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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh




GURU NANAK – A Prophet of Peace and Co-existence –


Bhai Ashok Singh

Baba Nanak’s 550th birthday is receiving well-deserved celebrations. It is customary these days to celebrate the days connected with Great Men like him and other Men of God. But, we very seldom give adequate thought to what they said and what they preached.

Religion of Guru Nanak is based on rationality understanding, intellectual exchange of views, realization of the Truth and enlightenment through intuition and acquired knowledge (gyan) and interpretation of the received Divine Word. Based on this camulative  experience, is the Sikh spiritual pathway of life enunciated by him.

Guru Nanak’s way of life, in short, is a guidance to us for living this human span of life purposefully and fruitfully in accordance with the Will of the Creator, who ordained us to live this life, and to live in such a way that we may earn His pleasure and blessings. To do so, it is only the right attitude of mind that counts. We have to try and control the mind and forge it into an attitude where it accepts without hesitation the Will and the Command of the Master. Guru Nanak, in Japuji Says, “ਮਨ ਜੀਤੈ ਜਗ ਜੀਤੁ “ means if the mind is steamlined the world is conquered.

The right homage to the great Guru would be to delve deep into his Bani and try to assimilate his teachings. It is only through this deep delving that we can appreciate, realize his purpose and mission. Let us visit his two most important Banis Japuji Sahib and Asa di Var. Whereas Japu ji Sahib is full of spiritual and moral insights, Asa Di Var is more of a social critique which guides us how to conduct ourselves in life in accordance with our occupation and well-being of others.

His message of unity of mankind can be easily realized from the study “ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਕਾ ਇਕੁ ਦਾਤਾ ਸੋ ਮੈ ਵਿਸਰਿ ਜਾਈ” Oneness of God and fatherhood of whole mankind is the basis of his entire philosophy.  The majesty of the Divine abode has been described thrice by Guru Nanak repeatedly in the three verses Sodar in Japuji Sahib, Asa Di Var and in Rehras. This repetition highlights the supremacy and benevolence of Divine Cosmic Power.

Guru Nanak’s mission in life has been beautifully described by Bhai Gurdas as: ਚੜਿਆ ਸੋਧਨ ਧਰਤ ਲੋਕਾਈ Lokai encompasses all beings of His creation, which he undertook to reform. To unite the fragmented society, it was essential to put before the masses a single point of worship and place their faith and dedication in One single Divine dispensation. Here we find that there is no mention of any religious denominations and divisions amongst mankind. It holds good for all the humanity:

      ਜਗਤੁ ਜਲµਦਾ ਰਖਿ ਲੈ ਆਪਣੀ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਧਾਰਿ

      ਜਿਤੁ  ਦੁਆਰੈ ਉਬਰੈ ਤਿਤੈ ਲੈਹੁ ਉਬਾਰਿ

– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 853

       Save by Thy Grace, the world in flames;

       Save it at whatever portal it may be saved.

       The holy Preceptor by inspiring Contemplating of the Divine Word.

       He conferred bliss

       Saith Nanak: None other beside the Lord liberation may confer

His doctrine was and is all inclusive. Following his mission of uniting people, he undertook four sojourns (Udasis) to the religious Centres of the prominent religions of his time, where he explained his mission as well as tried to understand their views. It is during these travels that the verses he collected from the saints of various religious denominations and different places which find a place in the text of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Granth Sahib is a sacred text with a message of universal love for people of all castes, creeds and colour.

    Whatever he preached as Nanak was further elaborated by his successors and was followed by their followers. There are many examples in Sikh history which highlight the negation of caste in Sikhism. For example, Gur Nanak’s lifelong companion Bhai Mardana, belonged to another religion and a lower strata of the society.

