Today marks Guru Nanak Jayanti. It is perhaps the most sacred festival in Sikhism. It commemorates the birth of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. During most of my childhood and youth, I would consider this birthday just another blessing – thanks to the additional holiday each year. But having read about Guru Nanak’s life and teachings in the book Ten Companions of God by J.P Vaswani, there are a lot of lessons for me to learn from.
Initially started as an offshoot of Hinduism, many core principles in Sikhism remain intact. The focus is on service, to humanity as a whole, and specifically to those in need. The underlying belief that the Supreme is One, is also similar. Many Sikhs greet each other by saying “Sat Sri Akal”. Sat is the Truth. Not like a spoken truth/lie, but referring to the only changeless Truth. Sri confers respect on Kal. And Kal refers to time, and a-Kal is the timeless. Thus there is only one True Timeless permanent fixture (aka God), and that is what Sikhs remember, when they greet each other.
There are 3 outstanding tenets Guru Nanak preached.
- Vand chako – Share whatever we have, and always be in the service of others
- Kirat karo – Be duty bound, work hard and and earn an honest living
- Naam japo – Meditate on God
So simple, yet so profound.