Guru Nanak (1469-1539)
Guru Nanak has been called "one of the greatest religious innovators of all time" and was the first Sikh Guru. He travelled extensively teaching people the message of “one God who dwells in every one of His creations as the eternal Truth”. He set up a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue.
He was born as a Hindu into a culture where people lived by the caste system and the priesthood had the monopoly on connecting to the Divine. The Hindus and Muslims were at odds with each other. Guru Nanak shared his message of unity, traveling thousands of miles on foot with his Hindu and Muslim students (Sikhs), sharing his wisdom through song, poetry and his presence.
Guru Nanak was a rebel. At the age of eleven, he was to take part in the Hindu ritual of tying the sacred thread, which symbolized man’s connection to God. He refused outright, putting forth the argument that
the thread was an ephemeral object, and would eventually wear out; hence, a meaningless ritual. This was Guru Nanak’s first step towards rejecting rituals and idolatry, along with the caste system which supported a Bhramanical hierarchy.
When Guru Nanak was a boy of about 12 years old, his merchant father gave him 20 rupees to start a business and learn the ways of the world. Instead, he decided to buy food and give it to the saints and needy people in the area. His father was furious, but Guru Nanak explained that he had made the best bargain. The concept of “langar”, or eating together in community, became a vital means of uplifting the poor, and an outward declaration of equality.
At around age 30, he immersed himself in a river to meditate continuously for three days and emerged enlightened. His first words, were "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim". We are souls embodying a body. He then recited the Mul Mantra that explained God and “His” relationship to the creation: “Ek ong kaar, sat naam, karataa purakh, nirbho, nirvair, akaal moorat, ajoonee, saibhang, gur prasaad. Jap! Aad such, jugaad such, hai bhee such, Naanak hosee bhee such.”
Translation: The Creator of all is One. Truth is His name. He is the doer of everything. He is fearless, without anger, undying, unborn, and self-illumined. This is revealed through the true Guru’s grace. Meditate! True in the beginning. True through all the ages. True even now. Oh Nanak He shall ever be True!
Yogi Bhajan says on chanting the Mul Mantra: "The Mul Mantra is a fate killer. It removes the fate and changes the destiny to complete prosperity." Yogi Bhajan also said that the Mul mantra is an explanation of Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam. Japji Shahib is an explanation of Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam and the Mul Mantra. And the entire Siri Guru Granth Sahib is an explanation of Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam. Everything starts with the realization that there is One God, One Creation and Truth is its Essence.
Guru Nanak had a revolutionary view of women, in contrast to the subjugation of women that was prevalent in the culture of that time. He wrote:
“From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.
Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.”
Imagineyourself as the Mul Mantra: I am one with my Creator, my essence is Truth. I am in harmony with the Doer. I am fearless and without anger. My soul is undying, unborn and self-illumined. I am blessed with the grace of the Guru. I meditate. My divine essence was true in the beginning, true through the ages, true now, and shall ever be true.
Imagine yourself as the Mul Mantra: I am one iwth my Creator, my essence is Truth. I am in harmony with the Doer. I am fearless and without anger. My soul is undying, unborn and self-illume. I am blessed with the grace of the Guru to have a deep realization of these truths. I meditate. My divine essence was true in the beginning, true through the ages, true now, and shall ever be true.