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What Is the Origin of Sikhism?

Guru Nanak, the Founder of Sikhism

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Guru Nanak and Mardana

Artistic Impression of Guru Nanak and Mardana

Photo © [Jedi Nights]

The origins of Sikhism may be traced to a part of Punjab which is located in modern day Pakistan where the Sikhism faith originated with Guru Nanak Dev in the early 1500's. Born into a Hindu family living in the village of Talwandi of Punjab, (now Nankana of Pakistan), Guru Nanak began to question the rituals that he observed going around him from an early age.

As a child, Nanak spent countless hours deep in meditation on the divine. His father often scolded him for laziness. During his school years he astounded his teachers with poetic compositions reflecting his spiritual nature. Nanak refused to participate in the coming of age Hindu thread tying ceremony. When his father attempted to get him started in business, Nanak used his money to feed the hungry and told his father that he had gotten a good bargain for his money.

Nanak's parents arranged a marriage for him, and he began a family. All the while Nanak continued to focus on worshiping one creative being. Nanak's acquaintance with Mardana, a Muslim bard goes deep into the heart of Sikhism's origins. Though their religions differed, they discovered shared philosophies and a common love of the divine. Meditating together, Nanak and Mardana communed with creator and creation. As their understanding of the divine nature developed, their spiritual relationship deepened.

Nanak relocated to Sultanpur. About the time he turned 30, he spiritually awoke to state of complete enlightenment. With Mardana as his spiritual companion, Nanak took leave from his family and set out on a mission to share the truths revealed to him. Professing a belief in one creator, he preached against idolatry, and the caste system. He made a series of journeys which took him through much of India, the Middle East and parts of China.

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