The 'Japji' is the first message that sprung out like nectar from Guru Nanak's lips as he emerged from the river after 3 days. Guru Nanak remained immersed in the River for 3 days. It is said that it takes 3 days for the ego to totally disappear. It is then that one experiences the Ultimate. That is the reason why maybe the 'Marka' and/or 'baithak' and/or 'Chautha' is done on or after 3 days after a person's death.
Guru Nanak was born of humble parentage. His parents owned a store, and were ambitious for their son. They urged young Nanak to sit in the store and do some business. The young man started to count, Ek do teen (One, two ,three) ......Gyaara, Baarah, terah....(Eleven, twelve, thirteen)....The minute young Nanak said 'terah' meaning thirteen, he thought of 'terah' as 'Tera' which means 'Yours'. Guru Nanak went into deep meditation, thinking that all that is, belongs to the Lord. Needless to say, Guru Nanak never became a merchant, rather he turned out to be a 'Baadshah' (King).
Dhan Guru Nanak, Jag Taariya - Blessed be Guru Nanak' (whose teachings) saved the world.
This year (2000), the birthday of the Great Master, Guru Nanak Sahib falls on the 11th of November. The Sindhis were greatly influenced by Guru Nanak's teachings as he did pass through Sindh and expound his beautifully simple philosophy to the Sindhis of that area. The Sindhis were so deeply influenced by the Master's teachings that it was not uncommon for the Sindhis to make their first son a Sikh. Even today the Sindhis worship Guru Nanak with the same fervor that they accord to, Shri Krishna, Shri Ram, Shivji or/ and Ma Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati. The Geeta and The Guru Granth Sahib both enjoy an exalted status in Sindhi homes. Come let us pay homage to this Giant personality.
Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in the Western Punjab village of Talwandi. The Birthplace of Guru Nanak is in Pakistan, driving distance from Lahore and is today called Nanakana Saheb During the time Guru Nanak was born, India was being ruled by Muslim kings. A religious taxation called Jezia was imposed on all non-muslims. Disrespect was openly accorded to non Muslim places of worship. Both Hinduism and Islam were being corrupted by their religious authorities. At this juncture, Guru Nanak's simple philosophy of the oneness of God (Ek Omkaar Satnaam) felt very welcome. The teachings of the Sikh Gurus are compiled in the Holy Book of the Sikhs: The Guru Granth Sahib.
The Sikhs believe that the Light of the first Guru's Soul (Guru Nanak) was transmitted to each of His successors. These in turn became embodied in their Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib. The word 'Sikh' comes from the word Seekhna (to learn) or Shishya meaning disciple. The role of the Guru in Sikhism is very important. The Guru is considered the Bridge that connects the Disciple with God. The Sikhs were enraged when Guru Arjan Dev Ji was cruelly killed by a Moghul Emperor. It was then, that the Sikh Religion acquired a militant hue.
Guru Nanak's father's name was Mehta Kalian Das. At the age of 6, young Nanak was sent to school. Guru Nanak was well versed in Hindi, Mathematics, Muslim Literature, Persian and Arabic. Young Nanak learned quickly. One day Guru Nanak wrote a hymn for the Village school teacher which admonished man for having forgotten the Lord who was the true Giver and the One who had created the world. Guru Nanak told his Muslim teacher to be good, honest and truthful. He urged him to love everyone and to live together like one family. Both Guru Nanak's Muslim as well as Hindu teacher were awe-struck at the Divine child's knowledge and proclaimed him their Guru. When Guru Nanak was 13 years old, his parents wanted to invest him with the sacred thread according to the traditional Hindu custom. At the ceremony, Guru Nanak refused to accept the sacred cotton thread from the Hindu priest. He sang the following poem:
"Let mercy be the cotton, contentment the thread, Continence the knot and truth the twist. O priest! If you have such a thread, Do give it to me. It'll not wear out, nor get soiled, nor burnt, nor lost. Says Nanak, blessed are those who go about wearing such a thread".
