Guru Nanak Dev Ji is said to be the founder of the modern-day Sikhism and is one of the ten gurus worshipped and followed by Sikhs across the world. Born in Talwandi (now in Pakistan) in 1469, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a calm and serene person with very powerful vocational skills. He lived a simple life, sleeping few hours, eating only enough to satisfy the hunger and not the taste buds, inspiring other people on his own journey.
He has left many life lessons to his followers, and here discuss some lessons from Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
1. Honesty is the best Policy
He believes that everyone should love their life in the most honest way. Something that is earned with corruption and dishonesty would not last long, and the price will be paid at some point in time. The greatest joy can only be found when we live in complete honesty and truth.
2. There is no better business than serving the poor
At one point in time, Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s father gave him Rs.20 to indulge himself in business. But he used that money to feed the poor. He thought that sharing the valuables and resources with the poor is the true business, or in his terms, “Sacha Sauda”. This philosophy is evident with their ritual “langar”, where people feed the poor, irrespective of their fate, caste and race. And this is also what he believed was the core of any religion.
He considered everyone to be equal, regardless of the gender, caste, race, religion, social or financial status. This philosophy is deeply carried out by the followers, and this is the reason Gurudwaras are open to everyone wanting to visit them.
4. Respect for women
While standing up for equality, he also stood up for women. One of his verses translates as:
“Why disrespect the one who gives birth to the majestic kings of the world.”
We all know how women in the modern age as well as the conservative age faced atrocities along their way, and Guru Nanak Dev Ji has always looked to change this matter in his teachings.
5. The Core philosophy of Selfless Service
As mentioned before, Guru Nanak Dev ji placed a great emphasis on selfless service. This belief, according to him, is of utmost importance considering the personal benefit sought in the modern age. He was the firm believer that the true spiritual satisfaction can only come when you are selfless and work for others’ good. This is what he referred to as “Sewa”, that can bring mental peace and walk on the path to be one with the Almighty. Moreover, the philosophy also resembles the Buddhist philosophy of detachment where the outcome emphasizes on working without wanting to receive any reward.
6. Eliminate the inner evil
Guru Nanak Dev Ji states that there are five evil that stops a person from walking on a spiritual path – ego, anger, greed, attachment and lust. He claims that until these forces dominates a person, he can never be truly one with God, and will remain trapped in Maya (the illusion) of material world. Meditating on the God’s name, he advises people to find ways to remove these evil, and he states that the start of removing these evil is to recognize which of the evil lives among us.
7. Superstitions and Caste Divides are not to be favoured
When he was nine, he went on a holy ceremony where he was to be invested with the sacred Hindu thread, Janai. He refused to wear it, not because of the significance that priest claimed it had, but because he believed that the Janai was a part of something that was dividing the upper and lower class in the social hierarchy during his days. Never did he value any superstitious beliefs and motivations in those beliefs, and states that they were based on blind faith. He insists that we must question the underlying ideologies behind superstitions, rather than blindly following them.
8. God is everywhere
God is omnipresent, says Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Once, when he went to a temple to pray, he saw that people from lower caste were not even allowed to enter the temple. So, he gave up on the belief that one needs to visit temple to believe in God, and stated that God is everywhere, and it is necessary to have faith in God, rather than worship an idol.
As an avid traveller, Guru Nanak Dev ji, found a cannibal named Kauda in one of his journeys. He was suffering from mental illness, and when he saw him, he radiated love and kindness. Feeling this compassion, Kauda started crying and gave up his cannibalism, leading a fine life thereafter. He believed that with kindness, every problem in life can be tackled.
10. The Music Heals
While he was travelling he was accompanied by Bala and Mardana – two musicians. They woke up early to sing melodious and mystical songs of God, which was later known as “Kirtan”. They consisted of devotional hymns and verses, and since he believed music is the language of the soul, he believed that it is a way through which one can sense God and harmonize with him. Kirtan has been an important part of Sikhism since then.
11. Finding the purpose of life
There is a reason that everyone is born in this world, according to Guru Nanak Dev ji. He states that the Lord has sent us serve our purpose, and all the pain and existential struggle of life is to make use realize that we are here to accomplish something. In case a person is on the right path, the God guides him, and he thought that if everyone believed in the spiritual path and contributed to serving the spiritual path, then the world would be a better place. He also believed that wishing to God is not going to be fruitful, since he believed that he fulfils the wishes when the time comes. The most important thing is to begin on the path of the spiritual journey.
12. Never succumb to oppression
He was a bold man by characteristics. He believed that actions separated a person from being weak or strong. One of the translations of his verse states, “Lord guides the sparrow that fights the eagle.”, which means that he never truly believed in giving up to external oppression and evils. With courage, any oppression can be overcome, and the Lord guides the person with courage too.
With these teachings, one can simply imagine how and why people revered Guru Nanak Dev Ji. It is claimed that when he died, Muslims and Hindus fought to find a way to cremate his body. However, he has left us with golden teachings that can serve the humanity well.