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Guru Nanak Dev Ji: The Enlightened Founder of Sikhism

Guru Nanak Dev Ji

 Explore the life, teachings, and impact of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, in this comprehensive essay in English.



Guru Nanak Dev Ji is the first Sikh Guru who founded Sikhism. This religion believes in one God and encourages kindness, fairness, and love. His teachings, based on truth, love, and virtue, continue to guide millions of Sikhs worldwide.

Early Life and Spiritual Awakening

Born in 1469 in Talwandi (now Nankana Sahib in Pakistan), Guru Nanak Dev Ji displayed a deep spiritual inclination from a young age. His profound questions on life and spirituality led him to enlightenment. At 30, he had a religious experience, marking the beginning of his spiritual journey.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Teachings

Guru Nanak Dev Ji preached the concept of ‘Ik Onkar,’ signifying one universal God. He emphasized truthful living, selfless service (Seva), and remembrance of God (Simran). His teachings rejected caste barriers, rituals, and superstitions, advocating for equality and fraternity.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Udasis

Guru Nanak Dev Ji undertook extensive travels to spread his teachings, known as ‘Udasis.’ He travelled across India, Tibet, Arabia, and Persia, engaging in dialogues and discourses with people of various faiths.

Guru Granth Sahib and Japji Sahib

Guru Nanak Dev Ji wrote 974 hymns for the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism. Sikhs recite his morning prayer, Japji Sahib, daily because it represents his teachings.

Establishment of Langar

Guru Nanak Dev Ji initiated the tradition of ‘Langar’ or community kitchen, where people, irrespective of their caste, creed, or status, could eat together to challenge social hierarchies and promote equality.

Succession and Legacy

1539 before his demise, Guru Nanak Dev Ji nominated Guru Angad Dev Ji as his successor. His teachings continue to be a guiding light for Sikhs and an integral part of Indian spiritual thought.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Disciples

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings attracted disciples from different walks of life. Among them were Bhai Mardana, a Muslim rabab player, and Bhai Bala, a Hindu, showing the Guru’s teachings transcended religious boundaries.

Panth Khalsa

Guru Nanak Dev Ji started the Panth Khalsa, a group of Sikhs who follow the teachings of the ten Sikh Gurus and the Guru Granth Sahib.

Sacha Sauda

At a young age, Guru Nanak Dev Ji exemplified his compassion when he used the money for business to feed people in need. This act is known as Sacha Sauda (the real deal).

Philosophy of Oneness

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s philosophy revolved around the unity and oneness of God. He emphasized that God resides in all beings, promoting the concept of universal brotherhood.

Equality for Women

Guru Nanak Dev Ji championed the cause of women’s equality. He denounced the practices of Sati and Pardah and asserted that men and women are equal in the eyes of God.

Against Ritualistic Practices

Guru Nanak Dev Ji questioned blind faith and ceremonial practices. He encouraged people to understand the essence of prayers rather than merely reciting them.

Concept of Miri and Piri

Guru Nanak Dev Ji introduced the concepts of Miri (temporal authority) and Piri (spiritual authority), underlining the importance of balancing worldly responsibilities and spiritual duties.

Composition of Hymns

Guru Nanak Dev Ji composed numerous hymns, or Shabads, to praise the divine. His hymns, encapsulating deep spiritual truths, are sung in Gurdwaras and Sikh households today.

Rejection of Asceticism

Guru Nanak Dev Ji rejected the path of asceticism. He advocated for a householder’s life, stating one can achieve enlightenment while fulfilling worldly duties.

His Demise

Guru Nanak Dev Ji died in 1539, but his teachings still helped many people. His teachings promote love, equality, and selfless service.


Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings of equality, love, and service have impacted society indelibly. His life and principles provide a beacon of light, encouraging us to lead a life rooted in truth, compassion, and social responsibility.


1. When is Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birth anniversary celebrated?

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birth anniversary, known as Guru Nanak Jayanti or Gurpurab, is celebrated with great devotion on the full moon day of Kartik month per the Hindu calendar.

2. What does Guru Nanak Dev Ji teach the three principles?

Guru Nanak Dev Ji emphasized three principles – Naam Japna (chanting God’s name), Kirat Karni (earning an honest living), and Vand Chakna (sharing with others).

3. What is the significance of the ‘Udasis’ of Guru Nanak Dev Ji?

The ‘Udasis’ were long journeys undertaken by Guru Nanak Dev Ji to spread his teachings. They symbolize his commitment to sharing spiritual wisdom.

4. How did Guru Nanak Dev Ji promote equality?

Guru Nanak Dev Ji promoted equality by rejecting caste distinctions, establishing the tradition of Langar, and advocating for the equal status of women.

5. What was Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s view on God?

Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed in one universal God, which is formless, eternal, and beyond human comprehension. He emphasized that God could be realized through love, service, and remembrance.

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