Script: Daljeet Singh Sidhu
Illustrated: Amarjit Virdi
Age Group: For All Ages
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April 15, 1469, three hours before dawn, the village of Talwandi, about forty miles south-west of Lahore, witnessed the birth of one of the greatest spiritual leaders of all times. When the child was born, a flash of light filled the home of father Mehta Kalu Chand Bedi and mother Tripta. And when he took his first breath, the child gently laughed like a saint.
Nanak was born into a society that was in the grip of religious orthodoxy and empty ritualism. Society was further crippled by infanticide, child marriage, subordination of women and a rigid caste system. A gifted child and deeply spiritual from an early age, Nanak amazed his teachers by quickly learning the alphabet and the scriptures. He was soon composing poems praising God. Before he entered his teens, Nanak started to question the traditional religious ceremonies and superstitions of people around him.
Believed to have attained enlightenment around the age of twenty-seven, Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent the next twenty-three years travelling as far as Sri Lanka, Tibet, Assam and Mecca to spread his message.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji and his teachings brought in a period of social change, and spiritual and religious enlightenment. His message was simple and based on ethics, social responsibility and, social justice. He asked his followers to worship one God, control worldly desires, treat everyone equally, work honestly, share with the less fortunate and serve the community. His followers were also to refrain from all forms of external piety and ritualism.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a divinely inspired poet. His teachings come to us in 974 hymns composed by him. This divine poetry is compiled in the Sikh holy book Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and is considered the revealed word of God by his followers.