"However well i know him,
he cannot be described.
He cannot be expressed by words.
The guru is the secret that solves the riddle.
He is the benefactor of all.
Let me never forget him."
- SRI GURU NANAK DEV JI
Before Guru Nanak departed for his heavenly abode in 1539, his name had travelled not only throughout India's north, south, east and west, but also far beyond into Arabia, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Afghanistan, Turkey, Burma and Tibet. As Guru's Birth Anniversary (also called "Guru Nanak Jayanti") is lunar linked, it celebrated on the full moon in November. The event was celebrated on 15 November in 2005; 5 November in 2006; 24 November in 2007; 13 November in 2008; 2 November 2009; 21 November 2010; and will be celebrated on 10 November 2011, 28 November 2012, 17 November 2013 6 November 2014, 25 November 2015, 14 November 2016, 4 November 2017, 23 November 2018, 12 November 2019 and 30 November 2020.
The name "Nanak" was used by all subsequent Gurus who wrote any sacred text in the Sikh Holy Scripture called the Guru Granth Sahib. So the second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad is also called the "Second Nanak" or "Nanak II". It is believed by the Sikhs that all subsequent Gurus carried the same message as that of Guru Nanak and so they have used the name "Nanak" in their holy text instead of their own name and hence are all referred to as the "Light of Nanak."
Guru Nanak also called Satguru Nanak, Baba Nanak, Nanak Shah Faqir, Bhagat Nanak, Nanak Kalandar etc. by different people of religions and Cults. The Sikhs believe that all subsequent Gurus possessed Guru Nanak’s divinity and religious authority, and were named "Nanak" in the line of succession.
ਸੁਣੀ ਪੁਕਾਰ ਦਾਤਾਰ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਗ ਮਾਹਿ ਪਠਾਇਆ || ਚਰਨ ਧੋਇ ਰਹਰਾਸਿ ਕਰਿ ਚਰਣਾਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਪੀਲਾਇਆ ||
ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਪੂਰਨ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਅੰਦਰ ਇਕ ਦਿਖਾਇਆ || ਚਾਰੇ ਪੈਰ ਧਰਮ ਦੇ ਚਾਰਿ ਵਰਨ ਇਕ ਵਰਨੁ ਕਰਾਇਆ ||
ਰਾਣਾ ਰੰਕ ਬਰਾਬਰੀ ਪੈਰੀ ਪਵਣਾ ਜਗਿ ਵਰਤਾਇਆ | ਉਲਟਾ ਖੇਲੁ ਪਿਰੰਮ ਦਾ ਪੈਰਾਂ ਉਪਰਿ ਸੀਸ ਨਿਵਾਇਆ ||
ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਬਾਬੇ ਤਾਰਿਆ ਸਤਿਨਾਮੁ ਪੜ੍ਹਿ ਮੰਤ੍ਰ ਸੁਣਾਇਆ || ਕਲਿ ਤਾਰਣਿ ਗੁਰੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਆਇਆ ||੨੩|| ਵਾਰ ੧ ||
The Provider Lord listened to the cries, Guru Nanak descended into this world.
Washing His feet and praising God, he got his Sikhs to drink the ambrosial nectar.
In this Dark Age, he showed all gods to be just one.
The four feet of Dharma, the four castes were converted into one.
Equality of the King and beggar, he spread the custom of being humble.
Reversed is the game of the beloved; the egotist high heads bowed to the feet.
Baba Nanak rescued this Dark Age; read ‘satnam’ and recited the mantar.
Guru Nanak came to redeem this Dark Age of Kaljug. Bhai Gurdas - Vaar 1 pauri 23
Guru Nanak’s path was, is and will ever remain decorated with endless rows of true flowers; he realised God by singing virtues of God and following a life of true deeds. Guru Nanak did not practise normal Hindu austerities, meditation or yoga; he only sang in the beautiful poetic forms of the time. Singing, often extemporaneously, with all his heart and soul, so much so that his singing became his meditation, his purification and his yugam (yoking ones self to the almighty, to Satguru. This was Nanak’s path; decorated with true flowers of song, songs of glory and praise of the Almighty Lord.
Whatever he has said was said in verse straight from GOD. His blissful and mesmerizing songs are not those of an ordinary singer; they have sprung from within one who has known. There is the ring of truth, the reflection of God within them. It is these songs, songs of love and expressions of truthfulness and worship, along with the songs of Guru Nanak's nine successors, that form the eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib.
Let mercy be the cotton, contentment the thread,
Continence the knot and truth the twist.
Oh priest! if you have such a thread,
Do give it to me.
It will not wear out, nor get soiled, nor be burnt, nor lost.
Says Nanak, blessed are those who go about wearing such a thread.
Guru Nanak's Life at Sultanpur
Nanak married Sulkhni of Batala, and they had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. Guru ji's brother-in-law, the husband of his sister Nanki, obtained a job for him in Sultanpur as the manager of the government's grainary. One morning, when he was twenty-eight, he went as usual down to the river to bathe and meditate. It was said that he was gone for three days. When he reappeared, filled with the spirit of God, it was apparent to all that he was a changed man. He would say nothing, he quit his job and distributed all that he had to the poor. Accompanied by his childhood friend, a Muslim named Mardana who had always played the Rebab while Nanak sang, they left town. When, after a few days, he spoke saying "There is no Hindu, no Musalman." It was then that Guru Nanak began his missionary work and travels.
