What were the major teachings of Guru Nanak? Explain their relevance in the contemporary world.

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Major Teachings of Guru Nanak: Their Relevance in Today’s World

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, was a religious leader whose teachings have had a profound impact over centuries and are incredibly relevant in the contemporary world. Born in 1469, Guru Nanak Dev Ji ushered in a spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodwill, and virtue.

As aspiring UPSC candidates, it is essential to comprehend Guru Nanak’s teachings and their contemporary relevance, primarily in the context of social rights, equality, and justice. This understanding can not only enrich your preparation but can also provide a humane lens to handle social issues from an administrative perspective.

1. Ek Onkar – The Principle of Oneness

The concept of ‘Ek Onkar’ forms the cornerstone of Guru Nanak’s teachings. It signifies the unity of God, highlighting the monotheistic nature of Sikhism. In the current context, this philosophy calls for harmony and unity among different faiths and religions, promoting peace and brotherhood in an increasingly diverse and multicultural society.

2. Promotion of Universal Brotherhood

Guru Nanak championed the concept of universal brotherhood and equality. He strongly objected to discrimination based on caste, creed, and gender. He declared, ‘Naa koi Hindu, Naa Musalmaan – There is no Hindu, There is no Muslim,’ emphasizing the oneness of humanity. Today, when the world battles with racial tension, religious extremism, and caste discrimination, Nanak’s teachings can guide us towards a more tolerant and inclusive society.

3. Kirat Karo – Earn by Honest Means

Guru Nanak promoted the idea of ‘Kirat Karo’ or earning livelihood by honest means. He condemned exploitation and dishonesty, advocating for economic justice. In today’s world, rampant corruption, economic inequality, and fraud necessitate a serious rethinking towards work, business, and economic activities in line with this principle.

4. Vand Chakko – Sharing with Others

‘Vand Chakko’ or sharing with others is another significant tenet preached by Guru Nanak. He advocated for a compassionate society where individuals share their wealth and resources with the less fortunate. This principle resonates with the contemporary focus on welfare states, inclusive growth, and corporate social responsibility.

5. Sewa – Selfless Service

Guru Nanak emphasized selfless service or ‘Sewa’ as an essential duty of an individual. He propounded that those who serve humanity selflessly are the most significant. This has particular relevance today, wherein public service, charity, volunteerism and philanthropy are increasingly being valued and promoted.

6. Meditation and Spirituality

The practice of ‘Simran’ or remembering God’s name was stressed by Guru Nanak as a means to purify one’s mind and stay connected to divine qualities. In today’s fast-paced, stress-ridden lives, embracing meditation and spirituality can contribute to mental health and well-being.

7. Environment and Sustainable Living

Guru Nanak expressed a holistic view of nature, asserting that God resides in nature, demonstrating early environmental consciousness. This viewpoint underlines the importance of sustainable living, environmental protection, and climate action in the present context.

In conclusion, Guru Nanak’s teachings cut across man-made divisions, advocating universally acknowledged principles of truth, justice, compassion, and righteousness. His teachings provide a roadmap not only for individual development but also for creating a harmonious, just, and equitable society.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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