Through Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji embodies the true light on the path of spirituality for a common man. His teachings will continue to be relevant for times to come and remain an Eternal Source of light for the entire mankind


Madhumati Bhaskarwar & Rajendra Chadha  

Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji was born at a time when Muslim aggression was at its peak. Religious intolerance was rife. It was the time when the country was going through a massive socio-political turmoil. The Lodhis, the Pathans and later invaders like Babar were causing a lot of sufferings to the Hindus.
The sufferings of the Hindus saddened Guru Nanak Dev ji when he said,
“The age is a dagger, the rulers the butchers, Dharma has taken wings and flown away.
The amavasya or darkness of falsehood reigns supreme.
No one can see the moon of truth.”
At such a time, the teachings of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji appeared as a rising full moon on the horizon of Bharat to dispel the darkness.
“Sadguru Nanak pargateya miti dhund jag chanan hoya”
When Hindu idols were damaged and temples were being demolished ruthlessly, guided by the Upanishads He reminded Hindus of the shapeless i.e. Nirakar, timeless i.e. Anant and the invisible God. He reiterated that God is one.
“Ek Omkar Sat Nam Karta Purukh,
Nirmoh, Nirvair, Akaal Murat,
Ajooni sabham, Gur Parshad
That is, there is one God, His name is Truth. He is the Creator,
All pervading, without fear, without enmity, whose existence is unaffected by time,
Who does not take birth and is self existent, it is through God’s grace (that we realise Him). He asked people to worship God in His spirit by constantly meditating on His name and realising His presence in every place and at all times.
Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji, with His light of wisdom, inspired people to dispel the five dark spots in the path of spirituality namely lust, greed, wrath, attachment and ego. He rightly called them ‘Panj Chor ‘or Five Thieves and asked everyone to keep them away.
Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji showed the simplest path of jap i.e. chanting God’s name in order to overcome the confusion and chaos in one’s life. We can call Him the first Hindu reformer of modern times who tried to emancipate the Hindu mind completely from the fetters of mythology. He emphatically asserted that the Brahmins and the Mullahs followed religion like a profession and therefore cannot be true guides to the truth. It is like a blind leading the blind. For this, Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji encouraged everyone to become Gurmukh i.e. turn towards the Guru, the perfect one. He provided solace to the then demoralised, somewhat disappointed and seemingly helpless Hindu by explaining to him that one has to live under God’s Will or Hukam.
The word ‘Hukam’ is derived from Persian ‘Hukm’ meaning command or order. However,’ Hukam of the Lord ‘or the ‘Divine Will ‘has become the very basic concept of the Sikh faith.
Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji says:
“How can one become pure?
How can the veil of illusion be torn away?
O Nanak! walk-in His Hukam, it is written in your destiny.”
Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji further went on to show another illuminated yet simple path of practising religion in the true sense of the word, through Nishkam Seva i.e. true selfless service. The concept of ‘Guru Langar’ or the community kitchen brought about a revolution in the way the society perceived fellow human beings. Feeding each and every human being irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, gender, colour or age, lit a small yet bright light in the mind of every single individual that enabled them to see God in each other. This, in turn, illuminated the entire society at large.
Fortunately, this practice of selfless service, as a way to attain God and seek His blessings has become an integral part of the rich tradition of the Sikh Faith. It is followed even today with utmost sincerity across the globe, spreading Shri Guru Nanak’s light to every nook and corner of the world. Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji truly believed God to be the sole Father of all human beings.
“Ek pita ekas ke ham barik”
He not only propounded this idea but also established organisations and institutions such as Dharamshalas, Sangat, Pangat (Langar) and preached by setting examples.
Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji believed in social equality and treated all human beings as one when he said.
“Manas ki jaat sabhe ekay pehechanibo”
He also worked for the equality of woman and her emancipation.
“So kyo manda aakhiye jit jamme raajan” meaning Why call her bad? From her are born, the kings.
He had a very special place for the downtrodden of the society, in His heart. He said:
Neecha andar neech jaat,
Neechi hu aati neech,
Nanak tin kai sang saath,
Vadiyan sio kia rees.
Which means, Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji is the companion of the lowest of the low and of the condemned lot. He has nothing in common with the high born.
Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji was well aware of the prevailing political scenario and the condition of the society, the sufferings of the people due to the gross lack of political freedom. He strongly condemned the malpractices existing in the political system and once again preached by setting an example. Guru Nanak Dev ji strongly affirmed ‘Takhat raja so bahe je Takhat layak hoyi ‘that means he alone should sit on the throne who is fit to rule.
He firmly believed that both political and spiritual (miri and piri) are vested in the Guru, the Perfect Being. It is from this Guru that it transcends into the elect Sangat, the Panth and the Khalsa. He said that the ultimate goal should be to create a kingdom of Gods on earth, a Ram Raj as he called it, through the Raj yogis, the philosopher kings. In this respect, He fully agreed with Plato that ‘Until kings are philosophers or philosophers are kings, cities will never cease from ill, nor the human race, nor will our ideal polity ever come into being.’ Guru Nanak Dev ji might have said the same as ‘until Gurmukhs are kings or kings are Gurmukhs, cities will never cease from ill.’
Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji himself set an example as He did not pass his ‘gaddi’ to his sons Srichand or Lakshmichand. Instead, keeping His words ‘Takhat raja so bahe je Takhat layak hoyi’, he handed it over to his colleague Lehna, who He named Ang-da meaning “of my own limb” son. In this way He completely dismissed dynastic rule. Angad furthered the teachings of Shri Guru Nanak Dev of Kirt karo, Nam japo, Vand chhako (work, pray, share and eat).
This example set by Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji is still relevant when our politicians have become synonymous with selfishness, greed and myopia. The light shown by Him, if followed, can pave the way for a clean and able leadership for the generations to come. This, in turn, can bring a sea change in the overall socio-political scene of present times. Besides the dynastic rule, Guru Nanak Dev ji also strongly condemned the injustice, bribery and the ruthless behaviour of the contemporary rulers.
Shri Guru Nanak Dev said:
There is no one who receives or gives no bribe.
If a man makes a request for God’s sake, nobody hears him.
Nanak! men now a days are men only in shape and name.
Modesty and religion have
vanished, falsehood marches in the vain People sing the paean of murder and smear themselves with saffron of blood.
Shri Nanak Dev ji’s teachings aimed at encouraging everyone to lead an ideal socio-political life that is coupled with spirituality. He also spread the light of bhakti among the common people. Even before Guru Nanak Dev ji many saints and poets have tried to introduce music along with the musical instruments, as an integral part of devotion. He also used many Raags, Ramkali being his favourite, to express himself in devotion. He too promoted Kirtan but with a difference. He presented it with a new orientation and a specific metaphysical purpose. Kirtan according to Him is not dualistic but monistic. It is not mechanical singing of divine compositions that is singing without entering into the spirit and understanding their meaning or their true significance.
Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji states in Rag Asa:
“Raag Naad nahi dooja bhao,
Et rang naachoh rakh rakh pao,
Bhao feri hove man cheet,
Behediya uthdiya neeta neet”
That means, it is not Raag Naad if there is in mind someone else other than God,
With mind thus attuned, dance keeping the steps in tune with the infinite,
With the fear of God in mind is the real tuning of the dance,
And such fear should be always in mind daily while rising or sitting down.
What an excellent light for walking on the path of morality! Humanity will always need a guiding light like this to remain upright and righteous. The preachings of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji are compiled in several books that include Japuji, Siddh Gosht, Dakhani Omkar, Asa di Vaar and Bara Maaha. The very approach of Japuji itself is scientific in nature. The purpose of Japuji is to arrive at and see the vision of reality and the process adopted resembles the scientific method of thought as we know today.
First, the real problem is postulated--“How shall then the truth be attained and the veil of falsehood demolished or removed”? Then the Guru proceeds step by step to show the way. He exposes the futility of mechanical form of thought or worship and sets us thinking for ourselves. Religious queries are addressed one by one.
Through Japuji, Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji gives us a vision of the Divine Being and how to be in tune with Him. The true spirit of our Vedas that say “Aa no bhadraa kratavo yantu vishvataha” that is “let noble thoughts come to us from all sides” is manifested in Shri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh faith as it incorporates the valuable teachings of saints and seers coming from different faiths and beliefs. Through Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji embodies the true light on the path of spirituality for a common man. His teachings will continue to be relevant for times to come and remain an Eternal Source of light for the entire mankind.
(Madhumati Bhaskarwar is an academician & Rajendra Chadha is a national team member of the Prajna Pravah)