M.S. (Pb.) F.R.C.S. (Edin), D.M.R.T. (London) 
F.R.C.R. (England), M.A.M.S. (India) 
Ex. Prof. & Head Radiotherapy CMC Ludhiana (1973-76) 
Retd. Professor & Head (1982-87) 
Department of Surgery 
PGIMER, CHANDIGARH  Telefax : 772980 
Ex President Institute of Sikh Studies Chandigarh (1992-98) 
Founder Trustee: SatyaMev Jayate Mission Trust Regd. 

Who was Guru Nanak

(The Man of All Milleniums, Past, Present, And Future)

We can say without any contradiction that in the 239 years of the Guru period (1469-1708) no body wrote the contemporary day-to-day history of our Gurus. The Puraatan Janam Saakhi containing anecdotes from the life of only Guru Nanak, has been dated by scholars as 1634, 95 years after Nanak had finished his sojourn on this earth during the Guruship of Guru Hargobind ji. We have not come across by word of mouth whether Guru Hargobind ji or any later Gurus' had any knowledge about this composition or their remarks about it. It is common knowledge that Guru Arjan Dev ji, did not include the writings of Bhai Gurdas, who was the scribe of Pothi Sahib (the fore-runner or the first recenssion of Guru Granth Sahib) in it, but had remarked that Bhai Gurdas’s compositions provide a key to the understanding of Gurbani and Sikhi. Thus the most authentic source about the true history of our Gurus are Guru Granth Sahib and the writings of Bhai Gurdas. Before we can understand Sikhi and the aim of Guru Nanak and his successor Gurus we must be clear as to who was Guru Nanak and what is written about him in these two authentic sources.

Guru Arjan Dev ji, the compiler of Pothi Sahib has included besides the Bani of our Gurus and various known saints and Bhagats some other compositions with some purpose. For us, who believe that Guru Granth Sahib has been ordained as our living Guru, accept each and every word in it as unquestioned Eternal Truth.

Let us examine the Vaar of Ramkali uttered by Rai Balwand and Satta the Drummer (Page 966) as to what do they record as to who was Guru Nanak. The following is the abridged English version of most of the lines pertaining to our subject, deduced by in-depth study of 3English translations and taking the help of 3 Panjabi "steeks" or translations: -

"When the creator Himself decides, then his order cannot be judged.

Nanak established the Kingdom of the Lord. He built the fortress of Truth on strong foundation. He installed the Canopy (Royal Crown) over Lehna’s head, who chanting the Lord’s praises drank the Ambrosial Nectar."

"The Guru (Nanak) implanted the Almighty Sword of the Teachings to illuminate his (Lehna’s) soul."

"The Guru bowed down to His disciple while Nanak was still alive. The King (Nanak) while still alive applied the ceremonial mark to his forehead. Nanak proclaimed Lehna’s succession as a reward of his service."

"They shared the same Light of the Lord and the King just changed His Body."

"The immaculate Nirankari Canopy waves over Him and he sits on the Throne in the Gurus' shop (abode). He (Lehna) does as the Guru (Nanak) commands him and tastes the insipid stone or the difficult way of his future course of life…"

The praises of Lord Master are sung and the Divine Light descends from Heaven.

"Beholding or gazing upon you, O, True King, the filth of countless past lives is washed away."

"His (Nanaks') sons did not obey (follow) His Word and turned their backs on him as Guru."

"Whatever the True Guru (Sat Gur) utters, the true Lord does and it occurs (happens) instantaneously."

"The Sovereignty of Guru Angad was proclaimed and the True Creator confirmed it.

Changing his body, Nanak, sits on the Throne with hundreds of branches reaching out.

He is the saint at the door of the Lord, blushing red with His thoughts ……."

"Such is the Lord (husband) of mother Khivi who sustains (bears the burden) the whole world."

"It is as if the Guru (Nanak) made the Ganges flow in the opposite direction, the world wonders as to what has he done."

"Nanak, the Lord, Master of the world, utters the Supreme Truth aloud."

