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There was a great saint named Guru Nanak Dev in India more than 500 years back. He was from Punjab. He traveled up to Baghdad, spreading the message of spirituality, of oneness with God, and the importance of devotion. Today, the Sikh community celebrates his birthday and it is a very important day for them. Today (3rd November 2017) is also Kartika Purnima (referring to the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Kartika), Dev Diwali, and the day when the propounder of the Jain religion, Lord Mahavira, received enlightenment.
Sikhism had ten Gurus, and Guru Nanak Dev was the first Guru (the founder of Sikhism). The stories of all the ten Gurus of the Sikh tradition are heartwarming and uplifting – they are of sacrifice. The Gurus sacrificed everything they had for the sake of the protection of the good, innocent, and righteous. People were also given the cream of knowledge by the Gurus in simple words.
Guru Nanak Dev spoke about the nectar of devotion – Bhakti Rasa. Guru Nanak Dev was a devotee totally immersed in Bhakti Yoga (referring to Devotion as one of the limbs of Yoga and the path to attain the Divine), while Guru Gobind Singh was a Karma Yogi (one who believes in doing one’s duty or karma as the path to liberation). So, you see a change or a shift from devotion to action. When people were stuck in the outward worldly affairs, Guru Nanak Dev inspired them to go inwards – that was his message.
He said, “Do not get so stuck in worldly affairs that you forget the name of God. Keep chanting the name of God.”
Many a times, Guru Nanak Dev’s father would ask him to go and sell some vegetables in the market. When selling vegetables, as he would start counting, he would get stuck at the number 13 (pronounced as tera in Hindi), which also means yours. Hearing the word tera, he would get immersed in thoughts of the Divine. So, even while doing work, his mind was never in the work – it was always on the Divine. Guru Nanak Dev would say, “I am yours, I am yours, I am yours.” Guru Nanak’s life was filled with pure love, wisdom, and valour.
There is a beautiful prayer in the Guru Granth Sahib, which goes:
“Ek Onkar (God is One), Satnam (His name is True), Karta-Purakh (He is the Creator), Nirbhau (He is without fear), Nirvair (He is inimical to none), Akal-murat (He never dies), Ajuni Saibhang (He is beyond birth and death), Gurprasaad (He is realized by the kindness of the True Guru), Jap (Repeat his name), Aad Sach (He is True, even before anything was created), Jugaad Sach (He has ever been True), Hai Bhi Sach (He is True now), Nanak Hose Bhi Sach (He will be True in the future).”
The whole world is born from one Omkaar (one Divinity). Everything around us is composed of the vibrations of this one Omkaar alone. And you can know Om only by the grace of the Guru. It is there everywhere, but it can only be understood through the Guru.
Om is the eternal sound that exists in the depth of one’s consciousness. If you go to the ocean and listen carefully to the waves, you will find the same sound – Om. If you go on top of a mountain and listen to the wind blowing, you will hear the sound Om. Before this birth, we were all in Om. After this birth, after we all die, we will merge into that cosmic sound Om. Even now, in the depth of creation, that sound still resonates. Whether Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Taoism, or Shintoism – in all these religions, Omkar (Om chanting) is given much prominence.
On Guru Nanak Dev’s birthday, let us remind ourselves not to let the mind slip into Maya – into this ever-changing relative world. Let us be happy, make others happy, pray, serve, and act to protect dharma.