Lessons on Empathy and Kindness from the Teachings of Guru Nanak
Religion is a personal choice. And in a country like ours, there is no shortage of this choice. Every religion and every spiritual leader places HUMANITY over and above everything else. Often these teachings are lost in our daily practices and rituals. Today, on Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birth anniversary, let us talk about some of these values and the teachings of Guru Nanak.
Let us dig a bit deeper and see how we can make Kindness, Altruism, Righteousness, Mindfulness, and Authenticity a part of our daily life and practice.
After all, we want to build a humanity filled with purpose.
Teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Guru Nanak Ji’s main messages always revolved around Sarbat da bhala – translating to happiness for everyone. He believed in humanism and in humanity. Wherever he went, he taught people about the same- to live a moral life that promotes happiness due to civic actions that promote civic empathy in people.
Born in 1469, Guru Nanak Dev Ji traveled all over the globe- teaching everyone the path of daya and namrata, which means compassion and humility, and speaking against false or immoral practices. His teachings included lessons like Vand Chakna– to help everyone with what they have and what they earn. And these practices and teachings of Guru Nanak are still being passed down in the Sikh religion.
One of the most praised teachings of Guru Nanak is – Kirat Karo – do well by everyone/ do not exploit others for your happiness. If you combine this with Vand Chakho – it gives rise to selfless service – seva. Often in a Gurudwara, you see the richest of rich men and poorest of poor, standing side by side and serving others. Isn’t THIS the definition of an ideal society?
If we all coherently follow these lessons, aren’t we paving the way to a kind, inclusive, and prosperous future? Following these teachings and implementing them in our lives is also a step in the right direction to bring about positive social change.
The concept of Langar
Guru Nanak Dev ji’s vision was to promote all-inclusive humanism and social justice. Carrying that torch of light, Guru Angad Dev Ji and his wife, Bibi Khivi, started the concept of Langar, the free kitchen, which provides food for all without discrimination.
The Sikh community still practices it widely all over the world. But that’s not all. Their followers also perform community services like Chabeel, free drinking water on summer days at every local bus stop and station, protecting the ones who need help, and many more.
The practice of seva is all-inclusive in this culture. Anyone can perform seva by joining and giving a hand to help the many.
What did we learn from this?
Guru Nanak Dev Ji started the whole movement of selfless service, happiness for all, and numerous other good things. And now it’s our turn to carry them forward. This generation, the Gen Z can change the world by extending their hand to help others AND themselves.
One way to begin could be by taking notes and learning from the teachings of Guru Nanak and Sikhism.
Building a better world- what can we do?
Start partaking in civic actions and civic empathy.
Help others from the resources you have. Take inspiration from Moti Ram Mehra, the prison-guard who served milk to Zohrawar Singh and Fateh Singh when they were captured.
Learn from how Panj Pyare were ready to give their heads for Guru Gobind Singh Ji and how the community still doesn’t take a step back when it comes to promoting civic empathy in people.
Next time you see a chabeel, or Langar, or any other community service done by them or others, ask if they need help and if you can do some seva. It will be an exceptional experience.