Guru Nanak Dev is one of the ten gurus that are worshipped and followed all around the world by people who follow Sikhism. He is known as the founder of Sikhism as we know it today. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in Talwandi, Nankana Sahib in 1469. That place is now in Pakistan. When he was a young child, his beliefs and actions were very different from kids of his age. Unlike them, he used to be very calm and serene with gentleness in his words when he used to speak. He slept for a few hours and ate enough to satisfy his hunger and not his taste buds. His life was not only well lived, but he inspired many people on a journey within oneself while he lived. Now that he is no more, his timeless principles hold true and pave way for the coming generations to live a life like he did. Let’s see how Guru Nanak Dev Ji lived his life and what were his guiding beliefs and underlying principles.
Guru Nanak facts state that he believed that a person should love their life in the most honest way possible. According to him bread and milk earned from dishonesty and corruption doesn’t last long and one pays the price for moral corruption later on in their lives. He believed that the deepest satisfaction and joy comes when we earn our living by being honest and speak truth every time we face adversity. I personally feel that being dishonest creates a space in our head and we fear that people around in the world will catch us. No wonder honesty is the best policy.
One day Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s father gave him Rs 20 to try out his luck at business. Instead, Guru Nanak spent the money on feeding the poor people and did no business. He considered sharing of valuables and resources with the poor and needy to be real business. That is also referred to as the “Sacha Sauda” which means “True Business”. It is one of the most significant of Guru Nanak teachings. This philosophy of his regarding sharing is actively seen being practiced at the “langar”, where people are provided free food irrespective of their faith, caste and race. He believed there is nothing more joyful than being of value to a person in need. This is the core belief of many religions, even Jesus believed that sharing and caring is what lies at the core of human existence.
He truly believed in equality and considered people from all races, religion, caste and varying financial and social status as equals. In modern times, we face the barriers to egalitarianism which basically means all people in this world are equal beings while nobody being superior or inferior to anybody else. This was what Guru Nanak Dev Ji told in his time hundreds of years ago. That is the reason everybody is allowed to visit Gurudwaras irrespective of their faith, caste and race. Maybe we should also shed our personal barriers and believe in equality.
He stood up for equality of all living beings and respected women. One of his verses means, “Why disrespect the one who gives birth to majestic kings of the world”. In today’s world women are facing atrocities at various levels and in many ways. At such a time we really need to imbibe the teaching of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and respect women and make the world a better place for them.
Guru Nanak Dev personally believed and put a great emphasis on selfless service. In a world where people first seek personal benefit and then work for others, this belief is of utmost importance. Guru Nanak said that the ultimate spiritual satisfaction comes when we work selfless for others good and seek joy in selfless service. He referred to it as “Seva”. Without any motive, without any aim when a person does “Seva”, the person attains mental peace and becomes spiritually one with the Almighty. This also aligns with the Buddhist philosophy of detachment from outcome which emphasizes on working and serving without any regard for gift or reward. Guru Nanak Dev Ji followed this principle of selfless service throughout his life while helping and working to make this world a better place to live for all living beings.