, O Nanak, man will not wander like a beggar.
So pure is God’s name.
Whoever obeys God, Knows the pleasure of it in his own heart.
By communion with the Word one can attain the status of a Siddha, (a man of super- natural powers), a Pir (a Muslim divine), a Sura (a god) or a Nath (an adept in yoga).
By communion with the Word, one can understand the mysteries of the earth, the supporting bull and of the heavens; to him, the earthly regions, the heavenly pleasure and the nether worlds stand revealed.
By communion with the Word, one can escape unscathed through the portals of Death.
O Nanak, His devotees live in perpetual ecstasy, for the Word washes away all sin and sorrow.
By communion with the Word, one can attain the powers of Siva, Brahma, and Indra.
One can win esteem from all irrespective of one’s past.
By communion with the Word, one can have yogic insight. With the mysteries of life and self, all revealed, one can acquire the true import of the Sastras (scriptures), Smritis and the Vedas.
By communion with the Word, one becomes the abode of truth, contentment and true knowledge and gets the fruit of ablution at sixty-eight places of pilgrimage.
By communion with the Word, one becomes the abode of all virtues, one becomes a Sheikh and a true spiritual king.
By communion with the Word, the spiritually blind find their way to realization and cross the limitless ocean of illusory matter.
By practice of the Word, one rises into universal consciousness and develops insight, understanding, clairvoyance and transvision of the whole creation.
By practice of the Word one is freed from sorrow and suffering and one does not go to Yama (god of death) after death.
O, great is the power of the Word, but few realize this.
By practice of the Word, one leads others to freedom.
By practice of the Word, one is freed from desires, escapes the wheel of transmigration and finally attains salvation.
Dharm or Word is the proverbial bull that is harmoniously sustaining creation. Whoever realizes this, knows the Truth.
His one word brought about this vast creation and a thousand streams of life sprang into existence. I am powerless to conceive of his awesome nature.
The Word is the Guru, the Guru is the Word,
For all nectar is enshrined in the Word.
Blessed is the Word which reveals the Lord’s name, But rare is the one who by the Guru’s grace knows the Word.
Through the medium of the Word the soul crossed the endless ocean of matter. Lowly Nanak therefore glorifies His Naam.
The Word is both earth and ether. These had their being through the Word. This Word expressed itself in other aspects as well. The whole creation sprang up after the Word. O Nanak, that endless Word reverberates in each heart!
The all-pervading Word has attracted my entire mind. What else should I think of? Communion of the soul with the Word creates everlasting bliss.
Through the communion of the soul with the Word, I have gained the resplendent seat of honor. O Nanak, the all-pervading Naam (Word) dwells in the heart of all.
The creation and ultimate dissolution of the universe is caused through the Word. Again, through the Word, it recreates itself.
How can the ignorant get to the principle of the union of the soul with the Word?
Without communion with the Word, the soul comes and goes. O Nanak, the Gurmukh is of the nature of freedom.
The Word is the Guru, the soul is the disciple of the Word-the melodious song.
Whoever by the practice of the Word finds out his true home, Nanak shall serve him truly.
The five sounds become audible through the instruction of the Gurmukh-the personified Word. He who hears the five sounds is truly lucky.
I find everywhere the source of joy and peace. Through the Word, the Lord made His appearance and became manifest.
Everyone utters the name of the Lord but only by mere utterance alone one does not realize Him.
When through the Guru’s the Lord is enshrined in grace the mind one gathers the fruit of that grace.
Within your home is the treasure, there is nothing without.
Only through the Guru grace can you attain it.
He who was the only one in the beginning and will be in the end, the Guru of mine. The sublime, the transcendent, the yonder of the yond God, that Guru has Nanak met.
It is Your light that lights all hearts,
Through the Guru’s wisdom, does
Your light burnish and that which pleases You, becomes the worship.
Gems, jewels, rubies are all in the mind, if one were to find and listen to the Guru’s call: “It is He who gives to each. On Him, alone, O, let me call.”
