(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)
Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji was born in 1469 in Rai bhoi di Talwandi, a village in the Sheikhupura district, 65 kilometers West of Lahore (now in Pakistan). His father was a village official in the local revenue administration.
On the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Pandit Hardyal predicted that this infant would be a great religious leader. Thus Pandit Hardyal was the first man, who recognized the holy soul of the Guru.
Guru ji was married to Bibi Sulakhkhani Ji. He had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakhami Chand. Guru Nanak worked as an official in charge of the stores of Nawab Daulat Khan Lodhi, the Muslim ruler of Sultanpur Lodhi.
He began his missionary tours. Bhai Mardana was with him. Guru ji preached against caste distinctions, ritualism, idol worship and the pseudo-religious beliefs that had no spiritual content.
He chose to mix with all. He dined and lived with men of the lowest castes and classes Considering the then prevailing cultural practices and traditions, this was something socially and religiously unheard of in those days of rigid Hindu caste system sanctioned by the scriptures and the religiously approved notions of untouchability and pollution. It is a matter of great significance that at the very beginning of his mission, the Guru’s first companion was a low caste Muslim.
He performed five long tours all over the country and even outside it. Every tour is called “Udasi”. He visited most of the known religious places and centers of worship. During his tours, he visited numerous places of Hindu and Muslim worship. He explained and exposed through his preaching the incongruities and fruitlessness of ritualistic and ascetic practices.
He spent twenty-five years of his life preaching from place to place. Many of his hymns were composed during this period. They represent answers to the major religious and social problems of the day and cogent responses to the situations and incidents that he came across. Some of the hymns convey dialogues with Yogis in the Punjab and elsewhere. He denounced their methods of living and their religious views.
Finally, on the completion of his tours, he settled as a peasant farmer at Kartarpur, a village in the Punjab.
His followers throughout the country were known as Nanak-panthies or Sikhs. The places where Sikh congregation and religious gatherings of his followers were held were called Dharamsalas. These were also the places for feeding the poor.
He chose his successor and in his own lifetime established him as the future Guru or enlightener of the community.
Guru ji left this world on September 22, 1539 (23rd day of Asu, Vadi 10, Sambat 1596). The light blended with Light and the spirit went back and merged with the Master spirit. He was about seventy years of age.