Guru Nanak Dev Ji came into this world at a time of doom and gloom. Men’s ideas and aspirations were low. Wealth and maya (illusion) fascinated the world and led everyone astray. Good acts no longer commended themselves to men. They burned with pride and respected not one another. The high and the low forgot their mutual duties. Monarchs were unjust and the nobles were butchers who held knives to men’s throats. Everyone thought they possessed knowledge, but none knew what knowledge was. Men did what pleased themselves. Alchemy was professed and incantations and spells practised and men indulged in strife, wrath and mutual jealousies. Out of one God they made many, and carved gods from wood and stone. Some worshipped the sun and moon while the devotion of others was directed to cemeteries and graves. Thus did mankind go astray in vain religions and vain worship.
Men despised one another and hence caste received religious sanction. The Brahmins set the Veds and Purans at variance. Not only were the Hindus divided into four castes, but the Muslims were divided into four sects – Hanfis, Shafai, Maliki and Hanbali, and while the Hindus worshipped the Ganges, the Muhammadans addressed their devotions to Mecca and the Kaaba. The devil fascinated both religions; they forgot their holy books; they went astray from every road; and truth was the one thing they failed to discover. Pure religion was weeping day and night and finally began disappearing from mans gaze. She was weighed down by human transgressions. With hands folded she appealed to God for a guide, and God sent Guru Nanak.
When Guru Nanak Dev Ji contemplated the world, everywhere he saw darkness and heard the cry of pain. He pointed out to men the true path – that there was but one God, the primal and omnipresent. He reduced to one the four castes of the Hindus, he placed the king and pauper on spiritual equality and taught them to respect one another. He preached to all a religion of the heart
He found that the acts and austerities practised were without divine love or devotion, and consequently contained no merit before God. He declared that God who has no form or outline was not found by wearing religious garbs, nor was He pleased by the zealots fervour for massed conversions by any means possible. God was pleased by humility and love and that men rejected caste and prejudice.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji examined all religious sects, contemplated the gods, goddesses, and spirits of earth and heaven, and found them all immersed and perishing in spiritual pride. He scrutinised the Hindus, Muslims, priests, prophets, and found not one godly person among them. They were all groping in the pit of superstition. Religious men who ought to have been guiding their flocks, had retreated to the solitude of the mountains. There was no one left to instruct and save the world. Though hermits rubbed ashes night and day in their bodies, they possessed no knowledge and the world was rushing to its ruin for want of a divine guide. Rulers everywhere were oppressive, guardians proved faithless to their trusts and consumed the wealth of their wards.
When Guru Nanak Dev Ji appeared, the fog of spiritual ignorance dispersed and the light shone in the world, as when the sun rises and the stars disappear and the darkness fades away. Wherever Guru Ji planted his foot there was established a seat of worship. Every house of his followers became a temple in which the Lords praises were sung and the Lords name continually repeated. Guru Nanak established a new and premier religion and laid out an easy simple way of obtaining salvation by the remembrance of Gods name. He cut off the fear of transmigration and healed the wound of superstition and the pain of separation from God. When men grasped the feet of the true divine Guru he gave them the true Word and effected their deliverance.