Guru Nanak did not object to getting married as he believed that married life did not conflict with spiritual yearnings. At age 16 he was married to Sulakhani and was happy. He loved his wife and eventually had two sons Sri Chand in 1494 and Lakshmi Chand three years later.
For Guru Nanak, meditation became his way of life. Once a cobra shielded him from the scorching heat as he was absorbed in the name of the Lord. Another time, the cattle that he was tending crossed over and destroyed a farmer's field. The farmer complained to young Nanak's father but when they went to inspect the field, they were astonished to note that the crops were intact. The farmer insisted that it was a miracle.
Young Nanak's father wanted him to lead a normal life and to earn a decent living. So he gave him some money to strike a profitable bargain. Guru Nanak spent that money feeding sages and mendicants. He claimed that that was a 'Sacha Sauda' (A good bargain).
Guru Nanakji became a shop-keeper, in the service of Nawab Daulat Khan, the Governor of Sultanpur. The young apprentice would go into a trance as he weighed and counted his provisions and reached the number 'tera' (13) Tera means 'yours or thine' Everything and Everyone belongs to Thee O Lord! He would repeat prayerfully!
At Sultanpur where Guru Nanak worked as a shop-keeper, he met Mardana, who was to become his constant companion. Mardana was a musician. Guru Nanak started to sing hymns accompanied by Mardana on the rabab ( a string instrument). These sessions attracted a lot of people. Guru Nanak went to the river one morning accompanied by Mardana. After plunging into the river, Guru Nanak did not surface and people believed that he must have drowned. He emerged from the water, after 3 days Enlightened.
Nanak uttered the famous words of the Japji Sahib (read Thought One for the words and translation) These immortal words are enshrined at the beginning of the Sikh Holy Scripture: The Guru Granth Sahib.
When Guru Nanak emerged from his trance, he proclaimed that there was no Hindu and no Mussalmaan. He explained that since both were the children of God, they were brothers and sisters.
At the age of 30, Guru Nanak, started his extensive travels to spread the word of God. He conveyed his message in the form of musical hymns. Wherever he went, his followers could gather to recite hymns and meditate.
Guru Nanak deplored hypocrisy. He recognised that 'Sajjan' a man he met in Talamba, in Multan district, now in Pakistan, did not really act as a good person like his name suggested. Even though Sajjan had built a rest house for weary travelers, he would steal from them, kill them and throw them into a nearby well. Guru Nanak told him that he may be able to deceive man but he would not be able to deceive God. He further explained that grace may be obtained by open confession and reparation of wrong. Repentant Sajjan mended his ways inspired by the great Master. He gave away all his wealth to the poor and reformed his life.
To become a good Mussalmaan, Guru Nanak urged that: God's grace become the mosque, and devotion the prayer mat. The Quran should become the good conduct, modesty become compassion, good manners fasting, Good deeds become their Kaaba and Truth their mentor. Their Kalma should become their creed and prayer.
Guru Nanak did not believe in the rigidity and hypocrisy of Hindu Prayers. Once at Hardwar, he saw Hindus offering water to their dead ancestors. Guru Nanak mocked the futile ritual by offering water to the thirsty crops miles away!
Guru Nanak gave no preference to his High Caste devotees much to their chagrin. He would prefer to dine with a carpenter called Bhai Lalo, instead of with Malik Bhago who was the manager of a Muslim Sardar. Once Malik confronted Guru Nanak on his choice of host. Malik thundered: "You refuse my invitation, and prefer to dine with a low-caste man?" Guru Nanak asked Malik Bhago to get some food from his kitchen. Guru Nanak had with him, Bhai Lalo's coarse bread. He held Bhago's seasoned bread in his left hand and squeezed it. Drops of blood oozed out from it while milk trickled from Bhai Lalo's bread. Guru Nanak explained that bread earned by hard honest work is sweet, whereas food earned deceitfully is tainted with poor people's blood!
Guru Nanak taught that material wealth is mostly gathered sinfully, but sadly it does not accompany us at the time of death!