To eliminate the interference of the priestly class, His first step was to interact with people and directly address them in their own language, i.e., language of the masses Gurmukhi/Punjabi not the language of the elite. We find in history that the priestly class of the society has always been exploiting innocent masses and depriving them of the Divine Gospel. This situation is reflected in Guru Nanak’s verse:

          ਕਾਦੀ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਮਲੁ ਖਾਇ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਜੀਆ ਘਾਇ

      ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਅੰਧੁ ਤੀਨੇ ਓਜਾੜੇ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ

– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 662 

       The Muslim Judge utters falsehood and eats filth;

       The Brahmin guilty of slaughter of humanity,

       Makes show of pious bathing;

       The Yogi, blind of insight, knows not the true praxis.

       The devices of all three ruin mankind.

This priestly class has also enjoyed the patronage of the rulers of the time, because they acted as agents of the rulers to control the masses.

For Guru Nanak’s efforts and crusade against the useless rituals, he attracted the ire of these priests. Whether it was offering water to the West at Haridwar or cooking meat during moon eclipse at Kurukshtra, he was called by different derogatory adjectives like “Bhutna, diwana, baurana” which he himself mentions in his Bani:

      ਕੋਈ ਆਖੈ ਭੂਤਨਾ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਬੇਤਾਲਾ ਕੋਈ ਆਖੈ ਆਦਮੀ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਵੇਚਾਰਾ1

      ਭਇਆ ਦਿਵਾਨਾ ਸਾਹ ਕਾ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬਉਰਾਨਾ ਹਉ ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਜਾਨਾ

– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 991

       Some brand me as a ghost, some goblin;

       Some call me man; Nanak is a simple, humble man.

       Nanak is mad after the Divine King, after Him crazy.

       Other than the Lord recognize I non.

    We also find in Sikh history that what he preached was also practiced by his successors. The very first example is that the foundation stone of Sri Harmandir Sahib was laid down by a devout Muslim Saint – Sain Mian Mir. Its first caretaker was a common peasant Baba Buddha ji. For his Muslim followers, Guru Hargobind Sahib got a Masjid built which even now is being known as Guru ki Maseet.

As for peaceful resistance of Guru Nanak to the oppressor is concerned, we must take note of three events in history. Baba Nanak himself courted arrest at Emnabad against Babur’s oppression; Guru Arjan scarified his life to uphold his teachings and doctrines. Then we have peaceful agitation of Guru Tegh Bahadur, who offered his life for sacrifice rather than giving his freedom of religion and his conviction.

It is also important to mention that we cannot separate any one Guru from the other, not even Guru Gobind Singh from Guru Nanak. They are all one in spirit, Jot in different bodily forms.

          ਜੋਤਿ ਓਹਾ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਸਾਇ ਸਹਿ ਕਾਇਆ ਫੇਰਿ ਪਲਟੀਐ

– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 967

       The same is the Divine Light and same the life department.

       The King (Nanak) has again merely changed his body.

It can be said with certainty that the subsequent nine Gurus have said or done nothing that does not originate with Guru Nanak. Nanak is the spirit (ਜੋਤ) that pervaded the ten forms and now is with us in the form of Guru Granth Sahib (ਗੁਰਸ਼ਬਦ). To reach its culmination, one life was not enough. It was a movement initiated by Guru Nanak with a clear objective to create a man, a nation, which would take up a arms to defend itself, its society, its religion from all kinds of aggression and exploitation.

Gurdwara Sahib at Kartarpur is in big news these days. Let us trace Guru Nanak’s thought to this place. Baba Nanak’s Mazar was built by his Muslim followers and a Smadhi by was built by his non-Muslim followers. This shows his universal following among all kinds of people.

Guru Nanak lived his life meaningfully and propagated his mission through his triple principles of kirat karo (earnest living) wand chhako (sharing with the needy) and Naam Japo (remembering God’s sacred name) contrary to the Hindu concept of leading a life of retirement (sayas or vanvas) during the fag and of life. It is because of his holistic philosophy that his followers, the Sikhs conclude their daily prayer for a welfare of whole mankind in the Name of Nanak “Nanak Naam Charhdi Kala Tere Bhane Sarbat Da Bhalla”.




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