(Last Updated on : 04/09/2009)
Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in the village to Talwandi. Presently the place is known as Nankana in the Sheikhupura district of West Punjab. His parents belonged to Khatri caste. His father Kalu was the Patwari of the village. The early life of Guru Nanak
was spent mainly in Sultanpur.
After attaining the holy enlightenment, Guru Nanak started to spread his message among the common people. He decided to tour as much of the areas as he could and traveled for 23 years in all the four directions of East, West, North and South from Sultanpur. He toured the major holy places of both the Hindu and Islam religions, like Kurukshtra, Haridwar, Ayodhya, Allahabad (historically known as Prayag), Pataliputra (presently known as Patna), Amarnath, Hinglaj, Ajmer, Multan, Mecca and Medina. A Muslim, Mardana accompanied Guru Nanak throughout his entire journey and this established the fact that Nanak never saw any differences between people from different religions. It was in 1496, Guru Nanak received a vision to preach the way of enlightenment and since then he started his mission of spreading a new outlook. His first statement after his prophetic communion with God was "There is no Hindu, nor any Mussalman." This is an announcement of supreme 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 fate. It means love your neighbour as yourself.
The teachings of Guru Nanak
mirrored is philosophical understanding of the omnipresence of the omnipotent. According to his teachings there is one God. He is supreme truth. He is the creator. He is omnipresent. He is not born. He is formless, unseen, infinite, inaccessible, inapprehensible, and pure. His teachings are popular among his followers.
When Guru Nanak completed his four journeys, he came back to Sultanpur and founded a new village named Kartarpur, near Pakho ke Randhawa, the village of his wife`s parents. He started to live their along with his disciples and his disciples followed a particular routine everyday to recite the name of God. They would start the morning with the recitation of fapji and Asa di Vaar, and they would continue with their worldly duties after that. They recited Sodhar and Aarti in the evening. This was in fact a perfect setting for an ideal community in which the teachings of Guru Nanak were being practiced. The people in Kartarpur practiced the teachings like equality, brotherhood, charity, of helping one another and contributing to the life of the community as a whole, while doing their other worldly duties.
Guru Nanak spent a lot of time in looking after his fledgling community and his family also helped him in doing this. Guru Nanak became successful to lay the foundation of a casteless society by starting the institution called Langar
, with the active support of his wife, Mata Sulakhni. Nanak actually elevated the works like preparing meals - cleaning, cooking, serving and finally washing the utensils, to the level of service to the community. The village of Kartarpur quickly became a center for the faithful Sikhs and they were coming in large numbers from faraway places. They also interacted with each other and seek guidance from Guru Nanak. The concept of Sangat and pangat
was also introduced by Guru Nanak as the means to fight against the caste system and inequality that was prevailing in the Indian society at that time. He successfully used these two aspects to spread his idealism among his disciples and also to establish his thoughts effectively. These two are considered as two of the most important and significant aspects of Guru Nanak`s teachings of Sikh faith.
After establishing an equal society in Kartarpur, Guru Nanak then started to look for his successor, who will be carrying his messages to the common people in the upcoming years. He was looking for successor, because he felt that there was still a lot to be done for his mission, as he had laid only the foundation of a new egalitarian faith, and set up a nucleus of a regenerated society. The society was still needed to be nurtured and guided and made stable and self-reliant. Guru Nanak found a devotee named Lehna among all the devotees, who came to Kartarpur and he was quite impressed with Lehna. Lehna also soon became an ardent disciple of Guru Nanak and actively took part in all activities of Langar. Guru Nanak examined the patience and devotion of Lehna and also his two sons, Srichand and Lakhmidas by employing them in various laborious works, before finally selecting his successor. Nanak eventually selected Bhai Lehna as his successor and named him Guru Angad after passing him the responsibilities to take forward his mission. Thus, Guru Nanak founded the base of a religion that had traveled a long journey so far and is flourishing in its own till today. Guru Nanak left his earthly abode on 7th September, 1539, at the age of seventy.