This month, Sikhs around the globe are celebrating the birth (Parkash Divas) of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikh faith. Not only that, a number of other communities will also be paying tribute to the “Yug Pursh”, Man of God, Guru Nanak. In order to pay a fitting tribute to Guru Ji, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama ‘at of BC celebrated his 547th birthday at their spacious Baitur Rahman Mosque on River Road in Delta on Sunday, November 22.
More than 400 people from diverse backgrounds took the time to join in this celebration. India Cultural Centre of Canada’s Gurdwara Nanak Niwas was honoured to be a part of this unique effort. The Punjabi media-both electronic and print-also did a commendable job in promoting this event. It was great to see a lot of young people involved in this process.
The program started with Tilawat (Recitation) of the Holy Quran and English translation by Usman Malik. That was followed by its Punjabi translation by Chaudhry Khizar Ahmad Hundal. Veteran journalist and community activist Harpreet Singh did an excellent job as MC. In welcoming the attendees, he gave a brief introduction to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama ‘at and its origin in the town of Qadian (District Gurdaspur) in the Punjab. Thus, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama ‘at has a very close connection with the Punjabi community and “Baba Guru Nanak Sahib”. Incidentally, Guru ji was married to Mata Sulakhani ji whose ancestral village was Batala (District Gurdaspur) in the Punjab not far from Qadian.
I was asked to speak about the life and message of Guru Nanak Dev from a Sikh perspective. Appropriately, Guru Nanak Dev is called the messenger and a Man of God. He was way ahead of his times. His message of brotherhood, equality peace, love and kindness was universal then and now. He was a revolutionary. Guru Nanak Dev was a genius, a poet, a philosopher and a saint all rolled into one. His three basic principles of leading a life filled with love, dedication and goodwill are a great road map. Making an honest living, sharing with others in need and mediation in the name of God Almighty are the undisputed guideposts for every human being.
Guru Nanak Dev not only preached those principles but also followed them and set an example for others. For example, he worked in order to make an honest living, for fourteen years at the Modi Khana in Sultanpur Lodhi and sixteen years as a farmer in Kartarpur (now in Pakistan). So far as the sharing is concerned Guru Nanak Dev felt that feeding hungry Sadhus with the twenty rupees his father gave him to do business was an excellent investment than any other business. Those twenty rupees are still providing langar to the hungry and needy at every Gurdwara and other places around the globe since then. So far as the meditation in the name of God is concerned who can match it with his beautiful Gurbani of praising God. Guru Nanak Dev’s 974 Shabads in Shri Guru Granth Sahib have no parallel in bringing peace of mind. The wonderful definition of God as Guru ji described in the Mool Mantar is hard to find anywhere else.
Guru Nanak Dev travelled far and wide for 24 years, as part of his Udassis, conveying his message. It has been reported that he travelled for close to 28,000 kilometers, mostly on foot to the east, west, north and south spreading the message of One God who dwells in every one of His creation and constitutes the eternal truth. He emphasized that God is the Ultimate Spiritual Reality. “Such is the divine play of the Creater that He has reflected the whole cosmos in the human body. Truth is above everything, yet higher than truth is truthful living.
The eternal message of Guru Nanak ji was reinforced by Imam Balal Khokhar, from a Muslim perspective. Imam Khokhar stressed that Guru ji’s message was for all of humanity. He emphasized that Guru Nanak Dev has a very special place and respect in the Muslim community. Consequently, he urged more co-operation and collaboration between various communities as we have so much in common and that Guruji’s message is applicable to everyone. Giani Manjit Singh of Khalsa Diwan Society, Surrey, also spoke about the unique contribution of Guru Nanak Dev not only for the Sikhs but also for everyone. Jarvis Elementary School, Delta’s grade 7 student Arshnoor Kaur Dhatt gave a very impressive perspective of Guru ji’s life and message. Arshnoor mentioned that by following Guru ji’s message each one of us can lead a very happy and productive life.
Local Amir Naeem Ahmad Lakhan Sahib thanked all of the speakers, attendees, organizers and volunteers for making this special event such a great success. The seminar concluded with a silent prayer by Imam Mobasir Sahib, Regional Missionary, BC Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama ‘at. This was followed by a very delicious vegetarian meal. I would like to thank the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama ‘at for bringing all of us to-gether for this very special occasion. It was a great tribute to the life and message of Guru Nanak Dev ji.