Guru Nanak Dev was a great saint and philosopher who was born in Punjab when India was passing through the dark period of its history. Hindus and Muslims were hostile and were ready to cut each other’s throat over the slightest excuse. The Hindus were steeped in superstition and ignorance. They worshipped a number of gods and goddesses. They could not stand up to the Muslims in religious debates. At this dark hour this great man gave the message of oneness of God and equality of all human beings before God. He instilled hope and self-respect in the demoralised Hindus and tried his best to bring the Hindus and Muslims close to one another.
Guru Nanak was born in 1469 at village Talwandi in Sheikhupura District of the Punjab now in Pakistan. Later this place came to be known as Nanakana Sahib after the name of that great man. This place has acquired the status of the Mecca for all the Sikhs spread practically in all parts of world. They consider it a religious merit to visit this place at least once in their life-time. He was sent to the village school by his father, but he left school as his horizons were much higher and he wanted to seek the knowledge of God and the universe.
Guru Nanak was always absorbed in meditation. His father, soon got him married at the age of 19, but his aim was set at higher goals and he would not take interest in worldly affairs. Divine knowledge dawned upon him soon and he left worldly life and began to roam about and preach his message wherever he went. He made no distinction between the Hindus and the Muslims. His constant companions during his wanderings were Bala and Mardana, the former was a Hindu while the latter was Muslim.
Guru Nanak left his house and travelled widely in India as well as abroad. He observed everything minutely and gained wide experience. He came in contact with a large number of people of different sects. When he started to preach, a very large number of people became his followers. His message was simple and appealing and his personal example of high thinking and simple living attracted the masses. After his travels he settled in a village in the Punjab, where he gathered disciples and preached to them. He disciples included both the Hindus and the Muslims.
Guru Nanak believed in one God and preached that all human beings were equal before God. He was a great poet and his poetic compositions are known as Guruwani. They are recited by all the devout Sikhs with great respect These form part of the Adi Granth.