UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Apr 15

15 April 1469

Guru Nanak was born


What happened?

Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism was born on 15 April, 1469 at Rai Bhoi Ki Talvandi (modern-day Nankana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan).

Biography

  • Guru Nanak was born to Mehta Kalu and Mata Tripta in Nankana Sahib near Lahore in 1469. His father was an accountant for crop revenue in the village. The family was Hindu.
  • In 1475, Nanak accompanied his older sister to Sultanpur where she moved after her marriage. This was an important phase of his life.
  • According to Sikh traditions, Nanak’s childhood was filled many incidents that showed his divine calling.
  • As per Sikh tradition, Nanak was a blessed or illuminated soul. He is not considered an incarnation or even a prophet.
  • Nanak was interested in reading the scriptures of all faiths.
  • Nanak’s teachings are found in the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the holy book of the Sikhs.
  • Nanak talked of having faith and meditating on the one god, unity of mankind, selfless service, social justice, honest conduct and scrupulous livelihood.
  • Guru Nanak contributed 974 hymns in the Granth Sahib (which is revered as the 11th Guru of Sikhism).
  • He emphasised on Bhakti or love for god. He also reiterated that spiritual life and the honest life of a householder need not be distinct.
  • Nanak asked people to lead an active, practical and creative life based on truthfulness, self-control and purity.
  • In popular tradition, Nanak’s teachings can be summed up as:
    • Vand Chakko – sharing with other people
    • Kirat Karo – Earning an honest living
    • Naam Japna – Meditating on God’s name
  • Guru Nanak visited several places both in India and abroad. He travelled to Mecca, Multan, Baghdad and even Tibet as per some accounts. Stories of Nanak’s life can be found in writings called Janamsakhis.
  • Guru Nanak appointed Bhai Lehna (renamed Guru Angad) as his successor. He died on September 22nd, 1539 aged 70. There were 8 more living Gurus after Guru Angad. Guru Gobind Singh was the tenth Guru.
  • Guru Nanak was one of the most profound and influential religious personalities in India’s history, apart from the Buddha and Mahavira. Sikhism is today followed by about 25 million people worldwide. It is one of the newest major religions of the world and is the 9th largest among the major religions.

Read more on Guru Nanak and the Sikh religion here.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.