Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj, is considered by Sikhs to have been the embodiment of God on earth. Here are five facts to help explain why millions still follow His teachings over 500 years since His birth.
1) He Promoted the Oneness of Mankind
Born in 1469, Guru Na nak Dev Ji lived in a time of huge inequality in 15th century India. Religious segregation, slavery and caste/gender discrimination were rife. Guru Nanak Dev Ji openly talked and acted against this, humbling royalty and nobleman, whilst elevating the poor.
‘‘Recognise the Lord’s light within all, and do not consider social class or status; there are no classes or castes in the world hereafter”– Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Ang 349).
2) He was one of the most traveled people in history
Guru Nanak Dev Ji traveled tens of thousa nds of miles to spread God’s message of oneness and purity. From His birthplace of Punjab, Guru Nanak travelled on foot as far as the middle-east, Europe and East Asia. Only accompanied by His faithful follower Bhai Mardana, Guru Nanak is recorded as having visited the likes of Mecca and historic sites in Tibet and Turkey in over 20 yea rs of travelling.
3) Championing Gender Equality
In India at the time Guru Nanak was around, women had very few rights. Widows were often burnt alive as their husbands were cremated and women in general were not allowed to remarry. Guru Nanak Dev Ji preached against this discrimination and sought to improve the respect of women.
‘‘From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, thefuture generations come. When his woman dies,he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all” – Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Ang,473).
4) He has different names in different cultures
Guru Nanak Dev Ji is revered in many different cultures and as such has been given various names. In Afghanistan He is commonly called Nanak Peer. He is also known as Nanak Rishi in Nepal, Baba Nanak in Iraq, Nanaka-Chraya in Sri Lanka and Nanak Lama in Tibet. These are just a few examples.
5) He Invented Langar
Guru Nanak Dev Ji started the Sikh concept of langar over 500 years ago as a child. Translating as ”communal kitchen”, langar sees every Gurdwara (Sikh temple) in the world have an open kitchen that distributes free meals all day, every day, to anyone, regardless of faith,gender, age or status.