Thursday, Feb 20 2020
Guru Nanak is remembered on his birthday as a reminder
to all about his teachings.
Guru Nanak did not subscribe to blind ritualism or
mindless superstitions. He believed that there was just
one God, who was almighty omnipresent and all encompassing.
The chanting of whose name, and a life of purity and
charity would lead to freedom from the cycle of birth
and death. He believed in the theory of Karma and Rebirth.
He spread Sikhism to Burma, Iraq, Tibet and Sri Lanka
as a message of love.
The 'Japji Sahib': 'Japji' means morning prayer. He
has composed a set of poems that form the first chapter
of the Sikh scripture and holy book - the Guru Granth
Sahib. These poems talk about meditations and thoughts
from his teachings, and serve to inspire many - a -
Sikh to live a good life, following the basic principles
of prayer, right living and thinking and the Unity of
God and our fellow beings.
Short story about his life:
Once, while at Mecca - Medina, Guru Nanak was taking
a nap with his feet pointing to the 'Kaba' (holy stone
in Mecca) . An angry man on duty, shifted his feet away.
However in whichever direction Guru Nanak's feet were
shifted the 'Kaba' also shifted. In this way the omnipresence
of God was explained.
How is the Festival celebrated:
GurPurabs mark the culmination of Prabhat Pheris,
the early morning procession that start from the gurdwaras
(Sikh temples) and then go around localities singing
'shabads' (hymns). The celebrations also include the
three-day Akhand path, during which the holy book, the
Guru Granth Sahib is read continuously, from beginning
to end without a break. On the day of the festival,
the Granth Sahib is also carried in a procession on
a float, decorated with flowers, throughout a village
or city. Five armed guards, who represent the Panj Pyares,
head the procession carrying Nishan Sahibs (the Sikh
flag). Local bands playing religious music form a special
part of the procession.
Free sweets and langar or community lunches are also
offered to everyone irrespective of religious faith.
Men, women, and children, participate in this karseva
as service to the community, cook food and distribute
it in the 'Guru ka Langar', with the traditional 'Karah
Sikhs also visit gurdwaras where special programs are
arranged and kirtans (religious songs) are sung. Houses
and gurdwaras are lit up to add to the festivities.
Guru Nanak's life served as a beacon light for his age.
He was a great seer, saint and mystic. He was a prolific
poet and a unique singer of God's laudation. A prophet
of peace, love, truth and renaissance, he was centuries
ahead of his time. His universal message is as fresh
and true even today as it was in the past and Sikhs
all over the world, practice what Guru Nanak preached,
to reaffirm their beliefs in the teachings of their
Background of Guru Nanak:
Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, was born
in the month of Kartik (October/November), and his birthday
is known as Guru Nanak Jayanti. He was born in 1469
A.D. at Tolevandi some 30 miles from Lahore. The anniversaries
of Sikh Guru's are known as Gurpurabs (festivals) and
are celebrated with devotion and dedication.
The son of a Kshatriya (warrior) family, he studied
Hinduism and Islam. He got married but then he abandoned
his family and became an ascetic. Wandering for many
years he came under the influence of both Hindus and
Muslims (especially Sufi). The Muslim teacher Kabir
(died in 1398) made a deep impression on Guru Nanak.
He began preaching, "There is no Hindu, there is
no Muslim." As Swami also says, 'There is only
One Religion, the Religion of Love'.
Guru Nanak was succeeded by nine other Gurus. Guru Arjun
(1563-1606) the fifth Guru, compiled the "Granth
Sahib" (Noble Book) and the tenth Guru, Govind
Singh, gave it its final form. The two books are also
known as "Adi Granth" (Initial Book), and
"Dasam Granth" (Book of the Tenth Guru).
The Sikh temple is called "Gurudwara" (Gum's
Gate). A copy of the Granth is kept in every Gurudwara.
After the Tenth Guru, the Granth is worshipped as the
mystic personality of the Gurus.
The main shrine of the Sikhs is the Golden Temple of
Amritsar, in Punjab, where Sikhism has a real hold.
The Temple foundations were laid by the Fourth Guru,
Guru Ram Das (1534-1581).
In 1699 Guru Govind Singh introduced the Initiation
Rite, drinking sugared water ("amrit"), and
abolished caste distinctions. Sikhs were to be distinguished
by their name, always with the suffix Singh (lion),
and by the five K's: unshorn hair and beard ("kes"),
comb in the hair ("kangh"), steel bangle on
the right wrist ("kara"), short drawers ("kacch")
and steel dagger ("kirpan").
Guru Govind Singh was also responsible for giving the
Sikh religion a marked military character. The soldier-saint
became the ideal of the Khalsa or Sikh fraternity. "When
all other means have failed, it is righteous to draw
the sword", was one of the basic principles of
Guru Govind Singh.
The Holy Book - Adi Granth:
The Adi Granth teaches:
"There is one God, Eternal Truth is His Name; Maker
of all things, fearing nothing and at enmity with nothing;
Timeless is His Image; Not begotten, being of His own
being; By the grace of the Guru made known to men. As
he was in the beginning, the Truth; So throughout the
ages He ever has been, the Truth; So even now he is
the Truth Immanent; So for ever and ever, He shall be
Truth Eternal." These words express the basic belief
of Sikhs. Idolatry is forbidden. True worship consists
in singing God's praises and in meditating on His Name.
God is the Supreme Guru, "Satnam, Wah Guru"
(The True Name, The Wondrous Teacher). The Ten Gurus
are reverenced because God spoke through them. Nanak
had no other Guru but God. His followers, however, reach
God through Guru Nanak and the other nine.
Jai Sai Ram
SSEHV Group 4