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Jayanti - Guru Nanak Dev's Birthday
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Also called Rai Bhoe-ki Talwandi, the village now known as Nankana Sahib, is near Lahore in present-day Pakistan. He was born, according to all ancient Sikh records, in the early morning of the third day of the light half of the month of Baisakh (April - May) in the year 1469; this is believed to be Saturday 15 April 1469. However, the Sikhs now celebrate this auspicious event each year on the full moon day in November; consequently, the date in November changes from one year to another. See
Before Guru Nanak departed for his heavenly abode in 1539, his name had travelled not only throughout India's north, south, east and west, but also far beyond into Arabia, Mesopotamia (Iraq), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Afghanistan, Turkey, Burma and Tibet. As Guru's Birth Anniversary (also called "Guru Nanak Jayanti") is lunar linked, it celebrated on the full moon in November. The event was celebrated on 15 November in 2005; 5 November in 2006; 24 November in 2007; 13 November in 2008; and will be celebrated on 2 November 2009, 21 November 2010, 10 November 2011 28 November 2012, 17 November 2013 6 November 2014, 25 November 2015, 14 November 2016, 4 November 2017, 23 November 2018, 12 November 2019 and 30 November 2020.
The name "Nanak" was used by all subsequent Gurus who wrote any sacred text in the Sikh holy scripture called the Guru Granth Sahib. So the second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad is also called the "Second Nanak" or "Nanak II". It is believed by the Sikhs that all subsequent Gurus carried the same message as that of Guru Nanak and so they have used the name "Nanak" in their holy text instead of their own name and hence are all referred to as the "Light of Nanak."
Guru Nanak also called Satguru Nanak, Baba Nanak, Nanak Shah Faqir, Bhagat Nanak, Nanak Kalandar etc. by different people of religions and Cults.
Bhai Gurdas ji's summary
|It was a dark and moonless night; the clouds were heavy
with rain as it was the monsoon season. Suddenly lightning flashed and
thunder sounded as a few raindrops started to fall. The village was
asleep. Only Nanak was awake and the echo of his song filled the air.
Nanak’s mother was worried because it was pitch dark and day break was far away. The lamp in his room was burning. She could hear his melodious voice as he sang, restraining herself no longer she knocked at his door. “Go to sleep, my son, the sun is a long way ahead.” Nanak became silent. From the darkness sounded the call of the sparrow-hawk. “Piyu, piyu, piyu!” it called.
Whatever he has said was said in verse straight from GOD. His blissful and mesmerizing songs are not those of an ordinary singer; they have sprung from within one who has known. There is the ring of truth, the reflection of God within them. It is these songs, songs of love and expressions of truthfulness and worship, along with the songs of Guru Nanak's nine successors, that form the eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Nanak's Life at Sultanpur
Nanak married Sulkhni of Batala, and they had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. Guru ji's brother-in-law, the husband of his sister Nanki, obtained a job for him in Sultanpur as the manager of the government's grainary. One morning, when he was twenty-eight, he went as usual down to the river to bathe and meditate. It was said that he was gone for three days. When he reappeared, filled with the spirit of God, it was apparent to all that he was a changed man. He would say nothing, he quit his job and distributed all that he had to the poor. Accompanied by his childhood friend, a Muslim named Mardana who had always played the Rebab while Nanak sang, they left town. When, after a few days, he spoke saying "There is no Hindu, no Musalman." It was then that Guru Nanak began his missionary work and travels.
As a householder, Guru ji continued to carry out the mission of his life – to lead people on the true path to God, to dispel superstition, to bring people out of ritualistic practises, to lead them directly to follow Gurbani without the need for priests and clergy, and to restrain and guard against the five thieves within – Pride, Anger, Greed, Attachment and Lust.
The three basic guidlines
Guru Nanak founded and formalised the three pillars of Sikhism:
1. Naam Japna Guru ji led the Sikhs directly to practise Simran and Naam Japna – meditation on God through reciting, chanting, singing and constant remembrance followed by deep study & comprehension of God’s Name and virtues. In real life to practice and tread on the path of Dharam (righteousness) - The inner thought of the Sikh thus stays constantly immersed in praises and appreciation of the Creator and the ONE ETERNAL GOD Waheguru.
2. Kirat Karni He expected the Sikhs to live as honourable householders and practise Kirat Karni – To honestly earn by ones physical and mental effort while accepting both pains and pleasures as GOD's gifts and blessings. One is to stay truthful at all times and, fear none but the Eternal Super Soul. Live a life founded on decency immersed in Dharam - life controlled by high spiritual, moral and social values.
3. Vand Chakna. The Sikhs were asked to share their wealth within the community by practising Vand Chakna – “Share and Consume together”. The community or Sadh Sangat is an important part of Sikhism. One must be part of a community that is living the flawless objective values set out by the Sikh Gurus and every Sikh has to contribute in whatever way possible to the common community pool. This spirit of Sharing and Giving is an important message from Guru Nanak.
Contributions to humanity
During his his time on Earth Guru Nanak was revered by both Hindus and Muslims and even today many, outside of the Sikh faith, revere him. It is related that as he lay dying, his followers some formerly Hindu and others formerly Muslims argued whether his body should be cremated as Hindu tradition dictated or buried as in Islamic tradition. It is said that when they removed the sheet which had covered the Guru they found only beautiful flowers. The Hindus burned theirs, the Muslims buried theirs.
