Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus.

Updated: June 16, 2022


Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. His birth is celebrated worldwide as Guru Nanak Gurpurab on Kartik Pooranmashi, the full-moon day between the month of October-November.


Even as a boy he used to spend long hours in meditation and was deeply spiritual. He questioned the meaningless rituals his family performed in the name of religion and refused to participate in them. He traveled far and wide, mostly on foot, spreading the message of oneness of God who dwells in all living beings. He was born on April 15th, 1469 and died on September 22nd, 1539.


Childhood of Guru Nanak:

Guru Nanak was born on 15th April 1469, in Rai Bhoi Ki Talvandi (present day Nankana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan) near Lahore, into a Hindu family. His father Mehta Kalu and mother Mata Tripta belonged to the merchant caste. His father was the local patwari (accountant) in the village of Talwandi. He had one elder sister, Bebe Nanaki, to whom he was very close. From a young age, when he was just five he became interested in spirituality and divine subjects.


Education of Guru Nanak:

Guru Nanak started attending school when he was seven years old. He described the symbolism of the first letter of the alphabet in Persian, which resembles the mathematical version of one, to represent the unity or oneness of God.


Family of Guru Nanak:

Guru Nanak married Sulakkhani, daughter of Mul Chand and Chando Rani, on 24th September 1487. The couple had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhmi Chand.


Some facts about Guru Nanak:

  • His father arranged for him to participate in the sacred thread ceremony at the age of 11. But the boy rebelled and refused to participate in this ritual as he felt that it was a meaningless one.
  • He was very spiritual and philosophical even as a young boy and denounced idol worship. He also did not believe in the Hindu caste system. 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.
  • His father tried to get Nanak engaged in business and gave him money for making purchases. Instead of buying the materials required for the business, Nanak spent the entire money in feeding homeless and hungry people.
  • He became friends with a Muslim minstrel named Mardana with whom he used to pray and meditate. One morning he went to bathe in the Kali Bein or Black River with Mardana. He walked into the river and disappeared beneath the water. There was no sign of him 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. He was spiritually reawakened by this incident and was completely enlightened. From this point onwards, people stared calling him 'Guru Nanak'.
  • He lost all interest in worldly affairs like family and work and soon quit his job. He left his wife and children in the care of his parents and founded the religion of Sikhism which emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender.
  • He returned home after his long travels and settled in Kartarpur where he continued his ministry till the very end. Towards the end of his life he appointed his disciple Bhai Lehna as his successor. Lehna was then renamed 'Angad' and designated as Guru Angad, the second Sikh Guru, after Guru Nanak's death.
  • He established the system of the Langar, or communal kitchen, in order to demonstrate the need to share and have equality among all people.
  • He died on 22 September 1539 in Kartarpur, at the age of 70.



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