Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in 1469 in Talwandi, a village in the Sheikhpur district, 65 Kms. west of Lahore. His father was a village official in the local revenue administration. As a boy, Sri Guru Nanak learnt, besides the regional languages, Persian & Arabic. He was married in 1487 and was blessed with two sons, one in 1494 and second in 1497.
In 1485, he took up, at the instance of his brother-in-law, the appointment of an official in charge of the stores of Daulat Khan Lodhi, the muslim ruler of the area at Sultanpur. It is there that he came into contact with Mardana, a muslim minstrel(Mirasi) who was senior in age.Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in 1469 in Talwandi, a village in the Sheikhpur district, 65 Kms. west of Lahore.
Nanak was an extra-ordinary and diffrent child in many ways. God provided him with contemplative mind and rational thinking. At the age of 7, he learnt Hindi and Sanskrit. He surprised his teachers with the sublimity of his extra-ordinary knowledge about divine things. At the age of 13, he learned Persian and Sanskrit and at the age of 16, he was the most learned young man in the region. He was married to Mata Sulakhani Ji, who gave birth to two sons-Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. In November 1504, Guru Nanak’s elder sister Nanki Ji took him to Sultanpurlodhi where her husband Jai Ram Ji got him the job of store keeper in the modi khana of the local Nawab, Daulat Khan Lodhi
At the age of 38,in August 1505,Guru Nanak Sahib heard God’s call to dedicate himself to the service of humanity after bathing in “vain nadi” (a small river) Near Sultanpur lodhi.The very first sentence which he ‘uttered then was,”there is no Hindu,no Musalman”.This is an announcement of supream significance it declared not only the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of god,but also his clear and primary interest not in any metaphysical doctrine but only in man and his faith. It means love your neighbour as yourself .In addition,it emphasised,simultaneously the inalienable spirituo-moral combination of his message Henow undertook long travels to preach his unique divine doctrine (Sikhism).after visiting different places in Punjab, he decided to proceed on four long tours covering different religious places in India and abroad. These tours are called Char Udasis of Guru Nanak Sahib.
During the four journeys, Guru Nanak Sahib visited different religious places preaching Sikhism. He went to Kurukshetra, Haridwar, Joshi Math, Ratha Sahib, Gorakh Matta (Nanak Matta), Audhya, Prayag, Varanasi, Gaya, Patna, Dhubri and Gauhati in Assam, Dacca, Puri, Cuttock, Rameshwaram, Ceylon, Bidar, Baroach, Somnath, Dwarka, Janagarh, Ujjain, Ajmer, Mathura, Pakpattan, Talwandi, Lahore, Sultanpur, Bilaspur, Rawalsar, Jawalaji, Spiti Vally, Tibet, Ladakh, Kargil, Amarnath, Srinagar and Baramula.
Guru Nanak Sahib also paid visit to Muslim holy places. In this regard he went to Mecca, Medina, Beghdad via Multan, Peshawar Sakhar, Son Miani, Hinglaj etc. Some accounts say that Guru Sahib reached Mecca by sea-route. Guru Sahib also visited Syra, Turkey and Tehran (the present capital of Iran). From Tehran Guru Sahib set out on the caravan route and covered Kabul, Kandhar and Jalalabad. The real aim of the tour was awakening the people to realize the truth about God and to introduce Sikhism. He established a network of preaching centres of Sikhism which were called “Manjis”. He appointed able and committed followers as its head (preacher of Sikhism). The basic tenents of Sikhism were wilfully conceived by the people from all walks of life. The seeds of Sikhism were sown all over India and abroad in well-planned manner.
In the year 1520, Babar attacked India. His troops slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians of all walks of life. Women and children were made captives and all their property looted at Amiabad. Guru Nanak Sahib challenged this act of barbarity in strong words. He was arrested and released, shortly after making Babar realising his blunder. All the prisoners were also released.
Guru Nanak Sahib settled down at Kartarpur city (now in Pakistan) which was founded by him in 1522 and spent the rest of his life there (1522-1539). There was daily Kirtan and the institution of Langar (free kitchen) was introduced. . He dined and lived with men of the lowest castes and classes Considering the then prevailing cultural practices and traditions, this was something socially and religiously unheard of in those days of rigid Hindu caste system sanctioned by the scriptures and the religiously approved notions of untouchability and pollution. Knowing that the end was drawing near, Guru Nanak Sahib, after testing his two sons and some followers, installed Bhai Lehna ji (Guru Angad Sahib) as the Second Nanak in 1539, and after a few days passed into Sachkhand on 22nd September, 1539.
Thus ended the wordly journey of this god-gifted Master (Guru) of mankind. He rejected the path of renunciation Tyaga or Yoga, the authority of the Vedas and the Hindu caste system. Guru Nanak Sahib emphasized the leading of householder’s life (Grista), unattached to gross materialism. The services of mankind Sewa, Kirtan, Satsang and faith in ‘One’ Omnipotent God are the basic concepts of Sikhism established by Guru Nanak Sahib. Thus he laid the foundations of Sikhism. He preached new idea of God as Supreme, Universal, All-powerful and truthful. God is Formless (Nirankar), the Sole, the Creator, the self-existent, the Incomprehensible and the Ever-lasting and the creator of all things (Karta Purakh). God is infinite, All knowing, True, All-giver, Nirvair, and Omnipotent. He is Satnam, the Eternal and Absolute Truth.
As a social reformer Guru Nanak Sahib upheld the cause of women, downtrodden and the poors. He attacked the citadel of caste system of Hindus and theocracy of Muslim rulers. He was a born poet. He wrote 947 hyms comprising Japji Sahib, Asa-Di-Var, Bara-Mah, Sidh-Gosht, Onkar (Dakhani) and these were included in Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Arjan Sahib. He was also a perfect musician. He with the company of Bhai Mardana composed such tunes in various Indian classical Ragas that charmed and tawed wild creatures like Babar, subdued saging kings, raved bigots and tyrants, made thugs and robbers saints. He was a reformer as well as a revolutionary. God had endowed him with a contemplative mind and pious disposition. Guru Arjan Sahib called him “the image of God, nay, God Himself”.