Guru Nanak (1469–1539) was born Nanak in Punjab, which today is in Pakistan. He had one sister, Bebe Nanaki, who was five years older than he was. In 1475 she married and moved to Sultanpur. Nanak was attached to his sister and followed her to Sultanpur to live with her and her husband. In 1487 Nanak married Mata Sulakkhani, daughter of Mul Chand and Chando Rani, in the town of Batala. The couple had two sons.
Sikh tradition states that at around 1499, at the age of 30, he had a vision. In it, he was offered a cup filled with amrita (nectar) and told, "Drink it. . . . Go." From this point onwards, Nanak is described as a Guru, and Sikhism was born.
Nanak became the first of the ten Gurus (Prophets) of Sikhism. Nanak's teachings are found in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, a vast collection of verses that were composed and compiled by the Sikh Gurus themselves: Verses of the later nine later Sikh Gurus are in the Guru Granth Sahib too.
Guru Nanak travelled far and wide and taught there is one God - eternal, Absolute Truth without hate. Most of his journeys were made on foot with his companion Bhai Mardana.
Nanak emphasised leading a householder's life without exploitation or fraud, being detached from unbecoming materialism. He advocated meditation on God's name, Naam Japna (Sanskrit: Nama Japa) for the sake of living a happy life, and being in the company of other truth-fond people. He held woman to be man's equal. "From her, kings are born; Without woman, there would be no one at all." (Guru Nanak in Guru Granth Sahib).
I bow at His Feet constantly, and pray to Him, the Guru, the True Guru, has shown me the Way. [Guru Nanak]
Remember the Lord's Name . . . for life wears off each day, each night. [Guru Nanak]
Unfortunate people grope about in doubt and darkness; the society of the truthful cannot be obtained without good fortune. [Guru Nanak]
God is not pleased with His praise by a thief. [Guru Nanak]
Singh, Kartar. Guru Nanak Dev: Life and Teachings. Ludhiana: Lahore Book Shop, 2008.
Singh, Kirpal. The Jap-Ji: The Message of Guru Nanak. Literal Translation of the Original Punjabi Text with Introduction and Commentary. Rev ed. Blaine, WA: Ruhani Satsang USA, 2008.
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