Today (November 10, 2011) is Guru Nanak Dev's 542nd birthday. Guru Nanak ji was born in the year 1469 to Kaluchand and Tripta Devi at Rai Bhoeki Talwandi, later called Nankana Sahib, now in Pakistan. He was married to Sulakshana Devi and had two children. The worldly pleasures couldn't tie this saint for he had a higher calling. He left home in search of truth. This is very much as Lord Buddha did two thousand years earlier. Guru Nanak ji was born on Kartik Purnima day. It is a coincidence that many great souls were born on full moon days, Gautam Buddh and Mahaveer are two other such sages.
As every flower has its season, there is always a great moment that has brought great men onto this earth. In a turbulent period when Hindu and Muslims were at logger-heads this 'Mahatma' was born to bring peace and harmony among the two warring groups. And he did succeed. His two closest associates, Mardana and Bhai Bala were muslims. He was a non-believer in superstitions and rituals that acted as smoke to cover the essence or the fire of religion.
His love and devotion for god was evident from a tender age of five, and when 18 he has mastered not only Persian, Sanskrit, Urdu, Punjabi and some more Indian languages, but also the tenets of true religion that consisted of mercy, happiness, devotion, compassion, peace, harmony and adventure. He profounded 'Sikhism' (sikh means disciple) based on universal brotherhood and truth and 'secularism' in true sense of the word.
Nanak ji composed a set of 38 verses, called 'pauri' (step), based on his spiritual experiences. This is called Japuji sahib, the morning prayers, that form the first chapter of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. His insight has the divine fragrances of the holy Gita, the teachings of Lord Buddha and sufi thoughts. It may be a surprise to many that Sri Guru Granth Sahib has couplets of saints like Kabir ji and Farid making the holy scripture truly a confluence of all religions - universal and secular! Sikhism spread to many countries like Myanmar (then Burma), Tibet, Iraq and Sri Lanka. Today we have the enterprising and lovable sikhs living across the world.
Nank ji's simple message is, 'As fragrance abides in the flower, as reflection is within the mirror, so does your lord abide within you. Why search for him outside?'
Nanak ji's spiritual longing is, 'Oh God, my mind is fascinated with Thy lotus-feet as the bumble bee with the flower; night and day I thirst for them.'
So long as man seeks peace and progress, the teachings of Nanak ji will be relevant. At the age of 70 he went into 'samadhi' in 1538. Angad, his disciple, and not his son, succeeded him.
On this sacred day of Guru Nanak Jayanti let us pay our heartfelt tributes and say our prayers to him and be determined to follow his path of religious harmony, peace, mercy and happiness.