Gurū Nānak (15 April 1469 – 22 September 1539), also known as Bābā Nānak (‘Father Nānak’), was the founder of Sikshism and is the first of the ten sikh Gurus. His birth is celebrated as Guru Nanak Gurupurab on Katak Pooranmashi , i.e. October–November.
Nanak is said to have travelled far and wide across Asia teaching people the message of Ik Onkar (ੴ, ‘One God’), who dwells in every one of his creations and constitutes the eternal Truth. With this concept, he would set up a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue.
Nanak’s words are registered in the form of 974 poetic hymns, or shabda, in the holy religious scripture of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, with some of the major prayers being the Japji Sahib (jap, ‘to recite’; ji and sahib are suffixes signifying respect); the Asa Di Var (‘Ballad of Hope’); and the Sidh Gosht (‘Discussion with the Siddhas’). It is part of Sikh religious belief that the spirit of Nanak’s sanctity, divinity, and religious authority had descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus when the Guruship was devolved on to them.
Nanak was born on 15 April 1469 at Rāi Bhoi Kī Talvaṇḍī village (present-day Nankana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan) in the Lahore province of the Delhi Sultanate, although according to one tradition, he was born in the Indian month of kartik or November, known as Kattak in Punjabi. He was born into the Khatri Punjabi clan like all of the Sikh Gurus. Specifically, Guru Nanak was a Bedi Khatri.
n as late as 1815, during the reign of Ranjit Singh, the festival commemorating Nanak’s birthday was held in April at the place of his birth, known by then as Nankana Sahib. However, the anniversary of Nanak’s birth—the Gurupurab (gur + purab, ‘celebration’)—subsequently came to be celebrated on the full moon day of the Kattak month in November. The earliest record of such a celebration in Nankana Sahib is from 1868 CE.
Family and early life
Nanak’s parents, including father Kalyan Chand Das Bedi (commonly shortened to Mehta Kalu) and mother Mata Tripta, were both Hindu Khatris and employed as merchants. His father, in particular, was the local patwari (accountant) for crop revenue in the village of Talwandi. Nanak’s paternal grandfather was named Shiv Ram Bedi and his great-grandfather was Ram Narayan Bedi.
According to Sikh traditions, the birth and early years of Nanak’s life were marked with many events that demonstrated that Nanak had been blessed with divine grace. Commentaries on his life give details of his blossoming awareness from a young age. For instance, at the age of five, Nanak is said to have voiced interest in divine subjects. At age seven, his father enrolled him at the village school, as per custom. Notable lore recounts that, as a child, Nanak astonished his teacher by describing the implicit symbolism of the first letter of the alpjabet, resembling the mathematical version of one, as denoting the unity or oneness of God. Other stories of his childhood refer to strange and miraculous events about Nanak, such as the one witnessed by Rai Bular, in which the sleeping child’s head was shaded from the harsh sunlight by, in one account, by the stationary shadow of a tree[ or, in another, by a venomous cobra.
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