IAS Target

Guru Nanak

Introduction

Guru Nanak (15 April 1469 – 22 September 1539) was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. His birth is celebrated worldwide as Guru Nanak Gurpurab on Kartik Pooranmashi, the full-moon day in the month of Katak, October–November. Nanak travelled far and wide teaching people the message of one God who dwells in every one of His creations and constitutes the eternal Truth. He set up a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue.
Nanak written compositions were included in the Adi Granth compiled by Guru Arjan (1563-1606), the fifth Sikh guru. This came to be known as Guru Granth Sahib after the additions made by the 10th guru Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). It is part of Sikh religious belief that the spirit of Nanak's sanctity, divinity and religious authority descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus when the Guruship was devolved on to them.

Sikhism as part of the Bhakti and Sufi traditions

Bhakti and Sufi movements in medieval India were part of the socio-religious reform movements which tried to change the fundamental moorings of both religious philosophy and the unfair social institutions and practices. In this attempt Bhakti to one Monotheistic god (either nirguna or saguna) formed the fundamental tenant of the movement. This bhakti based monotheism rejected the rituals, Brahmanical dominance and brought religion closer to individual heart and made worship a personal affair. Saguna-sakar brahma means brahma who is full of infinite numbers of divine attributes which are endless and whose body is made from suddha satvam. So, the terms Nirguna-nirakara and Saguna-sakar compliment each others.
Bhakti and Sufi movements emphasized on the fundamental equality of all gods creations. This emphasis lead to a departure from the homo-hierarchical (caste, class, status) society of the day. These movements lead to emergence of an un-hypocritical vision of god and his relation with his Bhakta which is based on love and devotion. Sikhism is a part of this reform movement which believes in a monotheistic formless god. Sikhism because of its strong organizational structure and continuous lineage of enlightened gurus transcended the limits of a reform movement and established itself as an organized religion.

Sikhism Religious and Social Philosophy

  • The Sikh religion recognizes the equality of all human beings and rejection of idolatry, ritualism, caste and asceticism.
  • All Sikh Gurus preached message of truth, devotion to God and universal equality. The emphasis on honest living and sharing one’s earning with others laid the foundation of an egalitarian order.The Sikh Gurus not only denounced the caste system but also provided the basis for a casteless society.
  • Sikhism religion is a combination of both Hinduism and Islam, and also having independent beliefs and practices.
  • Sikhism message was one of reconciliation, love and peace When there were conflicts between Hindus and Muslims.
  • To remain truthful by individual person is the percept of Nanak which gives great importance to individual conduct.
  • Nanak preached the middle path and considered that one can make spiritual progress even when he is a householder. This message broke down the artificial barrier created between spirituality and duty. Through constant meditation in god’s name, good actions and living a detached life one can attain Sach Khand which is enlightenment according to Sikhism.
  • His philosophy revolved around remembering god, earning livelihood through honest means and sharing fruits of ones labor with others.
  • His preaching’s are based on equality of status of all human beings irrespective of religion, caste, sect etc and promoting community kitchen and eating together by sitting on the floor.
  • Guru Nanak had become equally popular with the Hindus and Muslims of his time because Because of his teachings stress on good actions and transcended the boundaries of colour, caste and creed. It teaches followers to transform the “Five Thieves” (lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego) to lead an ethical life.
  • Guru Granth sahib the holy text of the Sikhs is a standing testimony of the syncretism and the universalism of Sikh religion as it contains not just the hymns of the gurus but also the hymns of Jaidev of Bengal, Namdev and Parmanand of Maharashtra, Sadhna of Sindh, Rama Nand, Kabir and Ravidas from Uttar Pradesh, and the famous Sufi saint Sheikh Farid (Baba Fariduddin) from patan in Pakistan

Guru Nanak teachings in Modern times

God is One In his own words, Guru Nanak Dev Ji said “I am neither Hindu nor Muslim, I am a follower of God”, which actually spoke about his belief in one God. In Sikhism, the god is omnipresent, shapeless, timeless, and sightless. (Nirankar, akar, alakh).
No Discrimination Guru Nanak Dev ji was strongly against all artificially created divisions and all discrimination, both in word and deed. He said that the caste is based on deeds. More so like what you sow, so shall you reap, the actions decide the true worth of a man!
Renunciation Guru Nanak Dev Ji asked his followers to shun five evils of Ego, Anger, Greed, Attachment and Lust. They lead to illusion (maya) which eventually acts as roadblock towards attainment of salvation. In today’s times, these five evils or bad habits as we may term them prevent us from attaining our true self which is capable of miraculous feats otherwise.
The Importance of Guru Guru Nanak Dev ji laid great emphasis on having the importance of Guru in one’s life. He preached that salvation occurs not from pilgrimage, superstitions or rites, but through heart, spirit and soul. In other words, to attain knowledge, you seek a Guru, likewise to show humans the right path and to attain righteousness, one must seek the voice of God by reading the Holy Scripture. In a nutshell, reading is what uplifts your soul!
Seva is the Key to Humanity Guru Nanak believed in helping the needy so much so that he often spent his allowance for the poor. He propagated, “help the needy and you shall be helped by the almighty in your times of crisis”. Never hesitate to help others and welcome them in your company. Friends, family become one in our nuclear times only with some warm efforts and an attitude towards Sewa. One must do Sewa/community service at the place of worship too.
Gender Equality Women have been the most oppressed sections of the society. Guru Nanak Dev argued that "How can women be inferior when they give birth to men?" According to Nanak, "Women as well as men share the grace of God and are equally responsible for their actions to him.” Respect for women and gender equality is perhaps the most important lesson to be learnt from Guru Nanak Dev’s life.
Bringing Peace Relations between India and Pakistan are grim due to tensions over Kashmir and cross border terrorism. However, both the countries, keeping their political issues aside had inaugurated the Kartapur corridor. Kartarpur corridor can become a starting point in the normalization of India-Pakistan relations, which will have an impact on the whole South-Asian region