Shri Guru Nanak Dev: The Eternal Light

Madhumati Bhaskarwar and Rajendra Chadha

Shri Guru Nanak Dev was born at a time when muslim aggression was at its peak. Religious intolerance and idolatory were rife. It was the time when the country was going through a massive socio-political turmoil. The Lodis, the Pathans and later invaders like Babar were causing lot of suffering to the Hindu community. 

The sufferings of Hindus saddened Shri Guru Nanak when he said, 

“The age is a dagger, the rulers the butchers, 
Dharma has taken wings and flown away. 
The amavasya or darkness of falsehood reigns supreme. 
No one can see the moon of truth. 

At such a time Shri Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings appeared as a rising full moon on the horizon of India to dispel the darkness. 

“Sadguru Shri Guru Nanak pargateyamitidhund jag chananhoya “ 

When Hindu idols were damaged and temples were being demolished ruthlessly, guided by the Upanishads He reminded Hindus of the shapeless ieNirakar, timeless ieAnant and the invisible God. He reiterated that God is one. 

“EkOmkar Sat Nam Karta Purukh, 
Nirmoh, Nirvair, Akaal Murat, 
Ajoonisabham, GurParshad 

That is , 

There is one God ,His name is Truth.He is the Creator, 
All pervading, without fear, without enemity,whose existence is unaffected by time, 
Who does not take birth and is self existent, it is through God’s grace (that we realize Him) 

He asked people to worship God in His spirit by constantly meditating on His name and realizing His presence in every place and at all times. 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev with His light of wisdom inspired people to dispel the five dark spots in the path of spirituality namely lust,greed,wrath,attachment and ego . He rightly called them ‘PanjChor‘or five thiefs and asked everyone to keep them away. 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev showed the simplest path of jap ie chanting God’s name in order to overcome the confusion and chaos in one’s life. We can call Shri Guru Nanak Dev as the first Hindu reformer of modern times who tried to emancipate the Hindu mind completely from the fetters of mythology . 

He emphatically asserted that the brahmins and the mullahs followed religion like a profession and therefore cannot be true guides to truth . It is like a blind leading the blind., He said. For this Shri Guru Nanak Dev encouraged everyone to become Gurmukhie turn towards the Guru, the perfect one. He provided solace to the then demoralized, somewhat disappointed and seemingly helpless Hindu by explaining to him that one has to live under God’s will or Hukam. 

The word ‘Hukam’ is derived from Persian ‘Hukm’ meaning command or order. However,’ Hukam of the Lord ‘ or the ‘Divine Will ‘has become the very basic concept of the Sikh faith. 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev says, 

“How can one become pure? 
How can the veil of illusion be torn away? 
O Shri Guru Nanak !, walk in His Hukam, it is written in your destiny.” 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev further went on to show another illuminated yet simple path of practising religion in the true sense of the word , through Nishkam Sevaie true selfless service. The concept of Guru langar or the community kitchen brought about a revolution in the way the society perceived fellow human beings. Feeding each and every human being irrespective of their caste , creed, religion, gender,colour or age, lit a small yet bright light in the mind of each single individual that enabled them to see God in each other. This in turn illuminated the entire society at large. 

Fortunately, this practice of selfless service, as a way to attain God and seek His blessings has become an integral part of the rich tradition of the Sikh Faith. It is followed even today with utmost sincerity across the globe, spreading Shri Guru Nanak Dev’s light to every nook and corner of the world. Shri Guru Nanak truly believed God to be the sole Father of all human beings. 

“Ek pita ekaske ham barik” 

He not only propounded this idea but also established organizations and institutions such as Dharamsals ,Sangat, Pangat (Langar) and preached by setting examples. 

Shri Guru Nanak believed in social equality and treated all human beings as one when he said. 


.He also worked for the equality for woman and her emancipation . 

“So kyomandaaakhiyejitjammeraajan” meaning Why call her bad ?from her are born, the kings. 

He had a very special place for the downtrodden of the society, in his heart. He said, 

Shri Guru Nanak tin kai sang saath, 

Which means, 

Shri Guru Nanak is the companion of the lowest of the low and of the condemned lot. He has nothing in common with the high born. 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev was well aware of the prevailing political scenario and the condition of the society , the sufferings of the people due to the gross lack of political freedom. He strongly condemned the malpractices existing in the political system and once again preached by setting example. Shri Guru Nanak Dev strongly affirmed ‘Takhat raja so baheje Takhatlayakhoyi ‘ that means he alone should sit on the throne who is fit to rule. 

