Guru Nanak Dev ji is revered by Sikhs and many others. He is seen as a messenger ofGod, an enlightened teacher, a champion of human dignity and peace between faiths, and a brilliant spiritual guide for all humanity. Guru Nanak Dev ji founded the Sikh faith. He was born in 1469 in Nankana Sahib, near Lahore in Punjab, which is now part of Pakistan. 

The Sikh community worldwide, along with families and friends, will gather in homes, Gurdwaras (Sikh temples), at religious sites, ceremonies, and faith forums in early November. They will celebrate the 545th birthday of Guru Nanak Devji. Many people from other faiths will also join in these celebrations.

There is a hymn which goes by: 

SutGuru Nanak Purgattiya, Mittee Dhund Jugg Channun Hoyaa:

(A Divine Teacher Nanak has taken holy birth; a great fog is lifted, and the world is bathed in divine light.)

Reflecting Upon The Guru's Message And Legacy

Sikhs celebrate and commemorate the life and teachings of Guru Nanak. They gather in large numbers to listen to the singing of holy hymns and praises. They participate in religious discussions and prayers for the well-being of humanity. Everyone present shares a community meal called Langar. This tradition was introduced by Guru Nanak over five centuries ago when he was very young. For centuries, prominent Sikh and non-Sikh scholars have studied the life, teachings, and sacred writings of Guru Nanak. 

Guru Nanak's Message And Sikh Faith Legacy

The Sikh faith teaches about oneness and the unity of all humanity. This message of universality and shared human experience echoes through the sacred writings in the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak spoke out against the unjust actions of rulers and the caste system that violated human dignity. He sought to free people from restrictive superstitions. The Sikh teachings, history, and traditions reflect this revolutionary vision.

Central to Sikh beliefs is the idea of one God as the Creator of the universe. All life is sacred, and all faiths lead to divine knowledge and spiritual wisdom. Sikhs meditate on God's Name through remembrance and witness of the divine. Equality, justice, and the dignity of all life are upheld, affirming one human race and brotherhood. There is a special focus on selfless service as a path to know and honour God. Sikhs aim to live a righteous life through honest work. Sharing one's blessings with others is important, as these gifts are entrusted by God. Key practices include meditating on the Name (Naam-Simran), upholding equality (One Race, One Brotherhood), selfless service (Seva), righteous living through work (Kirut Karni), and sharing with others (Vund Chhukna).

Japji Sahib

The sacred composition Japji Sahib is one of the daily prayers and meditations for Sikhs. In it, Guru Nanak introduces the nature and magnificence of God and his grand creation. Guru Nanak also reveals ways to understand and enhance our relationship with God. Japji Sahib guides us through steps, sacred regions, and realms to know and seek eternal reunion with God.

There is one supreme, immortal reality manifested in Naam and Shabad (the sacred word). God is the creator, the father and mother of all beings and the unfathomable creation. No one is an enemy or a stranger; no one is outside the circle of God's benevolence and mercy. God is the benevolent, compassionate king without animosity or rancour against anyone. God is self-created, self-illuminated, and free from the cycles of transmigration. The wonderful, immaculate, all-knowing Lord has no limits or measure. God is the eternal truth through the ages, from before the beginning to the end of time, life, and creation.

Five hundred years later, Guru Nanak's message remains timely, relevant, and universal. Today, his unifying message of peaceful accommodation with other faiths, cultures, and communities is finding resonance with people and leaders of other faiths and spiritual traditions. Guru Nanak saw an interfaith spiritual model for humanity. Sikh prayers end with this sacred benediction: In Your Name, By Your Grace, may there be exuberant spirit and goodwill among Your entire Creation.

We honour the life of Guru Nanak on this sacred occasion. We must discover our responsibility to follow his enlightened footsteps. We must honour his commandments. We must stand up for life, liberty, justice, and universal civil and spiritual freedoms. We must pray for the well-being of people with diverse cultures and traditions. We must engage in righteous labour and share our blessings with the hungry, homeless, and those in difficult circumstances. We must engage in dismantling all unworthy and unconscionable boundaries. We must build bridges that serve causes and mandates larger than our own faith, culture, or personal prayer.

