Guru Granth Sahib; Sikh holy book starts with a letter, a word that carries all the wisdom of the world. It starts with ‘EK’ – ‘ONE’ and then follows with Onkar, Satnaam and so on.
EK or ONE is a keyword that signifies and means we all are one, we are one with the GOD and God is part of us.
Bhai Kanhaiya ji is well known in the history of Sikhs, he was a person that was born in a rich family but had a religious bent of mind. During many battles and skirmishes between the Sikh warriors and their enemies he was seen at the battle field carrying a mashak (a large pouch made of goat skin to carry water) and to serve water to anyone who was thirsty.
Himalayan Rajput Kings joined forces with the Mughals and they attacked Sikh forces and Guru Gobind Singh ji in the battle of Anandpur Sahib in 1704. Many souls got injured and killed in the battle ground, Bhai Kanhaiya ji took his mashak filled with cool water and started serving the soldiers in the battleground. He performed this service – SEWA to quench the thirsty and wounded soldiers without any discrimination and served all the soldiers lying there, be it Sikh or Mughal or Hindu.
His act of compassion was criticised by the fellow Sikhs and they complained to Guru Gobind Singh ji describing how Bhai Kanhaiya is serving water to everyone! They complained. Guru ji summoned Bhai Kanahaiya ji and asked him about his acts. Bhai Kanhaiya ji replied – Yes my Guru, these Sikhs are saying the truth, but I do not see anyone as Mughal, Hindu or Sikh. I only see them as humans and they all carry same God’s spirit. Even you have taught us to treat and serve everyone without any discrimination!
The Guru was very pleased with the reply. Guru ji smiled and blessed Bhai Kanhaiya. Guru Ji then addressed others and said, “Bhai Kanhaiya Ji, is right. He has understood the true and deeper message of Gurbani”. (Oneness)
Guru also gave Bhai Kanhaiya Ji medicinal balm and said “From now on, You should also put this balm on the wounds of all who need it”’
This is the message of Gurbani, EK – One and or oneness; Guru Nanak Dev ji gave EK – One and oneness as a fundamental mantra; One God and everything that you see, feel, or experience in this world is from that ONE. Meaning we all are same and part of the only ONE God.
When we say we are part of ONE God that also means that the GOD is within everyone and everything.
All the Sikh Guru’s have repeated this message of oneness, Gurbani in Guru Granth Sahib and or any other Sikh scriptures, we get the same message and we are reminded of this message time and again through different Shabads (hymns) and Baani of all the saints that have been incorporated in Sikhs holy book Guru Granth Sahib. Guru wants us to know this message through Gurbani. We are all one and part of God and God is part of us.
Guru’s Shabad and his teachings start with ‘EK’ and is a fundamental and profound word that not only begins but completes the human existence filled with compassion for all and love for the God (Waheguru). The existence includes everything whatever you hear, see or experience and yourself – it’s the God.
Guru Gobind Singh ji says – “Jin Prem Kiyo, Tin hee prabh paiyo” those who have filled their hearts with love and compassion for the humanity, have found the God.
Guru Nanak challenged the practices of various faiths, he uprooted the fake rituals and practices. When Nanak was just nine years of age, his father organised to get him invested in JENEU – a sacrificial thread worn by Hindus, during the ceremony when the family priest Pandit Hardayal started to invest the thread, Guru Nanak refused to wear it and asked Pandit Hardayal “I can remember God without a thread. When someone dies, they leave their body and this sacred thread behind. Only the soul goes on. If you could give me something that goes with my soul, I will wear that.”
Nanak said, “Meditating on the Naam is how to wear a true thread. Meditating on the Naam brings honour and grace. The Naam will go with the soul and will never break. Only the Naam can go with us into God’s house.”
Similarly Guru Nanak introduced the concept of one god, Ik Onkar, one creator present in all of creation. Sikhs refer to the divine as Waheguru, the Wondrous Enlightener. He rejected worshiping idols and or photographs. There are number of instances in Guru Granth Sahib that address this.
Guru Nanak was also the most travelled person in the world. Guru Nanak, along with his companions Bhai Mardana (A Muslim Rabab Player) and Bhai Bala (A Hindu), they spent more than two decades on travelling & and spreading the message of One lord, One Humanity.
Guru Nanak has travelled more than 28000 Km across South Asia and Middle East. Guru Nanak saw the World suffering out of hatred, fanaticism, falsehood and hypocrisy. He carried the Torch of Truth, Heavenly Love, Peace and Joy for Mankind. During his four lengthy journeys to East, South, North, West he opened a dialogue with all existing faith on true aspects of spirituality. He filled the inter-religious space with Love, Ethical Humanism and Spirituality.
His teachings were immortalized in the form of 974 hymns in Shri Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Nanak has given women equal rights as men – no discrimination, Sikh history has recorded the role of women, portraying them as equals to men in service, devotion, sacrifice, and bravery. Examples of women’s moral dignity, service, and self-sacrifice can be found throughout the Sikh tradition.
Husband and wife were equal partners and fidelity was enjoined upon both. In sacred verse, by Guru Nanak, domestic happiness was presented as a cherished ideal and marriage provided a running metaphor for the expression of love for the Divine. Bhai Gurdas, poet of early Sikhism and authoritative interpreter of Sikh doctrine, paid high tribute to women saying:
“A woman, is the favourite in her parental home, loved dearly by her father and mother. In the home of her in-laws, she is the pillar of the family, the guarantee of its good fortune… Sharing in spiritual wisdom and enlightenment and with noble qualities endowed, a woman, the other half of man, escorts him to the door of liberation.” (Varan, V.16)
The Sikh Faith from its inception has upheld the equality for and dignity of women. Guru Nanak has emphasized the dignity of women in a way that was ahead of his time. Guru Nanak has said in ASA Di Vaar (verse):
“From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to a woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad from whom kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. O Nanak, only the Creator is without a woman. That mouth which praises the Creator continually is blessed and beautiful. O Nanak, those faces shall be radiant in the Court of the Creator.” – Guru Granth Sahib pp 473