This post is in celebration of Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Gurpurb which falls today.
5 messages from the life of
1. Be committed to social responsibilities and duties
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was married to Mata Sulakhani Ji in 1487. They had two sons - Baba Sri Chand Ji (b. 1491), and Baba Lakhmi Daas Ji (b. 1494). Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught that whilst living a family life and fulfilling social responsibilities and duties, one can achieve spiritual salvation, and also help others to achieve salvation. It is sometimes stated that Guru Nanak Dev Ji abandoned his family on his long journeys around the world. This is not true. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a devoted father and husband and cared and provided for his family. Guru Sahib Ji was married when he was about fifteen years old as was the custom of the times. By the time of the first udaasi (journey) Guru Ji was around 30 years old and his two sons were around 10 years old. So the early years were spent looking after and providing for the family, when the call came from Akaal Purakh (God) to share Sikhi with the world, he placed his family in the care of his parents and extended family. He returned back from the world travels to live with his wife, children and parents in the newly made city founded by the Guru called 'Kartarpur Sahib'. Guru Nanak Dev Ji showed that as GurSikhs we should not shy away from being involved in society and remember that we have a duty to serving the Panth (community), as well as pursuing an individual spiritual life.
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਿਬਹੈ ਸ ਪਰਵਾਰਿ ||“In the midst of their family, the Guru-centred one lives a spiritual life.”
(Raamkalee M:1, 941)
2. Share the message of Sikhi with the world
Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent 24 years of his adult-life travelling to share Sikhi with the world. Guru Nanak Dev Ji went on four journeys outside of Punjab, and the last journey was within Punjab. In the first journey (udaasi) Guru Ji travelled from Punjab to the east of the Indian subcontinent (including Bangladesh and Burma). On the second journey, from Punjab to the south of the Indian subcontinent (including Sri Lanka). On the third journey, from Punjab to the north of the Indian subcontinent, going through Tibet, China and Russia. On the fourth journey, Guru Nanak Dev Ji travelled from Punjab to the West. On this journey Guru Ji visited Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Arabia, Africa, and Europe. New studies are suggesting that Guru Nanak Dev Ji travelled to the new world also. Today many youth think it is acceptable to sit home and keep the blessings and gifts of Guru Ji to themselves and reluctant to share the glorious praises of Guru's Path with others. Sometimes it is hard to get Amritdhari youth to attend Gurdwara youth camps to share positive sangat with upcoming youth wishing to learn. Knowing Guru Sahib travelled the world to share Gurmat, encourages us that we need to do our bit of sharing Gurmat and going out of our comfort zone.
ਬੋਲਿ ਸੁਧਰਮੀੜਿਆ ਮੋਨਿ ਕਤ ਧਾਰੀ ਰਾਮ ||
"O person of faith, speak up! Why do you remain silent?"
(Bihaagraa M:5, 547)
3. Be a human rights activist
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was arrested and put into jail for challenging the social injustices and human rights abuses of the ruler of the time, Emperor Babur. When Guru Ji was offered release from prison, after Babur realised he was the Light of God, Guru Ji refused unless all the other prisoners were released. Later, Guru Ji saw a camp where women had been detained by the Mughal soldiers. He asked his companion, Bhai Mardana Ji to play his instrument and Guru Ji roared divine-verses challenging and exposing the government and it's officials. This shocked the soldiers' hearts, and all the women were released. Guru Ji campaigned for equality for women, the poor, and downtrodden. In 2013, the Vatican confirmed that Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited the Vatican in 1518 and met Pope Leo X. Guru Ji told the Pope that no human has the right to enslave another, as the Catholic Church had justified and supported the slave trade of black of Africans. As Sikhs we should be on the forefront to defending the human rights of Sikhs and other communities. In order to do this, it is important to highlight and raise awareness of human rights violations and abuses taking place. In order to help others, we must first help ourselves and fix our own home. Punjab and India is known for its human rights violations and atrocities. It is a Sikh's duty to speak out.
ਜਾਣਹੁ ਜੋਤਿ ਨ ਪੂਛਹੁ ਜਾਤੀ ਆਗੈ ਜਾਤਿ ਨ ਹੇ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
“Recognize the Lord's Light within all, and do not consider social class or status; there are no classes or castes in the world hereafter.”
(Aasa M:1, 349)
4. Have a revolutionary spirit
Guru Nanak Dev Ji single handedly challenged the intolerance and institutional discrimination of India's society and traditions. Those who could not sit side by side, play together, or dine side by side, because of caste and class prejudice, were made to sit sit by side and share a common meal, and bathe in a common pool of water (sarovar). Professor Dr. Kazi Nurul Islam of the Department for World Religions and Culture at University of Dhaka (Bangladesh) writes about Guru Nanak Dev Ji being a revolutionary. He states that the concept of Langar (Guru Nanak's Community Kitchen) is a place where "the distinction between poor and rich is forgotten, because all share the same food at the same place. This was, indeed, a revolution against the non-egalitarian society. A successful revolution without a single drop of blood!” Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a rebel, but a rebel with a cause. The spirit of believing in change and having hope should be part of a Sikh's psyche. A Gursikh is the foot soldier of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who not only believes in the mission of the Guru, but willing to make it a reality and represent the Guru, regardless of the challenges one will face.
5. Be a friend of all
Guru Nanak Dev Ji touched the hearts of the most vulnerable, held the arm of the most of the weak, and stood by those who had no one else. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, went to the cannibal and brought the light of Naam and Gurbani in his dark mind, and made him a saint. He touched the heart of the serial murderer named Sajjan, and made him into the friend. He didn't shun others, but his arm out and told them that he was there to hold on to them if they allowed to give their arm to him. One meaning of the word 'Nanak' is said to be from he words "Na" (doesn't) and "Akk" (fed up). My Guru Nanak is the one who never gets fed up. Our parents may get fed up of us, our siblings may get fed up of us, our friends may get fed up of us, but the one who never shuts his door to us and always has his arms open waiting to embrace us is our one-and-only friend - Guru Nanak! If Guru Nanak Dev Ji gave people chance, a Sikh gives others a chance. A Sikh should always be open to embrace those with the most darkest of lives to offer them the rays of light of Guru Nanak Dev Ji's love and wisdom. We should approachable and open to embrace those with addictions, problems and those who feel they have no one, and provide support and positivity.
ਮੇਰੋ ਗੁਰੁ ਰਖਵਾਰੋ ਮੀਤ || ਦੂਣ ਚਊਣੀ ਦੇ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਸੋਭਾ ਨੀਤਾ ਨੀਤ ||੧|| ਰਹਾਉ ||
"My Guru is my Saving Grace, my only best friend. Over and over again, He blesses me with double, even four-fold, greatness. ||1||Pause||"
(Soratth M:5, 618)