Guru Nanak | The First Sikh Guru

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His Life: The Founder of Sikhism

  • Year 1469 – Born in Rai Bhoi Ki Talvandi in Punjab, Pakistan.
  • Year 1487 – Married Mata Sulakkhani.
  • Year 1500 – Started his first journey to different parts of the world.
  • Year 1519 – Traveled parts of Mecca and other middle east regions.
  • Year 1539 – Left for his heavenly abode.

Even Kings and emperors with heaps of wealth and a vast dominion cannot compare with an ant filled with the love of God.”

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism, one of the youngest religions of the world. He was the first of the ten Sikh Gurus whose spiritual teachings laid the foundation of Sikhism. To spread the real message of God, he traveled more than 28,000 Kms on foot with his companion Bhai Mardana.

Childhood

Guru Nanak was born into a middle-class family of a local patwari (accountant) for crop revenue in Rai Bhoi Ki Talvandi in Punjab, Pakistan on April 15, 1469. His father was Kalyan Chand Das Bedi aka Mehta Kalu and mother was Mata Tripta. He used to spend most of his time with his sister Bebe Nanaki, who was five years older than him.

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Nanak was very intelligent and had an interest in divine subjects. For his ‘upanayana’ ritual, he was asked to wear the sacred thread, but he simply refused to wear the thread. When the priest insisted, the young Nanak took everyone by surprise by asking for a thread that is sacred in every sense of the word. He wanted the thread to be made of mercy and contentment and wanted continence and truth to hold the three sacred threads together.

Personal Life

On 24 September 1487 Nanak married Mata Sulakkhani, daughter of Mūl Chand and Chando Rāṇī, in the town of Batala. The couple had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Chand. Sri Chand received enlightenment from Guru Nanak’s teachings and went on to become the founder of the Udasi sect.

Spiritual Journey

Nanak once went to Sultanpur to stay in his sister’s house and started working under his brother-in-law. During his stay, he went to a nearby river every morning to bathe and meditate. One fine day, he went to the river as usual, but did not return for three days. It is believed that Nanak went deep inside the forest and stayed there for three days. When he returned, he looked like a possessed man and did not utter a word. When he finally spoke, he said – There is no Hindu and no Musalman. These words were the beginning of his teachings which would lay the basis of a new religion.

Nanak then came to be known as Guru Nanak as he traveled far and wide to spread his teachings and with these teachings, he founded Sikhism. The religion emphasizes the importance of leading a spiritual life without embracing monasticism. It teaches its followers to escape the clutches of ordinary human traits, such as lust, rage, greed, attachment and conceit (collectively known as the ‘Five Thieves’). Guru Nanak was determined to spread the message of God. He was saddened by the plight of mankind as the world was fast falling prey to the wickedness of Kaliyug. Hence, he decided to travel across the subcontinent to educate the people.

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It is said that he undertook five journeys in his lifetime. Before beginning his first journey, Guru Nanak is believed to have visited his parents to explain to them the importance of his journeys. During his first journey, Guru Nanak covered most parts of present-day India and Pakistan. This journey lasted for seven years and is believed to have taken place between 1500 and 1507 AD. In his second journey, he visited most parts of present-day Sri Lanka. This journey too lasted for about seven years.

In his third journey, Guru Nanak traveled through the difficult terrains of the Himalayas and covered places like Kashmir, Nepal, Tashkent, Tibet and Sikkim. This journey lasted for about five years and took place between 1514 and 1519 AD. He then traveled to places like Mecca and most parts of the Middle East in his fourth journey. This lasted for about three years. In his final journey, which lasted two years, Guru Nanak focused on spreading the message within the region of Punjab. He was accompanied by Bhai Mardana in most of his journey.

Later Life

It is believed that Guru Nanak spent 24 years of his life in his journeys, covering a staggering distance of 28,000 kilometers by foot. Guru Nanak appointed Bhai Lehna as the successor Guru, renaming him as Guru Angad, meaning “one’s very own” or “part of you”. Shortly after proclaiming Bhai Lehna as his successor, he passed away on September 22, 1539 in Kartarpur, at the age of 70.

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