Happy Birthday Guru Nanak Dev Ji – The Social Reformer

Today, Sikhs around the world will be celebrating the Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism.

The internet is consumed with articles about Guru Nanak Dev Ji so feel free to explore, but for my small community of readers, this is a very short insight into the life of a person who was a teacher and a man of God.

Respected that readers will sit in three distinct camps; Spiritual, Agnostic (to which there are many types) and Atheist.  Whichever camp you sit in, please take a moment to read this post.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji is often referred to as “The Social Reformer”.  It is written that he was exceptionally wise from a young age and took a keen interest in how one would communicate with God.  Somewhere in his mid-thirties he had, what some may refer to, divine intervention in which he vanished for three days and met with God.  On his return, he offered his first gift to the world, the Mul Mantar.  The Mul Mantar is his description of God, following his meeting with God over the space of those three days.

Guru Nanak travelled all over India with his companion, Bhai Mardana and together they would spread the message of God to masses of people, referred to as Sangat (congregation). 

Guru Nanak always stressed that regardless of whatever religion you followed, it was important that you practiced it 100%, with all your heart.  Guru Nanak also helped people see impracticalities in life, to move away from the notion that by harming your body, sacrificing, idol worship or even visiting phantom priests, you could move closer to God.  Along his travels, he came across various situations and provided eye-opening experiences for many people, who went on to lead a reformed life under their respective beliefs.

What my children really enjoy is learning and understanding about Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Three Golden Rules:

  1. Meditate on God’s Name (Nam japna)
  2. Earn an honest living.  Guru Nanak Dev Ji stressed that truth is high, higher still is truthful living (Kirat karna)
  3. Share your time and money with needy people, help those less fortunate then yourselves.  Guru Nanak Dev Ji stressed that 10% of your earnings should go towards such causes (Vand chhakna).

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message was universal for the entire human race to act upon, not just for Sikhs around the world. 

So I will finish this post with a favourite Sakhi (story) of mine, one that was told to me as a young child and I now tell my kids.

Extract from www.sikhnet.com

The Honest Work of Lalo

    Guru Nanak used to travel all over India with his companions Bala and Mardana. Wherever they went, they made beautiful music to help people understand God and spread truth. This story takes place when they visited a remote village in Northern India.
    As Guru Nanak and his companions walked towards this village, the people had heard the news and were excited that Baba Nanak was coming. Lalo, a simple and hardworking carpenter, ran out to meet him. He had heard of Baba Nanak and wanted to serve him. He was determined to invite the Guru to his home. He fell at Guru Nanak’s feet, saying, “O Baba Ji, my soul is honored to see your divine presence. Please come to my house so I can serve you.”
    Guru Nanak agreed to Lalo’s pure request and went to the carpenter’s modest home. He and his companions ate the simple food offered. It was a typical meal in the region, with rice, daal, yogurt and chapatis. Even though it was simple food, it was made with love and Guru Nanak enjoyed eating it very much. Lalo and his wife were very hospitable and serviceful. When Guru Ji left they felt very blessed to have had such a saint in their house. 
    In the same village there was also a very rich man named Malik Bhago. He was the governor of the area. He didn’t treat people very nicely but every year he organized a huge festival to please God. His servants brought expensive, rare, and delicious food imported from all over India. It took them days to prepare the meal. When he heard Guru Nanak was in the area, Malik Bhago sent a messenger to Guru Nanak to ask him to join him in the feast at his home.
    First, Guru Nanak said he could not come. But the messenger became afraid, “He might beat me if you don’t come back with me to the feast.” So Guru Ji went with him. When he got to Malik Bhago’s house, he didn’t eat anything.

Instead, he just sat by himself meditating.
    Malik Bhago was offended. He had found out that the Guru had eaten at Lalo’s house just the day before. He approached the Guru angrily, asking him, “Baba, why haven’t you eaten any of this food? You can eat at the house of a low caste carpenter but not my food?! It is the most exotic, expensive, rich food you can get, why won’t you eat it?”
    Guru Nanak said, “I will show you why.” He then asked someone to go to Lalo’s house and bring some of the food back. When the food arrived, Guru Ji took a chapati from Lalo’s house in one of his hands. He took a chapati from Malik Bhago’s feast in the other hand. He began squeezing the chapatis and something amazing happened. Out of the Lalo’s, milk came out! Everyone was amazed! It was a miracle. But out of Malik Bhago’s chapati came blood. Everyone was shocked.
    Malik Bhago arrogantly asked, “What does this prove?!” Guru Ji patiently replied, “Lalo works and earns honestly. His wife cooked the food with love and they served it with kindness and devotion.” Lalo’s food was like milk to a saint. Guru Nanak continued, “Your servants made the food with fear. They are afraid of what will happen if they do anything wrong and angry at you for treating them like you do.” So Malik Bhago’s food was like blood. “Only food that is made with love is truly good for the body.”
    We know that we must eat food to nourish our bodies. But if it has bad energy in it, then why should we eat it? It’s not really good for our bodies. It’s always best to eat food made with good energy.
    Malik Bhago learned a great lesson that day and became a student of Guru Nanak’s. He realized being mean to people all year and then making a feast just once, doesn’t make God happy. He became a fair man who treated others lovingly. And from then on he was devoted to his holy saint and teacher, Guru Nanak. 

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