My home town of Sultanpur Lodhi in Punjab is amongst one of the most ancient cities of India. The first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, spent 14 years 9 months and 13 days in Sultanpur Lodhi. In 1497 Guru Nanak Dev disappeared in rivulet called Kali Bein and re-appeared after 3 days with Mool Mantra and started his first Udasi (Sacramental Journey) to spread the Sikh faith.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born on 29th Nov. 1469 (on full moon day in the month of Katak- Nov.-Dec.) at Rai Bhoi Di Talwandi (present day Nankana Sahib in Pakistani Punjab). This year we are celebrating his 549th Birth anniversary. Next year Sikhs across the globe will be celebrating 550 birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and my town will feature in one of the biggest celebrations of Guru Ji’s birth anniversary.
Guru Ji traveled far and wide teaching the message of God who dwells in all his creations and constitutes the eternal truth. During childhood days my parents and grandparents used to tell a number of stories on Guru Ji’s teachings and those stories helped shape my world view. In this blog I’ll share 5 life lessons from Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
1. Gender Equality
It is a sad truth that women are not treated fairly and equally in today’s society and are subjected to discrimination and violence. 500+ years back, Guru Nanak Dev ji promoted the equality of genders, and laid the foundation of a system that gave women equal rights in all aspects of life. Guru ji says, “From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to a woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad from whom kings are born.”
2. Guru Shows You the Path
Guru Ji were marked by divine grace and had keen interest in spirituality and divine subjects. When Guru Ji went to school on the very first day he astonished his teacher by describing the implicit symbolism of the number 1 (One) as Ek Onkar meaning God is One. Guru Nanak Dev Ji learnt lessons of spirituality from his elder sister Bibi Nanaki. Bibi Nanaki helped Guru Nanak Ji to understand the true meaning of spirituality and direct his energies in right direction. Bibi Nanaki was not only spiritual Guru of Guru Nanak Dev but also she was the first Sikh to follow the path of Sikhism. Guru is the voice of the God and only a Guru can show you the right path which leads towards God.
3. Work Life Balance and Spirituality
Guru Ji never left his house in search of God. He had a perfect Work Life and Spiritual balance. He worked as accountant in charge of grain stores during days and spent his evenings with his family but once his family would sleep, Guru Ji would meditate all night without disturbing any of his family members. Guru Ji didn’t support monasticism and lead the life of honest householder. We can learn to balance Work Life and Spirituality from Guru Ji’s life.
4. Merit Comes First
When Guru Ji decided to select his successor, Mata Sulakkhani, Guru Ji’s wife, requested Guru Ji to give Gurgaddi (Spiritual Throne) to one of their sons. But Guru Ji put both his sons along with Bhai Lehna Ji and many other followers to severe tests to check their level of spirituality and understanding of other divine subjects. Bhai Lehna Ji was the only one to pass all the exams and various tests. Guru Nanak Dev ji chose Bhai Lehna Ji over his own sons. Guru Ji named Bhai Lehna ji as Angad (from Ang meaning part of his body). If you are on a bigger mission you should select your partners/team members on merit and not on their background or reference.
5. Say No Discrimination and Superstitions
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was strongly against divisions in race, caste and discrimination. Guru Ji fought against discrimination with the help of his companions Bhai Mardana, who was a muslim, and Bhai Bala, who was a hindu. Both of them were with Guru Ji because of their merit and not because of their religion, caste or race. Guru Ji questioned a number of superstitions and beliefs which were prevalent at that time. A number of people believe in superstitions without questioning the ideologies behind the same. One should question the rationale behind all superstitions. And one should not discriminate in people who all are God’s own creation.
This Gurpurab May Guru Nanak Dev Ji bless you with more happiness and more peace. Happy Gurpurab!