Today is the auspicious occasion of Gurpurb. In the Sikh tradition, Gurpurb is the birth or ascension of the Sikh Gurus. Today is the birth anniversary of the founding Guru of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev ji. This is celebrated all over the world by Sikhs as one of the most important festivals of the Sikh calendar. A few days before the festival of Gurpurb, the Akhand Paath, the unbroken recital of the Guru Granth Sahib, the hole book of the Sikhs starts in Gurudwaras (literally the portal to the Guru) across the world, and continues up to the day of Gurpurb.
Guru Nanak ji was born in what is now called Nankana Sahib, near Lahore, in 1469. He is called Nanak as, following tradition, He was born at his maternal grandparents’ house (naankey). From an early age, Guru Nanak showed His inclination towards the Divine. As He one day, at age 30, went for His morning ablutions, and didn’t return, the townspeople feared the worst, but the governor, Daulat Khan had the river dragged, but no body was found. Three days after this, Guru Nanak reappeared, having been taken to God’s Court, where He was given the nectar of God’s Name and Love. And He went on to say:
There is neither Hindu nor Mussulman, so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow God’s path. God is neither Hindu nor Mussulman and the path I follow is God’s.
He also said:
Awwal Allah noor upaya, kudrat ke sab bandey!
Ek noor se sab jag upjeya, kaun bhalo ko mandey!!
First, Allah created the Light, then by His creative Power he made all mortal beings!
From this one Light of Allah entire creation has emerged, so who is good, and who is bad?
In His lifetime, Guru Nanak travelled far and wide, spreading His message of tolerance and Divine Love. His five journeys are also called Udasis, and He travelled, during these Udasis to parts of north and east India, to Ceylon, to Nepal, Tashkand, Tibet, to Mecca and the Arab countries, and within Punjab. There are a number of wonderful stories told about these Udasis, which He undertook with His companion, Bhai Mardana.