GURU NANAK’S 550TH CELEBRATIONS:  The Lord Is The Truth –Truth Is His Name


By Zile Singh


“The Lord is the  Truth.  Truth is His name.

Know then his truth, because He alone is everything”. Says Guru



Guru Nanak belongs to the Bhagti Movement during the 15th and the 16th century in India.  Therefore, he talked about God as a devotee, a bhagat or a servant.    Nanak had no plan to establish a new religion; instead, he wanted to break the barriers of all religions.  His clarion call was to transform the society on spiritual, ethical and logical bases.   When he said that there is only one God and all human beings are His children, it is clear that he wanted to transcend man- made boundaries of religions and division of the society on the basis of race, region, gender and caste.  He talked about Truth, Justice and Peace in the World. The following excerpt from “The Sikh Faith, A Universal Message” by Gurbakhsh Singh is an eye-opener:


“How great was Nanak!  The humanity split by artificial barriers of caste, colour, creed and different religions was united into a unique brotherhood.  What a philosophy he gave! He says that anybody and everybody who loves God can realize Him.  Further, a person can remember Him by any name, Allah, Ram, Gobind, God, all names are His.  The Guru (Nanak) surely was much ahead of his time.”


Nanak preached that any name will do on the path of truth.  About our relationship with God Nanak addressed Him as Sahib, the Lord.  It is a relationship between a Master and a Servant. The seeker becomes a servant.  In other religions of that time,  the relationship between God and the man was that of a beloved, father and lover etc.  In Hinduism,  God is mother, father, brother, friend, knowledge, wealth and everything. ( Tavmev mata ch pita tavmev.  Tavmev bandhu ch sakha tavmev.  Tavmev vidya, darvinam tavmev.  Tavmev sarvam mum dev dev.)  The seeker is free to invoke Him in whatever relationship he wishes as per his convenience.  The relationship of a son and a father is that of circumstances because we are born in a particular household.  It is not the choice of the newborn. Readers are aware of Nanak’s relations with his father Kalu Mehta and his  sons, Sri Chand and Gopi Chand. Their relations were not cordial.  However, in each relationship the path is different.  Nanak had an extraordinary vision to choose the master and the servant relationship.  Because in the relationship of a lover and a beloved, both are equal.  Both are begging comfort and pleasure from each other.  Husband is asking the wife and the wife is asking the husband.  None is capable enough to satisfy the demands of the other and the struggle starts.  That is why; it is not a matter of surprise, that the divorce and other domestic violence cases on one pretext or the other are quite high in number in the courts.  On the other hand, in the master and servant relationship with God, the master is benevolent and merciful and the servant is humble and obedient.  The servant sheds all his ego and pride in the presence of the master.  It is not a relationship like the present-day blood-sucking employers and the less paid unionized employees.


Nanak says, “Those who serve Him attain the glory”.  Nanak is talking not of any social service when you serve people knowing that they are poor, miserable or needy.  In that case, you become higher and the other becomes lower.  You are filled with arrogance and ego.  Your name catches the headlines in the newspapers.  Nanak’s idea of service is to be humble and selfless asking nothing in return; not even a place in heaven after death.  When you are already subservient to Him in this life then why ask refuge in His feet after death.  By serving Him you will attain glory automatically here and hereafter.  This is Gurparsad.  God is giving you an opportunity to serve Him. Therefore, “Serve humanity with humility.” In Gauri Mahala 5 Guru Nanak says, “ Gur ki sewa sabad vichar. Haumai mare karni sar.”   In stanzas 4 to 7 in Jap Ji Sahib, Nanak says, “Man cannot please God by acts of charity or taking bath at places of pilgrimage or by prolonging his age through austerity and penances etc.”


All of us read about the life of Guru Nanak.  Unfortunately, nobody is reading between the lines.  From his early childhood, Nanak started to break through and discard all conditionings of human being, whether it is the education system, religious practices or the day-to-day household chores.   The teachers, priests, even parents and relatives became fed up with Nanak’s extraordinary and unconditioned behaviour. He was expelled from school and  his father’s house to stay with his sister Nanki in Sultanpur.  For centuries man has been conditioned by religion, language, education, nationality, caste, class, customs, conventions, etc.  Today, even the food one eats and the way of salutation have become easy tools for lynching of innocent people. Instead of unity, separatist tendencies are on the rise.


After 550 years, the  need of the day is to see whether we are cementing a conditioned life against which Guru Nanak spent his prime life wandering from place to place and making people to understand as to how to  break the past follies to usher in a new universal regime.


Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer, a Vipassana Meditator and has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Rights.  He can be reached at [email protected]