Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Short Glimpse at the Life of Guru Nanak Ji

A special a article I have written in tribute to my SatGuru, marking Dhan Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Prakash Utsav (Birth date anniversary) gurpurb:

 Social Revolution: Rejection of the 'Janeoo'
At the age of nine, when Pandit Hardyal asked the Guru Nanak Ji to put on Janeoo (’sacred‘ thread), he refused to have the thread that discriminated amongst humanity and represented the caste system. The Janeoo, which was made of the silk for a Brahman (Hindu priests), of cotton for a Khatri (Hindu warrior), of wool for a Vanish (Hindu skilled worker), and which was strictly forbidden for Shudr (so called ‘untouchables‘ or lower castes). And, again which is twisted with three folds for a Brahman, two folds for a Khatri and only one fold for a Vaish. He asked the Pandit if he had the thread made of compassion the cotton, contentment the yarn, continence the knot and purity the twist, he was ready to wear it. The Pandit was dumb-founded. Guru Ji says on Ang 471 in Sri Granth Sahib Ji in Aasa Raag:
ਦਇਆ ਕਪਾਹ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸੂਤੁ ਜਤੁ ਗੰਢੀ ਸਤੁ ਵਟੁ ॥
Make compassion the cotton, contentment the thread, modesty the knot and truth the twist. ਏਹੁ ਜਨੇਊ ਜੀਅ ਕਾ ਹਈ ਤ ਪਾਡੇ ਘਤੁ ॥
This is the sacred thread of the soul; if you have it, then go ahead and put it on me.

ਨਾ ਏਹੁ ਤੁਟੈ ਨਾ ਮਲੁ ਲਗੈ ਨਾ ਏਹੁ ਜਲੈ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥

It does not break, it cannot be soiled by filth, it cannot be burnt, or lost.

ਧੰਨੁ ਸੁ ਮਾਣਸ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜੋ ਗਲ ਚਲੇ ਪਾਇ ॥

Blessed are those mortal beings, O Nanak, who wear such a thread around their necks.

Guru Nanak Sahib Ji rejected the Brahman’s Janeoo (sacred thread). This was no normal act. Guru Ji overthrew the caste system by defying the Janeoo which was an embodiment and represented the ideology of the caste system and social division. Guru Sahib showed us that we must ‘what is the purpose’ of things. Blind practices and blind faith should be addressed. If we do not understand the purpose and meaning of something, then how will appreciate it?

Divine Revelation - SachKhand Darshan
In 1499, Guru Nanak Sahib Sahib Ji, at the age of 30, had a divine revelation, which is recorded in Maajh Ki Vaar on Ang 150 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji:


ਹਉ ਢਾਢੀ ਵੇਕਾਰੁ ਕਾਰੈ ਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਰਾਤਿ ਦਿਹੈ ਕੈ ਵਾਰ ਧੁਰਹੁ ਫੁਰਮਾਇਆ ॥

I was free of work, when Waheguru took me into His service and gave the (true) work of being ’Dhadi’ (minstrel). Right from the start, Waheguru gave me His Hukam (Order) to sing His Praises day and night.

ਢਾਢੀ ਸਚੈ ਮਹਿਲ ਖਸਿਮ ਬੁਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਸਚੀ ਸਿਫਿਤ ਸਾਲਾਹ ਕਪੜਾ ਪਾਇਆ ॥

Waheguru, my Lord and Master summoned me, His Dhadi (minstrel) (meaning, when he joined to Praise His Praises), to the True Mansion of His Presence. (Waheguru) The image of True Praise and Glory, gave me the Siropaao (Siropa), robe of honour.

ਸਚਾ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਭੋਜਨੁ ਆਇਆ ॥ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਖਾਧਾ ਰਜਿ ਤਿਨਿ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥

The Amrit Naam, the True Name, which gives eternal giver of spiritual life, (given by Him) has become my food (for my soul‘s support). Those who follow the Guru's Teachings, who eat this food (of ‘Amrit Naam’) with satisfaction, obtain peace.

ਢਾਢੀ ਕਰੇ ਪਸਾਉ ਸਬਦੁ ਵਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਚੁ ਸਾਲਾਹਿ ਪੂਰਾ ਪਾਇਆ ॥27॥ ਸੁਧੁ ॥

His Dhadi, minstrel, (Guru Nanak Dev Ji), spreads His Glory, singing and vibrating the Word of His Shabad (meaning, enjoying the ecstasy of Naam) O Nanak! Praising the True Lord, one obtains the Perfect Lord. 27.Sudh.