O my friend, my Guru, illuminate my heart with the Lord’s name!
The name revealed to me by my Guru, is the friend of my life.
To meditate upon you is my daily routine.
Listen, O friend! I beseech you, now is the time for you to serve.
If you earn merit, you live in bliss hereafter.
Life wears out each day, each night,
Go, call on the Guru, and fulfill your destiny.
Deal only in what you came here for, And, through the Guru, God will enter your abode.
He is a true preceptor who shows the real home within the temple of the body where five different sound currents are reverberating, and gives a clue to the Holy Name.
Serve the true Guru lovingly and with single minded devotion;
Know that the true Guru is the Holy of Holies,
Who fulfills all the desires of your mind.
You gather that blessing, the fruits your heart longs for.
The Lord’s name is the ocean of peace;
Through the Guru is He attained,
Dwell on Him day after day, To merge imperceptibly in His name.
All repeat the name of God, but none can fathom the mystery of it. If through the favor of a saint it gets ingrained in the mind, only then one reaps the fruit thereof.
Whosoever wishes to see a king must first seek the company of one who is a favorite,
Whoever is aching to see the Lord, let him seek one who has become one with Him.
Let no man in the world live in delusion. Without a Guru none can cross over to the other shore.
Listen to the true testimony of the saints, for only they say what they actually see with their own eyes.
O Nanak, sever your ephemeral connections and seek the firm friendship of a saint. All else is transitory, He alone remains steadfast to the last, and thereafter.
Whoever fears the pangs of birth and death, let him seek out a sadhu.
Whoever, styling himself as a teacher, lives on the charity of others, never bow before him.
He who earns his livelihood by the sweat of his brow and shares it with others, O Nanak, only he can know the way.
Let us be in the company of those in whose presence the mind is calm. The saints are the true friends for they alone inspire God-intoxication. Seeing a Guru with loving devotion not only stills the mind but also wards off all attachment.
Verily a true Master unveils the eye and grants a glimpse of the true abode. He who can show us God’s abode in the body, O Nanak, take him to be a true Master indeed.
To meet the saints and to have their company is the greatest pilgrimage. To see a saint gives one the merit of all the sixty eight places of pilgrimage.
Guru is God like in power, as creator, protector and destroyer. Guru has got the capacity to punish an evil-doer and to
protect the virtuous and the poor. I have sold myself to the Guru, body and soul, And Him whom we sought in the three worlds, we saw.
Yea Nanak, ’tis the Guru through whom We attained our union with the Lord.
With the help of the Guru, they swim across the sea of life.
And find honor in the Lord’s court.
Nanak, pure is their repute, and in their mind is struck by the music of the Name.
The true Guru is the deep vast ocean of peace, the destroyer of sin; he who has served the Guru, for him there is no punishment of Yama; no one equals the Guru. I have searched the whole world through. Says Nanak: “The true Guru has given me the treasure of the name and my mind is filled with gladness.”
Meditate on the form of the Master, take his word as gospel truth. Let the footfalls of the Master resound in the recesses of your heart. The Master is the Infinite, bow to Him.
Think of the feet of the Master in your heart. By constant remembrance you will cross the ocean of illusive matter.
Remember the true Master within yourself and with the tongue repeat the word given by the Master.
With your eyes visualize the form of the true Master and with your ears hear the holy Naam-the eternal song.
Says Nanak, on whomsoever the Lord showers His grace, He bestows this state; but few there be, the chosen ones, who obtain this gift.
Restrain the mind-stuff from ebbing away through the nine portals in the body.
This will gain you access to the tenth door, which leads to the true house of your Father with its eternal music.
Three essentials for the progress of the soul toward the Lord are:
1. Satguru, or the true master.
2. Satsangat, or the congregation of the votaries presided over by the Master.
3. Sat-naam, or the true name.
Let contentment be your earrings, And endeavor for the Divine and Respect for the higher self be your wallet,
And constant meditation of Him be your ashes.
Let readiness for death be your cloak.
And let your body be like a chaste virgin.
