All About the Life of Guru Nanak

Introduction to the First Guru

Sikhism originated with Guru Nanak five centuries ago. Nanak came from a Hindu family. He grew up surrounded by Muslim neighbors. From an early age he showed a deeply spiritual character. He broke away from his family’s traditions and belief systems, refusing to participate in empty rituals. Nanak married and entered business, but remained focused on God and meditation. Eventually Nanak became a wandering minstrel. He composed poetry in praise of one God, and set it to music. He rejected idolatry, and the worship of demigods. He spoke out against the caste system, teaching instead the equality of all humanity.

Guru Nanak Dev (1469 - 1539)
Are Sikhs Hindus?
Are Sikhs Muslims?

What do Sikhs Believe?

The Birth of Guru Nanak

The Infant Guru Nanak. Artistic Impression © Angel Originals licensed to

Early one morning before the light of dawn, Tripta, the wife of Kalu Bedi, gave birth to a baby boy. The baby charmed the midwife who attended his delivery. The parents called an astrologer to predict his fortune. They named their son Nanak, after his older sister Nanaki. The family lived in the town of Nankana, which is now a part of Pakistan.

Free Coloring Page of The Infant Guru Nanak

The Story of Guru Nanak's Birth
Events and Location of Guru Nanak's Birth
Guru Nanak's Birth and Historical Calendars
A Glimpse Into Guru Nanak's World
Guru Nanak's Official Gurpurab Birthday Celebration
Modern Nankana and Guru Nanak's Birth Celebrations Illustrated

Nanak, the Herdboy

Guru Nanak the Herdboy. Artistic Impression © Angel Originals licensed to

When Nanak became old enough, his father gave him the job of watching cattle. Nanak would slip into deep meditative trances while the cattle grazed. He got into a lot of trouble couple of times when the cattle wandered into the neighbors fields and ate up their crops. Nanak's father often became very upset with him, and scolded him severely for his laziness. Some villagers noticed very unusual things happening when Nanak meditated. They became convinced that Nanak must be a mystic or saint.

Free Coloring Page of Guru Nanak The Herd Boy

Guru Nanak the Herdboy
Guru Nanak and the Cobra
Guru Nanak and the Shade Tree
Commemorative Historical Gurdwaras of Nankana, Pakistan

Nanak, the Scholar

Guru Nanak the Scholar. Artistic Impression © Angel Originals licensed to

One of the villagers, named Rai Bullar, noticed that Nanak tended to meditate at every opportunity. He became convinced that Nanak had devout disposition. He persuaded Nanak’s father to put him in a class where he could receive an education in religious studies. Nanak learned very quickly astounding his teacher with the spiritual nature of his school work. The teacher believed that Nanak wrote divinely inspired compositions.

Free Coloring Page of Guru Nanak the Scholar

Signifigance of Gurmukhi Alphabet in Sikh Scripture

Nanak, the Reformer

Guru Nanak the Reformer. Artistic Impression © Angel Originals licensed to

When Nanak came of age, his father arranged for him to participate in the Hindu thread tying ceremony symbolizing man's connection with God. Nanak refused, objecting that the thread had no value because it would eventually wear out. He also rejected the Hindu caste system of Brahman hierarchy. Nanak denounced idolatry, and the worship of demi-gods.

Free Coloring Page of Guru Nanak the Reformer

Guru Nanak the Founder of Sikhism
Fundamental Teachings of Sikhism

Nanak, the Merchant

Guru Nanak the Merchant. Artistic Impression © Angel Originals licensed to

As Nanak matured, his family arranged a marriage for him with a girl named Sulakhani. She bore him two sons. Nanak's father attempted to set him up in business as a merchant, so that he could support his family. He gave Nanak money and sent him to make purchases. Nanak spent all the money feeding homeless, and hungry, holy men that he met on the way. When he returned empty handed, his father became very angry and scolded him severely. Nanak insisted that doing good deeds for others had earned an excellent profit.

