As the Sikhs across the world celebrate the 545h birth anniversary of their First Master Guru Nanak Dev Ji, it is pertinent to ask if the Great Master’s message is kept in mind while celebrating the momentous event in Gurdwaras (Sikh shrine) and elsewhere. The universal message of Guru Nanak has always had relevance. It is more relevant today when the world is getting more and more strife ridden and people are taking to the path of hatred and violence, forgetting the virtues of love and peace. Look around and you find struggle and strife resulting in senseless hatred and bloodshed.
Guru Nanak, more than five hundred years ago, preached a philosophy that could rid the world of much of its ailments and miseries. He preached universal brotherhood. He declared that he recognized human race as one. “Maanas ki jaat sabhe eke pahchanbo”, he said. Again, he said, “Na ko bairi, nahe bigana, sagal sang humko ban aayee” which means there are no strangers. I am on terms with all. Peace, harmony, love are the virtues Nanak gave value to. In fact, in recognizing human race as one, he was only taking forward the old Indian idea of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam” which means the whole world is a family. In Guru Nanak’s times in India, there were two major religious groups- the Hindus and the Muslims. The latter came to India as invaders and forced many Hindus to convert to Islam.
There was natural hatred amongst the Hindus for their Muslim oppressors. It has lingered on and even modern democratic India has not been able to remove it. Guru Nanak raised his voice against the tyranny of the Muslim rulers but never became a part of the hate campaign. He had two constant companions- one a Hindu, Bala, and the other, a Muslim, Mardana. He gave out a message of love and oneness of humanity in having the two of them from rival communities.
It is said when Guru Nanak left this world his body was claimed by both the Hindus and the Muslims for the last rites. We need a Guru Nanak today. And we can find him in his teachings. The world can certainly become a better and a more beautiful place to live in if we turned to Guru Nanak for guidance.