First meeting with Bhai Lehna
The first meeting with Bhai Lehna Ji (who later becomes the Second Nanak, and renamed [Guru] ‘Angad’ Ji) is truly remarkable. Bhai Lehna Ji was a rich man, and he sought Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s darshan, blessed vision. He travelled to Kartarpur Sahib on horse, and saw a man who he thought he would approach and ask where Guru Ji’s House was. He stopped. Talking while sitting on the horse, Bhai Lehna Ji asked, “Excuse me, do you know where the House of Guru Nanak is?” “Yes,” replied the man. He held the rope of the horse and guided Bhai Lehna Ji on his horse to the house. “Here you go, this is Guru Nanak’s House.”
Bhai Lehna Ji then asked, “Do you know where I can find Guru Nanak?” To this the man replied, “I am [Guru] Nanak.” Hearing this Bhai Lehna Ji jumped off his horse and fell at Guru Nanak Ji’s feet.

How humbling to hear this Saakhi (account). So what do we learn from this incident. Firstly, that dialogue with the Guru is nothing physical or not to do with how your perceive things. Secondly, even when you think you are the biggest person, be careful how you operate.

Udaasis - Long Journeys
Guru Arjan Dev Ji says on Ang 615 in Guru Granth Sahib Ji, in Sorath Raag:
ਗੋਸਟਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਸੁਣਿ ਉਧਰੇ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਿਨਿ ਦਰਸਨੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
ਭਇਓ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾਲੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਪੁਨਾ ਅਨਦ ਸੇਤੀ ਘਰਿ ਆਇਆ ॥4॥13॥24॥
"They are saved, who receive the Blessed Vision of His Darshan; they listen to the spiritual dialogue of the Naam. Nanak's God has become Merciful to him; he has arrived home in ecstasy. 4.13.24."

Let us reflect upon Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Udasis (journeys). Guru Sahib didn’t lecture people, unlike we do. Guru Ji had ‘dialogue’ with common people. Relating to their level he communicated and won people’s hearts with the sweet words of Wisdom. Guru Ji lectured only religious intellectuals such as the Pandits and Qazis, who were hypocritical and abusing the power of religious authority on the simple common folk. Dr. Iqbal, writing about Guru Nanak Ji says that Guru Ji “effectively communicated with common people.” Yes, our Guru was an effective communicator. He listened to people, unlike us today. Guru Sahib was innovative and energetic in the way he inspired and showed people the True Path. For example, at the Ganga (River Ganges), Guru Sahib witnessed the Hindu Brahmans throwing water towards the sun, believing that it would quench the thirst of their dead ancestors. Guru Ji could have laughed at them or shouted at them and said “stop, this is wrong!” However, blessed is my Guru who uses marvellous ways to teach our minds to wake up. Instead Guru Nanak Ji started throwing water in the opposite direction. When the Brahman saw this, they asked, “Why are throwing water in the opposite direction.” Guru Ji replied, “If your water can reach the Sun, which is billions of miles way, then can’t my water reach my fields in Kartarpur Sahib which is not as far?” The Brahmans ‘realised’ their ignorance and blind faith and bowed down Guru Nanak Ji and the Infinite Wisdom he shared with the world.

In Guru Nanak Ji on Ang 465 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in Raag Aasa says:

ਸਿਖੀ ਸਿਖਿਆ ਗੁਰ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਨਦਰੀ ਕਰਮਿ ਲਘਾਏ ਪਾਰਿ ॥
"Sikhi is learning by contemplating on the Shabd Guru, granting His Grace, He carries His servants across."

City of Katarpur Sahib
Guru Nanak Ji founded Kartarpur Sahib. Sadly, nowadays, we can’t successfully make a family forget an organisation. However, Guru Ji created cities! How amazing. See the vision of the Guru. The Guru planned big and thought big, not small. The vision of Sikh sovereignty did not originate from Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The seeds of Sikh Sovereignty were planted by Guru Nanak Ji. Guru Ji demonstrated this by finding and constructing cities. This is not an easy task. Prophets of other religions did not do this type of work, what Guru Nanak Ji did. This tradition and vision of Sikh Sovereignty was carried on by other Guru Sahibaans, who continued to find and build various cities.

Fellow Companion - Baba Mardana Ji
ਇਕ ਬਾਬਾ ਅਕਾਲ ਰੂਪ ਦੂਜਾ ਰਬਾਬੀ ਮਰਦਾਨਾ ॥
“There was one Baba [Guru Nanak Dev Ji], who himself was the image of the Timeless (Waheguru), and secondly, he had his companion Bhai Mardana, the Rabaabi, rebeck player.”
(Vaar 1, Pauree 35, Bhai Gurdaas Ji)

