Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji

This page is a humble offering to the memory of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji whose reminiscence inspires and enlightens millions of spiritual seekers all over the world. The being whose greatness transcends the understanding of human intellect can only vaguely have their magnificence depicted by the efforts of the meek human intellect and the constraints of language. In attempting to write on the life of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji the judicious words of Dr Dharamanant Singh sprint to mind;

'Shri Guru Nanak is as infinite as the Deity Himself. Then of what worth am I, a mortal of low virtues to relate exhaustibly the Excellence of Shri Guru Nanak?' (The Perfumed Radiance of Shri Guru Nanak: page 26)


Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first Guru of the Sikhs and Bhatt Kal writes they were the very avtar of the infinite lord (Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1389). Giani Gian Singh discusses the meaning of the word avtar:

'When there is injustice and tyranny in the world, to restore order the Sublime Creator comes to the world in one form or another or gives his Shakti to one of His beloved devotees, we call them an avtar.' (Tvarikh Guru Khalsa, Part 1, page 760).

Within Indian meta-philosophy prime avtars of previous yug (eras) include Narsingh Avtar, Sri Ram Chander Ji and Sri Krishan Bhagvan who were the avtars of Vishnu; the divine entity of Vaheguru entrusted with the service of preserving creation. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji is considered 'Pooran (complete/perfect) Guru Avtar' of the four yugs as they were not the avtar of any deity, they were the very avtar of Vaheguru. Bhatt Keerath explains the coming of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and in doing so captures the theory of avtarvaad within the Sikh tradition which essentially holds that the formless (nirgun) Lord takes form (sargun) and physically enters creation;

The Lord Himself wielded His Power and entered the world. The Formless Lord took form, and with His Light He illuminated the realms of the world. He is All-pervading everywhere; the Lamp of the Shabad, the Word, has been lit. Whoever gathers in the essence of the teachings shall be absorbed in the Feet of the Lord. Lehnaa, who became Guru Angad, and Guru Amar Daas, have been reincarnated into the pure house of Guru Nanak. Guru Amar Daas is our Saving Grace, who carries us across; in lifetime after lifetime, I seek the Sanctuary of Your Feet. ||2||
(Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 1395)


Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in November 1469 in a Kshatri (warrior order) family from the prestigious Bedi dynasty,  which Rattan Singh Bhangu highlights was the famiy lineage of the prime avtars of the three previous eras (Pracheen Panth Parkash, Part 1, page 38). The universal message preached by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji lead them being revered by persons of all religions. They were the Peer of the Muslims and Guru of the Hindus, both terms entailing the notion of supreme guide within the respective religious traditions. They wrote many divine poems and spiritual passages (shabad) which they would recite along with their companions Bhai Mardana Ji and Bhai Bala Ji, who were Muslim and Hindu respectively. The faiths of the two companions illustrate the cosmic universality in the actions and words of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. With their companions Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji made four great travels or udasis where they travelled the lands spreading the word of God to the rich and poor equally while also holding spiritual discourse with scholars, saints and peasants alike.


Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Mardana (Left) Bala (Right)

One of the most important events in Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji's life occurred when they were around 30 years old. They failed to return one morning from the river in which they would bathe in the early hours, having failed to find the Guru the locals accepted that they must have drowned. Three days later Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji returned and it is then that they intensified their life mission. From Giani Gian Singh we learn that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji formally adopted the dress of a holy man and began spreading their divine hymns far and wide, any offerings made to the Guru were distributed amongst the poor or utilised for the Gurus free kitchen (Tvarikh Guru Khalsa, Part 1, page 82) Sikh tradition holds that during the three days Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was summoned to the abode of the Divine.

This divine union can be though o the almighty witnessing its own physical self in the form of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. In this divine union between sargun (with form) and nargun (formless) of the supreme divinity, a dialogue took place which is known as the Mulmantr or root mantra for the Sikhs which is the openings stanza of the Adi Sru Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Practitioners of the Nihang Singh martial art 'Shastarvidiya' (science of weapons) believe that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji also returned from their divine union having attained the knowledge of Shastarvidiya, which the passed on to Baba Budha Ji.

" During their divine union Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji acquired various sciences, arts and forms of knowledge. Amongst these was Shastarvidiya which he blessed to Baba Budha Ji to preserve until the coming of the sixth Guru." (Jathedar Nihang Baba Labh Singh,  Audio recording, December 2008)  

Baba Budha Ji is a very important link between Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the militarisation of the Sikhs. Baba Budha Ji was born in 1506 from the womb of Mata Gora, his birth name was 'Boora', however, when he had an encounter with Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji he was renamed 'Baba Budha'. Baba is a term of respect given to an elder or accomplished being, Budha means old or wise. Baba Budha Ji was given this name by Guru Nanak Dev Ji as a result of his deep philosophical deliberation he held despite being only twelve years of age at the time of their meeting. Baba Budha Ji became a devout Sikh and served the Guru in various manners. He was also responsible for the inauguration of Bhai Lehna Ji who was to proceed Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and become known as Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji. Importantly, it was Baba Budha Ji who was appointed the General of the first Sikh army known as the Akal Sena (Army of Immortals) under Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, whose history is explored on the next page.