Nanak was born in 1469, India though a Hindu Country, was then ruled by Muslims who had come to the continent about five centuries ago. The rulers considered it a religious act to tease torture or even kill a Hindu and replace Hindu temples with Muslim mosques. Hindus called Muslims Malochh (impious, foreign) and naturally hated them. Hindus were divided into high and low castes, Brahmins enjoyed special privileges, the “Shudras” were considered untouchables and not allowed to enter a temple or worship god.

Nanak preached that we should not identify a person as a Hindu or a Muslim, low caste or high caste. We all are simply human beings, children of the same Father, God, we all have equal rights. We can love him by any name, Allah or Ram. All names are his equally suitable for singing his praises. To believe that there is only one particular name of god, which is sacred, is wrong. People remember god by different names and worship him by different methods because their language and culture are different. There is only one god and one humanity hence only one faith. Just because we have more than one name for god, it should not cause mutual disrespect or hatred among the followers.

Nanak founded the institutions of “Sangat” and “Pangat” to preach the one god and one faith philosophy. Nanak welcomed all, Hindus, Muslims, untouchables, rich and poor to sit together without discrimination and remember god. This congregation was named “Sangat” is gathering of friends and equals. Bhai Mardana, a Muslim was close associate of Nanak and remained with him whole of his life. He played on the roebuck when Nanak sings his praises. They jointly visited Hindu and Muslim places in the Indian subcontinent and Middle East. : The greatest question of those times and even of today, “which is the superior faith?” was asked from Nanak when he visited Mecca. Nanak told that only his deeds, not the name of one’s faith, decide whether a man is “good” or “bad”. As Dad and Papa are equally sweet name for god. All names are equally sweet.

God does not live in the seventh sky or any specific place in the universe but he lives in the minds of all people. If we want to “please” god, we should love his people. “Pangat” mean all people participating as equals in eating “Langar” free community meals. The institution of “Pangat made people to nurse the feelings of love for the fellow beings and shed their differences due to caste, color and. creed.

Every Sikh Temple, gurdwara, welcomes all people both to “Sangat” and “Pangat” even today.

The mission of Nanak was carried on by nine other gurus to preach and propagate the philosophy that every person is an equal member of the big community, human beings. The Holy Book of Sikhs, Adi guru Granth contains hymns written by Muslims, Hindus, low caste (untouchables) saints in addition to those written by the gurus. Scores of names for god, popular with different faiths and sects prevailing those days in the subcontinent, are included in the Granth Sahib. i Nanak, not only guided the people for a common religious path, but also fought for their political rights. He warned that a king can justify his portion to rule only if he delivers justice to all and does not spoil his mind with blood (resurping the rights) of other people. The folklore, Nanak Shab Fakir.

Hindu Ka Guru, Musalman Ka Pir, expresses that all people, Hindus and Muslims accepted Nanak as their leader, both religious and political.

We can conclude that Nanak laid the foundation of a “faith” acceptable to the people all over the world. It does not discriminate against followers of any faith, but equally loves them all. The faith warns the politicians not to misuse their power to usurp the rights of the weak people because it is the greatest sin.

Here, thus, is a faith, the principles of which force the shedding of the religious bias as well as social and economic discrimination, as a matter of faith, not just only as a legal obligation. If this faith is forced religiously on the politicians it will bring peace and prosperity to the people.

Article extracted from this publication >>  December 6, 1985