Guru Nanak: The Universal Illuminator

What sets Guru Nanak apart and endears him to people of diverse beliefs is his unique brand of 'social spirituality.' Beyond theological confines, Nanak's teachings emphasize practical living and social justice, making him not only a spiritual guide but also a symbol of compassion for humanity.

0
1090

By Gurnam Singh | Opinion |

In this season of remembrance, Sikhs and individuals worldwide gather to commemorate the arrival of Guru Nanak on Earth. Revered as ‘Satguru Nanak’ by Sikhs, ‘Avatar’ by Hindus, ‘Hazrat Baba Nanak’ by Muslims, and ‘Nanak Lama’ by Buddhists, his universal appeal transcends religious boundaries.

What sets Guru Nanak apart and endears him to people of diverse beliefs is his unique brand of ‘social spirituality.’ Beyond theological confines, Nanak’s teachings emphasize practical living and social justice, making him not only a spiritual guide but also a symbol of compassion for humanity.

For Sikhs, Nanak is the embodiment of truth and wisdom, guiding them along the path of righteousness. Hindus recognize him as an ‘Avatar,’ a divine incarnation, highlighting the universality of his teachings that resonate across faiths. Muslims refer to him as Baba Nanak, acknowledging his profound impact on spiritual consciousness. Buddhists, too, speak of ‘Nanak Lama,’ recognizing his teachings as a source of enlightenment.

What makes Guru Nanak particularly exceptional is his broad appeal that extends beyond the realm of faith. His philosophy of ‘social spirituality’ emphasizes the importance of service, equality, and compassion. Nanak’s teachings advocate for a harmonious coexistence that goes beyond religious boundaries, fostering a sense of unity among humanity.

READ ASLO: 13 Questions on Guru Nanak’s Birthday

The revered 17 century Sikh Philosopher, Bhai Gurdas, aptly referred to him as ‘jagat Guru’ or the illuminator of the whole universe. As he says, ਜਾਹਰ ਪੀਰ ਜਗਤੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਬਾਬਾ ॥੩॥ Such a grand Guru (Nanak) is the manifest enlightener of the whole world.

This title of Jagat Guru encapsulates the profound impact of Nanak’s teachings on a global scale. His message of oneness, humility, and selfless service has found resonance not only among believers but also among non-believers and secularists.

Guru Nanak’s legacy is not confined to the pages of religious scriptures but extends to the hearts and minds of those who seek a path of righteousness and social justice. His enlightened views, for example, on gender and equality some 400 years before the birth of feminism and anti-racism shows how much ahead of time he was. His emphasis on equality and compassion continues to inspire individuals from all walks of life, fostering a shared sense of humanity that transcends religious and cultural differences.

As we commemorate Guru Nanak’s earthly arrival, we celebrate not only a spiritual leader but a universal illuminator whose teachings continue to guide and inspire a world sadly in need of compassion, understanding, and unity. Above all, as the below lines from one of his compositions testify, he was first and former most an ally for the down trodden.

ਨੀਚਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਨੀਚ ਜਾਤਿ ਨੀਚੀ ਹੂ ਅਤਿ ਨੀਚੁ ॥
ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤਿਨ ਕੈ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਾਥਿ ਵਡਿਆ ਸਿਉ ਕਿਆ ਰੀਸ ॥
ਜਿਥੈ ਨੀਚ ਸਮਾਲੀਅਨਿ ਤਿਥੈ ਨਦਰਿ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਖਸੀਸ ॥੪॥੩॥

Nanak seeks the company of the ‘lowest’ of the ‘low’ class, the very lowest of the low. Why should he try to compete with the rich and powerful?
In that place where the ‘lowly’ are cared for-there, the Blessings of Your Glance of Grace rain down. ||4||3|| (SGGS, 15)

Happy Gurpurab to all!

Gurnam Singh is an academic activist dedicated to human rights, liberty, equality, social and environmental justice. He is an Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Warwick, UK. He can be contacted at Gurnam.singh.1@warwick.ac.uk

* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

RELATED STORY:

Miracles and Godmen (Asia Samachar, 31 July 2020)



ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. When you leave a comment at the bottom of this article, it takes time to appear as it is moderated by human being. Unless it is offensive or libelous, it should appear. You can also comment at FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. You can reach us via WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 or email: asia.samachar@gmail.com. For obituary announcements, click he

NO COMMENTS