SRI Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in 1469 at Rai Boi ki Talwandi, a village in the Sheikhupura district, now Nanakana Sahib, Pakistan. His mother was Mata Tripta and father was Mehta Kalu. Sri Guru Nanak Dev had an elder sister, Bibi Nanaki and was married to Mata Sulakhni, who gave birth to two sons Baba Sri Chand and Baba Lakhmi Das.
He is the first of the ten Sikh Guru’s. The birth of Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji is celebrated world-wide on Kartik Puranmashi i.e the full moon day of the month Kartik.
Guru Nanak ji travelled far and wide teaching people the message of one God and that his is the truth and ultimate reality. He preached that God is one who dwells in everyone of God’s creations and did not adhere to any kind of ritualism or worship pattern. During his travel Guru Nanak Dev Ji preached the message of love, compassion, humanity, selfless sewa and social welfare to thousands, reformed them and rid them of superstition.
He believed in “Equality of Humans”. He preached against discrimination and prejudice due to race, caste, status, etc.
God is one we are all his children, none is inferior none is superior “EK PITA EKAS KE HUM BARIK, EK NOOR TE SAB JAG UPIJIYA, KAUN BHALE KAUN MANDE”
Beliefs of Guru Nanak Dev Ji
God is Omnipresent, Does Not Live in One Place or Direction
While at Mecca, the Guru was resting with his feet pointing towards the holy shrine. When a Muslim priest angrily reprimanded the Guru for showing disrespect to God, the Guru replied, turn my feet in the direction in which God does not exist. Upon this priest seized the Guru’s feet and dragged them in the opposite direction. Where upon, it is said, the Kaaba turned around, and followed the revolution of Guru’s body.
Absolute Equality of Humanity
At one time he preferred to dine at the place of a low-caste carpenter, Bhai Lallo, instead of accepting the invitation of a high caste rich landlord, Malik Bhago. Guru Nanak ji explained to Malik Bhago, that honest living earned by Bhai Lalo is sacred and graceful, while living earned by dishonesty is immoral and sinful. The former is pure like milk while later is like blood squeezed from the poor and innocent people.
Equality of Women
Guru Nanak Dev ji believed in equality of men and women. He scorned those who considered women inferior to men by asking, “Why should we call her inferior, when it is she who gives birth to great persons?”
Shun Purposeless Rituals & Superstitions
Guru Nanak Dev ji enlightened people, that mindless ritualistic practice of throwing water towards Sun, would not cleanse the souls of their ancestors or do any good to themselves.
When Sri Guru Nanak stopped at Hardwar a pilgrimage center he found a large gathering of devotees. They were taking ritual baths in the holy river and offering water to the sun. When the Guru asked “Why do you throw water like that?” The pilgrims replied that they were offering it to their ancestors. Guru Nanak upon hearing this started throwing water in the opposite direction towards the west. When the pilgrims asked him what he was doing? Guru Nanak replied “I am sending water to my farms which is dry”. They asked how water will reach your crops so far away. “Guru Nanak replied, “If your water can reach your ancestors in the region of the sun, why can’t mine reach my fields a short distance away”?
The main teachings of Guru Nanak Dev ji are:
Naam implies God.
Guru Nanak Dev ji put the greatest emphasis on worship of God. God is the Doer and without God there is no other. Meditating on God’s name to control five evils i.e. Ego, Anger, Greed, Attachment and Lust to eliminate suffering and live a happy life.
He started the system of Sangat te Pangat, all are equal in distribution of langar whether king or an ordinary poor man.
Vand Chako and Snagat te Pangat:
The term Vand ke Chalo means to share ones wealth with others in the community, to give to charity, to distribute in langar (free kitchen) and to generate help to those who are in need. A sikh is expected to contribute at least 10% of their wealth income called Dasvandth to the needy people of the world or to a worthy cause.
Earn on honest living by ones physical and mental efforts while accepting both pains and pleasures as God’s gifts and blessings and ensuring that no action leads to cheating or exploitation.
To spread the “real message of God” Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji travelled in all four direction – North, East, West and South and is believed to have travelled more than 28,000 kms. Most of his journeys were made on foot with his companion Bhai Mardana.