Lastly, I wish to touch upon Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s companionship with Baba Mardana Ji. When going on a long expedition in different foreign langs, think who would you take to accompany you? Translators, scholars, linguists etc? Guru Nanak Ji did not choose a linguist, scholar etc, instead he choose a musician. Not any musician, but a musician of social background, which society considered the lowest class. Guru Nanak Ji says in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji on Ang 15 in Siree Raag:
ਨੀਚਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਨੀਚ ਜਾਤਿ ਨੀਚੀ ਹੂ ਅਤਿ ਨੀਚੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਾਥਿ ਵਡਿਆ ਸਿਉ ਕਿਆ ਰੀਸ ॥ ਜਿਥੈ ਨੀਚ ਸਮਾਲੀਅਨਿ ਤਿਥੈ ਨਦਰਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਖਸੀਸ ॥4॥3॥
“(O Waheguru! I I beg this from You, that Your) Nanak attains the company of those people of who consider themselves the lowest of the low class, the very lowest of the low. I have no urge to walk on the path of ‘Maya-dhari’, those caught up in the illusion of the world, (because I know) the Blessings of Your Glance of Grace rain down where the lowly are cared for. 43”

How wonderful is this. Guru Nanak Ji overthrew all social barriers, not merely with Gurbani, but by through actual real life. Hence, Gurbaani is not a philosophy but a reality.

Bhai Nand Lal [Singh] Ji, a contemporary and court-poet of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, wrote a poem about all the Ten Guru Sahibaans. He described each Guru with one word, which summarised their nature and character. All the Guru’s shared each of the ten personalities nature and virtue, however each one demonstrated and highlighted the virtue in their life. Bhai Nand Lal [Singh] Ji summarises Guru Nanak Ji with the word ‘Humility’. This ‘gun’, virtue, was instilled within the Sikhs.

Sikhs everday say in the daily Ardaas (prayer):
ਸਿਖਾਂ ਦਾ ਮਨ ਨੀਵਾਂ, ਮਤ ਉਚੀ, ਮਤ ਦਾ ਰਾਖਾ ਆਪਿ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ॥
“May the minds of all Sikhs remain humble and their wisdom be profound, You are the protector of wisdom O Waheguru.”

Dhan Guru Nanak Dev Ji!

Many happy returns to everyone on the Prakash Utsav of Guru Nanak Ji.
ਖਤ੍ਰੀ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣ ਸੂਦ ਵੈਸ ਸਭ ਏਕੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਤਰਾਨਥ ॥
ਗੁਰੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਕਹਤੁ ਹੈ ਜੋ ਸੁਨੈ ਸੋ ਪਾਰਿ ਪਰਾਨਥ ॥4॥1॥10॥
The Khatri, Brahmans, Shoodr and Vanish (i.e. everyone from society) all cross over, through ‘Naam’, the Name of the One Lord. Guru Nanak speaks the Teachings; whoever listens to them is carried across. 4.1.10.
(Ang 1001, Raag Maaroo, Sri Granth Sahib Ji)


Anonymous said...

i enjoyed reading the aticle, thank you and god be with u

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Thanks for your kind comment.

May Waheguru keep you in Chardikala.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to echo the previous sentiments - thanks for your wonderful seva, I am really learning a lot from your blog.

Muffin said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. I not only do find it extremely educational - from the articles that u have been sharing but also extremely interesting to see how a fellow sikh is living in a different country. Great job & may waheguru bless you.


Goldy said...

Its good one, i really liked that, felt peace full after reading it, keep up the good work, lot of things and names came to know after reading this!!!! DEG TEG Fateh!!

Anonymous said...

SatSriAkal ji

If the GuruSahibaans were so much against 'Caste system' then why is it that all of them married within their own Castes & encouraged their own children to do the same? The Jatts still marry within, the Kukkas marry their own, Ramgarhias marry their own etc etc I believe it is just a myth spread by British stooges like Teja Singh & Kahn Nabha to make Sikhi look different.

I am actually trying to find an answer which no one so far has given to me.

Kuldeep Singh

Manvir Singh said...

Vaheguru Jee Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru jee Kee Fateh

Dear Kuldeep Bhaji,

Guru Sahibs showed that "maan" (pride) in caste is futile.

ਜਾਤਿ ਕਾ ਗਰਬੁ ਨ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖ ਗਵਾਰਾ || ਇਸੁ ਗਰਬ ਤੇ ਚਲਹਿ ਬਹੁਤੁ ਵਿਕਾਰਾ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
"Do not be proud of your social class and status, you ignorant fool! So much sin and corruption comes from this pride. ||1||Pause||"(Ang 1127)

Guru Sahib rejected the concept that man could be high or low according to birth (i.e. caste).

Regarding marriage...
1) The Sikh Gurus never picked marital partners (i.e. "I want to marry so and so...")

2) The Sikh Gurus' families never requested rishte (marital ties) with anyone.

3) No other "caste" background person offered their daughter to the Guru or the Guru's family, so how could they get married to another caste or social background?

4) Guru Sahib never declined any rishta of another "caste" (because no one ever offered). So how can we say the Guru discriminated?

The Guru's Actions and the Guru's Bani proves that Guru condemned pride in caste and promoted equality for all.

Any doubt in this means one should read Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and read Sikh history.

If further clarification is needed please let me know.

Manvir Singh