10 Guru Nanak Lessons that Make Sense Today

Guru Nanak Dev by Raja Ravi Varma – courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This post is provided courtesy of SikhNet and was written by Kunal Anand 

Five centuries after the passing of Guru Nanak, his words still resonate with his followers. Let’s take a look at 10 of his teachings that make sense to this day.

1. Never Forget the Poor

This mantra was relevant in 1500 when there was no concept of poverty alleviation, and is just as relevant now, when poverty hasn’t left the world. When Guru Nanak was 12, his father gave him Rs. 20 to set up a business. Nanak bought food worth Rs. 20 and gave it away. When his father asked him about this investment, Nanak told him it was a “true business.” Today, a Gurudwara named Sacha Sauda (true business) exists, where Guru Nanak fed the poor.


2. There is one God

Courtesy of Jasleen Kaur, via Flickr Creative Commons.

Using religion to segregate people into categories is awful. In the Guru’s own words, “There is neither Hindu nor Muslim.” On his visit to Hardiwar, he saw people offering the water of the Ganges towards the sun in the east, as an offering to their ancestors in heaven. He began to throw water towards the West. When others ridiculed him, he said: “If Ganges water will reach your ancestors in heaven, why should the water I throw not reach my fields in the Punjab, which are far less distant?”


3. Women are Equal to Men

Courtesy of Christian Science Monitor via SikhNet.

At a time when other Indian religions wanted quiet, demure women in the temple and no women in the mosque, Guru Nanak permitted women to join religious gatherings and openly sing their praises of God.


4. Running Away to a Forest Won’t Give You Enlightenment


“…Remember the essence of religion/ Is meekness and sympathy/ But a life of goodness and purity/ Amid the world’s temptations…” – Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Maybe one could achieve enlightenment in forests centuries ago, but we’re not capable of that today. And Guru Nanak doesn’t even require you to do that. He believed that living as a householder was better than going away for a divine truth. Nanak himself was a farmer even after achieving enlightenment.


5. These Five Evils are Probably Ruining Your Life

By Robert Couse-Baker courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.


  1. Ego
  2. 2. Anger
  3. Greed
  4. Attachment
  5. Lust.


Most, if not all, suffering of big city life comes from these five evils.


6. Find Your Own Guru

By russavia via Wikimedia Commons.

You need a mentor to guide you on how to live right. In Guru Nanak’s words, living right is much superior to visiting pilgrimage destinations.


7. Be Selfless

The Golden Temple in Punjab feeds over a 100,000 people of all religions every single day. Not because there is some divine gain, but because it is a sacred duty. For Nanak, the concept of selfless service was a way of life.


8. Fight Superstition of Any Kind

Nanak devoted his life to attacking formal rituals, caste, and practices that didn’t make any sense. This is the simplest way you can find meaning and purpose in your own life – cutting out the clutter of what society dictates you should do.


9. Simplicity is Beautiful

It is not hard to practice the tenets of Sikhism. There are only three!

Vand Chako: Sharing with others
Kirat Karo: Making an honest living
Naam Japna: Remembering God at all times


10. Travel!

Udaipur. By Ekabhishek via Wikimedia Commons.

There is much to be gained from your journeys. At a time when religious leaders never ventured out of their villages, Guru Nanak walked, yes, walked, to Iraq, Ladakh, Tibet and Saudi Arabia!


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  1. Surinder Kumar Lijhara says:

    Guru Nanak teachings are most truthful for today, as of past and will remain truthful for the future. And most important to mention is that he taught in such simple words that even the uneducated can understand easily just like drinking a glass of water. Wahe Guru…….

  2. Satbir singh says:

    These are some most important lessons which Sri guru nanak dev ji left for all of us decades ago on which he spend his lifespan to discover the most important questions which have a very deep answers till now
    And so on!
    I am young I’m still learning and
    I would like to share my one lesson that I learnt from Sri guru nanak ji that God is not a sculpture, object, no one can see him or seen him but its there in you in me everyone around every natural creation, I think our acts makes our inner self closer to God or evil.

  3. Davinderpal Singh says:

    Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji showed that enlightenment is achieved by understanding the hukam of the Karta Purakh. Enlightenment is achieved through serving creation, which is the righteous deed. Guru Nanak served creation of Karta Purakh.

  4. Sat Nishan Kaur says:

    Guru Nanak is a genius! I love him for all his rich lessons, how much he traveled walking on the earth and how he was able to be at easy in any kind of congregations or with any kind of Human being, I love Him, He is inspiring and I am grateful to be on this dharmic path:-)

    • Iswurdeo Soborun says:

      Guru Nanak ji is a great philosopher and his philosophic teachings bring lights to all human beings.
      I am inspired by his teachings.

    • He was a great man of wisdom. Very few such people have walked on this earth. His teachings promote harmony and enlightenment among his followers. The contribution of the Sikh community to India can never be overstated!!

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