Birth Stories of the Guru
Recitation of Janamsakhis or birth stories of the Guru and imbibing their message is an integral part of the Sikh’s life. Merely listening to a Janamsakhi — which is the narrative of Guru Nanak’s life — is like ‘janam saphala karna’; that is, to live life in a meaningful way. Nanakdev had not only given a divine message of liberation but had actually lived such a life, serving as role model to all Sikhs, inspiring them to adapt it at the practical level. Never imposing by nature, the janamsakhis completely absorb the listener.
A common strand in all the Janamsakhis is Guru Nanak’s emphasis on ‘truthful living’ which is the way to liberation. He says, “Listen to my advice, O my mind! Only good deeds shall endure, and there may not be another chance.” The ultimate way of realisation is shown by a simple sakhi. Once there was a thug named Sheikh Sajjan. He would appear to be a noble man but would rob people deceitfully. He pretended to be kind, God-fearing and hospitable — he would offer food and shelter to visitors and in the stealth of night would kill them, and take away their valuables. Once Guru Nanak, along with his Muslim companion Mardana, stayed at Sajjan’s rest-house. It was almost midnight and despite waiting long for his guests to fall asleep, Sajjan continued to hear the soothing sounds of bani played on the rabab. Guru Nanak recited a hymn: “Bronze is very bright to look at; but if you keep it, your hands get blackened with it. Similarly some people appear to be good, but they are like a house whitened on the outside, but empty within. A man should be good from inside as well as outside.” Sajjan was overwhelmed and falling at the Guru’s feet, confessed his crimes. Sajjan distributed all his possessions and converted his house into a dharamsala which, according to the Puratan Janamsakhi, was the first such centre established in the history of early Sikhism.
Evey individual is considered to be a reflection of the Almighty and His supreme creation. Therefore the aim of life should be to develop the best in man which is God. Waheguru is not only Ik Onkar, the One Supreme Being; Satnam, Eternal Truth; Karta-purakh, Supreme Creator; Nirbhau, fearless; Nirvair, with no enemies; but is also Akal-murat and Ajuni-saibhan or Timeless and Formless. As mortal beings, We should try to absorb attributes of the Supreme and at the same time , know our place in Creation.
This realisation brings humility and shows us the true path of ultimate release. But it cannot happen without guruprasad or Guru’s Grace. Having surrendered his ego, the guru ka Sikh meditates upon Nam of God’s name, while earning his livelihood through honest means and sharing it with the needy and performing seva always. With this simple, practical yet magical formula of life, Kirat Karni, Vand Chhakna, te Nam Japna, provided by Baba Nanak, Sikhs celebrate life throughout the year. But there are special occasions such as Guru Nanak Jayanti that warrants celebration on a wider scale. Organising kirtan-durbars, processions, prabhat-pheris and langars, Sikhs sing with devotion as follows: “As Guru Nanak made his appearance in the world, /There was light everywhere. /As when the sun rises, /The stars vanish and darkness retreats… /Wherever the Guru set foot, /The spot became sanctified… /By manifesting the Eternal Name, /The Guru redeemed all the four corners and all the nine realms of the earth.”
Courtesy of www.timesofindia.speakingtree.in