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General Studies 1 >> Art& Culture

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1. Context
Guru Nanak Jayanti marks the birthday of the founder of Sikhism and the first of its nine gurus, Guru Nanak or Baba Nanak. Sikhs celebrate this day with a procession called Nagar Kirtan, which sees groups of people sing hymns and visit gurudwaras
Amar Ujala
2. About Guru nanak or Baba Nanak
  • Nanak, born on April 15, 1469, into a Hindu family in the present-day city of Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, displayed an early fascination with profound inquiries regarding life's purpose and religious aspects.
  • After an early marriage and becoming a parent, he revisited these contemplations. Working as an accountant in Sultanpur for a period, he later partnered with a Muslim minstrel named Mardana, as detailed in Khushwant Singh's book "A History of the Sikhs." Together, they engaged in nightly hymn singing and hospitably fed all visitors.
  • Nanak adhered to a routine of bathing in the river before sunrise and attending to his duties in the durbar during the day. He is believed to have journeyed extensively, reaching places like Sri Lanka, Baghdad, and Central Asia to disseminate his teachings.
  • His final travels included visits to Mecca and Madina, sacred in Islam, as well as revered sites in other religions—a series of journeys known as 'udaasis.'
  • In one such instance, He was staying in a mosque and fell asleep with his feet towards the Kaba (a cube-shaped structure in Mecca that is considered holy). The act was considered of grave disrespect to the House of God
  • When the mullah came to say his prayers, he shook Nanak rudely and said: “O servant of God, thou hast thy feet towards Kaba, the house of God; why hast thou done such a thing?” Nanak replied: “Then turn my feet towards some direction where there is no God nor the Kaba.’”
  • Singh traces the word ‘Sikhs’, used for Nanak’s followers, to the Sanskrit words ‘sisya’ (meaning disciple) or ‘siksha’ (instruction or education), also found in the Pali language as sikkhii
3. Teachings of Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, imparted several fundamental teachings that form the core principles of Sikh philosophy:

Oneness of God: Nanak preached the concept of Ik Onkar, emphasizing the belief in a single, formless, and all-pervasive God. He taught that God exists in everyone and everything.

Equality: He advocated for equality among all human beings, irrespective of caste, creed, gender, or social status. Nanak denounced the caste system and believed in the inherent dignity and equality of all individuals.

Service and Compassion: Nanak emphasized the importance of selfless service (Seva) and compassion towards others. Sikhs are encouraged to engage in acts of kindness and service to humanity.

Honest Livelihood: He promoted the idea of earning an honest living through hard work and integrity. Nanak discouraged exploitation or deceit in earning wealth.

Naam Simran: Nanak stressed the significance of remembering God through meditation and repetition of the divine name (Naam Simran). This practice helps in connecting with the divine and maintaining spiritual consciousness.

Rejecting Rituals: He criticized empty rituals and formalities, instead emphasizing the importance of a sincere and loving relationship with God through devotion and righteous living.

Social Justice: Nanak spoke out against social injustices and advocated for fairness, truthfulness, and standing up against oppression.

Universal Brotherhood: He envisioned a world where people of all backgrounds live harmoniously, respecting diversity while recognizing the unity of all humanity.

4. Guru Nanak Choosing his Disciple
  • Nanak spent the last years of his life in Kartarpur and his disciples followed a particular routine under him. They arose before sunrise, bathed in cold water and gathered in the temple to recite the morning prayer and sang hymns.
  • Service or sewa was also carried out. It exists to date as a system where people contribute their labour and help the needy through acts such as cooking food for them at the gurudwaras (what is known as ‘langar’).
  • People could then attend to their own matters and congregate again in the evenings for hymn-singing. They would dine and pray again, and then leave for their homes
  • This was followed in other gurudwaras, too. One such disciple was named Lehna. As the Guru’s sons were not inclined towards spirituality, Nanak chose Lehna as the guru after him, giving him the name Angad (meaning ‘of my own limb’). He also had a sizeable following of his own
  • Guru Nanak died on September 22, 1539. A well-known incident from his life is how Hindus and Muslims sought to assert their own rituals
5. All the Gurus of Sikh religion

The Sikh religion, founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the 15th century, spans over a line of ten spiritual leaders known as Gurus. Here is a list of all the Sikh Gurus:

Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469–1539): The founder of Sikhism and the first of the Sikh Gurus. He preached the oneness of God and emphasized equality, compassion, and service to humanity.

Guru Angad Dev Ji (1504–1552): He succeeded Guru Nanak and further strengthened the Sikh community. Guru Angad Dev Ji introduced the Gurmukhi script and emphasized physical fitness through wrestling and other activities.

Guru Amar Das Ji (1479–1574): He expanded the institution of langar (community kitchen) and emphasized social equality and the role of women in spiritual matters. Guru Amar Das Ji also established Amritsar as a center for Sikhism.

Guru Ram Das Ji (1534–1581): He founded the city of Amritsar and initiated the construction of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple). Guru Ram Das Ji also composed hymns that are part of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji (1563–1606): He compiled the Adi Granth, the central religious scripture of Sikhism, and completed the construction of Harmandir Sahib. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the first Sikh Guru to be martyred, as he refused to compromise Sikh principles.

Guru Hargobind Ji (1595–1644): He militarized the Sikhs to defend against persecution and oppression. Guru Hargobind Ji introduced the concept of Miri-Piri, emphasizing both spiritual and temporal power.

Guru Har Rai Ji (1630–1661): He was known for his compassion and love for nature. Guru Har Rai Ji further strengthened the Sikh community and promoted peaceful coexistence.

Guru Har Krishan Ji (1656–1664): He became the Guru at a very young age and is remembered for his wisdom and healing powers. Guru Har Krishan Ji provided spiritual guidance to the people during a smallpox epidemic.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji (1621–1675): He stood against religious persecution and sacrificed his life for the protection of religious freedom, refusing to convert to Islam under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666–1708): He established the Khalsa, a community of initiated Sikhs, and initiated the practice of the Five Ks. Guru Gobind Singh Ji also declared the Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Guru of the Sikhs before his passing.

Previous Year Questions
1. With regard to Guru Nanak which of the following statements is NOT correct? (UGC NET 2019)
When Nanak was sixteen, his parents arranged his marriage, later he became a merchant and a farmer
B.Bhai Mardana joined Guru Nanak and they became lifelong friends.
C. He travelled from Panipat to Assam, visiting Hindu and Sufi pilgrim countries.
D.He went to Sri Lanka, but could not go to Kashmir despite his strong desire to go there.
Answer (A)
Source: indianexpress

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