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Guru Nanak Dev Ji

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by Gurdas Singh

Guru Nanak the founder of Sikhism the world's youngest monotheistic religion was born in Talwandi in the state of Punjab. From his earliest days he showed signs of deep spirituality and of a holy nature to all who came into contact with him. He quickly became known as a spiritually awakened youth, much to the dislike of his father who had planned a business life for him as a merchant.

Although a number of astonishing events took place in the Guru's life as a child the most important event of his life took place in his thirties. This is when Guru Nanak went missing for three days as he took his early morning bathing before meditation. The local Governor frantically ordered that a full scale search for him which included dragging the lack was to be conducted. But alas no signs of him could not be found. However after three days Guru Nanak appeared and revealed how he had been summoned to the Caught of God. Where he was given a cup of nector to drink and appointed as the True Guru. He was ordered by God to spread the message of his name to all human beings alike.

One of Guru Nanak's first announcements was that there are no Hindu's or Muslims, while a crowd of both surrounded him. This meant how people from whatever religion are all human beings. The Guru revealed how we shall not be asked what religion we are or labeled when our times for judgment comes, but it shall be our deeds which carry weight. Astonishing through out his life two of his closest were a Muslim and Hindu. Thus the Guru's teachings and advice would be for all regardless of what labels man put on each other.

Following this Guru Nanak embarked on the biggest tour of the World carried out by any Prophet. He traveled across India, the middle and far East and parts of Africa and Europe. His message was simple that there is but one universal God for us all and that all people regardless of gender, race, creed or religion are all the same and equal. Guru Nanak pushed the idea of three simple concepts to lead a life ensuring closeness to God. These are simply meditate on God's name, earn an honest living and share your lot with others. However the Guru also never tired of speaking out against and exposing ritualistic and superstitious acts in religion.

For example when Guru Nanak passed the river Ganges the holiest place for Hindu's he also entered the water along with the hundreds of pilgrims, who were throwing water up into the Sun. When Guru Nanak asked what they were doing they replied that the water would reach the next World and quench the thirst of their ancestors. Guru Nanak than turned his back the other way and begun throwing water. This confused the pilgrims who inquired what he was doing. To which the Guru replied watering my fields in the Punjab. The head of the pilgrims than questioned how the water would reach so far. The Guru replied that if your water can reach your ancestors in the next World, surely my water can reach a few hundred miles to the Punjab. Thus showing the futile nature of such actions.

Similarly Guru Nanak visited Mecca the holiest place for Muslims. Here he went to sleep with his feet pointing directly towards the Kaaba. In anger a Muslim pilgrim kicked his feet and ordered him to move his feet away from God's House. A crowed of angry on lookers had quickly gathered but the Guru peacefully and calmly replied move my feet where God isn't. The pilgrim moved his feet away from the Kaaba but astonishingly where ever they moved the Guru's feet the Kaaba would follow. The Guru than revealed how God is everywhere. Hence in Sikhism God is omnipresent and in every one.

Guru Nanak's life is full of such stories about him preaching the importance for love and remembrance of God in the heart, rather than ritualistic and mechanical worship. However the Guru also spoke out and preached against social injustices such as the bad treatment of Woman at the time. The Guru argued how Woman are equal to men a fundamental belief in Sikhism where woman can be and have worked a preachers, led services, worked in employment and even led men into battle. Guru Nanak revealed and said "how can one call woman bad (inferior) from whom Kings are born". The Guru encouraged re-marriage for widows and the prohibition of veiling and stopping the payments of dowries which were at the time and still are in same cultures revolutionary steps.

The Guru also worked to show the futileness and wrongness of the prominent caste system in India. His writings show how caste has no relevance and that all are equal. From this the institution of Langer (free communal Kitchen) begun in Sikhism. This is attached to each Gurdwarwa (Sikh Temple) where all people regardless of race, caste, social status gender or religion sit together to eat the same simple foods as equals. The Guru started this dynamic institution at a time when it was believed in India that even having the shadow of a low Caste or other faith person fall on once food would make it uneatable. Thus Guru Nanak worked to unite all people together and destroy the powerful ego centric us and them attitudes of people.

Guru Nanak's message was to remain as a householder and live an honest family life along side spiritual development. At the time as in today holy people would turn their backs to the World to live in forests or monasteries in seclusion from the outside world. However Guru Nanak stated "Religion doesn't consist in wandering in foreign countries, or in bathing at sacred places. Abide pure amid the impurities of the World; thus shalt there we find the way of religion". The Guru preached that the best life to live in order to get closer to God was one in the real world, while keepings ones mind always on God and above materialism and vice, like a lotus flower floating above water.

The Guru also politically spoke up for and stood up for the rights of the downtrodden and poor. He publicly criticized and spoke against the cruelty of the than ruler of India for which he became a political prisoner, until the Emperor realized that he'd made such a huge mistake.

In Guru Nanak and the guru's who followed we find a dynamic and remarkable Prophet and revolutionary. The message of the Guru of tolerance, equality and the brotherhood of us all is still ahead of its time today. In today's World full of conflict and hate on grounds of religion and ethnicity we should step back and remember the words of Guru Nanak,

"Those who love the Lord, love everybody".

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