Guru Nanak: Bridge across all faiths
Guru Nanak: Bridge across all faiths by Maheep Singh, Ph. D.
In one of his compositions Guru Nanak said, “As long as we are in this world, we should listen to others and say something to them”. This is the basic principle of dialogue, of exchange of opinions or ideas.
During his four lengthy journeys to the east, south, north and west, he opened a dialogue with all the existing faiths, not in today’s empirical or utilitarian language, but in ethical and spiritual language capable of expressing human realities and spiritual values.
He filled the inter-religious space with love, ethical humanism and spirituality. He approached every religion as his own and presented his own faith and philosophy as everyone’s religion, in the crucible of eternal Truth.
Visits to various holy centres
He travelled to various centres of religious pilgrimage. His dialogue with pandits, sadhus and yogis of every sect, as with mullas, pirs and kazis continued throughout his life. He visited the places of pilgrimage of Kurukshetra, Mathura, Haridwar, Benaras, Gaya as well as those in Bengal, Assam and Sri Lanka.
He visited the sufi establishments at Pak Pattan and Multan and shrine sites along the west coast of India. He travelled beyond India in the west to Mecca, Medina and Baghdad. There are accounts of still farther travels to the east to Tibet and China. He reached mount Sumer and had a long dialogue with siddhas (hermits). He recorded his discourse with siddhas in his famous composition Siddha Gosht (Dialogue with siddhas).
Loving caring devotion
Guru Nanak won over all by the power of loving devotion. He was not a sectarian reformer attached to one community of faith or part of the world. He was a preacher of the divine Reality, transcending all particularities of race or clan.
In his encounter with yogis, siddhas, vedantists, vaishnavas, shaivas, Buddhists, Jains, different sects of Muslims, Guru Nanak told them that religion is without its moorings till it joins the main life-current of humanity and socially and spiritually insinuates itself into them.
While Guru Nanak changed old beliefs into new one by the infusion of values, he projected his perennial wisdom into the stream of consciousness of other faiths by telling them how they could become true Muslims, good Hindus or enlightened yogis.
Every religion at its ethical and spiritual best mingled with the religion of Guru Nanak and Guru Nanak’s religion appealed to the people of every faith as their own at its best.
Asks all to interrogate themselves
Guru Nanak does not ask man to deny the temporal existence but urges him not to succumb to the fascination of the visible and the exterior, but to turn towards the inner light and music that man has received from God, and move towards a more and more complete interiority which leads him to the vision of Reality. Man has to breathe and live in two worlds simultaneously - the temporal and the spiritual.
In Guru Nanak’s time, Indian society was caste-ridden and had divided itself into countless watertight compartments. Men were considered high and low on account of their birth and not according to their deeds. Equality of human beings was a dream.
As the caste system was not based on divine love for all, Guru Nanak condemned it. He aimed at creating a classless and casteless society in which all were equal and where one member did not exploit the other.
By his magnetic personality, Guru Nanak had fascinated millions of people in his own lifetime. He was adored by Hindus as well as by Muslims. A couplet became very popular in the Punjab -
Guru Nanak Shah Fakir
Hindu ka Guru, Mussalman ka Pir
Bhai Gurdas' Vaar
As Guru Nanak made his appearance in the world,
There was light everywhere,
As when the sun rises
The stars vanish and darkness retreats.
Wheresoever the Guru set his foot,
That spot became sanctified.
Spots once sacred to the Siddhas
Do celebrate Nanak now,
Every home is turned into a dharamsala
And every day into a festival of praise to the Divine
By manifesting the Eternal Name
The Guru has redeemed all the four corners
And all the nine realms of the earth.
God’s own witness had appeared in the Kali age.