Last modified on 26 February 2014, at 11:21

Sikhism/Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Guru Nanak Dev Ji (Guru Nānak) (15 April 1469 -22 September 1539) is the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. Sikhs believe that all subsequent Gurus possessed Guru Nanak's divinity and religious authority. Guru Nanak may be referred to by other titles such as Baba Nanak or Nanak Shah. Sikhs acknowledge Guru Nanak to be the founder of their religion and the composer of hymns found in their sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib. The Sikh literature janam-sākhī (life stories) is the main source for the details of Guru Nanak's life.

A young Guru Nanak being protected from the sun by a Cobra. Rai Bular Bhatti is said to have witnessed this event and professed this to be a sign of Guru Nanak's divinity

Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in the village of Rāi Bhoi dī Talvandī (now called Nankana Sahib) in the Punjab to a family that belonged to the Hindu Khatrī caste. His father, Mehta Kalyan Das Bedi, was a patwari (accountant) for the village of Talwandi; employed by a local Muslim landlord, *Rai Bular Bhatti. Guru Nanak's mother was called Tripta Devi and his elder sister, Bebe Nanaki. Guru Nanak's family belonged to the Bedi clan. The word Bedi means "those who study the Vedas". A series of events during Guru Nanak's childhood led many to recognise his affinity with religious matters. At a very young age he is said to have surprised his teachers with his questions about God. He also refused the 'Janaeu' (sacred thread) that is traditionally given to a Hindu child who is ready to be initiated into the religious community. Guru Nanak was nine years old when this ceremony took place and when the Hindu priest asked Guru Nanak for the reasons of his refusal, Guru Nanak replied:

Though men commit countless thefts, countless adulteries, utter countless falsehoods and countless words of abuse; though they commit countless robberies and villainies night and day against their fellow creatures; yet the cotton thread is spun, and the Brahman cometh to twist it. For the ceremony they kill a goat and cook and eat it, and everybody then says 'Put on the Janaeu'. When it becomes old, it is thrown away, and another is put on. Nanak, the string breaketh not if it is strong. (Asa di Var, Mohalla 1)

The priest in utter despair asked, What kind of sacred thread O Nanak, would you wear?

The Guru replied:

Out of the cotton of compassion spin the thread of contentment. Tie knots of continence. Give it a twist of truth. That would make a Janaeu for the soul, if thou have it, O Brahman, put it on me. Such a thread once worn will never break nor get soiled, burnt or lost. The man who wears such a thread is blessed.