Guru Nanak (1469 – 1539)
Birthday: 14 April
Guru Nanak is the founder of Sikhism and the first of the Sikh Gurus. He was born in Punjab India (modern day Pakistan) and gave spiritual teachings based on the universal divinity of creation. He taught his followers to concentrate on spiritual practices which would enable them to transform their egotism into selflessness.
Nanak was born in Nankana Sahib near Lahore in Modern day Pakistan. His father was the local tax collector for the village. There are many accounts which tell of Nanak’s early spiritual awakening. He was said to be a precocious child with particular insights into religious teachings and philosophy. He would spend time alone in meditation and was fascinated by religious rituals. His family were Hindu, but he studied both Hinduism and Islam extensively. Although he had a deep interest in religion, he also had a rebellious streak, not always accepting religious dogma. For example, at the age of eleven, boys of his age are supposed to wear a sacred thread of caste. But, Nanak refused to wear the thread, arguing that caste should not be used as a means of judging a person. Nanak would often debate with religious pundits about the nature of God and true religious practice.