Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the Jana-sakhi tradition.

The sources of information concerning Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s life are varied, one obvious place is Aadh Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Guru Granth Sahib Ji contains numerous compositions by Guru Nanak Dev Ji however they provide little information about the Guru himself. Only the Babur Bani written by Guru Nanak Dev Ji indicates that Guru Ji was witness to the devastation caused by Babur. There upon indicating that Guru Ji was in the Punjab at the time of Baburs sacking of Saidpur. In the same manner we can deduce that Guru Ji had frequent contact and discourse with Nath Yogis as there are frequent instances in which a yogi appears to be addressed. The Var in Raag Ramakali by the Bhatts Rai Balvand and Satta proclaim in the first four stanzas that Guru Nanak Dev Ji appointed (Guru) Angad Dev Ji as his successor.

For the actual events in Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s life we must refer to the Janam Sakhis. Janam Sakhis are accounts on the life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, each consisting of a series of separate incidents or chapters normally in chronological order, entitled sakhis or gosts. The script for the janam-sakhis is Gurmukhi, but the language is either punjabi or the composite dialect called Sant Bhasa.

References of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s life can be found in other works but non of these give us an insight beyond the janam-sakhis. The Dabistan written by Mohsin Fani is one such work which contains references to Guru Ji in the chapter entitled Nanak-panthis. It appears that Mohsin Fani was personally acquainted with the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, and he explicitly claims close acquaintance with Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji, the seventh Guru. Later works like Mahipati’s Bhaktalilamrit, written in 1774, testifies to both the nature and extent of Guru Ji’s immense reputation.

For Mahipati Guru Nanak Dev Ji was one of the greatest bhagats and his chapter ‘The Story of Nanak’ is a collection of sakhis of Guru Ji’s life. He writes :

Whoever shows some wonderful event, be he a bhagat of God or the chief of the yogis, his reputation spreads widely. Hence, in that country (Punjab) there are many bairagis belonging to the fold of Nanak who gave the mantra to the people and make the dull and ignorant remember God.

Colonel Malcolm, who spent great time and effort in collecting material for his book, Sketch of the Sikhs in 1805, refers to the existence of some Muslim accounts of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, but dismisses them as efforts to misrepresent and denigrate.

The four janam–sakhis we have are the Puratan, Miharban, Bhai Bala and Bhai Mani Singhs Janam-sakhi. One piece of work that does not fall into this classification is the Vars of Bhai Gurdas Ji. Bhai Gurdas Ji’s thirty nine Vars and 556 Kabitts are of considerable interest to contemporary Sikh beliefs but it is the first Var that sheds light on Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s life.

Discourse with the Siddhas (Holy men)

The siddhas pondered over plans for converting Guru Nanak to their sect.
They thought that such a yogi person would add glory to their order.
One Nath gave a bowl of milk to Nanak to fill it with water.
As Nanak approached the pool of water, he saw no water but jewels lying where there had been water.
Nanak returned with the jewels and said, ‘Precious they maybe but life sustaining they are not.’
The Guru is an unfathomable and perfect being. Who can face the Guru’s aura!
Nanak conquered the guild of Siddhas with the Holy Word and proclaimed to them his distinct path.
In the dark age, the Sacred Name propagated by Nanak is the source of every happiness. 1.31

Guru Nanak Dev Ji at Mecca.
The Kazis and the Mullahs assembled to question Nanak on the subject of religion and God,
Who has extended His Creation and no one can fathom the secrets of Nature.
Th muslim priest opened a book and asked him ‘ Who is superior – Hindu or Mullalman.’
Baba Nanak answered ‘Oh Hajis, without performance of good deeds, both Hindu and Muslims will lament.
Both will be denied shelter in God’s court on the basis of their respective religions alone.
The colour of the flower called Kasumbh (Carthamus Tinctoria) is washed away by water (so labels are fragile).
The followers of both religions are quarelling, but of them are equel in the eye’s of God.
The world has gone astray as it pursues the path of sin.
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