10 Life Lessons by Guru Nanak Dev Ji

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Guru Nanak

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism was the first of the ten Sikh gurus who helped in formulating the pillars on which Sikhism was established. His teachings are inscribed in the Guru Granth Sahib and they continue to be the guiding principles for not only Sikhs but people across communities and religions. He preached many life-long lessons and teachings that can be applied today and have become even more important and much-needed values in today’s turbulent times. In order to get a better understanding of his philosophy, we bring you the 10 life lessons that you can learn from Guru Nanak Dev Ji. 

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‘Ik Onkar’ – One God

“There is but One God. His name is Truth; He is the Creator. He fears none; he is without hate. He never dies; He is beyond the cycle of births and death. He is self-illuminated.
He is realized by the kindness of the True Guru. He was True in the beginning; He was True when the ages commenced and has always been True. He is also True now.”

Today, when the world is being divided in the name of religion, this life lesson by Guru Nanak Dev Ji becomes the most significant one. He believed that the creator of this world is one and therefore the segregation which happens in the name of God and religion is pointless. He is believed to have proclaimed that  God is neither Hindu nor Muslim. If the founder of Sikhism could believe in such an idea then why do people like us follow a discourse of difference and feel the need to kill in the name of religion? 

“Kirat Karo” – Work Honestly

“Whatever kind of seed is sown in a field, prepared in due season, a plant of that same kind, marked with the peculiar qualities of the seed, springs up in it.”

Kirat Karo means to work honestly and is one of the three pillars of Sikhism. Throughout his life, Guru Nanak Dev Ji propagated the idea that all humans need to earn their living through honest means and use their skills and talents to lead an honest life. And this is definitely an important lesson on the significance of honesty and reminds us how hard work is the only path towards success. 

“Vand Shhakō” – Share and Consume

“If the people use the wealth bestowed on them by God for themselves alone or for treasuring it, it is like a corpse. But if they decide to share it with others, it becomes sacred food.”

Vand Shhakō which translates to Share and Consume is another pillar of Sikhism. Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed that those who are capable have the responsibility to take care of the needy. This teaches us a lesson on the importance of sharing and how the world could only be made into a better place if we engage in activities meant for the upliftment of our society and community as a whole. 

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“Sewa” – Selfless Service

“Sing the songs of joy to the Lord, serve the Name of the Lord, and become the servant of His servants.”

The idea of Sewa forms the crux of Sikhism. Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed and practised the virtue of selfless service. He firmly believed that spiritual satisfaction and true contentment can be achieved only through engaging in acts which are completely selfless in nature. This is the idea behind the langar which is offered in Gurdwaras across the country even today. So, keep aside your greed and be selfless while leading your life. 

Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Life lessons by Guru Nanak Dev Ji


“He who regards all men as equals is religious.”

Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a firm believer in the idea that God created everyone as equal and therefore everyone should be treated as an equal irrespective of their caste, religion and gender. If everyone incorporates just this one lesson into their lives the world will be a better place and most of the issues that the world is facing today will be solved on their own. 

Respect Women

“Those who have loved are those that have found God.”

Even nowadays, Women are fighting for basic rights and religious scriptures are often used to justify the treatment that women are subjected to but even centuries back Guru Nanak Dev Ji stood for the rights of women. In one of his verses, he demands an equal position for women in society by saying “Why to disrespect the one who gives birth to the majestic kings of the world”. 

God is Omnipresent

“From its brilliance, everything is illuminated.”

Guru Nanak Dev Ji was completely against idolatry. He believed that God is present everywhere in nature and therefore you don’t need idols or temples or mosques to connect with God. He stressed this idea after witnessing how the lower castes were barred from entering temples. Now, this scenario has somewhat changed but you know how these religious symbols and idols often become a basis on which religious violence is propagated. And all this could be solved if one starts believing in God’s omnipresence. 

Kindness and Compassion

“Asceticism doesn’t lie in mere words; He is an ascetic who treats everyone alike. Asceticism doesn’t lie in visiting burial places; it does not in wandering about nor in bathing at places of pilgrimage. Asceticism is to remain pure amidst impurities.”

Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed that only kindness and compassion could influence and change the world in a positive way. By his actions, he proved his belief in the idea that every creature of this world no matter how evil deserves kindness from his fellow creatures and that kindness can change a person for good. So, look at the world with compassion and see how your kindness can lead the world in a positive direction. 

Every Life has a Purpose to Fulfil

“The world is a drama, staged in a dream.”

Next time you feel inconsequential and are willing to give up on your life, remember this teaching of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He believed that God had a clear purpose behind the creation of the world and all its inhabitants. If you look at the world like this, all the existential dilemmas that you feel in your life could be turned into something positive and productive. 

Stand Against Oppression

“Realization of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living.”

Guru Nanak Dev Ji believed that one should never succumb to oppression no matter what the circumstances are. According to him, God always helps those who courageously stand against oppression. One of his verses translated to English “Lord guides the sparrow that fights the eagle” teaches us all a lesson of inner strength. No matter how powerful the enemy is, in us all, there is a strength to fight it. So, raise your voice against everything that you think is wrong with the world and that’s where the change begins. 

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Who was Guru Nanak Dev Ji?

Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first Sikh Guru who laid the foundations of the Sikh religion in the late 15th century.

What are the five principles of Sikhism?

Here are all the principles of Sikhism: Love, selfless service, human dignity, self respect, Simran and Sarbat Da Bhala.

Who was the last Sikh Guru?

The last or 10th Sikh Guru was Guru Gobind Singh. He was just 9 years old when he was formally installed as the leader of the Sikhs after the execution of his father, Guru Teg Bahadur by the Mughal King Aurangzeb.

So, these are the 10 life lessons that you can learn from Guru Nanak Dev Ji and by incorporating these values into your everyday life you can actually make a difference to your life and the world around you. This Guru Nanak Jayanti, we encourage you to follow your dreams and do your best to make a difference! Our Leverage Edu experts are here to guide you throughout every step of your academic and professional journey! Sign up for a free session with us today!

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