Born: 15th April 1469
Place of birth: Sri Nankana Sahib (Rai Bhoen’s Talwandi)
Parents: Mehta Kalu and Mata Tripta
Spouse: Mata Sulakhani, daughter of Mool Chand of Pakhoke Randhawa
children: Baba Sri Chand and Baba Lakhmi Das
Period: The throne of Delhi was under Behlol Lodhi, Sikandar Lodhi and Mogul emperor Babar
Teachings: Love and equality amongst people, God’s worship, co-ownership, justice, selfless service and well-being of all Travelling. First eastern voyage was undertaken in 1497, second southern voyage in 1510, third northern voyage in 1516 and the fourth western voyage in circa 1520.
Joti Jot: 7th September 1539
The first guru of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev ji was born on the 15th of April 1469 on a full moon day of the Kartik month of year 1526 of Bikrami calendar. His place of birth is Talwandi of Rai Bhoen, district Shekhupur (now in Pakistan). Later Talwandi village came to be known as Nankana Sahib. His father’s name was Mehta Kalyan Das but was popularly known as Mehta Kalu. His mother was called Mata Tripta. Right from his childhood Guru Nanak showed devotion for God and love for humankind.
From a very early age he showed signs of unusual maturity. He was merely eight years old when he held a discussion with Gopal Pandha, his teacher. Later, when he was older his father gave him twenty rupees and sent him to carry out some transactions but he spent the money on feeding sadhus instead. When he was working at the grain store of Daulat Khan Lodhi he would measure out extra quantities to the needy and the poor.
Marriage: He was married to Sulakhani, daughter of Mool Chand Khatri of Pakhoke Randhawa, old Batala. They had two sons: Baba Sri Chand and Baba Lakhmi Das. Guru Ji led a complete conjugal life. However due to the conditions around him he was always in a solemn state of mind. During the Period the entire country was divided by caste, birth, vocation, color, creed, language, culture and provinciality. The atmosphere was full of arrogance, animosity, divisions, greed, exploitation and suppression. Hypocrisy and oppression were prevalent in all fields: religious, social, cultural and political. There was no truth, commitment or justice in the society. Punjab, the land of five rivers was being trampled by foreign aggressors. In his utterances Guru Nanak described the prevailing condition as follows;
1.”Raje shinh Mukkaddam kutte”
(The rulers are like ferocious tigers and their subordinates are like dogs)
2. “Kali kati raje Kasai dharam pankh kar uttariya, Kur amavas sach chandarma dise nahi keh chariya Hau bhal vichunni hoi, andhere rahu na koi”
(There is no piety left in this land of barbaric rulers, the dark forces have eclipsed the moon of truthfulness. It is difficult to find the right path in these dark times).
Although Guru Nanak Ji is generally considered to be a leader of the Bhakti Movement, he also took decisive steps for reforming the social and religious set up. He employed very innovative yet simple methods to bring about the necessary change. Besides, he also raised his voice against oppression and injustice and aroused the consciousness of people. That is why not only in India but in the east and the west too he came to be known as “The Accomplished Man” ( Mard-e-Kamal). He did not set out from home in search of God or tranquility, in fact he ventured out with set goals: to make people aware of the religion and caste based oppression and to fight against injustice and inequality.
To accomplish his mission Guru Nanak ji undertook four voyages in all four directions. In spite of limited means he reached till Burma in the east, the tip of India in extreme south, up to Nepal and Tibet in the north and Egypt and Baghdad in the west. His genius is marked by revolutionary fervor. Guru Nanak had the courage and capability to correct the aberrations in the society around him and to denounce religious hypocrisy, superstitions, rituals, injustice and oppression. He was neither afraid of Emperor Babar nor of people like Kauda Rakhsh, Sajjan Thug, Bhoomia Chor nor arrogant Wali Kandhari. In Haridwar he started offering water in the western direction unlike the Brahmins who offer it to the east. In Mecca he slept with his feet pointing towards Kaaba. His utterances from time to time were all compiled later as Bani (Guru’s sayings)
1. Ek pita ekas ke hum barak tun mera gur tain (We are children of but one God)
2. Sabbhe sanjhiwal sadain koi na dise bahara jiyo(Everybody is a part of the same large community; nobody is an outsider)
3. Awwal Allah noor upaiya kudrat de sabh bande, Ek noor te sabh jag upjiya kaun bhale ko mande.
(The entire humanity has originated from the same divine light, so how can there be divisions of good and bad, higher or lower amongst His creatures).
