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Nanak Shows The Way
Living Sikhi - Lesson Thirteen






Lesson Objectives:

1   To review the story of how Nanak became Guru Nanak Devji.

2   How Nanak prepared for his life's purpose.

3   To try to understand the highest, formless realm of Sach Khand

4   To marvel at the great meditation poem called Japji Sahib.


Teachers, ask the students to say the Sikh greeting with you; then fold hands and do simran with the students.

Ask the students to volunteer to say the Mool Mantar in Punjabi. (If some students are not ready, give them one more week to memorize it.)

In the last lesson we found that the young householder, Nanak, had left his good job as modi to the Nawab, to get closer to God. It is important to know that Nanak had a special connection with God, a special communication that he had practiced for many years beginning in childhood, through prayer, meditation and remembering God. So when God wanted him to stop working as a modi, Nanak was so in love with God, and listened so well, that he obeyed God without a question.

He did not say, "But God, why do I have to do that? I like my job. Aren't I doing enough?" Instead Nanak prayed to do whatever God wanted him to do. Nanak wanted to think about God more clearly. He gladly went away from job, people, noise and distractions, so that he could listen even closer. He knew in his heart that he needed to go someplace special, but even he did not know exactly where. He trusted God to take him there. God did take him some place special. But where?

(Ask for show of hands to these questions.) Have you ever been really, really high up where you could see far, far away? Have you ever been so happy that you shouted out loud? Have you ever gotten something you waited a long time for and you couldn't wait to tell your friends about it? If you did, you probably wanted to tell everyone what you saw, heard or felt. Well, Nanak was no different. With God's Grace, Nanak went on a journey to a place that has "lakh kushian"- a hundred thousand delightful pleasures. Nanak just had to tell us about it when he came back. But, guess what! That journey was made inside himself to another dimension, not outside.

Let's try to imagine another dimension. What happens when you turn on the radio?

Right! You hear a station that you have tuned into. When you turn the dial or move the cursor or press the tuner, another station with different voices and different music appears. We are now in the human dimension on earth. But around us there are thousands of music stations and voices in thousands of languages in the airwaves. We cannot see or hear them without a tuner called a "radio". The same way, we are also in the dimension called the God World. But without preparing to accept God's grace, we will not be aware.

While Nanak was in the human dimension on earth, he prepared himself to be "tuned" by God. Both his body and his soul or spirit became the "radio" to be taken to a very high vibration, wherever God wanted him to go.

How did he get ready?


  • He practiced good values.
  • He kept his mind on God at all times, even when he was working on the job.
  • He trusted God completely to take care of him and his family.

When Nanak returned, what he said was quite astonishing. We know that because he began to teach this astonishing statement to all who would listen, just like someone who has been greatly surprised by what he saw. Nanak had been a cattle-grazer, then a modi, but he suddenly had the courage to teach the qazis, the Muslim teachers of religion, and the Hindu pundits or priests, all of whom were very learned and had studied for many years.

The big question we ask ourselves is where did this humble man go to get the courage to teach? We know he studied with Hindu holy men and learned Sanskrit and the Vedas. We know he studied Persian and Arabic and the writings of Muslim saints. But this was an entirely new turn of events. Obviously he had made an inner connection with God that gave him a new mission. How can we tell where he went?

We can tell because he tells us himself in Japji Sahib in the Mool Mantar and in other stanzas that he recited and sung. He tells us that he learned of many realms beyond this human realm of Earth where we are in our everyday consciousness. He was able to visit these realms, just like we tune into the stations on a radio. He tells us (in stanza 37 of Japji Sahib) of Sach Khand - the highest realm of truth where the formless, "Creato,r God" whose "Name is Truth" resides.

Can we imagine formlessness? It is very difficult. We cannot see it, touch it, hear it nor taste it. It has no shape or no color, no dress or no country. It has no language or no religion. This formless world or Realm of Truth, Sach Khand, is filled with indescribable love. It is there, Nanak says, that everything in all the universes is waiting to be created. Can you imagine! There is nothing to see, but everything is there! A hundred thousand indescribable pleasures and more!

Nanak was surprised not to find saints there. There were no people at all. In fact, "he" was not there either. Nanak had to drop his form, his identity as Nanak, to enter this formless place. So he left his body and his personality behind. He merged with the formless God while he was still alive on earth. Amazing! He was just like a drop of water dissolved in the ocean that was God. Nanak was transformed into Guru Nanak Dev.

That is why he was so excited to tell everyone about God. And why he gave this first message: "There is no Hindu, There is no  Mussalman". If he were to come to your school today, what would he have said to help you understand what he experienced in the formless world, "There is no Christian; there is no Sikh?" Or "There is no Jew, nor Muslim, nor Sikh?" Or, "There is no Buddhist nor Muslim?" Does it matter what religion he mentions? No, because where he went - to the highest Realm of Truth, there were no forms at all, only the ONE God, yet all worlds, all people and all religions are created by God from that realm.

In addition to the highest realm, Nanak also visited other worlds on his journey. He tells us about them too. In fact, if you learn the meaning of Japji Sahib you have a map of how to get to the worlds that Nanak visited. Guru Nanak sang for us in his Bani, his poems/ songs called shabads, so we would have a map.

In times past, only a very few even knew about the formless world. This is the continuing mission of Guru Nanak. So now, because of the light our dear Teacher brought back, we can find this place too. In fact, one of the meanings of the title "Guru" is teacher. It also means "light in the darkness".

Why do we try to memorize Japji Sahib? Pause for answers.

Right! Because, if we memorize Japji Sahib by reciting it every day, we have a map inside our heads that we can unfold anytime and any place. We can't lose that map! We can always find the formless Realm of Truth where God lives. It is as near as our heart, if only we open our hearts to ever-present God's grace, like Guru Nanak teaches us to do.


[Teachers, please order Sacred Nitnems in Punjabi, English and transliterated English for your students.]

Homework: Memorize the first pauri (stanza) of Japji Sahib in Punjabi:

Sochay soch na hovay jay sochee luck var

You may think thousands of times about God and never understand.

Chupay chup na hovai jay laiyay rayha liv tar

You may remain completely silent and yet never get peace of mind.

Bhukhia bhukh na utree jay bunna pureea bhar

Your hunger for food and riches will never be satisfied by fasting or self-denial.

Sahas seeonpa lakh hoh(i) ta ik na chalai naal.

You may be very clever, but no thoughts will go with you.

Kiv sachiara hoiay kiv kuray tootay paal

So how do you become true? How do you smash the barrier (that keeps you from oneness with God)?

Hukam rajaiee chalna Nanak likhia naal

Nanak says, "Follow the path God has made just for you."


Shabad: Jo maagay thakur upney tae sohe sohe deyvai


July 9, 2010 

Conversation about this article

1: Ritoo (Chatsworth, U.S.A.), July 18, 2010, 8:09 PM.

I'm so excited and touched to read and understand these beautiful teachings the way you have described it. It is very hard to connect when you don't understand the language. This is so vital, this English translation for those of us who want to reconnect with our roots, yet be universal world citizens as well. Thank you so-o-o much.

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Living Sikhi - Lesson Thirteen"

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