He firmly believed that both political and spiritual (miri and piri) are vested in the Guru, the Perfect Being .It is from this Guru that it transcends into the elect Sangat ,the Panth and the Khalsa. He said that the ultimate goal should be to create a kingdom of Gods on earth , a Ram Raj as he called it , through the Raj yogis , the philosopher kings. In this respect Shri Guru Nanak Dev fully agreed with Plato that ‘ Until kings are philosophers or philosophers are kings , cities will never cease from ill nor the human race, nor will our ideal polity ever come into being.’Our Shri Guru Nanak Dev might have said the same as ‘Until Gurmukhs are kings or kings are Gurmukhs , cities will never cease from ill.’ 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev himself set an example as He did not pass his ‘gaddi’ to his sons Srichand or Lakshmichand. Instead keeping His words ‘Takhatraja sobaheje Takhatlayakhoyi’, he handed it over to his colleague Lehna, who He named Ang-da meaning” of my own limb “son. In this way He completely dismissed dynastic rule. Angad furthered the teachings of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ofKirtkaro, Nam japo, Vandchhako( work, pray , share and eat). 

This example set by Shri Guru Nanak Dev is still relevant in today’s time when our politicians have become synonymous with selfishness , greed and myopia.`The light shown by Him , if followed ,can pave the way for a clean and able leadership for the generations to come. This in turn can bring a sea change in the overall socio-political scene of present times. Besides the dynasticrule, Shri Guru Nanak Dev also strongly condemned the injustice , bribery and the ruthless behaviour of the the contemporary rulers. 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev said 

There is no one who receives or gives not bribe. 
If a man makes a request for God’s sake, nobody hears him. 
Shri Guru Nanak !men now a days are men only in shape and name. 
Modesty and religion have vanished , falsehood marches in the vain 
People sing the paean of murder and smear themselves with saffron of blood. 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings aimed at encouraging everyone to lead an ideal socio-political life that is coupled with spirutiality. 

Shri Guru Nanak also spread the light of bhakti among the common people .Even before Shri Guru Nanak many saints and poets have tried to introduce music along with the musical instruments ,as an integral part of devotion . Shri Guru Nanak Dev also used many Raags,Ramkalibeing his favourite, to express himself in devotion. He too promoted Kirtan but with a difference. He presented it with a new orientation and a specific metaphysical purpose. Kirtan according to Shri Guru Nanak Devis not dualistic but monistic. It is not mechanical singing of divine compositions , that is singing without entering into the spirit and understanding their meaning or their true significance. 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev states in Rag Asa 

Et rang naachohrakhrakhpao, 
Bhaoferi hove man cheet, 

That means, 

It is not RaagNaad if there is in mind someone else other than God, 
With mind thus attuned, dance keeping the steps in tune with the infinite, 
With the fear of God in mind is the real tuning of the dance, 
And such fear should be always in mind daily while rising or sitting down. 

What an excellent light for walking on the path of morality ! Humanity will always need a guiding light like this to remain upright and righteous. The preachings of Shri Guru Nanak Dev are compiled in several books that include Japuji, Siddhgosht, DakhaniOmkar,Asa di vaar and Bara maaha. 

The very approach of Japuji itself is scientific in nature. The purpose of the Japuji is to arrive at and see the vision of reality and the process adopted resembles the scientific method of thought as we know today. 

First the real problem is postulated “How shall then the truth be attained and the veil of falsehood demolished or removed”? Then the Guru proceeds step by step to show the way. He exposes the futility of mechanical form of thought or worship and sets us thinking for ourselves. Religious queries are addressed one by one. 

Through Japuji Shri Guru Nanak Dev gives us a vision of the Divine Being and how to be in tune with Him. 

The true spirit of our Vedas that say “Aa no bhadraakratavoyantuvishvataha” that is “ Let noble thoughts come to us from all sides” is manifested in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh faith as it incorporates the valuable teachings of saints and seers coming from different faiths .and beliefs. Through the GuruGranth Sahib Shri Guru Nanak Dev embodies the true light on the path of spirituality for a common man . 

Shri Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings will continue to be relevant for times to come and remain an Eternal Source of light for the entire mankind. 

( Madhumati Bhaskarwar is a senior writer &an academician and Rajendra Chadha is the national team member of Prajna Pravah )

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