Guru Nanak -Phoebus in ascent (Sun rise)
A CLEAR conscience, communing with God, the vivid details of Guru Nanak’s life are perhaps difficult to find in any conjoined or written manner but his effulgent picture is however fairly clear, and broadly the sequence commences from the 15th April, 1469 A.D. (corresponding to Vaisakhi Sudi, 1526 B.K.) in a small village called Rai Bhoi di Talwandi, in District Sheikhupura near Lahore, now known as Nankana Sahib. He belonged to a good family of Khattri Hindus and from his youth showed signs of intense spiritual thirst and emanation–passionately, earnestly and patiently a new chapter in the history of spiritualism was to be written. To the darkness of life, a divine color appeared in the horizon, with the stimulant of a creative genius and imaginative touch of mystery.
Quaint incidents are reported incidents foreshadowing the new order to come. Indeed, the unseen, unknown cause for known as were to be explained with extraordinary clarity and vividness: destiny the unknown was now to become destiny assured, this cherished convictions into ultimate reality and the narration of life was to have a practical relevance and not illusion but reality. Guru Nanak’s story of human life was significantly different and starts, not solely with human action or deeds, but in their introversion looking inwards and seeing beyond. Life, from its basic and earliest conception of Guru Nanak starts as sequence, not an event but a challenges, not an isolation but harmony, not an accident but an incident with inescapable obligations –to examine the past mistakes and determine the future escapes from disastrous decadence.
Sell-realized Saints are rate, but rarer are those who are endowed with perfection even at their birth. From his very childhood tumultuous forces seems to have been at work and the spiritual self was seen resurgent.
The following query was addressed by the child Nanak to his teacher:
Teach me only one, large letter of life, he asked, Tell me of the Creator, wonder of the world unmasked!
Nanak, knowing the shores and banks, with abiding faith in Almighty, wanted to show the mechanism of life to humanity, not of Truth as God but of One and Only God, that is Creative Truth the world unmasked’. The coming mission, for which he was ordained, is seen in the feverish heart of this child of destiny. His lively sensibility to life is perceived in the following lines when Guru Nanak, when chided by his mother, wantonly uttered-
Mother, my house in His temple, it is my home,
As child of Almighty. I live with His Grace alone,
Under His merciful bowers; His pleasures are my riches all.
And listen, His bursary, is too large to recall!
Life is a tangle of connections and with elastic human consciousness and its multiplicity is seen in the persistence of human effort to understand and know its ambivalence. Humans strangely seem to be forgetful of certain fundamental and axiomatic truths which vitally concern life-the event and the cause: the reason why life is designedly so. It is here that the magnanimity of the moral excellence of Nanak Dev appears to dominate from the very beginning, for his body was for the sake of human service; the crest of the wave appears where the people themselves were to be the waves. The drooping drowsiness and stupor gave place to a new spark and a new flame-the dark days of drought were to pass the brightness of his light extinguished the shadows and the powerful lamp lighted the future.
Guru Nanak, according to the Janam Sakhis (written versions of his life), was always suffused with divinity from his very birth and the concept of an order where compassion and mercy reign supreme, was always conjured by him with abiding love for humanity, with a spirit of tolerance and harmony, a sort of moral hypnosis. With the background of divine music, his superb hymns with moving passion were mostly sung and therefore permeated the heart, the soul itself. There was a remarkable simplicity, unfailing self-control, deep and profound meditation, because he sang in simple and effective words-even the elegies of death were portrayed in a significant manner, the Bara-Maha and Sidh-Ghosti are examples. The most difficult problem of life and metaphysics were expiated with remarkable similes. For instance, he was once asked who his Guru was and he replied to say that knowledge was his Guru, for he knew the secret springs of life. This is one of the examples which conclusively establish the fecundity of his spiritual intellect.
There are conflicting views in regard to the childhood of Guru Nanak and the sources of material are basically the Janam Sakhis. As I have said before, the accounts given in these biographies appear somewhat exaggerated. His mind always saw connections, where others saw only isolated facts. It is certain, that from his youth. Guru Nanak was suffused with divinity and yet, he was a householder also and a successful one. It is this aspect which has not been adequately brought out in the Janam Sakhis and the lines given below represent this view:–
With paternal love. Mehta Kalu, Nänak’s sire,
Saw in his son symptoms, which peculiar disease inspire.
It was some unknown cause, some unknown contagion,
An unfamiliar malaise, called spiritual affliction.
Go, call the physician, what disease is this,
Nanak said. The Creator Alone knows his wish!
And listen, what a peculiar boy this Nanak was,
Neither failing in family’s professional cause.
Failure neither as a farmer but failure as a business-man,
However Mehta Kalu may try to the best of his acumen.
Young Nanak was given some money to buy.
Businessman brings low to sell at prices high.
Went out this merchant, with Bala by his side,
On a journey long, voyage for rich merchandise,
And look, what “Khade Sauda’, Nanak made,
Feeding the hungry Sadhus also, for charity’s sake.
Contentment to his soul and contentment to his mind,
“Life’s eternal anointment is to be good and kind”
The sire desireth young Nanak to do trade,
Nanak’s trade was also to feed the hungry and dismayed.
At Sultanpur, see the salesman, simple and plain,
Checking the goods and selling the same;
Giving a part of his earnings, to the poor as well,
Working in the granary, yet absorbed in His Name!
In counting the figures, he came to three and ten,
He muttered the Name, again and again.
Ever pronouncing “Tera, Tera, Thou and Thou”
And blending into sublimity, with the Divine Name
Sowing the needs of Hari Naam, Nanak wakes,
Saying, Lord waters my fields, He makes and unmakes,
All. And into His loving service, Nanak enters,
Going willy-nilly, whither He takes!
From the fields of Kartarpur, rose Talwandis fount,
And now, Talwandi became the Sinai Mount.
Here was the spring which gave the river its course,
“Blind humans! Life’s reward is always from a Higher Source”
The light from Talwandi shone magnificently bright,
Lighting humanity’s doleful, darkest night.
Under his shadow, flowed a torrential stream,
Washing human sins for such was the Divine gleam.
What bargain could be good, what bargain bad,
Life’s journey is with benevolence and mercy clad.
Blessing the giver and enabling the man,
Such is charity and mercy’s nobles plan.
And such was Nanak, such was his might,
Such was divinity’s spark, life’s effulgent light!
—–SHARAD CHANDRA VARMA *
*The author is a Keith Percy and Clough Scholar.
The write-up is taken from his book “Guru Nanak And ‘The Logos of Divine Manifestation”. The book was published by Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Sisganj, Chandni Chowk, Delhi in November, 1969, the year of celebration of 500th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
All credits are to the author Shri Sharad Chandra Varma Ji and his wife Mrs. Bimla Varma (She holds all rights reserved).
@Note: Any typographical mistake is my own only, though all care has been taken. The sole purpose of this presentation here is to get this known to all Punjabis-Indians who have migrated to distant lands leaving their roots. Perhaps by reading in English about the Guru, they may fall back to Holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji with aroused curiosity.
—@Brij Bhushan Goyal