Guru Nanak once went up boldly and unafraid in front of a dreaded cannibal chief named Kauda. Kauda was thrilled as he saw his 'meal' coming to him. He started to heat the oil in anticipation. When Guru Nanak came close to him, Kauda tested the oil. He found it cold! Not to give up so easily, Kauda caught Guru Nanak in his muscular arms and flung him into the fire! As Kauda watched Guru Nanak step out of the fire unharmed, Kauda trembled, repented and stood reverently with folded hands. Kauda took a vow not to harm anyone. Thus from a killer Kauda was transformed into a servant and teacher of men.
Babar, the moghul Emperor had looted houses of many people in Eminabad, who were then made to carry their own looted property to Babar's camp. Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana, who were visiting Eminabad at that time were taken prisoners. Guru Nanak did not lose his equipoise, he continued to sing for the Lord in prison much to the solace of the other victims. Babar decided to visit the prison to witness this uncommon occurrence. Looking at the peaceful countenance of Guru Nanak, Babar seemed to come under a magic spell. Since the Emperor did not comprehend the words of the holy song, he asked Guru Nanak for a translation. The Guru boldly told him that he was singing about the cruelty of the Emperor and the sad state of the victims. Impressed by Guru Nanak's frankness, fearlessness and courage, Babar freed the prisoners and returned to them their homes and possessions.
Guru Nanak traveled for 21 long years imparting his wisdom wherever he set foot. He arrived in Mecca after an exhausting journey. To rest his weary feet he lay down. The Muslims who saw him took great offence when they noticed that the Guru's feet were pointing towards the 'Kaaba' or 'the House of God'. One of the hajis kicked the Guru in anger and demanded an explanation. The Guru benevolently smiled and said that he respected the House of God as much as they did. However if his 'misconduct' offended them, he requested that they turn his feet. As the haji moved the Guru's feet in various directions, he would 'see' the kaaba in the same line as the feet of Guru Nanak. The Guru had once again imparted an immortal lesson. That the Lord resides in every place and in every heart.
The last part of his worldly life, Guru Nanak spent in Kartarpur. The Great Guru would wake at dawn and recite his daily prayers. At daybreak, he would address his followers. He worked in his free kitchen, which even today is popularly known as 'langar'. This food would be partaken by Hindus, Muslims, rich, poor, high or/and so called low castes. Guru Nanak worked in the field and earned his livelihood. On 22 September of the year 1539 , at the age of 70 years, Guru Nanak gave up his body after he had requested his disciples to sing the 'Sohila' (the praise of God).
Once when Guru Nanak was asked which religion, Hinduism or Islam was the true path to God, Guru Nanak replied that the true way to attain God was to worship Him who is eternal and contained in the whole Universe.
When Guru Nanak merged into the eternal light, the Hindus wanted to cremate him while the Muslims wanted to bury the body. However on raising the sheet under which the Great Guru's body lay, both found nothing but fresh flowers which were divided between themselves. The Hindus cremated the flowers whereas the Muslims buried theirs. Like Guru Nanak claims in one of his hymns;
Which means that Nanak has so merged with the Lord
THE GURU GRANTH SAHEB AND THE SINDHIS
(Follows an excerpt from a translation by Narain Kimatrai from the original book 'A History of Hindus in Sind' by Diwan Bherumal Advani published in 1946)
Diwan Manecksingh was a minister with Mir Shehdad Khan and the son of Diwan Kishinchand. He wanted to expound the philosophy of Sikhism to his cousins and other Hindus.
Before doing so he gained the knowledge after being granted audience with Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Punjab. Diwan Manecksingh brought the Guru Granth Saheb, with due respect laden on elephant back to Hyderabad.
The temporary Gurdwara structure in the year 1855 was reconstructed into a permanent one after British takeover. Every follower did manual labour to help construct the Gurdwara. Everyone contributed 4 annas (25 paise) everyday. The structure was completed in 1858. Till 1946 the cost towards the construction exceeded Rs25000. The area on which the structure sits is around 10000 sq. ft. and is/was operated by the trust.
Dal Sabzi for the Aatman
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