Q . Brief how the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev are still relevant in the modern world. (15 marks, 250 words, GS-1)
- Guru Nanak (1469-1539) was one of the greatest religious innovators of all time and the founder of the Sikh religion.
- He was the first of the ten Sikh Gurus.
- He is celebrated as the greatest thinker, philosopher, poet, traveller, political rebel, social leveller, mass communicator and spiritual master the land of Punjab has produced.
- He was born in a village, Talwandi Rai Bhoe, near Lahore which was renamed later as Nankana Sahib.
- Much of what we know about the Guru comes from the Janamsakhis, written long after he had left the world, but very much the oral tradition till then, and even after. It is these life-stories that illustrate the life of the Guru.
- In his youth, he used the medium of music, poetry, song and speech to preach the love of God and to attack the politically oppressive policies of the Mughal regime and the socially oppressive practices of casteism of the orthodox Brahminical Hindu religion.
- He used the language of the masses, Punjabi, to preach his ideas.
- For the large mass of Punjabis who were attracted to Guru Nanak’s teachings, it was the content of his teachings (equality), the medium of his communication (Punjabi) and the form of his communication (poetry, song and music), which attracted them to Sikhism.
- The last part of his life was spent at Kartarpur in the Punjab, where he was joined by many disciples attracted by his teachings.
- Religion for the Guru embraced the worldly aspects of human existence.
- There is one God– the Guru said: “There is no Hindu, no Mussalman,” all are creatures of God. There is only one universal creator i.e. “Ik Omkaar Satnaam.”
- He stresses that God must be seen from “the inward eye,” or the “heart” of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment.
- Maya, defined as illusion or “unreality,” is one of the core deviations from the pursuit of God and salvation.
- Five evils– ego, anger, greed, attachment, and lust.
- A message of universal unity.
- He stressed on langar, pangat and sangat.
- langar (collective cooking and sharing of food)
- pangat (partaking food without distinctions of high and low) and
- sangat (collective decision making).
- The concept of Naam japo, Kirat karo aur vand chako, i.e. reciting the name of god, working honestly and sharing what you have.
- He maintained that women are worthy of praise and equal to men.
- He strongly disapproves of the practice of sutak, or impurity, attributed to women due to their physiological differences, as a result of which they were banned from participating in family and religious functions during such times.
Significance and contribution-
- His written compositions were included in the Adi Granth compiled by Guru Arjan (1563-1606), the fifth Sikh guru.
- He promoted universal peace across boundaries.
- He tried to fill the gap between Hinduism and Islam by propagating humanism and human existence under One God.
- Guru Nanak criticised regressive customs imposed upon women of all religions like purdah, sati, widowhood, full veil of Muslim women.
He consciously went on long journeys (called uddasian) to far off places along with his two companions Bhai Bala, a Hindu, and Bhai Mardana, a Muslim, to hold dialogues with many saints and Sufis — even, some charlatans who claimed some spiritual powers and had some social following.