Free Coloring Page of Guru Nanak the Merchant

The Sikh Dining Tradition of Langar
Nurturing Body and Soul in the Guru's Free Kitchen

Nanak, the Householder

Guru Nanak The Householder. Artistic Impression © Angel Originals licensed to

Nanak's father became increasingly frustrated with him. His sister, Nanaki, lived with her husband in a town called Sultanpur. They found Nanak a job working in a granary. Nanak left his wife and sons with his parents promising to send for them as soon as he could support them. Nanak did well in his new position. He treated everyone generously, and dealt with them fairly. Before long his family joined him, and they moved into a house of their own. Nanak became acquainted with a Muslim minstrel, named Mardana. They met every morning at a local river, where they meditated before going to work. The entire community expressed astonishment that men of different faiths could worship together.

Free Coloring Page of Guru Nanak The Householder

Nanak, the Enlightened One

Journey With the Gurus Into the New Year. Photo © [Courtesy Inni Kaur and Pardeep Singh]

One morning, Nanak went to meditate and bathe beside the Kali Bein, or Black River, with Mardana. Nanak walked into the river and disappeared beneath the water. When he did not show up for work, his employer discovered that he had never come back out from under the water. Everyone assumed that he had drowned except for his sister Nanaki. Three days passed and then, astounding everyone, Nanak emerged from the river alive saying, "Na koe Hindu, na koe Musalman - There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim." The amazed town's people agreed that Nanak must be a completely enlightened being and began to call him "Guru."

Guru Nanak, the Founder of Sikhism

Guru Nanak, the Traveler

Guru Nanak and Mardana
Guru Nanak and Mardana. Photo © [Jedi Nights]

Nanak immersed himself fully in meditation. He seldom spoke to anyone and quit his job. He gave away all of his personal belongings to the poor. He made living arrangements for his wife and sons, and then left town with his spiritual companion Mardana. They became wandering minstrels. Mardana played a stringed instrument called a rabab and accompanied Nanak, when he sang his poetic compositions. They embarked on a series of Udasi mission tours and traveled together preaching, and teaching, that there is only one God. There is no Hindu. There is no Muslim. There is only one brotherhood of humanity.

Nanak Dev, the Traveling Minister
Ancestor Worship at Pilgrim Bathing Place in Haridwar
The Transformation of Sajjan Thug of Tulamba
Hand Print of Guru Nanak in the Boulder of Panja Sahib

Death of Guru Nanak

Home Coming
Home Coming. Photo © [Courtesy Inni Kaur and Pardeep Singh]

Guru Nanak returned home from his travels after five separate mission tours spanning 25 years. He settled and continued his ministry in Kartarpur where eventually he breathed his last, designating his disciple Lehna to receive the jot of his spiritual light, and succeed him as Second Guru Angad Dev.
Joti Jot Guru Nanak Dev Ji
(Events of First Sikh Guru's Death)

Guru Nanak Sikh Comics Series

"Guru Nanak" Graphic Novels by Daljit Singh Sidhu Volumes 1 - 5
"Guru Nanak" Graphic Novels by Daljit Singh Sidhu Volumes 1 - 5. Photo © [Courtesy Sikh Comics]

by Sikh comics spans the life, ministry and mission tours of Guru Nanak Dev in an entrancing series of five graphic novels. Colorful illustrations, English narration and

quotes bring to life the illustrious history of the first guru.

Guru Nanak Storybook Series "Journey With The Gurus"

Journey with the Gurus
"Journey With the Guru's" Volume Three Cover Art. Photo © [Courtesy Inni Kaur and Pardeep Singh]

Journey With the Gurus authored by Inni Kaur and illustrated by Partdeep Singh is a rich tapestry woven in the finest story telling tradition. gorgeous illustrations depict the childhood, ministry, and travels of First Guru Nanak and his companion Mardana in a must have hardcover collection beautifully narrated in the English language.

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Your Citation
Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "All About the Life of Guru Nanak." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2020, August 26). All About the Life of Guru Nanak. Retrieved from Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "All About the Life of Guru Nanak." Learn Religions. (accessed June 9, 2023).