Guru Nanak was the founder of the Sikh religion and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. He was a prominent figure in Punjab in the 15th century. His parents were Hindus, residing in the present –day Nankana Sahib, Pakistan.
They were merchants by profession. According to Sikh traditions, he showed signs since his childhood that he was a gifted child, who would play a remarkable role in his life. After reaching adulthood, he began traveling to decipher the reality of this world by inquiring and comparing the teachings of different religions.
He is said to have traveled to Mount Sumeru, of Indian mythology, as well as to Mecca, Baghdad, and Multan. These journeys expand over a course of thirty years. He used to debate with the followers of other religions regarding their ideas about life and the ultimate reality. These journeys are known as “Udasis”. Nanak’s teachings can be found in the Sikh scripture known as “Granth Sahib”, which is a collection of verses in Gurmukhi Language.
He contributed 974 verses to the holy book of the Sikh religion. There are two competing theories about his teachings. One states that they are a revelation from God. The other states that Nanak is a guru. He is neither perceived as a God nor a Prophet but as an illuminated soul. The fundamental beliefs of the Sikhs involve faith in “One Creator”, the unity of mankind, selfless service of others, social justice, good conduct, and livelihood. Guru Nanak and other gurus highlighted that spiritual and daily life are mingled together and must be considered as one.
According to some Sikhs, Guru Nanak was of the view that “This earthly life is connected to the spiritual life. The more one is spiritually aware, the more he participates in the worldly matters because both are part of the same reality”. Guru’s viewpoint about life was to live a dynamic, innovative and practical life. The virtues of sincerity, faithfulness, self-control, and righteousness are considered higher than the conceptual or spiritual world.
The Sikh followers praise their “Guru” or ‘teacher’ by chanting “Wah Hey Guru” meaning ‘The marvelous Lord who helps to free one from the darkness of ignorance and to enter the light of knowledge.
Due to the peaceful and eye-opening teachings of Guru Nanak Sahib that Sikhism spread to the masses. About 27 million Sikhs are present today who follow the footsteps of this great sage. His shrine is visited by Sikhs from all over the world.
Writer: Waqar Younis Peerzada
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