The Bhakti Movement [cult of devotion] launched in the medieval period gave one after other so many greatest of saints. Considered to be spanned from 1318 AD to 1643 AD, this Bhakti Kala[period] gave one such saint- Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism. He expounded Sikh-philosophy by adopting the best of noble doctrines of Hindu Dharma. Therefore, the evils like untouchability, Parda Pratha[practice of keeping women under the veil] and dogmatic restrictions over the consumption of food have no place in the Sikh-philosophy. Guru Nanak Dev held idol-worship as an aberration from the true Dharma. However, he believed in the existence of God, and esteemed Harinama as a basic Mantra [hymn]. [Guru Grantha Sahib P-1040].
Shri Guru Granth Sahib, the scripture of Sikhism, begins with Oum preceded by One, preaching that God is one. According to Nanak Omkar is the one who created mountain, Time and Vedas. One who grants Moksha [enlightenment] and sustains the man to life. He further reveals that God is the absolute divine bliss; Who is beyond all description. If ink is made of sea, pen is made of trees and mouth is made of hundreds of tongues to describe God, He would be indescribable even then. Referring to Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, he says that a mother gives birth to three great disciples- One is the creator of universe; another, it’s preserver and third is its destroyer. [Granth Sahib- P-07]
By the virtue of his divine insight he realised the ultimate truth that God is basically formless, without attributes and all-pervading. Yet for the well-being of humanity and whole universe He incarnates attributive form time and again. He preached that Maya [illusion] and five defects [attachment, malice, ego, lust and anger] are the most inveterate impediments in the path of spiritual salvation. To overcome these impediments one must observe Righteousness and undergo Namjapa [chanting the name of chosen deity] under the guidance of a right Guru [spiritual master].
Guru Nanak Dev had a deep faith on Vedas. Regarding Vedas as very fountainhead of divine-wisdom, he says that- “As with the illumination of a lamp the darkness disappears, so with the knowledge of Vedas the mazes of the mind get to be dispelled. When sun rises, moon hides. Likewise, when divine wisdom dawns upon an individual his ignorance departs.”[Granth Sahib-P-1240]
And as for Yoga, his insight into its subtle aspect was remarkably logical and down to earth. The terms like Sushmna and Anahatnada of Yoga-Science could be seen in his literary works. He knew that the path of Hathayoga [severe austerity] is not meant for the common people or family-man, so he preached the Sahaj-Yoga for them. He believed not in inflicting punishment to the body or deliberately suffering pain in order to attain Moksha. But, “He only is a true ascetic who is engrossed in Harinama or God”- was his creed [Granth Sahib-P1283, 1332]. So also, he was strongly opposed to the begging, regardless of condition under which it would suppose to be practiced. Not only he, but all the other later Sikh Gurus laid great emphasis on the significance of physical- labour and held it on high esteem. It is because of this no Sikh is found to be a beggar. Actually, to preach what is true human-religion to people then deluded with the dogmatic rituals and segregated into the myriads of religious creeds that Guru Nanak Dev took the incarnation on the earth.
And, lastly, when a time came to choose his successor then, setting a precedent that ‘how the vision of a Guru should be’, he consecrated more able Angadji on the highest seat of Guru than his own son, Chandji, who was, unlike Angadji, unmarried too. Then, a few days later, on 1st October 1539 this great soul
departed to the heavenly abode.