Nanak was born of humble parentage. His parents owned a store,
and were ambitious for their son. They urged young Nanak to
sit in the store and do some business. The young
man started to count, Ek do teen (One, two ,three) ......Gyaara,
Baarah, terah....(Eleven, twelve, thirteen)....The minute
young Nanak said 'terah' meaning thirteen, he thought of 'terah'
as 'Tera' which means 'Yours'. Guru Nanak went into deep
meditation, thinking that all that is, belongs to the Lord.
Needless to say, Guru Nanak never became a merchant, rather he
turned out to be a 'Baadshah' (King).
Guru Nanak, Jag Taariya - Blessed be Guru Nanak' (whose
teachings) saved the world.
Sindhis were greatly influenced by Guru Nanak's teachings as
he did pass through Sindh and expound his beautifully simple
philosophy to the Sindhis of that area. The Sindhis were so
deeply influenced by the Master's teachings that it was not
uncommon for the Sindhis to make their first son a Sikh. Even
today the Sindhis worship Guru Nanak with the same fervor that
they accord to, Shri Krishna, Shri Ram, Shivji or/ and Ma
Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati. The Geeta and The Guru Granth
Sahib both enjoy an exalted status in Sindhi homes. Come let
us pay homage to this Giant personality.
Nanak was born in 1469 in the Western Punjab village of
Talwandi. The Birthplace of Guru Nanak is in Pakistan, driving
distance from Lahore and is today called Nanakana Saheb During
the time Guru Nanak was born, India was being ruled by Muslim
kings. Disrespect was openly accorded to non Muslim places of
worship. Both Hinduism and Islam were being corrupted by their
religious authorities. At this juncture, Guru Nanak's simple
philosophy of the oneness of God (Ek Omkaar Satnaam) felt very
welcome. The teachings of the Sikh Gurus are compiled in the
Holy Book of the Sikhs: The Guru Granth Sahib.
Sikhs believe that the Light of the first Guru's Soul (Guru
Nanak) was transmitted to each of His successors. These in
turn became embodied in their Holy Book, the Guru Granth
Sahib. The word 'Sikh' comes from the word Seekhna (to learn)
or Shishya meaning disciple. The role of the Guru in Sikhism
is very important. The Guru is considered the Bridge that
connects the Disciple with God. The Sikhs were enraged when
Guru Arjan Dev Ji was cruelly killed by a Moghul Emperor. It
was then, that the Sikh Religion acquired a militant
Nanak's father's name was Mehta Kalian Das. At the age of 6,
young Nanak was sent to school. Guru Nanak was well versed in
Hindi, Mathematics, Muslim Literature, Persian and Arabic.
Young Nanak learned quickly. One day Guru Nanak wrote a hymn
for the Village school teacher which admonished man for having
forgotten the Lord who was the true Giver and the One who had
created the world. Guru Nanak told his Muslim teacher to
be good, honest and truthful. He urged him to love
everyone and to live together like one family. Both Guru
Nanak's Muslim as well as Hindu teacher were awe-struck at the
Divine child's knowledge and proclaimed him their Guru. When
Guru Nanak was 13 years old, his parents wanted to invest him
with the sacred thread according to the traditional Hindu
custom. At the ceremony, Guru Nanak refused to accept the
sacred cotton thread from the Hindu priest. He sang the
mercy be the cotton, contentment the thread, Continence the
knot and truth the twist. O priest! If you have such a thread,
Do give it to me. It'll not wear out, nor get soiled, nor
burnt, nor lost. Says Nanak, blessed are those who go about
wearing such a thread".
Nanak did not object to getting married as he believed that
married life did not conflict with spiritual yearnings. At age
16 he was married to Sulakhani and was happy. He loved
his wife and eventually had two sons Sri Chand in 1494 and
Lakshmi Chand three years later.
