New Delhi: India is known for its unity in diversity. India has always been the land where various religions and cultures preside together. Diverse cultural architectures can be seen across the country depicting the rich cultural inheritance of the country.
Since many religions reside here, India also has a rich religious background. One of the religions of India is Sikhism, which is the fifth largest religion in the world.
The first guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev Ji has a very important role in the religion as he was the founder of ‘Sikhism'.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji always preached the message of ‘equality for all', irrespective of their religion, caste or gender.
The world is celebrating the 548th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji today, which is also known as Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav or Guru Nanak Jayanti. It is celebrated on every year on a full moon day in the month of Kartik, according to the Hindu lunar calendar – Kartik Purnima.
So here, we bring you some interesting facts about the first guru of the Sikhs -Guru Nank Dev Ji
1. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born to Mehta Kaloo Ji and mother Mata Tripta Ji in 1469 A.D in at Talwandi, Nankana Sahib (now in Pakistan). He also has one elder sister – Bebe Nanaki.
2. Even during his childhood, Guru Nanak Dev Ji enjoyed the company of holy men and engaged them in long discussions about the nature of God.
3. Guru Nanak refused as a child to wear sacred thread called Janeu, saying instead that he would wear the true name of God in his heart for his protection. He reasoned that the thread could be broken, soiled, burnt or lost and could not offer any security at all.
4. At age seven, his father, Kalu Mehta, enrolled him at the village school. As a child Guru Nanak astonished his teacher by describing the implicit symbolism of the first letter of the alphabet. In Persian or Arabic it is a straight stroke, resembling the mathematical version of one. He described it as denoting the unity or oneness of God.
5. When Guru Nanak Dev ji was 12 years old his father gave him twenty rupees and asked him to do a business, apparently to teach him commerce. But Guru Nanak dev ji bought food from all the money and distributed it among saints, and poor. When his father asked him what happened to business? He replied that he had done a "True business". A gurdwara was made at the place where Guru Nanak dev had fed the poor, it is named ‘Sacha Sauda'.
6. Guru Nanak Dev Ji has been documented to have traveled across India and the Middle East to spread his message along with his companions Bala and Mardana. At Mecca, Guru Nanak was found sleeping with his feet towards the Kaaba mosque. Kazi Rukan-ud-din, who observed this, angrily objected. Guru Nanak replied that it is not possible to turn his feet in a direction that did not have God or a house of God. The Kazi understood that the meaning of what the Guru was saying was "God is everywhere". The Kazi was struck with wonder.
7. Pakistan also has a gurudwara named ‘Panja Sahib' dedicated to Guru Nanak Dev Ji. This is one of the most holy places of Sikhism because of the presence of a rock believed to have the hand print of Guru Nanak imprinted on it.
8. According to legend, Bhai Mardana was sent three times to Shah Wali Qandhari by Guru Nanak so that he would provide him with some water to quench his thirst. Wali Qandhari refused his request and was rude to him. Guru Nanak Dev Ji in order to quench Mardana's thirst took the name of God and put aside a big rock lying nearby and a pure fountain of water sprang up and began to flow endlessly. Bhai Mardana quenched his thirst and felt grateful to the Guru. On the other hand, the fountain of Shah Wali Qandhari dried up. On witnessing this, the Wali in his rage threw a part of a mountain towards the Guru from the top of the hill. The Guru stopped the hurled rock with his hand leaving his hand print in the rock.
9. Guru Nanak Dev Ji laid the foundation of ‘Sikhism' in the 15th century. While Guru Nanak's teachings can be found in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, as a vast collection of revelatory verses recorded in Gurmukhi, his teachings are understood to be practised in three ways: Vand Chhakkna: Sharing with others, helping those with less who are in need; Kirat Karna: Earning/making a living honestly, without exploitation or fraud; Naam Japna: Chanting the Holy Name and thus remembering God at all times (ceaseless devotion to God).
10. Sikhs celebrate Guru Nanak Jayanti with lots of zeal and fervour across the world. However, it is most popularly celebrated in India and Pakistan. ‘Akhand Paaths' (a 48-hours of continue reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) are organised in the Gurudwaras. Prabhat Pheris – a group of people start from the gurudwara and proceeds around the localities singing shabads - are also seen 10 days before the Gurupurab. Processions are also taken out a day before the Gurupurab. Gurudwaras are also decorated for Guru Nanak Jayanti as the celebration begin with hyms sung from Guru Granth Sahib Ji, followed by langar and fireworks in the evening.