Guru Nanak (1469-1539) was born into a Hindu family but did not take part in the ceremony to initiate him into the Hindu religion. The initiation ceremony is performed by the Brahman priest, this involves a sacred thread being placed over the person being initiated. Guru Nanak said he was neither Hindu or Muslim.
The Brahman priest who came to his house to perform the ceremony was asked by Guru Nanak to provide a thread that would not break, he could not and therefore, the initiation ceremony could not be done.
He worked for a Muslim; as he grew up, so he learned about the Muslim religion too. Eventually he became a religious teacher, teaching about a new faith using ideas from both Hinduism and Islam. This new religion, called Sikhism, was based on one God and on the equality of all human beings. Nanak travelled far and wide to teach about the new religion, he wrote hymns about it. He became known as a guru. His most famous hymn is the Japji, which Sikhs say at dawn each day.
The Sikh faith started as Guru Nanak realised that people were losing sight of God in their lives because of greed and superstition. He set out a list of new rules to bring people closer to God. These were based on the fact that there is only one God, responsible for all and that all people are equal and should have equal opportunities.
Three of the most important teachings of Nanak are known as nam simran, kirt karo, and wand chako.
Nam Simran: Think about God. (“Listening to the name gives truth, holy wisdom, contentment… by listening to the Name, sorrow and sin are destroyed.” Guru Nanak)
- Live a normal life.
- Earn a living through honest means and hard work.
Wand Chhako: Share with the needy whatever you can spare. Treat all men and women as equals regardless of nationalities, religions or creed.
A simple breakdown of his teaching:
- There is only one God.
- Sikhs should worship and pray to the one God and no-one else.
- Work hard and help others.
- Be honest
- Everyone is equal in the eyes of God, there is no rich, poor, male, female, black nor white. The only difference between people is in their actions.
- Be kind to all; birds, animals and people.
- Fear nothing, pray for the good of all.
- Be simple and honest in your daily life.
Before he died, Nanak told his most trusted follower, Lehna, that he must be the next guru. Lehna was given the name Guru Angad.
Birthday Festival of Guru Nanak Web Links
Guru Nanak’s birthday festival is a very important event in the Sikh calendar.
Guru Nanak’s Birthday – Guru Nanak’s Birthday is a celebration the birth of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru.
Guru Nanak’s Birthday for Kids – From Mindful Mum.
An Assembly & Video – For use in school when celebrating the festival.