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Guru Nanak Dev - Shanmugam IAS academy in coimbatore
Guru Nanak Dev


What’s in news?

To celebrate 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the Nepal Rastra Bank has issued commemorative coins.

Key data:

  • 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.

Sikh Gurus:

  • After Guru Nanak’s death, the baton of the Guru passed on to Guru Angad.
  • There were 8 more Gurus in Sikhism.
    1. Guru Nanak – Founder of Sikhism
    2. Guru Angad – Started the Gurmukhi script. Visited by Humayun.
    3. Guru Amardas – Institutionalised the faith. Picked the site for the Golden Temple, Amritsar.
    4. Guru Arjan Dev – Compiled the Adi Granth (a.k.a Guru Granth Sahib). Executed by Jahangir.
    5. Guru Hargobind – Introduced the Akal Takht (seat of power).
    6. Guru Har Rai – Supported Dara Shikoh against Aurangzeb.
    7. Guru Har Kishan – Was the Guru from age 5 till his death before reaching 8 years.
    8. Guru Tegh Bahadur – Was publicly beheaded by Aurangzeb for refusing to convert to Islam in 1675.
    9. 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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