From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guru Nanak: Birth of Sikhism

Guru Nanak (in center)
Guru Nanak was born on April 15, 1469 in what is today Punjab, Pakistan - and Sikhism itself was born not too long afterwards.

Accounts of Nanak's youth derive from these sources:  the Janamsakhis (life accounts)  and the vars (verses) of the scribes Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Bala (although some scholars believe that other authors could have been involved after Nanak's physical death).  These accounts portray Nanak as having an extraordinary
degree of spiritual awareness from early on.

For example, Nanak astonished his childhood teacher by giving a detailed explanation of the symbolism that the alphabet's first letter entailed.  Within the Persian and Arabic alphabets, the first letter's almost straight stroke resembles the numeral one. Nanak compared that to God's unified oneness.  Another account tells of a poisonous cobra deliberately shielding Nanak's head from the sun as the young boy slept.

According to Wikipedia, Nanak's birth has also been described in great detail within the Janamsakhis.  It is said that an astrologer insisted upon seeing the newborn Nanak.  This astrologer then clasped his hands and exclaimed:  I regret that I shall never live to see young Guru Nanak as an adult.  At the tender age of five, Nanak "voiced interest in divine subjects."

Other accounts tell of a time that young Nanak was washing in the river.  He suddenly disappeared into what appeared to be a whirlpool.  Thinking that his dear friend was drowning, Mardana swam to that spot to save him.  When Mardana reached the spot, there was no Nanak and no whirlpool to be found – "just the depths of the river."

For the next two days, Mardana feared that Nanak was gone forever.  On the third day, Nanak "walked out of the river."  When asked by many worried souls what had happened, Nanak simply replied:  I spoke to God and he said there is no Muslim or Hindu.  Both Guru and Sikhism had now truly been born.


Copyright November 26, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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