Guru Nanak - Biography

Guru Nanak was a spiritual leader in India who founded Sikhism. He is the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. He is a visionary and a great soul; he was an original spiritual thinker.

Guru Nanak was born on 15 April 1469 at Nankana Sahib in Punjab. Presently it located near Lahore in Pakistan. His parents were Mehta Kalu, and Mata Tripta. They belong to a Hindu merchant family. He had one sister, Bebe Nanaki. In 475 she married and moved to Sultanpur. Nanak was attached to his sister and followed her to Sultanpur to live with her and her husband, Jai Ram.

From early ages, he showed particular interest in spiritual matters. At the age of seven, he attend school. In school, he described the symbolism of the first letter of the alphabet in Persian, which resembles the mathematical version of one, to represent the unity orguru-nanak oneness of God. In spite of being born in a Hindu family, he interacted with Muslims and was interested in reading the religious texts of both the faiths. He particularly criticized caste and gender inequalities in Hindu religion. One morning, when he went to bath in the nearby river with his friend Mardana, he disappeared beneath the water and everyone believed that he had drowned in the river. Three days later he miraculously appeared out of the river and told everyone that he had been taken to God’s court. Nanak’s life change in a big way. He was spiritually reawakened by this incident and was completely enlightened. From this point onwards, people started calling him “Guru Nanak”.

Guru Nanak founded and formalized the three pillars of Sikhism: Naam Japna, Kirat Karni and Vand Chakna. Nanak’s teachings can be found in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, as a collection of verses recorded in Gurmukhi. Guru Nanak travelled extensively during his lifetime. He started travelling at the age of 27 along with his longtime companion Bhai Mardana. He visited Tibet, most of South Asia and Arabia. He left his family for a thirty-year period.

Guru Nanak married Mata Sulakkhani, daughter of Mul Chand and Chando Rai on 24 September 1487. They had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Chand . Sri Chand received enlightenment from Guru Nanak's teachings and went on to become the founder of the Udasi sect. Guru Nanak appointed Bhai Lehna as the successor Guru, renaming him as Guru Angad. Guru Nanak died on 22 September 1539 in Kartarpur, at the age of 70. His birth is celebrated world-wide as Guru Nanak Gurpurab on Kartik Pooranmashi.