Guru Nanak was yet another great saint of medieval India. He was born in 1469 A.D. in a village named Talwandi in Lahore district of trade Punjab. The place of his birth is known today Nankan.
Nanak was born in a Hindu family. His father was as trader. He wanted to engage his son in his business. But Nanak was deeply religious from his early life. He had no desire for worldly pleasures. Instead of earning money, he gave away money to the poor from his father’s business accounts. He was very much charitable to monks and sadhus. Gradually, he devoted himself to deeper spiritual thoughts.
Nanak visited many religious places inside India. According to traditions, he travelled outside, and visited Mecca and Madina.Like Kabir; Nanak lived the life of as simple householder. He believed that one could live saintly life without giving up home. Nanak died in 1538 A.D.
Nanak preached the nobody was as Hindu, nobody was a Muslim. Everybody was a man, belonging to human race. He discovered the inner spirit of Hinduism and Islam. The oneness of God appeared to him most real. The monotheism of the Hindu Upanishads appealed to him greatly. He believed that universal toleration was the aim of religions. Therefore, he preached against religious difference by pointing to the unity of Godhead.
The rigid outer forms of Hinduism and Islam appeared to Nanak as useless. His sayings contained the following Instructions:
“Religion consistent not in mere words,
He who looked only all men as equal as religious.
Religion consistent not in wandering to tombs or places of cremation,
Or sitting in attitudes of contemplation.
Religion consistent not in wandering in foreign countries
Or in bathing at places of pilgrimage.
Abide pure amidst the impurities of the world,
Thus salt thou fined the way to religion.”
Nanak was and ardent reformer. He criticized many superstitions in Hinduism and Islam. He denounced the worship of idols. To him, castes and races should disappear before the name of God. He laid great emphasis only personal purity of man. Selfishness, worldliness and falsehood were dangerous to religious conduct. He advised men to rise above this viee.
Nanak pointed out that man’s salvation depended only virtuous deeds. Exercise only words, phrases or philosophy would not take to God. It is by true devotion, love of fellowmen, and purity of mind that man could come nearer to divinity. He advised men to give upon blind beliefs. Men should realize the universal truth, he preached.
Nanak’s doctrines attracted large following. Both Hindu and Muslims became his disciples. Before his death, he nominated as disciple named Angad as his successor.Angad organized the followers of Nanak into distinct community. Thus, there emerged as new religion named Sikhism. The followers of this faith are known as the Sikhs.
Nanak’s preaching and spiritual thought left permanent results. His follower practiced the Guru’s principles of purity and reforms with zeal.