Making a mountain of his deep meditation as the churning stick and single mindedness the proverbial mythological, Basak Nag, as the churning string he has churned the ocean of the Word (shabad) and extracted the "fourteen jewels" (of Hindu mythology) of knowledge to illumine the world.

"O, wonder of wonders, he (Nanak) stroked the back of his disciple Angad) to elevate him."

He raised the royal canopy over the head of Lehna and raised his glory to the skies.

Oh, Nanaks' light merged in Guru Angad and the Lord Himself blended Nanak with Himself.

Nanak tested all his disciples and also his sons but see what he did ! when Lenha was found immaculate (pure) he established him on the throne.

Then the True Guru, the son of Pheru came back to abide at Khadoor…

"Seeing Nanaks' canopy waving over your (Amardas) head everybody was astonished.

The same mark on the forehead, the same Throne and the same court."

"Just like the father (Angad) and grandfather (Nanak) the son (Amardas) is approved."

"Blessed, blessed is Guru Ram Das. He who created you has also exalted you."

"The Miracle became perfect, the creator Lord Himself has installed you."

"The Sikhs and all the congregation (Sangat) recognize you as the Supreme Lord God and bow to you."

"You are unchanging, unfathomable and immeasurable you have no end or limitation."

"Those who serve you with love you carry them across."

"You (Guru Ram Das) rid all who come to you from greed, envy, lust, wrath and worldly attachment."

"Blessed is your place, and true is your glory."

You are Nanak, you are Angad, and you are Amardas when I contemplate you.

"When I saw you, then my mind was consoled and comforted."

"The four Gurus illumined their own times and the Lord Himself assumed the fifth form."

"He created Himself and He Himself is the supporting pillar.

"He Himself is the paper (writing tablet) He himself is the pen and He Himself is the writer (scribe)….."

"Guru Arjan sits on the throne; the royal canopy waves over the True Guru."

"From where the Sun rises to where it sets, the Guru illumines the four corners (of the earth)…. "

"The four Gurus enlightened their times and the Lord Himself assumed the fifth form (Guru Arjan)."

"Swayyas Sri Mukhbaak Mohalla 5

This is the next bani which throws lot of light as to who was Guru Nanak. Principal Sahib Singh ji was quite right to state in Guru Granth Sahib Darpan that to distinguish from the Bhatt’s composition, Swayyas Mohalla 5, Guru Arjan Dev ji has written the caption Sawayyas Mukhbaak Mohalla 5. He does not elaborate that as to why Guru Arjan Dev ji did not write only Sawayyas Mukhbaak Mohalla 5. If we go through the first chapter of 9 sawayyas and contemplate carefully with the help of all translations then it is not difficult to conclude that in this chapter Guru Arjan is describing in very discreet language the relationship of Guru Nanak and Akal Purukh. Very Very subtly he is stressing that Guru Nanak was carrying the Spirit of the Creator Himself and the same was passed on to the five Gurus as has already been written in the Ramkali Vaar of Satta and Balwand. Guru Arjan with the Spirit of Akal Purukh was writing these sawayyas and the prefix Sri is meant for the spirit of Akal Purukh who is writing these Sawayyas. In these nine Sawayyas, Guru Arjan Dev ji is repeatedly conveying to us that there is no difference between Akal Purukh, the Primal Lord and Guru Nanak. In spite of crores and crores of readings of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikhs did not notice this fact because Akal Purukh wanted this fact to by dormant till the 21st century. Sikhi is not just another religion. The spirit of the Lord Himself came in the human body of Guru Nanak with a specific purpose and programme. Let us briefly go through these Sawayyas of Sri Mukhbaak Mohalla 5 and contemplate on the meanings in depth.

1. "The Primal Lord, the creator is Himself the doer of all the deeds.

2. Streams of Nectar flow, your treasures are unweighable and overflowing in abundance. You are Infinite Sublime and Remotest of the Remote

3. You established all the worlds from with in your oneself and extending them you are all pervading amongst all and yet you Yourself remain detached.