We must remember Guru Nanak's message of humility and sweetness in temper. We must remember his call to conquer self, formidable temporal distractions, and challenges. We must honour Truth and practise Truthful Living. We must relate to and respect one another as One God's Children.

May this Divine Wisdom, as revealed in Guru Nanak's marvelous hymns and exalted poetic compositions, inspire humanity through the ages. This wisdom is incorporated in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh Sacred Scripture). May this wisdom inspire humanity through message and music, in places and forums that we could not have imagined a few decades earlier. May we enshrine the lessons of faith deep within our souls to guide our lives to a path that leads to knowing God. May we fulfil the supreme goal of human birth: serving humanity and the blessing of an ultimate reunion with Waheguru (One Wonderful Lord), a place at His Lotus Feet.

Guru Nanak travelled extensively during his lifetime to spread his message far and wide. He visited major centres of different faith traditions across India, Sri Lanka, Tibet, China, Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Baghdad in Iraq, and possibly Jerusalem and Cairo in Egypt, Turkey, Tehran in Iran, and Kandahar and Kabul in Afghanistan, among many other places. He faced challenging terrains, hostile tribes, unfamiliar languages, unfriendly kingdoms, and unreceptive audiences. However, he also received warm welcomes and engaged in enlightened discussions with religious scholars, sharing his teaching of the unity of the human spirit and that all Creation is the marvellous work of One Benevolent Reality.

Going forward in the Spirit of Charhdikala

The Great Guru has over 35 million followers. Sikhism is the fifth largest faith in the world. The followers are present in every continent and in many countries. There are nearly one million followers in the United States of America. As the newest generation of pioneers, we have a responsibility. We must share the unifying message of Guru Nanak. We must share the Sikh history and traditions with generations in new lands and in different times. We must feed and serve the hungry, dispossessed, and disenchanted. We must be champions for those who suffer under tyranny, injustice, and denial of basic rights and human dignity. We must help safeguard the life-sustaining and natural environment for all living beings. This is an honour to the Supreme Creator who is present all around in myriad manifestations. Nature is the Crown and resting place of the Creator according to the Sikh holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). We must face these and other contemporary challenges as a test of faith. These challenges are a blessing to celebrate our intertwined destiny as a preordained spiritual and cultural pilgrimage.

It all begins with building bridges towards other major faiths and spiritual traditions. We must seek peace with one another. We must dismantle long-standing divisive and unworthy misunderstandings. We must dismantle unfounded stereotyping. We must discover common threads that help unify our amazingly diverse landscapes at new unfolding crossroads.

Making Gurdwaras as Centers of Learning

Creating an environment where learning remains a central focus and principal commitment of Sikh life is important. If we want others to know about Sikhs, we must address issues like ignorance of our history, neglect of our precious heritage, disintegrating sacred relics, and rare texts with urgency. The Sikh faith, particularly in the Diaspora, is facing new struggles in a changing world. There are threats to the Sikh identity and Sikh faith-mandated sacred articles.

We must address these challenges by learning about governing laws, constitutional safeguards, civil guarantees, time-honoured ideals, and traditions. We must mainstream our presence, visions, talents, and experiences, and become responsible partners to solve common problems and those arising from unfamiliarity and misinformation. Let the founding principles of the Sikh faith and shared precepts in humanity's collective sacred heritage lift the spiritual and cultural fog that often separates us. We must recognize and honour that every living being is a repository of the same Divine Light, and there are no limits, strangers, or distinctions that make one person holy and another unworthy, as stated in Sikh Scriptures.

May the Divine Wisdom and Universal Truth revealed to Guru Nanak and the succeeding Nine Sikh Gurus, who nurtured the faith and reverentially enshrined their teachings in Guru Granth Sahib, regarded as the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs and an embodiment of the spirit of Ten Gurus, be our living Guide. This was commanded by the Tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh before departing from Nanded in October 1708 for his Heavenly Abode.

Great spiritual teachers, enlightened beings, and kind humanitarians guide us and help us feel connected to the divine. They belong to all of humanity across all time periods. We congratulate the Sikh community and our friends of other faiths on the 545th birth anniversary celebration of Guru Nanak. These holy figures shine light on our path. They are gifts to the entire human race throughout the generations.


*Based on an article by  Kanwal Prakash 'KP' Singh, published in on 5th November 2014


Add a Comment