His ideals were:
1. To chant His name for spiritual development
2. To share food with others – to serve and benefit the society
3. To work for personal development and human equality he made it a compulsory condition. All this was for the ideal development of the society. In the course of his longest voyage to the east, Guru Ji visited many temples, pilgrimage centers and caves of holy men. He showed the right path to Duni Chand of Lahore and Sajjan Thug of Tulamba. In Haridwar he advised Brahmins and their blind followers to stop worrying about the salvation of their ancestors’ souls and worship God instead. In Vrindaban he held discourses with ascetics and sages of the Gorakh Matta and convinced them of his ideas. Later the place came to be known as Nanak Matta. He met Bhagat Kabir too. From Benaras he went to Patna and then reached Bengal via Gaya. In Dhaka he emancipated Sheikh Ahmed and Chetan Das. From there he went to Chittagong, Assam and to Manipur. During his second voyage he reached Ajmer via Bikaner, Marwar and won the hearts of Moslem saints (Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti) and other ascetics. He went to Hoshangabad, Narsinghpur and Pancham Garhi where he reformed demonic Kauda into a saintly being. He held more discussions with seers in Mangala Deep and Kajali forest. He went to Rang Padam, Bombay area, Somnath, Dwarka, and Rajputana and reached Bahawalpur where he crossed river Sutlej and came to Kartarpur. During his northern voyage he shattered the arrogance of Pundit Braham Das of Kashmir. Travelling via Sirmaur, Garhwal, Badrinath and Hem Kunt he reached the caves of holy men in the Himalayas and said: “Parja Andhi gyan bin kur kussatt mukhon alai chele saaz vajaonde nacchan guru bahut bidh bhai.”
(The followers have nobody to lead them; devoid of wisdom they utter untruths and absurdities. In this frenzy, the leaders are being led by the followers instead.)
During his western voyage Mardana accompanied him. They reached Mecca via Dera Ghazi Khan and Sindh. Here he went to sleep with his feet extended in the direction of Kaaba, the holy shrine. The Hajis were much offended and called him a big sinner. Guru Nanak explained that God or Allah does not reside in one place, he is present everywhere, in every direction.
“Puchan gall iman di, kazi mullan ikatthe hoi, Puchan gall iman di hindu vadda ki musalman hoi, Baba akhe hajiyan sabh amlan bajhon donwe roi.”
(The mullahs and kazis gathered to ask Nanak who was higher: a Hindu or a Moslem. Nanak replied a man’s good deeds are the highest.
This counsel of Nanak impressed the Hajis very much. They understood that only one’s good deeds reach the domain of God.
From here he reached Baghdad and held discussions with Behlol. There is a commemorative stone there in his name. From Arabia Guru Nanak reached Egypt and then travelled through North African countries. He met the Caliph of Turkey and gave him the message of service of humankind. After that he reached Iran. In Kandhar he met Ali Yaar and showed him the way to shed vanity and join His path. In Kabul the Gurudwara of Guru Nanak stands even today. From Afghanistan he came back via Khayber Pass, crossed river Attuck and shattered Wali Kandhari’s arrogance in Hasan Abdal. This is the place where the famous Gurudwara of Punja sahib is situated.
In 1521 when Babar invaded India, Guru Nanak was staying in Aimnabad at Bhai Lalo’s place on his way back from his western voyage. After witnessing the misery and disastrous situation all around Guru Nanak uttered the shabad (hymn),
“Jaisi me ave khasam ki bani , taisara karin gyan ve Lalo”
(O Lalo, pay attention and imbibe the words coming from Him).
In this hymn he exposes the low character of the religious leaders of that time and expresses his anguish over the fate of the land strewn with dead bodies. This hymn is an expression of Guru Nanak’s fearlessness, courage, patriotism, and empathy towards his compatriots and his yearning for independence. Through this Guru Nanak ji conveyed his reproach to God for having forsaken his people and also instilled patriotic feelings in fellow citizens;
“Khurasan khasmana kiya, Hindustan daraya, aape dosh na koi karta, Jamm kar mughal charaya, Eti mar pai kurlane, Tain ki dard na aya”
(Was it your will that the enemy came invading Hindustan and everybody has been trembling with fear? Have you not felt any compassion for the mauled people of this land?).
Babar considered this to be a challenge to his authority and imprisoned Guru Nanak ji along with Mardana. However eventually he had to release not only Nanak ji but a number of other prisoners too. Guru Nanak ji lived and carried out his family duties in Kartarpur where farming was his vocation. He departed from this world on the 7th of September 1539 in Kartarpur (now in Pakistan).