4. My Lord, you are the Treasure of all virtues; who can know the value (worth) of your wisdom and thoughts. Your place or seat is the Highest of the High. Mind wealth and Breath of life belong to you alone. The world is strung upon your thread. What praises can I give to you – the Greatest of the Great.

  1. O, Formless, Formed, Undeceivable, Perfect, Imperishable.

6. The Lord is said to be True, True, True, True the Truest of the True.

7. True is the Lords' congregation and Court. He has kept the True Guru with Him. Sitting upon his Throne of Truth, He administers True Justice.

8. What type of Yoga, what type of spiritual wisdom and what type of meditation and what is the way to praise the Lord ?

9. O, Compassionate Lord, I seek Your sanctuary, your refuge Please bless me with gift of the dust of the feet of saints, grasping them I may cross over the dreadful world ocean.

Your servant, O. Lord, Your manifestation Guru Nanak has appeared in the whole World. (Guru Nanak) has appeared as if a lamp has been lit in the darkness and the whole world has been saved through propagation of the Dharma.

In the darkness a lamp has been lit by revelation of religion of Your ever remembrance Name. In all part of the World Your servant Nanak has become manifest as Guru God Himself.

We may conclude: The light of the lord, himself was called guru nanak


At the ambrosial hour of Amritvela, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Nanak commenced the practice of taking the "Pothi Sahib" from Kotha Sahib where he himself had slept on the ground near the Pothi Sahib kept for the night in a bedecked Palki. Guru Sahib was himself waving the Chowri as the Sangat was singing the Swayas of Bhatts and Swayas of Sri Mukhvak Mohalla 5, going around the Sarovar Parikarma. Even today you hear on the radio and television at 4.00 a.m. or so when the palki reaches the Harmander the important lines of Gurbani which the fifth Nanak wants us to understand and imbibe:












Guru Arjan was wanting the world to know that the "The Light of the Lord Himself was called Guru Nanak" and the same light was embodied in the successor Gurus". Guru Arjan’s showing extreme reverence to the Pothi Sahib was to exclaim that the Real Guru was the Bani or Shabad and not the mortal frame of the Guru. It is for this reason that the days of physical birth or demise, even Shahidi days of the Gurus were not celebrated as festival days during the Guru Period of 239 years.

Many writers state that the object of Guru Gobind Singh writing such mythological epics like Chandi Charitar (Twice), Chandi Di Vaar and Chaubees Avtar was to "infuse new vigour into a weak and emaciated mass of people" (Sikh Review Sept. 2000, Page 25). It’s amazing that the "Light of the Lord Himself" had created by their glance and Bani through Nanaks that when around 1599 Guru Arjan Dev Ji asked the Sikhs to indulge in the lucrative trade of Army Horses and bring that strong breed from Central Asia, 2000 miles away, tens of groups of Sikhs embarked going on horseback through purely Muslim countries West of Amritsar where Islam was being spread by the sword. These Sikhs of the Guru felt physically, mentally and spiritually strong that they considered themselves free, under their Sacha Patshah as the Owners of the World. No Hindu could have dared to do this onerous trade. Sikhs had given crushing defeat to the contingent of Shahjahan in the battle of Amritsar in 1634, that Mohd. Latif records it as the first defeat of any Muslim Army in the previous 500 years of their Indian occupation. We had seen the Sikhs (Mati Das, Bhai Dyala and Sati Dass) accepting death joyfully in front of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji. The object of these mythological epics was to show to the Sikhs and the World that in the whole Indian (Hindu) mythology warriors vied with one another to seek Divine, Celestial and Supernatural Powers whereas neither the Sikhs nor their Gurus had done so. Sitting on the hot plate Guru Arjan was uttering "Tera Kiya Meetha Lagay"(Your doings ‘O Lord appear sweet to me.)

Let us accept all our Gurus commencing from Guru Nanak were carrying the Spirit or Light of the Lord Himself and Guru Gobind Singh Ji transferred the same to the Guru Panth. It is for this reason that Guru Nanak is and can be aptly described as the man of all Millenniums.

Dr Kuldip Singh*

Dated : 23-10-2000