Nanak, My Dear Friend And Guru
Written by Harinder Sikka   
Friday, 04 November 2011
Guru Nanak descended on the mother earth to tell us all that to be born as a human being is the biggest grace and gift of the Almighty.  Unfortunately, by the time realization dawns on us, we are either at the end of our journey or rapidly approaching one.  We often let our desperation show at the slightest provocation and not only question the Almighty’s judgment on various accounts but even go on to doubt His very existence. In our short sightedness, we fail to appreciate that if we wake up in the morning with more health than illness, then we are more blessed than many who do not survive the night.  We overlook statistical facts that if we have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or if we have food in our refrigerator, clothes on our back, a roof over our head and a place to sleep, we are richer than 75% of the population.  If we hold up our head with a smile on our face and are truly thankful, we are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

We are so blessed in so many ways that we would never ever know.  Unfortunately, we tend to take our existence for granted and the God’s grace as His duty, failing at the same time to do ours.

I realized my co-existence with Nanak as a friend in childhood days but somehow let the veil of glitter overshadow His omnipresence.  After retiring from the Indian Navy prematurely, I came to the civil world to get a first hand account of the so-called greener pastures.  By the time I turned 46, I had risen admirably to enjoy all the luxuries of the materialistic world, but the vacuum within grew bigger.  I had forgotten Him but He had not.  It was His Grace that the urge within took me to Nankana Sahib in October 2004 and changed the course of my life.  

As I entered the Holy shrine, I realized how fortunate I was to be stepping into the same house where Nanak was born and began His holy journey to the rest of the world. I was overshadowed by mere thoughts that I was walking and sitting on the floor where Nanak would have crawled, played and did mischief.  As if by a strange miracle I could feel myself to be a part of history.

Overcome by emotions, my mind rushed me to the year 1469 and put me at the doorstep of Mehta Kalu< Nanak's father. There was darkness all over.  The people were bondaged by the whims and fancies of the select few and lived with fear and uncertainty.  In the name of religion, all sorts of wrongs were being committed.  The Mogul empire was doing its best to increase Islamism and the Hindus were being slaughtered at the slightest provocation.

Nanak’s birth not only brought sunshine to his village Talwandi but also lifted the veil of superstition and fears engulfing human beings all across the country.  As if on a cue, the birds hummed in His praise, “Sat Guru Nanak pargatya, mitti dhund, jug chanann hoiya’.(Appears Nanak, removes darkness, brings light)

It was my most auspicious journey down memory lane, accompanying Nanak and witnessing his acts and deeds, which he did at the behest of the one and only Onkar.  I could see the child in Nanak making ‘Laddos’ out of sand and distributing amongst his friends.  The laddos were sweeter than the best of sweets rolling out of his tiny hands as quickly as the hymns of Onkar emerging out of his lips.  “Wand Chakna” (to share) was his motto and Nanak shared the name of God, the ultimate wealth, with us ordinary mortals.

At the Patti Sahib, I could see the astonished pundit giving up on Nanak.  It did not take him long to appreciate that Nanak’s knowledge was way beyond his own.  “He is already a learned soul and I cannot teach him anything”, is what he told Nanak’s father.  But Mehta Kalu would have none of the pundit’s theory.  “Go and do Sacha Sowda” (good trade), he commanded and sent Nanak scurrying for business and trade.

Sitting at Gurudwara Tambu Sahib, I realized how fortunate the tree was that bent its branches from all sides to give shelter to the young Nanak.  After performing Sacha Sowda by feeding the hungry saints with all the merhandise that he had procured to set shop, Nanak had camped outside his village, preparing to face his angry father. But the Rs 20/- Nanak had then spent on feeding the saints then has turned into a vast 'Langar' service where every Gurdwara offers free food to anyone who wishes to partake the meal, without caste or creed.

Mehta Kalu yet could not understand much and sent him to look after the grazing cows.  The snake that covered Nanak’s face in the field from the sunrays while he was asleep considered itself to be fortunate. Spreading its fangs, it covered Nanak’s face allowing only the cool breeze to pass through.  It was an act of God, protecting His very own son.  Rai Bhullar, the local rular, and all others who gathered or learnt about the incident were stunned, but Mehta Kalu was unmoved yet.  The businessman in him wished his son to be a successful trader. And trader Nanak was. He distributed the name of God for free.

Traveling with Nanak through thick and fearful jungles filled with wild animals and wicked people were an experience by itself.  The track that he left in wake subsequently became a path of salvation for millions. For Nanak there were no Hindus and no Musalman  “Ekas Ke Hum Barik” (we are all sons of same God), he repeatedly stated to his audience. Even the most powerful tantriks like Wali Kandhari failed to estimate Nanak’s prowess.  Failing to see through the ordinary looking fakir and feeling slighted by Nanak’s act of shifting his rights over the water lake, Wali Kandhari rolled down huge boulder at Nanak. Coming down at great speed, the rock threatened to kill us all and yet there was no fear in our minds. There He was, Nanak with his right hand extended, stopping the huge boulder in its track and offering amrit to us all.

‘Kirt Karna’ and ‘Naam japna’ (to share and to remember Him) were Nanak’s mantras.  ‘Ek Onkar’ (One GOD) was his ultimate teaching to the mankind.  And those who travel on his track become true Sikhs and achieve ‘nirvana’, the rest simply pretend to be one.

Taking birth again, five hundred years later, I realized that I had forgotten Nanak’s teachings.  The materialistic world had put me on to ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Myself’ track.  But graciously it was Nanak yet again who, being a true friend, philosopher, guide and guru, promptly held my hand and put me back on the right path.  I am amazed to see the path wide and open, welcoming anyone and everyone without caste and creed and accommodating any number of souls.  The tracks appears impossible to most and difficult to some, but its a matter of taking the first step, and the thousand-mile journey becomes His responsibility.

Harinder Singh Sikka
Senior President
Nicholas Piramal India Limited

10 February, 2005
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