Wellington, March 19, 2020
The life and teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism were the theme of a documentary film shown in Parliament on March 11, 2020.
National Party Member of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi facilitated the event which was attended by Head of Chancery and Second Secretary at Indian High Commission in Wellington Doss Jayakumar, National MPs Melissa Lee and Paulo Garcia, Honorary Consul of India in Auckland Bhav Dhillon and community leaders.
A Special Stamp was released on the occasion.
Guru Nanak’s teachings are valid today as they were more than 500 years ago. His emphasis on embracing diversity, welcoming others and practicing selfless service are timely as New Zealand and New Zealanders were marking first anniversary of the Christchurch massacre of March 15, 2019.
Sikhism, the youngest and the fifth largest religion in the world, is made up of selfless volunteers who obey the teachings of their Guru and are always ready to help.
Guru Nanak was a visionary, he spoke of equal rights for women at a time when this notion didn’t come to mind of many others.
His words were “Sau kyun manda aakhiye jit jamme rajan” (How can we talk negative of women of our society, when they give birth to us?’).
Another teaching of Guru Nanak was on ecology. He constantly advocated the need to plant trees and care for our flora and fauna. Once again this teaching was ahead of his times.
About Guru Nanak
To an estimated 25 million Sikhs around the world, Guru Nanak Dev is one of the greatest leaders who believed in oneness of mankind and in the inherent goodness of the individual.
To millions of people of other faiths, Guru Nanak Dev is a leader whose teachings have relevance in their daily lives as well; teachings that have transcended time, space and vicissitudes of mankind.
To tens of thousands of people who even question the existence of God, Guru Nanak Dev is a teacher par excellence and a leader who led by example.
Such is the greatness of the spiritual leader that Guru Nanak Dev is mentioned and followed with respect even by people who have embraced Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and other faiths.
The 550th birth anniversary of the Great Guru is still being celebrated all over the world.
It is often said that the wisdom to lead people on the righteous path comes to those who have gone through the various stages of life, including marriage.
Gautama, who attained enlightenment to give the world the great religion of Buddhism and Guru Nanak Dev who established Sikhism as a way of life, were just two brilliant examples of that dictum.
The Early Years
Born into a simple Hindu family (on April 15, 1469), the founder of the Sikh religion showed signs of uniqueness even in his early years.
His father Mehta Kalian Das was an accountant in the employment of the local Muslim authorities.
From an early age, Guru Nanak made friends with both Hindu and Muslim children and was keen to learn and practice the meaning of life.
At the age of six, he was sent to the village schoolteacher to learn Hindi and mathematics. He then learnt Muslim literature, Persian and Arabic.
He was an unusually gifted child who learned quickly and often questioned his teachers.
His parents conducted the ‘thread ceremony’ when he attained 13 years of age.
But he refused to wear the sacred thread.
He said: “Let mercy be the cotton, contentment the thread, continence the knot and truth the twist. O priest! If you have such a thread, do give it to me. It’ll not wear out, nor get soiled, nor burnt, nor lost. Says Nanak, “blessed are those who go about wearing such a thread.”
As a young man herding the family cattle, Guru Nanak was known to spend long hours absorbed in meditation and in religious discussions with Muslim and Hindu holy men who lived in the forests surrounding Talwandi, a village in Western Punjab where he was born.
He would work during the days, but early in the mornings and late at nights, he would meditate and sing hymns accompanied by Mardana on the rabab (a string instrument).
Rahul Chopra is an experienced Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Strategist employed by New Zealand Parliament and MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi in his Manukau East Electorate Office.