Today birthday of Guru Nanak is being celebrated in India and across the world. He was the founder of Sikhism, one of the greatest religions of world. Guru Nanak lived an extraordinary life. He was born in Nankana(Pakistan.) Nankana got its name after Guru Nanak. He spread the message of unity of humanity and fought against superstitions and dogma. He loudly declared “Nah Koi Hindu, Na Musalman.” Which means there is no Hindu or Muslim. He worked all his life to teach love to his fellow human beings. Guru means the dispeller of the darkness and he worked to remove ignorance of contemporary humans. His teachings are needed now more than ever before as various dogmatic people fight over trivial things.
Guru Nanak was an enlightened messenger of God. He travelled through the breadth and length of the country. In those days(15th century) when travelling was not so easy, he not only travelled throughout the country teaching love and unity and dispelling superstition, hatred and darkness but also travelled far outside the country and went to Iraq, Burma, Sri Lanka and Mecca.
I was reading his biography in 2014. When I was about to finish it, Nanak on the death-bed, I bursted out with tears. I felt an overwhelming love for him. Sometimes it is difficult to shed tears for God in love, because God seems so far away, but saints and gurus are bridges between us mortals and supreme, therefore it’s so obvious that we feel a great and sometimes overwhelming love for them.
Legend has it that at the time of Guru Nanak’s death, both hindus and muslims were so much in love with him that they wanted to do last rites of his body as per their own custom. Guru Nanak had predicted his own departure six months in advance and transferred the responsibility to Guru Angad Dev Ji. On the final day he asked them to bring a bedcover and asked everyone to go out of the room. Upon returning to the room after sometime they found only white flowers under the bedcover and his body was gone! Thus even in the final departure he resolved the conflict between hindus and muslims. [ A similar legend is popular about Kabir’s final departure too!]
All true saints are fearless. Guru Nanak was one of the most fearless persons ever known. He never hesitated to fight against injustice and never felt the need of speaking soft words against tyrannical rulers or misguided yogis no matter whether he was in Mecca, in Himalaya or in Benares. In Benares, he witnessed how pundits were making money and misguiding people with superstition. Instead of feeding poor and hungry people we spend money on priests and superstitions.
Guru Nanak had a practical way of attracting attention and teaching by example. In Benares he went to the bank of river Ganges and observed the Pitru Shraddha ceremony. It’s a custom to drop water using your palms in the east direction. It’s believed amongst hindus that such rituals send water to the realm of the dead ancestors known as Pitru Loka and quenches their thirst. He started throwing a lot of water towards the West and created a scene. Many people gathered to see what this strange man was doing and thought he was mad or something. One priest asked him why he was throwing water towards West whereas the custom is to give homage towards East. He told him that he was irrigating his fields in Punjab for better crop. The priest and other people laughed at him and in a mocking tone said that it was childish because his fields were thousands of miles away so his sending water to them was useless. Nanak replied that if it was indeed useless what about sending water to dead ancestors who lived in the realms which were myriads of miles away from that place! They were speechless and learnt their lesson from the saint.
There are many inspiring anecdotes from the great life of Nanak but this post will become too huge so I will leave it here.