Guru Nanak Jayanti / Gurupurab
Guru Nanak Jayanti or Gurupurab is a major Sikh festival observed to commemorate and remember the birth and philosophy of Guru Nanak. It is the most sacred festival of Sikhs.
The word “Gurpurab” is a combination of two words– “Gur”, means Guru or master, and “Purab”, which means parv in Hindi, meaning day. So Gurpurab is the day dedicated to the Guru. Sikhs and ardent followers of Guru Nanak remember him by celebrating Guru Nanak Jayanti with great enthusiasm that usually falls on Kartik Poornima.
History of Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Ji was born on April 15, 1469, at Rai Bhoi ki Talvandi (Punjab, Pakistan). Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism, one of the youngest religions in the world. Guru Nanak became the first Sikh guru and his spiritual teachings laid the foundation of Sikhism. He traveled several parts of the world and offered his teachings. He advocated the existence of one God and taught his followers that every human being can reach out to God through meditation and other pious practices. His teachings were immortalized in the form of 74 hymns, which came to be known as ‘Guru Granth Sahib’, the holy book of Sikhism.
There are more than 20 million followers of Sikhism and it is considered as one of the major religion in India.
Guru Nanak was born in a middle-class family and lived with his parents, He was very fond of his sister Bebe Nanaki and spent most of his childhood with her. In 1475, his sister got married to Jai Ram and shifted to Sultanpur. Nanakji wanted to spend a few more days with her, so he also went to Sultanpur and worked under his brother in law. Nanak Ji used to go out every morning to a nearby river to meditate and bathe. One day he went to the river, he did not return for three days. When he returned, he looked like a man who is processed.
The first thing he spoke, he said, ‘there is no Hindu or Musalman’. These words were the beginning of his beliefs and teachings.
Nanak Ji traveled around the work to offer his teachings to religion and spirituality. He founded Sikhism, and this is where he used to know as Guru Nanak Ji. It teaches its followers to escape the clutches of ordinary human traits, such as lust, rage, greed, attachment, and conceit (collectively known as the ‘Five Thieves’). Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, which believes that God is shapeless, timeless and invisible. It also teaches the concepts of worldly illusion (Maya), Karma, and liberation. Some of the key practices of Sikhism are meditation and the recitation of Gurbani, the hymns composed by the Gurus. The religion also advocates justice and equality and urges its followers to serve mankind.
Guru Nanak Teachings
Guru Nanak Ji always taught everyone that there is only one god. There is no Hindu or Muslim. He taught every human that every Human is capable to attain spiritual perfecting which will ultimately lead them to God. He also said that rituals or priests are not necessary to reach out to God. He said that anyone who wants to feel the presence of God, keep repeating the name of God. He also urged them to lead a spiritual life by serving others and by leading an honest life without indulging in exploitation or fraud.
To offer teachings to people, he took 5 journeys in different places. He first traveled to his parents and explained to them why these journeys are important for him. It is believed that Guru Nanayak Ji spent 24 years of his life and walked for 28,000 Km in total He traveled to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Nepal, Tibet, etc to teach people Sikhism.
Guru Nanak’s preaching came at a time when there were conflicts between various religions. Mankind was so intoxicated with pride and ego that people had started fighting against each other in the name of God and religion. Hence, Guru Nanak began his teachings by saying that there are no Hindus and no Muslims. This implies the fact that God is one and that He is only seen differently through various religions. Guru Nanak’s teachings, although not intended, contributed to the unity of Hindus and Muslims to an extent. He also emphasized the importance of equality of mankind. He condemned slavery and racial discrimination and said that all are equal.
Guru Nanak is one of the most important religious figures to have contributed to women empowerment in India. Guru Nanak appealed to his followers to respect women and to treat them as equals. He said a man is always bound to women and that without women there would be no creation on earth. He also restored the faith in God by saying that the Creator is deeply involved in what man is trying to achieve on earth. While most of the major religions including the sects of Hinduism and Buddhism advocated monasticism to achieve salvation, Guru Nanak came up with a religion that supports the lifestyle of an average householder. Most importantly, he also taught his followers the methods to attain salvation while leading a normal life within society. He stressed on the importance of leading life with one’s family members. Not only did he teach his ideals, but he also served as a living example. When Guru Nanak left for the heavenly abode, nine other Gurus followed his teachings and continued to spread his message.
Guru Nayak Ji's teachings became extremely popular among Hindus and Muslims. They both claimed that Nanak Ji is one of their own. When Guru Nanak Ji came close to his end days, Both Muslims and Hindus approached him to ask which ritual to be performed to give honor to his last rites. Both communities wanted to perform their rituals. Guru Nanak Ji answered that both of them keep flowers on different sides of my body. Last rituals will be performed of that religion whose flowers remain fresh till morning. When people came in the morning to see whose flowers are fresh, they both were surprised as no flower was wilted and Guru Nanak’s mortal remains were disappeared. It was said that both communities picked up his flowers and buried them.