Guru Nanak’s 3 basic teachings

As the world commemorates the 550 years of the birth of Guru Nanak, Dr BS Bains ponders on some of his basic teachings

Ik Oangkar – Courtesy of Mehraam magazine
By Dr. B.S. Bains | OPINION |



Let us take an insight into these words and go beyond the horizon and explore the spectrum and adopt the teachings in our daily life in a most practical manner.

Synonyms of Honest: Fair, good, legitimate, honorable,  right,  pure,  decent,  righteous, conscientious,  impartial,  virtuous,  lawful,  blameless,  unbiased,  unprejudiced.

Synonyms of Earning: Be paid, make, get, receive, draw, gain, bring in, procure, take home, deserve, attain justify, be entitled to, reap, be worthy of, obtain, win, achieve, secure, acquire, fulfill, accomplish, benefit.

With this surgical insight of the words Honest and Earning, it becomes clear that we cannot confine our thoughts to only monetary earnings.  We ought to go beyond this limited acquisition.

What else can we earn in this life as we thread?

We earn: Respect, Honor, Dignity,

Rewards, Self Love,

Money, Knowledge,

Trust, Good Character, Honesty,

Experiences of Life (Travel, Pilgrimages, Business, Health, Friendship and Relatives),

Make a Good Home and a Family.

All these become Wealthy Treasures of Our Life as long as we live.

BUT! From these earnings, in normal circumstances, mankind diverts from TRUE LIVING, And Guru Nanak’s Message. All inner evils come to manifest and we divert into undesirable KARMA. This is where EGO comes to play destroying the Purity and Piety within us. Slowly and surely we start losing all these values and load-off the virtues from this vessel (This Body) and go away from this world without any honor.

Jio Kodyo tion tum sukh pavoo, kirat na Mitio Jaye  (SGGS, Pg 1171, Guru Nanak)

(The more we dig out the rubbish from the body, we shall be close to  find peace and piety within, otherwise undesirable KARAM cannot be erased)


Kirat Sanjog satti uth hoi, SGGS Pg185 (Guru Arjan 5th Guru of Sikhs)

(The Ego rises to such an extent that it gets burnt like Satee.  Satee was a suicidal practice by olden Indian women who would jump into the pyre of her Husband during cremation)

These Life’s Earnings become the “Hak” and that is “Halal”

Hence to keep ourselves close to our soul and be pure (Khalsa), two more attributes (2 More Pillar Principles) were added by Guru Nanak to this 1st pillar of his principle.

Even Bhagat Kabir endorses this through his Lines:

Kaho Kabir Jin Bhahe KHALSE Prem Bhagat Jin Jaane (SGGS 655)

Says Kabir, those who fine piety and remain humane, they become Khalsa (Pure).  They thus realize the Love and The Bounty Gifts (Inner peace and contentment) of Almighty.



In the 1st principle the Earned Deeds are all about Collection, Accumulating and Assimilation.  In short, it is more a Learning and Acquiring process.  While being in that process,  there has to be another process, concurrently taking place. It is important to note, that, the second phase of Guru Ji’s  teaching, is not a phase to be implemented only after having achieved all which is mentioned in the 1st principle.

We ought to simultaneously keep on sharing without any expectations.  Be sincere in this sharing process and expect nothing.  If praises comes as an outcome, say, that it is not attributed to us.  We need to remember, that whatever we have acquired in this Life, are actually gifts of living in the planet earth. All these attributes are constant and has been there and will remain there for years to come. Mankind only experience them in a different way in a different era.

We shall have to share every attributes that we EARN in life. Sharing in the form:

  • Partaking to show Respect to others the way you had gained,
  • Honor the good in others,
  • Dignify others,
  • Reward others,
  • Shower love to one another,
  • Share monetary earning,
  • Share Knowledge without reservation,
  • Teach to build Trust  and Good Character,
  • Share Honesty,
  • Share the Experiences of Life (Travel, Pilgrimages, Business, Health, Friendship and Relatives),
  • Become a role model to make a Good Home and a Family.

Sharing is Divine.  The more we share, more is our internal satisfaction and happiness.

