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Indian Heritage & Culture

Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti

  • 08 Nov 2022
  • 4 min read

For Prelims: Guru Nanak Dev, Sikhism,

For Mains: Teachings of Guru Nanak Dev, Important Personalities

Why in News?

Recently, the 553rd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev was celebrated.

Who was Guru Nanak Dev?

  • Birth:
    • In 1459 at Talwandi Rai Bhoe village near Lahore, which was later renamed as Nankana Sahib.
    • He was the first of the 10 Sikh gurus and the founder of Sikhism.
  • Contributions:
    • Initiated inter-faith dialogue way back in the 16th century and had conversations with most of the religious denominations of his times.
    • Wrote compositions which were included in the Adi Granth, compiled by Guru Arjan (1563-1606), the fifth Sikh guru.
      • This came to be known as Guru Granth Sahib after the additions made by the 10th Sikh guru – Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708).
    • Advocated the 'Nirguna' (devotion to and worship of formless divine) form of bhakti.
    • Rejected sacrifices, ritual baths, image worship, austerities.
    • Set up rules for congregational worship (Sangat) involving collective recitation.
    • Gave the basic mantra of ‘Ek Onkar’ to his followers and insisted on treating all human beings equally, without discriminating on the basis of caste, creed and gender.
  • Death:
    • In 1539 at Kartarpur, Punjab.

What is the Relevance of Guru Nanak Dev for Modern India?

  • Building an Egalitarian Society: His idea of equality can be deduced by the following innovative social institutions, as given by him:
    • Langar: Collective cooking and sharing of food.
    • Pangat: Partaking food without distinctions of high and low caste.
    • Sangat: Collective decision making.
  • Social Harmony:
    • According to him, the whole world is God’s creation, and all are born equal. There is only one universal creator i.e. “Ek Onkar Satnam”.
    • Apart from it, forgiveness, patience, forbearance, and kindness are the core of his teachings.
  • Creating a Just Society:
    • He placed the motto of "kirat karo, naam japo and vand chhako" (work, worship and share) before his disciples.
    • He stood for karma as the basis of dharma, and he transformed the idea of spiritualism into the ideology of social responsibility and social change.
    • He advocated the concept of “dasvandh” or donating one-tenth of one’s earnings among needy persons.
  • Gender Equality:
    • According to him, "Women as well as men share the grace of God and are equally responsible for their actions to him.”
    • Respect for women and gender equality is perhaps the most important lesson to be learnt from his life.
  • Bringing Peace:
    • According to Indian philosophy, a Guru is the one who provides illumination, dispels doubt and shows the right path.
    • In this context, the ideas of Guru Nanak Dev can help promote peace, equality and prosperity across the globe.

Source: PIB

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