2015- IUS Research Monograph # 5

NANAK: The Guru, The Founder of Sikhism


I have been asked to write a few lines to inspire people to pay attention to the bani of Guru Nanak Inspiring people to do something that they are not already doing is very difficult.

Who are the people that I am trying to inspire? What am I trying to inspire them to do? And, how do I go about doing it?

Let me answer the second question first. I am trying to get people to correctly understand the bani or philosophy of Guru Nanak. The logical questions that follow are first, why do I think it is imperative for people to learn about Nanak's philosophy and second, what benefits will people get from understanding the philosophy of Nanak, and then subsequently use it?

Nanak (or Guru Nanak as he is referred to with respect by Sikhs) was of the conviction that to achieve the maximum experience / interaction with the total environment, each individual man / woman / child needs to be in good physical and mental status at all times. Guru Nanak's philosophy is the core that inspires people to achieve and maintain an excellent physical and mental status. An analysis of the day-to-day concerns of individuals are reflected in their philosophy, as well as in the larger perspectives which a person ponders about - God, the universe, the beginning of it all, the function of life, the function of human beings; all are detailed by Guru Nanak to varying degrees with clear directives. His philosophy does not restrict anyone from achieving the maximum she/he can, but cautions one of the effects (of the methodology adopted, and the degree pursued) on the physical and mental status of the individual. Hence, it can be said that Nanak's philosophy is not simply a list of do(s) and don't(s).

Furthermore, it becomes apparent upon understanding Guru Nanak and his philosophy that each person ought to deal with day to day issues head-on, living life to the fullest by the outright shunning / doing away with superstitions and useless rituals, disregarding next-life concerns (which he considered non-issue and immaterial at best), and dismantling fears associated with day-to-day living. The psychological safety net provided by this philosophy ensures that the individual does everything with full confidence, never having to resort to second guessing her/himself, or regretting any action taken.

This philosophy delineates the relationships / interactions between the self (concept of the self or individualism), others, the environment (all things outside of the self, as well as all things including the self), the source (commonly referred to as God) of the beginnings, and the logical endings to all.

Going back to the first question - who are the people that I am trying to inspire? Two groups stand out to me. Group A is comprised of individuals who have no knowledge of Guru Nanak and his philosophy. Group B includes individuals who have knowledge about the subject, but the base of knowledge does not reflect a correct understanding of the subject in-depth consequently they are unable to benefit from the philosophy.

The final question is how do I go about getting people to learn about Guru Nanak and his philosophy?

The question that comes to mind is how to pass on correct information effectively (with the resultant change in behavior) to people who are interested to learn, and to use the philosophy?

The authors and the team at Institute for Understanding Sikhism (IUS) have diligently written a comprehensive introductory booklet about Guru Nanak and his philosophy Nanak: The Guru: The Founder of Sikhi(sm). The booklet is written in an easy-to-understand format. It is not another ploy wherein the reader is asked to believe in things that make no sense in the final analysis. Guru Nanak was one hundred percent against blind faith. He believed in use of reasoning and logic, and hence his life's work and writings are full of the questions and challenges which he posed, with the goal to have traditions / meaningless beliefs and superstitions nullified. The Institute for Understanding Sikhism has adopted the approach used by Guru Nanak of using reasoning and logic, to understand his philosophy (bani) which was based on the totality of his life style, thinking, interactions with people, and interactions and understanding of his total environment. The use of science as a tool has helped to clarify what were otherwise vague concepts, and totally dependent on the individual's experiences and can only be taken for what her/ his words are worth.

The concepts explained are precise and leave no room for the need to use a double-standard to resolve conflicting conclusions as is common in interpretations that are biased or based on blind faith and faulty logic.

The content also reflects insights into Guru Nanak's thoughts, style of living, commitment to humanity, and individual uplift.

The IUS personnel and their network of resources are familiar with the subject matter in its true perspective, and are an accessible support group.

To assist the maximum number of people to live a life of joy, contentment, as well as to excel in their fields of endeavor, is the objective of publishing this booklet. It is my personal vision that the knowledge contained in this booklet will enable and empower the individuals referred to as Groups A and B to become conversant with the philosophy, thereby to create and expand support groups which will spearhead the campaign of passing on the correct philosophy to others.

The IUS is working on interpretation of the bani of Guru Nanak with the application of science and logic in series of books. The current booklet will be followed by the next book, jpu (JAP)- the first bani of Guru Nanak, which may appear in mid of 2015.

Now, let me turn the tables, and pose a question / challenge to you: What are you willing to give up to receive - excellent physical and mental benefits for the rest of your life? Invest an hour of your time to read and understand and all the good things will come for free - and I literally mean for free!

Raj Rattan Singh Chawla, PhD
Victorville, California, U.S.A.
25 October 2014