Jyoti jot Purab Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji
On September 22- 1539, Guru Nanak Dev ji at the age of 70, left this world for heavenly abode.
There is popular folklore about his demise that his Hindu followers wanted to cremate the remains while the Muslim followers wanted to bury the body as per Islamic traditions. However on raising the cloth under which the Guru's body lay, some fresh flowers were found which were shared between his followers. The Hindus cremated their flowers whereas the Muslims buried theirs. This shows that he was equally respected and loved by both communities following totally different religious paths.
A tablet with the following inscription was found in 1916 in Baghdad , "In memory of the Guru, the holy Baba Nanak, King of holy men, this monument has been raised with the help of the seven saints." The date on the tablet - 927 Hijri corresponds to A.D. 1520-1521.
Guru Nanak was born on 15th April, 1469 at Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi(now called Nankana Sahib in Pakistan )
He spent last fifteen years of his life in Kartarpur. He used to follow his routine like a common man devoted to GOD and performing his duties as head of family to set an example for others to follow. Kirt karo, vand chhako,Naam japo were the principles of his life, which became three pillars of Sikhism
. He worked in fields, maintained Langar (free kitchen) to provide food for hungry travelers who could stay overnight during their onward journey.
The basic concept of Ghar-Ghar undar dharamsaal (every house-a place to stay for travelers/pilgrims) was put in practice by him.
He had distinct sense of his GOD oriented mission when he spoke addressing Bhai Lalo, a devoted Sikh who was poor and used to work hard and serve the poor and travelers, remembering God all the time. Guru said,” As the words of Lord come to me, so I express. O Lalo understand these words in that sense only.”
Guru Nanak recognized GOD as guide and enlightener. Following this concept he started preaching a new religion altogether to create brotherhood amongst people of the world whose father(caretaker) was one GOD. He strongly condemned the rituals and false priesthood right from his childhood when he refused to wear janeu (a sacred thread worn by Hindus)
Further he visited Hardwar a pilgrimage place of Hindus to break the ages old useless rituals of throwing Ganga (river) water to the departed souls of their ancestors. He visited Mecca the sacred place of Muslims to clear their doubts about who is better Muslim or Hindu? The answer Guru Nanak had was unexpected. Guru said that without good deeds both would repent.
He also proved that through meaningful dialogue one could express opinions openly when he held discussions with SIDHAS (saints who claimed that they had extraordinary powers to do anything they wished/ liked)
Guru Nanak asked them straight questions that if they could do anything then why don't they go down to towns/villages and remove the grief and poverty from the world?
Sidhas were quite impressed by his logical arguments and asked him who was his Guru? Guru Nanak replied that his Guru was SHABAD (words of guidance from the GOD Himself) He further explained that Shabad is timeless and ever living. The details of this discussion is included in Guru Granth Sahib (page-938)
974 hymns of Guru Nanak are included in Guru Granth Sahib. His exclusive Gurbani Japuji sahib is said to be the summary of Guru Granth's philosophy.
Numerous stories and folklore are connected with his logical approach that brought major changes in social and religious setups in Asian region. He traveled thousands of miles to various places in the world countries.
He set out in 1499 on his mission for the regeneration of humanity on this earth. He carried the torch of truth, heavenly love, peace and joy for mankind. For one year he spread his message of peace, compassion, righteousness and truth to the people belonging to the neighboring areas.
In 1500, he traveled on his Holy Mission and went towards east, west, north and south and visited various centers of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sufis, Yogis, saints and Sidhas. He met people of different religions, tribes, cultures and races. He used to travel with his Muslim companion Bhai Mardana, a minstrel who accompanied him everywhere with his string instrument called Rabaab . His travels are called Udasis. In his first Udasi (travel), Guru Nanak covered east of India and returned home after spending about six years. Thus the roots of Sikhism were laid down first towards the east of India .
According to the Puratan Janamsakhi, which is one of the oldest account of the life history of Guru Nanak states that Guru Ji undertook five missionary journeys (udasi) to far away places like Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Mecca, Baghdad, Kamroop (Assam), and Tashkent etc. Guru ji traveled far and wide to spread the word of Gurbani and covered most of India , present day Bangladesh , Pakistan , Tibet , Nepal , Bhutan , South West China, Afghanistan , Iran , Iraq , Saudi Arabia , West Egypt , Israel , Jordan , Syria , Kazakhstan , Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan , Tajikistan , and Kyrgyzstan .
He identified the moral problems of his time. These were caste, creed and class distinctions. He felt that the immoral institutions, of property and wealth, poverty and scarcity of food could be substituted and replaced only by setting up of better and new institutions. Guru Nanak believed that while it is essential to elevate man internally, it is equally necessary to uplift the fallen and the downtrodden in actual life. Because, the ultimate test of one's spiritual progress is the kind of moral life one leads in the social field.
The Guru took up political issues as well, spoke for poor and stood up for the rights of the downtrodden. He publicly criticized and spoke against the cruelty of the then ruler of India Babur who made him a political prisoner. Later the Emperor realized that what he did was wrong. During those times when terror was let lose on public by Babur Guru Nanak recited couplets of Gurbani complaining to GOD as to why HE could not feel the pain when such atrocities were taking place?( Sri Guru Granth-page360)
Even in the end before he left this world he decided to make his successor not any one out of his two sons as the tradition was, but his true devotee who could interpret and pursue the new religious philosophy of Guru Nanak. Thus Guru Nanak himself transformed Bhai Lehna, who used to be devotee of mythological Goddesses, the second Guru Angad Dev as his successor.