550TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF GURU NANAK DEV
What’s in news?
To celebrate 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the Nepal Rastra Bank has issued commemorative coins.
- Coins of 2,500, 1,000 and 100 Nepali rupees were launched in Kathmandu.
- Punjab government to release 550 prisoners as humanitarian gesture on Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary.
- Nine Sikh prisoners across the country will also be released.
About Guru Nanak:
- Guru Nanak was born on 15 April 1469 at Nankana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan to a Hindu family. His father was a crop revenue accountant.
- Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary is celebrated as Guru Nanak Gurpurab by Sikhs all over the world.
- Even though Guru Nanak worked as an accountant for a while, he was drawn towards spiritualism and showed a spiritual and intellectual side from a young age.
- According to Sikh traditions, there were events in his early life which distinguished him from others and confirmed that he was special.
- He studied both Hinduism and Islam.
- Guru Nanak introduced the concept of langar where everybody partakes of a meal as equals.
- This is a tradition continued by Sikhs till date in Gurudwaras. This practice symbolises charity and equality.
- He travelled to many places like Mecca, Baghdad, Multan, etc.
Guru Nanak’s Teachings
- There is only one god – a tenet that is stressed upon in the saying ‘Ik Onkar’.
- This is the phrase used in Sikhism to refer to the one Supreme Being that controls the universe.
- Guru Nanak was against caste-based distinctions. He also denied the need for priests and rituals.
- He said that he was not an incarnation of god or even a prophet, but that everyone could ‘speak’ to god directly.
- The concept of god is ‘Vahiguru’, an entity that is shapeless, timeless, omnipresent and invisible.
- Other names for God in the Sikh faith are Akaal Purkh and Nirankar.
- He laid great stress on purity of character and actions.
- Sikhism also lays a lot of importance to charity and selfless service.
- Many concepts of Hinduism are also seen in Sikhism such as the concept of Maya, Kali Yuga, Jivamukta (salvation), reincarnation and karma.
- Many believe Sikhism to be a bridge between Hinduism and Islam.
- Guru Nanak denounced idol worship and pilgrimages.
- After Guru Nanak’s death, the baton of the Guru passed on to Guru Angad.
- There were 8 more Gurus in Sikhism.
- Guru Nanak – Founder of Sikhism
- Guru Angad – Started the Gurmukhi script. Visited by Humayun.
- Guru Amardas – Institutionalised the faith. Picked the site for the Golden Temple, Amritsar.
- Guru Arjan Dev – Compiled the Adi Granth (a.k.a Guru Granth Sahib). Executed by Jahangir.
- Guru Hargobind – Introduced the Akal Takht (seat of power).
- Guru Har Rai – Supported Dara Shikoh against Aurangzeb.
- Guru Har Kishan – Was the Guru from age 5 till his death before reaching 8 years.
- Guru Tegh Bahadur – Was publicly beheaded by Aurangzeb for refusing to convert to Islam in 1675.
- Guru Gobind Singh – Established the Khalsa in 1699 and organised the Sikhs into a martial sect.
Guru Granth Sahib:
- This is the central scripture of Sikhism and it is revered as the 11th Guru by Sikhs.
- It was chiefly composed by Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan, and Guru Teg Bahadur.
- Guru Nanak contributed 974 poetic hymns to the Guru Granth Sahib.
- It also contains teachings of Bhakti saints like Kabir, Ramananda, Namdev and a Sufi saint Sheikh Farid.
- The book is written in the Gurmukhi script in various languages like Lahnda (western Punjabi), Sanskrit, Sindhi, Persian, Braj Bhasha and Khariboli.
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