Guru Nanak, meditation became his way of life. Once a cobra
shielded him from the scorching heat as he was absorbed in the
name of the Lord. Another time, the cattle that he was tending
crossed over and destroyed a farmer's field. The farmer
complained to young Nanak's father but when they went to
inspect the field, they were astonished to note that the crops
were intact. The farmer insisted that it was a miracle.
Nanak's father wanted him to lead a normal life and to earn a
decent living. So he gave him some money to strike a
profitable bargain. Guru Nanak spent that money feeding sages
and mendicants. He claimed that that was a 'Sacha Sauda'
(A good bargain).
Nanakji became a shop-keeper, in the service of Nawab Daulat
Khan, the Governor of Sultanpur. The young apprentice would go
into a trance as he weighed and counted his provisions and
reached the number 'tera' (13) Tera means 'yours or thine'
Everything and Everyone belongs to Thee O Lord! He would
Sultanpur where Guru Nanak worked as a shop-keeper, he met
Mardana, who was to become his constant companion. Mardana was
a musician. Guru Nanak started to sing hymns accompanied by
Mardana on the rabab ( a string instrument). These sessions
attracted a lot of people. Guru Nanak went to the river
one morning accompanied by Mardana. After plunging into the
river, Guru Nanak did not surface and people believed that he
must have drowned. He emerged from the water, after 3 days
uttered the famous words of the Japji Sahib (read Thought
One for the words and
translation) These immortal words are enshrined at the
beginning of the Sikh Holy Scripture: The Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Nanak emerged from his trance, he proclaimed that there
was no Hindu and no Mussalmaan. He explained that since both
were the children of God, they were brothers and sisters.
Shakun at Nankana
Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, during her
trip to Lahore in Pakistan. Photo taken on
6th Sep, 1986.
the age of 30, Guru Nanak, started his extensive travels
to spread the word of God. He conveyed his message in the form
of musical hymns. Wherever he went, his followers could gather
to recite hymns and meditate.
Nanak deplored hypocrisy. He recognised that 'Sajjan' a man he
met in Talamba, in Multan district, now in Pakistan, did not
really act as a good person like his name suggested. Even
though Sajjan had built a rest house for weary travelers, he
would steal from them, kill them and throw them into a nearby
well. Guru Nanak told him that he may be able to deceive man
but he would not be able to deceive God. He further explained
that grace may be obtained by open confession and reparation
of wrong. Repentant Sajjan mended his ways inspired by the
great Master. He gave away all his wealth to the poor and
reformed his life.
become a good Mussalmaan, Guru Nanak urged that: God's grace
become the mosque, and devotion the prayer mat. The Quran
should become the good conduct, modesty become compassion,
good manners fasting, Good deeds become their Kaaba and
Truth their mentor. Their Kalma should become their creed and
Nanak did not believe in the rigidity and hypocrisy of Hindu
Prayers. Once at Hardwar, he saw Hindus offering water to
their dead ancestors. Guru Nanak mocked the futile
ritual by offering water to the thirsty crops miles
Nanak gave no preference to his High Caste devotees much to
their chagrin. He would prefer to dine with a carpenter
called Bhai Lalo, instead of with Malik Bhago who was the
manager of a Muslim Sardar. Once Malik confronted
Guru Nanak on his choice of host. Malik thundered:
"You refuse my invitation, and prefer to dine with a
low-caste man?" Guru Nanak asked Malik Bhago to get some
food from his kitchen. Guru Nanak had with him, Bhai Lalo's
coarse bread. He held Bhago's seasoned bread in his left hand
and squeezed it. Drops of blood oozed out from it while milk
trickled from Bhai Lalo's bread. Guru Nanak explained that
bread earned by hard honest work is sweet, whereas food earned
deceitfully is tainted with poor people's blood!
Nanak taught that material wealth is mostly gathered
sinfully, but sadly it does not accompany us at the time of
Nanak once went up boldly and unafraid in front of a dreaded
cannibal chief named Kauda. Kauda was thrilled as he saw his
'meal' coming to him. He started to heat the oil in
anticipation. When Guru Nanak came close to him, Kauda tested
the oil. He found it cold! Not to give up so easily, Kauda
caught Guru Nanak in his muscular arms and flung him into the
fire! As Kauda watched Guru Nanak step out of the fire
unharmed, Kauda trembled, repented and stood reverently with
folded hands. Kauda took a vow not to harm anyone. Thus from a
killer Kauda was transformed into a servant and teacher of
the moghul Emperor had looted houses of many people in
Eminabad, who were then made to carry their own looted
property to Babar's camp. Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana, who
were visiting Eminabad at that time were taken prisoners. Guru
Nanak did not lose his equipoise, he continued to sing for the
Lord in prison much to the solace of the other victims. Babar
decided to visit the prison to witness this uncommon
occurrence. Looking at the peaceful countenance of Guru
Nanak, Babar seemed to come under a magic spell. Since the
Emperor did not comprehend the words of the holy song, he
asked Guru Nanak for a translation. The Guru boldly told him
that he was singing about the cruelty of the Emperor and the
sad state of the victims. Impressed by Guru Nanak's frankness,
fearlessness and courage, Babar freed the prisoners and
returned to them their homes and possessions.
Nanak traveled for 21 long years imparting his wisdom wherever
he set foot. He arrived in Mecca after an exhausting journey.
To rest his weary feet he lay down. The Muslims who saw him
took great offence when they noticed that the Guru's feet were
pointing towards the 'Kaaba' or 'the House of God'. One of the
hajis kicked the Guru in anger and demanded an explanation.
The Guru benevolently smiled and said that he respected the
House of God as much as they did. However if his 'misconduct'
offended them, he requested that they turn his feet. As the
haji moved the Guru's feet in various directions, he would
'see' the kaaba in the same line as the feet of Guru
Nanak. The Guru had once again imparted an immortal lesson.
That the Lord resides in every place and in every heart.
last part of his worldly life, Guru Nanak spent in Kartarpur.
The Great Guru would wake at dawn and recite his daily
prayers. At daybreak, he would address his followers. He
worked in his free kitchen, which even today is popularly
known as 'langar'. This food would be partaken by Hindus,
Muslims, rich, poor, high or/and so called low castes. Guru
Nanak worked in the field and earned his livelihood. On 22
September of the year 1539 , at the age of 70 years, Guru
Nanak gave up his body after he had requested his disciples to
sing the 'Sohila' (the praise of God).
when Guru Nanak was asked which religion, Hinduism or Islam
was the true path to God, Guru Nanak replied that the true way
to attain God was to worship Him who is eternal and contained
in the whole Universe.
Guru Nanak merged into the eternal light, the Hindus wanted to
cremate him while the Muslims wanted to bury the body. However
on raising the sheet under which the Great Guru's body lay,
both found nothing but fresh flowers which were divided
between themselves. The Hindus cremated the flowers whereas
the Muslims buried theirs. Like Guru Nanak claims in one of
'Nanak leen bhayo Govind
Jyon pani sang pani'
means that Nanak has so merged with the Lord
Like water does with water.
is formless, omnipresent, compassionate, and can be
reached through prayer, humility, service, meditation,
and virtuous living.
did not propagate ritual worship, discrimination against women
and against those of lower socio-economic status.
Nanak urged his followers to:
Naam Japo – Constantly meditate on God’s name
Karo –to earn ones livelihood through honest means
Chakko- To share
People should meditate and pray together
people should sit and eat together to create a sense of
a free distribution of
food to rich and poor
keep the company of
GURU GRANTH SAHEB AND THE SINDHIS
an excerpt from a translation by Narain Kimatrai
from the original book 'A
History of Hindus in Sind'
by Diwan Bherumal Advani published in 1946)
Manecksingh was a minister with Mir Shehdad Khan and the son
of Diwan Kishinchand. He wanted to expound the philosophy
of Sikhism to his cousins and other Hindus.
doing so he gained the knowledge after being granted audience
with Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab. Diwan Manecksingh
brought the Guru Granth Saheb, with due respect laden on
elephant back to Hyderabad.
temporary Gurdwara structure in the year 1855 was
reconstructed into a permanent one after British takeover.
