Guru Nanak Sahib is one of the greatest mentors and teachers that humanity has ever known. The Guru’s impact is most recent, and the Guru’s messages are still ever-fresh.
When the Guru went to Mecca, he wore a blue dress and carried a walking stick, a book, and a prayer mat, just as a Haji (Muslim pilgrim) would carry on his journey to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. The Guru was accompanied by his lifelong companion Bhai Mardana, a Muslim bard. They joined a caravan of pilgrims and crossed miles of desert to reach the ancient town of Mecca. It is strange how they reached there as only Muslims are allowed in the city.
There, the Qazis (Islamic judges), the learned men of Mecca, and pilgrims gathered to dialogue with the Guru about the relative merits of different faiths and traditions. They asked the Guru to open the book he was carrying and tell whether the Hindus were greater or the Muslims, as written by Bhai Gurdas in Var 1, Pauri 33:
ਪੁਛਨਿ ਫੋਲਿ ਕਿਤਾਬ ਨੋ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਵਡਾ ਕਿ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨੋਈ ॥ -ਭਾਈ ਗੁਰਦਾਸ ਜੀ, ਵਾਰ ੧, ਪਉੜੀ ੩੩
The Guru’s response was amazing and applies to all times. According to Bhai Gurdas, the Guru said, “Greater is the one whose deeds are great. Greatness depends on the deeds of a person. Without good deeds, all are doomed. The external guises would not help in the Divine court.”
ਬਾਬਾ ਆਖੇ ਹਾਜੀਆ ਸੁਭਿ ਅਮਲਾ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਦੋਨੋ ਰੋਈ ॥ -ਭਾਈ ਗੁਰਦਾਸ ਜੀ, ਵਾਰ ੧, ਪਉੜੀ ੩੩
To the question that which is the highest deed, Guru Nanak Sahib replied:
ਸਚਹੁ ਓਰੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਿ ਸਚੁ ਆਚਾਰੁ ॥੫॥
ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ੬੨. 62
Truthful conduct is the highest of all; everything else is below it.
Guru Granth Sahib 62
Truthful conduct and behavior are foundational values that can help live a life of honesty and integrity in the world. The following statement of Guru Nanak Sahib is revolutionary and can help us tackle corruption, a universal human affliction:
ਹਕੁ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਉਸੁ ਸੂਅਰ ਉਸੁ ਗਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰੁ ਪੀਰੁ ਹਾਮਾ ਤਾ ਭਰੇ ਜਾ ਮੁਰਦਾਰੁ ਨ ਖਾਇ ॥
That is, to take what belongs to another is like a Muslim eating pork or a Hindu eating beef. The Guru, or the Prophet, stands by them only if they do not subsist on the earnings made through corrupt means.
Guru Granth Sahib 141
Guru Nanak Sahib propagated and inspired unified principles of life that were based on the universal Truth. On the occasion of celebrating Guru Nanak Sahib’s Prakash Divas, we must recognize the Guru’s legacy and spread the universal messages he preached.
The Guru’s messages consist of spiritual and social enlightenment. I strongly feel that if the world today understands and practices the aforementioned practical virtues stressed by Guru Nanak Sahib, the widespread evil of corruption and exploitation can be wiped out.
On this occasion, an effort must be made to read and reflect on Guru Nanak Sahib’s Bani (revealed text recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib). It will not only be a greatly enlightening and humbling experience, but it will also bring along the warmth of the presence of a Guru, an infinite mentor, an extraordinary poet, singer, philosopher, traveler, and a master of all times!