Life and Teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism

Guru Nanak in meditation

Today is the birth anniversary (Gurpurb) of Guru Nanak Dev ji. We’ll take this opportunity to talk about the life and teachings of Guru Nanak.

Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born in the 15th century. He emphasized equality, rejecting the notion of caste distinctions, and advocated that no one is born higher or lower. Nanak’s teachings transcended religious boundaries, aiming to harmonize Hindu and Muslim beliefs. Rejecting the Trinity, he propagated the oneness of God. His life centered on spreading a message of love, compassion, and devotion to a single divine entity.

Guru Nanak’s significant teachings include the importance of selfless service, truthful living, and the pursuit of knowledge. Sikhism, under his guidance, evolved into a monotheistic religion. Nanak’s legacy endures through the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhism, which encapsulates his teachings.

Guru Nanak traveled far and wide in the pursuit of spiritual knowledge, mostly by discussions and exchanging views with various sages and spiritual leaders of his times. He shared his opinion and belief that there is only One God and he is the truth, omnipresent, without fear or enmity, free of birth or death, and hence timeless.

If you go deeper into his life, teachings, and travels, you will gather that he was totally against rituals of any kind and idol worship. Yet, most of us are getting more and more ritualistic. We must revisit his writings and contemplate what he really tried to teach us.

If we try to sum up his life and his teachings, what we get are the three tenets of Sikhism.

  1. Naam Japo ਨਾਮ ਜਪੋ : Contemplate on God. (My personal take on this is that those who don’t believe in the existence of God can substitute it with meditation.)
  2. Kirt Karo ਕਿਰਤ ਕਰੋ : Earn an honest living
  3. Vannd Chhako ਵੰਡ ਛਕੋ : Share with those who don’t have

I would also like to add on his birthday (Parkash Divas) that Guru Nanak tells us through his writings in the Holy Guru Granth Sahib and his actions that no single day is auspicious or otherwise. Every day is auspicious, as long as you remember God.

So let us not just remember him and his teachings on this day, but every day of the year.

I hope this very brief write-up about the life and teachings of Guru Nanak will inspire you to read more about him.

I apologize if I might have made some inadvertent mistakes.


ਸਰਬਜੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ
November 27, 2023
Dr. Shamsher Singh Eye Hospital
Khanna, Punjab,India
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