Guru Nanak’s three simple lessons of life

Updated: Nov 07, 2014, 10:14 AM IST

In this highly materialistic and fast paced life, our soul searches for some solace and profound moments of peace. But wherever we turn, there is cacophony, disruption and a myriad views that confuse and confound more than resolve our inner struggle or disentangle the knotted complexities of life.

If we ask ourselves whether we can go to the jungles or ponder about the meaning of life sitting in some Himalayan cave, the answer will clearly be no. What we need is something uncomplicated and doable, and though Guru Nanak was born in 1469, the simple formula of living life that he proposed seems extremely easy to follow and is highly feasible even as we run the rat race to manage professional and personal lives.

  1. Work Hard and Earn an Honest Living: ‘Kirat Karo/ Daso Ungliyan di Kamayi Khao’ is what he said –  meaning that earn an honest livelihood through your own hard work. We all have our jobs or businesses, so we must put in our 100% and be satisfied with whatever remuneration or profits we earn. The emphasis is upon “honest living”, so greasing of palms or under the table transactions has clearly not been given sanction. In a country where a file rarely moves in a government office without giving bribe, right from the peon to the secretary, and where scams from coal to 2G are commonplace, this is an important message.
  2. Share what you Earn: ‘Wand ke Chhako’ – whatever we earn, we should put aside 10% for charity. Breaking bread with friends and even strangers is an essential teaching that Guru Nanak spread by setting up communal kitchens - now known as Langar in Gurudwaras. Everyone is welcome and there is no demarcation based on your standing in society. King Akbar had famously partaken one such meal sitting in a row on the floor with common people. Even today the tradition continues unbroken and the high and low of society are often photographed sitting together and eating a meal. We are expected to open the doors of our house for guests with warmth and largesse, and share as per our pocket.
  3. Sing the praises of God: ‘Gobind ke Gun Gao/Simran Karo” – after we have finished with our work, we have been advised to chant the name of God and sing the praises of the Almighty in any time that we can spare. Guru Nanak had two disciples Bala, and Mardana, who also played the Rabab. The Great Master would often say, ‘sur ched bani aayi hai’ (strum your instrument as divine lyrics are descending). Most of Guru Nanak’s texts can be composed to music, and by singing these with his disciples – one Hindu and the other Muslim, he also promoted the message of unity and communal harmony.

It is nearly 550 years since the great light - Guru Nanak blessed our planet with his presence. His teaching are as pertinent today as they were some centuries back and shall remain relevant due to their underlying simplicity and practical approach. It is for us to ponder upon his words and embrace the lessons he had to offer.

Satguru Nanak Pargatiya, Miti Dhund Jag Chanan Hoya

Satguru Nanak has appeared, the mist has cleared and light has scattered everywhere on earth.