MY GURU NANAK
BY SONIKA SINGH
Most of you would have a faint memory of Guru Nanak as the Bhakti saint and the first guru of Sikhs as written in the history course books. Many years later today I see Guru Nanak in a different light.
1.The Environmentalist: While reciting the Japji Sahib in the morning we all come across this verse and perhaps we read through it, Some of us are aware of the meanings and many of us are not and some of us have imbibed this principle in our daily lives.
The beautiful verse says –
‘Pavan guru paani pita mata dharat, mahat divas raat dui daee daya kheylai sakal jagat’
Air is the Guru, Water the Father, and the Earth is the Great Mother. They give us life, we sleep in their lap night and day, so we should not spoil them’.
Loving and respecting Mother Earth has been part of our Indian culture for centuries. Guru Nanak reinforced the duty of humanity towards Nature by urging each one of us to love nature and comprehend the symbiotic bond the humans and Nature share. He took various Udasis (journeys) all over the world and recognized the importance of water and environment. He dug many wells and planted many trees. He has given us so many gifts. It is time to give him a birthday gift – Plant a tree!
2.The Feminist: In Guru Nanak, I see the advocate of equal rights for women. Sikhism states that women have the same souls as men and thus possess an equal right to cultivate their spirituality. The Sikh women like sikh men can take part in akhand path, perform kirtans, and can become granthis. The Sikh women do not suffer the humiliation attached with menstruation, their movement is not restricted. Guru Nanak also challenged the belief of sutak, which means impurity of the house on account of childbirth.
“Should Sutak be believed in, then that such impurity occurs everywhere, Worms are found in cow dung and the wood. No single grain of corn is without life in it. Water is the first source of life, and everyone is dependent on it for remaining alive. How can the impurity of Sutak be warded off? It is to be found in every kitchen. Nanak says, pollution is not removed in this way (through rituals). It is washed away by knowledge of God (enlightenment).— Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib 472
Guru Nanak falsified the belief that women means temptation. He said that marriage can be a hurdle for salvation. Guru Nanak was not sanyasi, he didn’t follow celibacy and renunciation but followed grihastha – the life of a householder and attained God.
‘For him, women was not temptress and evil but equal and he voiced his opinion in these verses-
Woman becomes his friend;
Through women, the future generations come.
When his woman dies, he seeks another woman;
to the 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 all.
3.The Philosopher and poet- Guru Nanak in his lifetime wrote 974 hymns. His verses talk about every aspect of human life – life, death, nature, the universe, relationship with the almighty, humility, ignorance, etc. The Mool Mantar written by Guru Nanak probably sums up the Sikh philosophy. It is the first prayer of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib-
4.The Humanist – Guru Nanak believed in one religion which was the religion of humanity. As early as the 15th century he remarked – “ Before becoming a Muslim, a Hindu, or a Christian, lets become human first.”
He envisioned a world where there would equality, religious freedom, ethical living, gender equality, unity, and love for God and for each other. Guru Nanak believed in oneness and that is why he believes in good for everyone.
All practicing Sikhs end the ardas ie prayer to God with the following lines-
Nanak Naam Chardi Kala, teraa bhane sarbat da bhala.
The true Sikh begs for “the good for all beings” of the world. Because he knows that within every one of us resides the same One God – the Sikh should realize that he is “one with the rest”.
Guru Nanak taught the lesson of universal peace and brotherhood and the good of all humanity.
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NOVEMBER 30, 2020