Kirt karni, working for a living; Naam japna, remembering God and vand chakna, sharing one’s possessions these formed the cornerstone of Guru Nanak’s thinking and philosophy. The founder of Sikhism, the world’s youngest religion, Guru Nanak was not only a supreme apostle who propagated dharma and belief in one God; he was also among the greatest philosophers of the modern era, having reached heights of spiritual enlightenment.
Among the western world’s philosophers, Galileo’s belief that planets orbit the sun, led to his arrest. Prince Machiavelli’s acute understanding of the human nature was regarded the work of the devil. William Gilbert, Vesalius and Francis Bacon shaped their generation’s thinking, and Martin Luther, John Knox and John Wesley are credited with awakening the stupefied spirit. At about the same time, Guru Nanak was shaping thinking in the Indian subcontinent. His projection of earth’s distance to the moon corresponds to what scientists tell us today. He also disclosed that there are multiple universes, spheres and planets.
While Christopher Columbus was voyaging the seas, Guru Nanak walked the land, spreading his teachings in the same manner as had Jesus some 1,400 years before. Going by recorded accounts, Guru Nanak spent a lot of time travelling the world. He is believed to have travelled over 28,000 kilometres in his five major tours between 1500 and 1524, leaving a great impact on everyone he encountered. What’s significant is the fact that he travelled with a purpose to contribute towards creating a better world.
The Guru gave his attention to almost all issues that impacted society and contemporary existence. He challenged the Indi existence. He challenged the Indian caste system, promoted women’s rights, championing the cause of women’s liberation. He promoted education for all men, women and children by introducing the Gurmukhi script of the Adi Granth, which became accessible to all.He introduced an agenda of reconciliation and community cohesion to create an inclusive society and just world.He believed that integrity , respect and trust between different communities would lead to dignity for all people. His greatest contribution was the teaching of the `Science of the Word’ (Naam), which forms the subject matter of the Adi Granth which was com posed and compiled by the Sikh Gurus. The gift of Naam was the ultimate gift of the Sikh faith and has a pure and special message for the whole world by communion with Shabad, the Word, shall be attained the personal realisation of God, and hence, the sure way to salvation.
Guru Nanak was an embodiment of love. People of all faiths loved and respected him, and on his death, flowers from both Hindus and Muslims were placed over his body . According to legend, the claim to his body was to go to the community whose flowers remained fresh the longest. The following morning, both groups of flowers remained fresh but the body was missing! Thanks to Guru Nanak’s wisdom, Sikhism with its monotheistic outlook shared a common bond with Islam, and with its Indian cultural identity , a cultural one with Hinduism and Buddhism. Sikhism was to be the common meeting ground between these three cultural streams. This gives meaning to the decision of Guru Ram Das to invite a Muslim saint to lay the foundation stone of the Golden Temple, which was intended to be a symbol for a future confluence of world cultures.
Guru Nanak’s teachings of love, compassion, mercy , kindness, tolerance and mutual respect flowed from his teachings of love for God.