His main contributions were:
Equality of humans
When in the middle east, the west and the rest of asia slavery, varna/class and race discrimination was rife and respect between the different classes and caste was at a peak, Guru Nanak preached against discrimination and prejudices due to race, caste, status, etc. He said: "See the brotherhood of all mankind as the highest order of Yogis; conquer your own mind, and conquer the world." (SGGS page 6); also "There is one awareness among all created beings." (page 24) and finally "One who recognizes the One Lord among all beings does not talk of ego. ||4||" (page 432). He urges all the peoples of the world to "conquer" their minds to these evil practises. All human beings had the light of the Lord and were the same -- only by subduing one's pride and ego could one see this light in all.
Equality of women
In about 1499 when the world offered low to no status or respect to women, Guru Nanak sought to improve the respect of women by spreading this message: "From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. O Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman." (page 473). In so doing, he promoted women's rights and equality — a first for the 15th century!
Universal message for all people
It had been a custom at the time for religious leaders to address only their own congregation and for segregation of the different religions -- but Guru Nanak broke with tradition and spoke to all of humanity. To the Muslim he said: "And when, O Nanak, he is merciful to all beings, only then shall he be called a Muslim. ||1||" (page 141); to the Hindu, he said "O Nanak, without the True Name, of what use is the frontal mark of the Hindus, or their sacred thread? ||1||" (page 467); and to all he preached: "To take what rightfully belongs to another is like a Muslim eating pork, or a Hindu eating beef." (page 141).
The four journeys
History states that he made four great journeys, travelling to all parts of India, and into Arabia and Persia; visiting Mecca and Baghdad. He spoke before Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Parsees, and Muslims. He spoke in the temples and mosques, and at various pilgrimage sites. Wherever he went, Guru Nanak spoke out against empty religious rituals, pilgrimages, the caste system, the sacrifice of widows, of depending on books to learn the true religion, and of all the other tenets that were to define his teachings. Never did he ask his listeners to follow him. He asked the Muslims to be true Muslims and the Hindus to be true Hindus.
After the last of his great journeys, Guru Nanak tried a new experiment - he asked a wealthy follower to donate a large tract of land . Here he built a town calling it Kartapur (in Punjab) on the banks of the Ravi where he taught for another fifteen years. Followers from all over came to settle in Kartapur to listen, and sing, and be with him. During this time, although his followers still remained Hindu, Muslim, or of the religion to which they were born, they became known as the Guru's disciples, or sikhs. It was here his followers began to refer to him as teacher, or guru. The Guru told his followers that they were to be householders and could not live apart from the world -- there were to be no priests or hermits. Here is where the Guru instituted the common meal, requiring the rich and poor, Hindu and Muslim, high caste and low caste, to sit together while eating. All worked together, all owned the town. Here is where Lehna, later to be Guru Angad, came to be with Guru Nanak.
To this day in Gurdwaras from the Punjab around the world to California's Yuba City people of all religions and creeds can enjoy a wonderful evening of beautiful song, music and of course a hot friendly meal.
A well known legend, when Nanak met Babur (1483-1530) the Emperor of India offered him a shared pipe of [Bhang], Nanak replied that he had a bhang whose wonderful effects never wore off. Inquiring of Nanak where he could find such wonderful bhang - Nanak declined the emperor's offer, saying GOD the [SAT GURU] was his bhang.
The Guru leaves for his heavenly abode
Kartarpur (meaning: The City of God), was established by Guru Nanak in 1522. On Asu sudi 10, 1596 Bikrmi [Monday September 22, 1539 AD] Guru Nanak breathed his last at Kartarpur. Since the Guru's followers had been raised as Hindus or Muslims (each of which had different methods of dealing with one's earthly remains), an argument arose over whether the Guru's body should be cremated or buried. Traditionally, Hindus cremate while Muslims bury the bodies of loved ones after death.
Ultimately it was decided that flowers would be placed by each group on his body. Whosoever's flowers were found withered the next morning would loose the claim. It is related that the next morning when the cloth sheet was removed the Guru's body was missing and both sets of flowers were found as fresh as when they were placed.
The two communities then decided to divide the cloth sheet that covered the Guru's body and together with the flowers that they had place, one burying it and the other consigning it to fire. Therefore, both a samadh (Hindu tradition monument of remembrance) lies in the Gurdwara at Kartarpur and a grave (according to Muslim traditions) lies on the premises as a reminder of this joint claim to Guru Nanak by both the communities.
The gurdwara is located next to a small village named Kothay Pind (village) on the West bank of the Ravi River in Punjab, Pakistan. The original abode established by Guru Nanak was washed away by floods of the river Ravi.
The Gurudwara at Kartarpur can be seen from another Gurdwara located across the border at the historical town of Dehra Baba Nanak in India (It is not Dera, as so many people wrongly call it. Dehra is derived from the word Deh or body). Both sites are one of the holiest places in Sikhism located in the Majha region.
Recently, there has been lobbying to open the corridor for Sikhs from India to visit the shrine without any hindrance or visa. It lies only 3 km from the border.
Guru Nanak prakash diwas
Now, the birthday of Guru Nanak is celebrated on the full moon day in November; below are the dates from 2000 to 2020:
Guru Nanak sakhis
Sikh Gurus, Their Lives & Teachings, K.S. Duggal, p 14.
|Text source: http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Guru_Nanak|