“We Make a LIVING by what we Get, We make a LIFE by what we Give” – Winston Churchill

So share and cherish what we earn.  The world is a realm of magnanimous bounty of everything that we may dwell into. Every aspect of life is an infinite ocean by itself.  We are grooved to be in a certain situation that comes to us as a gift from the almighty. As mentioned here in the writings of  Guru Amar Das (3rd, Guru of the Sikhs)

Jis ko Satguru naal har shardha layee,

tis Har dhan ki VANDD hath awe

jis no kart’ae Dhur Likh Paya (SGGS Pg: 853)

(Those who attain piety and are in peace within and they are in tune with their Masters and their soul, they get the portion of these wisdom {of earnings and sharing while washing away their undesirable KARMAS of the past from their lives} with the blessings of the All Mighty)

This Portion of Earnings from the experience of life, we then share. Sharing becomes a very important component in the Life of a Sikh.

The next Important Principle then follows becomes a buffer between the deed of earning and sharing.


“Live a life in Constant Meditation”

The best in sharing of all attributes of earning is in actual fact Meditation. In the process of taking and giving, one needs to be in the state of thankfulness to the All Mighty.  The gift of what the little we have is in actual fact from the huge, magnanimous bounty of Gift that brings us inner peace, piety and happiness.  So we should be in a constant state of being Thankful:

  • Thankful to the supply of water as a gift to wash ourselves and keep ourselves clean
  • Thankful to the air provided to breath,
  • Thankful to the freshness of every day from the trees, greens and flowers
  • Thankful to the people we are surrounded with
  • Thankful to the cooks and the cooking to feed out stomach
  • Thankful to the wealth enough to live and share
  • Thankful to the language, the musical instruments and wisdom of profession
  • Thankful to the animal as a whole who co-walk this planet with us
  • Thankful to the stars, the sun, the moon and the universe by which we have learn to calculate time and space.
  • Thankful to give us great saints, prophets and saintly people.
  • Thankful to make this body experience every pleasures of life through our eyes, ears, nose, mouth and limbs.

“Thankfulness is Meditation”.  By Thanking we are in a constant state of meditation.

This then brings into us, no discrimination of race, religion, culture, animal and creatures around us.  We tend to only shower love to the surrounding.  Every aspect of life is meant to be lived in fullness and in harmony.  Then there will be no killing, hate, manipulation, destruction and vengeance.

In this state of mind there will be:

  • No more killing to serve our pallets
  • No more poison to quench our thirst
  • No hate to a particular animal.  All are the product of All Mighty
  • No more slandering,
  • No more hatred for mankind and animals as a whole.

This state of MEDITATION is what an ultimate mind has to achieve without discrimination. There shall be no thoughts as “What I do is greater than what you do”, Hence eradicating

  • Duality and dualism
  • Ambivalence
  • Dichotomy
  • Polarity
  • Separation
  • Opposition, but a healthy one
  • Difference, but healthy differences with positive arguments.

To keep ourselves in tune with our piety and purity of the soul, we need to first love ourselves in the best possible way. Normally, If a friend leaves us for some reason, we tend to start searching for a new person for love and intimate companionship. Instead of doing that, better first of all be our own best friend and love this body by taking it as the best of Gift from God.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” — Aristotle

It’s simple to increase bank balance by depositing money,  but it’s really difficult to earn the sweetest hearts that loves us. The richness of man is counted by the Number of HEARTS that love us not by money.

We ought to start our day, by bowing to our own self first thing in the morning in front of the mirror with folded hands. Tell yourself: “You are the best of God’s Creation; I am Thankful I am within you”


Dr Balwant Singh Bains is a Malaysia-based kirtan enthusiast and a practicing physiotherapist with a chain of physiotherapy clinics.



Malaysia-Bollywood film now screening in Malaysia, India (Asia Samachar, 6 Oct 2017)


  1. Agreed but not practiced as may not be considered to be in line with CAPITALIST ECONOMIC SYSTEM [‘CES’] currently followed by almost all countries in the world. The same ‘CES’ also encourages MISMANAGEMENT-FRAUD-CORRUPTION-COLLUSION-CRONYISM-EMBEZZLEMENT-BRIBERY-KICKBACK-NEPOTISM practice OF which even TRUST FUNDS be they of GURDWARAS or NGOs or INDIVIDUALS may have been VICTIMS.

    It is also rare for GURDWARAS/Sikh NGOs to make public their accounts for sanggat’s information in many countries including the seat of Sikhism. [Please refer to my article titled
    “TRUST FUNDS – TRANSPARENCY-ACCOUNTABILITY [GURDWARAS AND SIKH NON-GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS]” which was published in Asia Samachar earlier. [May be applicable to other countries]
    Gur Fateh

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