Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of the Sikh faith, was among the great spiritual teachers of medieval India. His mission was to reconcile the warring faiths, whose mutual conflict had reduced the state of society in India to a sorry spectacle. His message was to seek behind rituals and conventional appearance the core of each faith, the essence of God-consciousness, the way to a noble life and the brotherhood of man. Tolerance towards other faiths, compassion for the suppressed and a passionate plea for a just society are his basic tenets. He remains pre-eminent in his vision of an integrated life of action, spiritually and ethically directed, and of a society purged of the evil both of a selfish priest craft and grasping temporal overlords.
Guru Nanak's teaching, preserved in the form of devotional poetry in medieval Hindi and Punjabi, sung in various ragas, form a valuable part of the total heritage of Indian literature.
Prof. Gurbachan Singh Talib (b. 1911) is a distinguished scholar, writer an critic in Punjabi and English, and has been associated with many learned bodies. His published works include An Pachhate Rah and Punjabi Vartak in Punjabi and Guru Nanak - His Personality and Vision, Selections from the Holy Granth, Japuji - the Immortal Prayer Chant, and Guru Teg Bahadur - Martyr and Teacher in English. Prof Talib presents this monograph mainly for the benefit of non-Punjabi readers.
The selection in English rendering, included in this book, is arranged under several themes. The introductory note given in the beginning will help in a closer understanding and appreciation of their content. To the Indian reader, familiar with the main postulates of Indian philosophy and the tradition of Bhakti, these should not present much difficulty. Even otherwise, they hold universal ethical and spiritual appeal and should easily be grasped.
The renderings from the original sacred texts are the work of the present writer. While remaining close in detailed exposition to the original, they are sought to be given what felicity of expression has been possible in the medium of an alien language, so different in structure and idiom from the Indian languages. The context in each case refers to the raga, or bani (composition) under which particular piece has been included in the Granth Sahib, the sacred Scripture of Sikh faith. The page references are to the 1430-page standard printed edition of this Scripture.
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