Every follower did manual labour to help construct the
Gurdwara. Everyone contributed 4 annas (25 paise) everyday.
The structure was completed in 1858. Till 1946 the cost
towards the construction exceeded Rs25000. The area on
which the structure sits is around 10000 sq. ft. and is/was
operated by the trust.
WORDS OF GURU NANAK
Nanak was born on the full moon night of the month of
November. Guru Nanak was a Bedi: A Knower of the Vedas.
have read that the Incarnation of The Great Guru is mentioned
in the Hindu Scriptures.
are 947 hymns of Guru Nanak in the Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru
Granth Sahib is considered to be the Living Guru in Book form.
It has been called 'Mona', the Silent Guru. Through the pages
of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Gurus speak, loud and clear and
straight from their hearts. Let us feel Guru Nanak, through
some of His words:
my sister, my beloved friend! let us embrace and speak of
love! Let us sit together and talk of our perfect powerful
Lord…God is One, yet has innumerable forms…Everyone
says the Lord is great…yet no one had discovered His
real worth…Let your heart sing of God with every breath
you draw…He has no fear, No enemies and is beyond death…To
make His will ones own, is to achieve Him…One cannot
comprehend Him through reason…The one who receives may
tire, but He continues to bestow…The Lord is Word
your attachment to worldly things. Crush its soot and make
ink. Make your understanding, a sheet of paper. Use the
pen of love. Make your mind the scribe, make your guru
guide you to write down your thoughts…if you write (the
Name and Praise of the Lord) You will be acclaimed with
honor…This is the Gift of Grace…(One will then) not
only save oneself but lead ones kith and kin to salvation…It
is by listening, reading, developing an attitude of
humility and devotion, that one qualifies to bathe in ones
'True Within'…Bathe in the waters of virtue and apply
the Perfume of Truth…
I were to live in a palace built of walls studded with
pearls and rubies…Were I endowed with powers to perform
miracles…let not my eyes be deceived, that I forget Thy
Name…All are judged according to their deeds, for True
is the Lord and immaculate His Law…Everything happens
according to His Will… If one conquers ones mind, one
conquers the world…
brother! Become the dust under the feet of saints. In
their company, you will find your guru and the gift of
salvation…with the sacred water given by the guru,
quench the 4 fires (of cruelty, anger, greed and love of
worldly things)…Whosoever wishes to meet with the king,
must first seek one who is dear to the king, so it is if
one is desiring to see the Lord…All else shall forsake
thee in life, but a saint…They will still the mind and
ward off attachment…To see such a saint provides one
with the merit of 68 places of pilgrimage…
I offer my body as it were a bride. God will take it as if
He were the groom… We are His wives, we adorn ourselves
for Him…but one does not get love by bargaining, a
counterfeit coin gilded with gold will bring about ruin…A
woman not taken by her husband wastes her youth. Her
husband (The Lord) lies on the same couch…yet she knows
not, and she sleeps, while her loved one is awake…A
polluted dress does not please my Love…
are five kinds of prayers:
b) What is right
c) Charity in God's Name
d) Good intentions
e) Praise of the Almighty.
Thou art the Grand River, how can I, a poor fish know of
Thy depth and Thy Greatness? Prayer, austerity,
controlling the senses, giving of alms, charity and other
good acts, what good will they achieve, unless the Lord
who is Truth acknowledges it? They alone are in peace and
blissful who take the refuge of the True Name…When the
hands, feet and body are soiled, water washes them, when
the mind is polluted, it is cleansed by the love of the
Sufis and Sufism