As a householder, Guru ji continued to carry out the mission of his life – to lead people on the true path to God, to dispel superstition, to bring people out of ritualistic practises, to lead them directly to follow Gurbani without the need for priests and clergy, and to restrain and guard against the five thieves within – Pride, Anger, Greed, Attachment and Lust.
Guru Nanak founded and formalised the three pillars of Sikhism:
1. Naam Japna, Guru ji led the Sikhs directly to practise Simran and Naam Japna – meditation on God through reciting, chanting, singing and constant remembrance followed by deep study & comprehension of God’s Name and virtues. In real life to practice and tread on the path of Dharam (righteousness) - The inner thought of the Sikh thus stays constantly immersed in praises and appreciation of the Creator and the ONE ETERNAL GOD Waheguru.
2. Kirat Karni, He expected the Sikhs to live as honourable householders and practise Kirat Karni – To honestly earn by ones physical and mental effort while accepting both pains and pleasures as GOD's gifts and blessings. One is to stay truthful at all times and, fear none but the Eternal Super Soul. Live a life founded on decency immersed in Dharam - life controlled by high spiritual, moral and social values.
3. Vand Chakna, The Sikhs were asked to share their wealth within the community by practising Vand Chakna – “Share and Consume together”. The community or Sadh Sangat is an important part of Sikhism. One must be part of a community that is living the flawless objective values set out by the Sikh Gurus and every Sikh has to contribute in whatever way possible to the common community pool. This spirit of Sharing and Giving is an important message from Guru Nanak.
History states that he made four great journeys, travelling to all parts of India, and into Arabia and Persia; visiting Mecca and Baghdad. He spoke before Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Parsees, and Muslims. He spoke in the temples and mosques, and at various pilgrimage sites. Wherever he went, Guru Nanak spoke out against empty religious rituals, pilgrimages, the caste system, the sacrifice of widows, of depending on books to learn the true religion, and of all the other tenets that were to define his teachings. Never did he ask his listeners to follow him. He asked the Muslims to be true Muslims and the Hindus to be true Hindus.
After the last of his great journeys, Guru Nanak tried a new experiment - he asked a wealthy follower to donate a large tract of land . Here he built a town calling it Kartapur (in Punjab) on the banks of the Ravi where he taught for another fifteen years. Followers from all over came to settle in Kartapur to listen, and sing, and be with him. During this time, although his followers still remained Hindu, Muslim, or of the religion to which they were born, they became known as the Guru's disciples, or sikhs. It was here his followers began to refer to him as teacher, or guru. The Guru told his followers that they were to be householders and could not live apart from the world -- there were to be no priests or hermits. Here is where the Guru instituted the common meal, requiring the rich and poor, Hindu and Muslim, high caste and low caste, to sit together while eating. All worked together, all owned the town. Here is where Lehna, later to be Guru Angad, came to be with Guru Nanak.
To this day in Gurdwaras from the Punjab around the world to California's Yuba City people of all religions and creeds can enjoy a wonderful evening of beautiful song, music and of course a hot friendly meal.
A well known legend, when Nanak met Babur (1483-1530) the Emperor of India offered him a shared pipe of [Bhang], Nanak replied that he had a bhang whose wonderful effects never wore off. Inquiring of Nanak where he could find such wonderful bhang - Nanak declined the emperor's offer, saying GOD the [SAT GURU] was his bhang.
As the end approached Guru Nanak would frequently test the devotion of his sons and nearest followers and in doing so demonstrate their state of mind to one another. There were numerous such occasions and one particular devotee, Bhai Lehna, rose to eminence because he never faltered in his faith in Guru Nanak.
Guru Nanak was married to Mata Sulakhni at about 19 years of age. His marriage to her took place in the town of Batala. The marriage party had come from the town of Sultanpur Lodhi. The couple had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Chand.
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 the next Guru, Nanak died on 22 September 1539 in Kartarpur, at the age of 69.
Bhai Gurdas Ji Vars p.1
The benefactor Lord listened to the cries (of humanity) and sent Guru Nanak to this word.
He washed His feet, eulogized God and got his Disciples drink the ambrosia of his feet.
He preached in this darkage (kaliyug) that, saragun (Brahm) and nirgun (Parbrahm) are the same and identical.
Dharma was now established on its four feet and all the four castes (through fraternal feelings)
were converted into one caste (of humanity).
Equating the poor with the prince, he spread the etiquette of humbly touching the feet.
Inverse is the game of the beloved; he got the egotist high heads bowed to feet.
Baba Nanak rescued this dark age (kaliyug) and recited 'satinam' mantr for one and all.
Guru Nanak came to redeem the kaliyug.
Remember when you gaze on Sri Guru Nanak Sahib,
He gazes on you. When you behold Him,
He the All-Merciful Lord, casts his glance of mercy on you and when you contemplate and meditate on Him, the All-Loving Guru, out of Compassion accepts you in His Holy folds.In this holy process, the Great Jagat Guru (The Enlightener of the word) leads you from Darkness to Light, from Death to Life Eternal.
Wishing All A Happy Guru Nanak Jayanti!
May Baba ji Bless us All.