Let your Master’s teaching be your supporting staff.
The highest religion is to rise to universal brotherhood.
To consider all creatures your equals; Conquer your mind,
For victory over self is victory over the world.
Hail, hail, to Him alone;
The primal, pure, eternal, Immortal and immutable in all ages.
Let divine knowledge be your bread
Let mercy be your steward
Let the divine music vibrating in all be your trumpet.
He is the only Lord and has strung creation according to His will.
Let one tongue grow into hundred thousands,
Nay, even twenty times more, And each of them endlessly chant His holy name,
For this way lie the steps that lead Godwards,
Mounting which one becomes one with Him.
Make chastity your furnace, patience your smithy, The Master’s word your anvil and true knowledge your hammer,
Make awe of God your bellows and with it kindle the fire of austerity, And in the crucible of love, melt the nectar divine.
Make your body the field, good works the seed, irrigate it with God’s name; make your heart the cultivator, God will germinate in your heart and you shall thus obtain the dignity of Nirvana.
Make the hearing of the sacred books your merchandise, truth the horses to be sold, virtue as your traveling expenses, and think not for the morrow. When you arrive in the land of God, you shall obtain happiness in His abode.
Make good works your soil, and the word of God your seed, ever irrigate it with the water of truth. Faith shall ger- minate and thus even a fool shall know the distinction between heaven and hell.
Make attention to your service, faith in the Name your occupation. Make the restraint of evil, your effort. God will look on you, O Nanak, with the eye of favor and your compensation shall brighten fourfold.
Practice truth, contentment and love and then the worship of God’s name shall be your treasure. Banish sin from your mind and the true One will bestow truth on you.
Make truth, self-restraint and good acts your lines and the utterances of the Name your ablutions.
O Nanak, in the next world, he is best who walks not in the ways of sin.
Weed out your evil desires and let your soul meditate on the Lord. And when you abstain from sin and practice contemplation and austerity, lotus flowers and honey drip into you.
Says Nanak, sing and praise His endless store of attributes. Singing, listening to His name and having him in your mind will destroy sorrow. And happiness will you get in exchange at home.
O Lord, without practicing virtuous deeds,
One cannot be Your devotee indeed!
Make these three your dress, O sister, and your spouse shall come into your power.
Humility is the word, forbearance the virtue and civility the priceless spell.
They who make truth their fasting, contentment their place of pilgrimage, divine
knowledge and meditation their ablutions, mercy their images and forgiveness their
Rosary is foremost in God’s favor.
By going on pilgrimages, practicing austerities, performing acts of formal compassion and charity, one obtains little honor before Him, if at all.
It is only by listening and reading, by reflecting on what you come to know and by developing proper devotional attitude of mind, that you qualify to bathe to fill in the inmost sanctuary.
Bathe in the water of virtues, apply the perfume of truth to your body.
Then shall your face be- come bright and the one Giver bestow hundreds of thousands of gifts on you.
Seek His refuge, O my mind, Whom no one equals.
Meditating on whom, you get peace
And pain and sorrow will touch you not.
Serve your Lord, the true Master,
For ever and ever more.
True devotees are not soiled in mind,
Their pure minds dwell on the Lord alone.
Through the Guru, they realize the word
And they immerse themselves in the Lord’s nectarine name.
The wisdom of the Guru burns bright in them
And the darkness of their ignorance is dispelled.
God’s devotees have the wealth of God alone with them.
And they seek the advice of the Guru in their trade.
They praise the Lord forever and ever,
And wealth is the support of God’s name.
They who are filled with the Word,
All their mind’s desires are fulfilled.
They love Him, meditate on Him
And see the Lord’s presence everywhere.
They alone are in peace and attain the state of Bliss, who rely on the true Name. They receive the truth through the Guru’s words and he washes away their woes. One recites the praise of Him and loves the true Name; he on whom is His mercy, gathers the treasure of devotion.
Those persons who love and sow in their hearts the seed of His name, are liberated from death and birth again and again and get salvation forever without pain.