Guru Nanak Dev, the first of the 10 Sikh Gurus, is believed to be the founder of Sikhism. His birth is celebrated world wide as Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti or Gurpurab on the full-moon day in the month of Katak, which falls during the months of October-November. This year the occasion will be commemorated on November 4 and is a gazetted holiday in India.
Born on April 15, 1469 in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi (now in Pakistan; Nankana Sahib), he is known as one of the “greatest religious innovators of all times”. Nanak Dev travelled extensively to spread the message and teaching of God. He believed that there is an almighty who dwells in every one of his creations and constitutes the eternal truth. He set up various spiritual social and political platforms based on equality, fraternal love, goodness and virtue.
According to the Sikh traditions, the early years of Nanak Dev’s life were marked with various events that showcased that he has been marked by divine grace. As a young boy of five, he voiced interest in divine subjects. Later, on joining school at the age of seven, he is believed to have astonished his teachers by describing the first letter of alphabet, ‘A’ and the mathematical version ‘1’, as denoting the unity and oneness of God. Later, he learnt Hindi, Sanskrit and Persian.
However, his interest in academics never developed. He tried different professions like agriculture, cattle-tending and shop-keeping but failed to succeed. He married at the age of 19 and had two sons. Due to his lack of interest in worldly affairs, he soon drifted towards the spiritual world and at the age of 30 he visited various holy places to gain knowledge.
The words and teachings of the saint are registered in the form of 974 hymns in the holy texts of the Guru Granth Sahib and according to the beliefs of the Sikh religion, it is believed that the spirit of Nanak Dev descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus.