Dr. Gurbakhsh Singh (Washing ton)
The question, whether Nanak was a Hindu or a Muslim, is as old as Nanak himself. It became very important, when after his death, Muslims claimed him to be their “Pir” while Hindus said he was their “Guru.” “Pir & “Guru” both mean the same, a religious guide. Being a popular theme with the masses, it became a common folk saying.
Nanak Shah Fakir
Hindu Ka guru
Musalman ka Pir.
Sidhs & Yogis also extended a warm welcome to Nanak to join their sects. They held many discussions with him and heard his many discourses. Finding him more enlightened, they yielded to Nanak. Christians also laid their claims on Nanak, when the English took over the rule of Punjab, a seminar was held on the life of Guru Nanak Dev before World War I when the cheap politicians of today had not poisoned the minds of Indians with communal virus which now is rampant. The seminar was conducted at Simla by the Punjab Historical Society under the president ship of Sir Michael O’dwyer, the then Lt. Governor of Punjab. After hearing the lecture given by S. Joginder Singh, Pundit Ramsaran Dass, a famous intellectual observed that Nanak was a reformer of Hindu religion. Nawab Zulfkar Ali Khan of Malerkotla disagreed with Pundit Ji and mentioned that Nanak was a great Muslim saint. In his presidential remarks, however, Mr. Odwyer disagreed with both of them. He claimed that Nanak was a great Christian.
People of different faiths were invited in 1981 in the girls College Raya, Amritsar to talk on Sikhism. A Muslim preacher from Kadian quoting from the Sakhis (old writings about the life history of Nanak)) concluded that though Nanaks’ parents were Hindus but the Muslims were the first to recognize, accept and respect him as a godly man. Bhai Mardana, a Muslim was the first devotee and remained associated with Nanak all through his life. The second devotee was also a Muslim, Rai Bular, the owner of village Talwandi.
The feelings of a Hindu Saint, Swami Nitya Nand may also be mentioned to give complete view of Nanak’s life and preachings. In his book, “Gur gian”, he writes:
I in the company of my guru Brahma Nand Ji ……… reached Punjab and there we met Swami Satya Nand Udasi. He explained the philosophy and religious practices of Guru Nanak in such a way that Swami Brahma Nand Ji enjoyed a mystic love. During our visit to the Golden Temple Amritsar, his soul was so much affected that he became a devotee of the guru. After spending some time in Punjab, he went to Haridwar. Though, he was hale and hearty, I saw tears in his eyes. asked the reason for that. He replied, “I screened sand (did useless work) whole of my life. The “real knowledge” was in the House of Nanak. I will have to take one more birth in that House, only then I will attain “Kalyan” (Freedom from the cycle of birth and death). After saying that the soul left his body. Lalso constantly mediate on, “Wahe gutu” revealed by Nanak. I practiced. Yog Asana under the guidance of Yogis and did that for many years. The bliss and peace which I enjoy now, was never obtained earlier.
The fact is Nanak refused to be identified with any faith, Hinduism or Islam. When he came out of the river Beas, he said, “Nobody maybe identified as a Hindu or a Muslim. We are just human beings.” He preached the fatherhood of one god for all humanity. Nanak thus gave a new religious philosophy adoptable by all people of the world. Sikhism, therefore, has justifiably been regarded as a New Faith for the modern man.
“For comments of modern authors See next issue,”
Article extracted from this publication >> November 15, 1985