Why Guru Nanak Refused to Follow Hinduism?

guru nanak,people walking near brown and white concrete building during daytime

Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born into a Hindu family in 1469. However, he chose not to accept Hinduism and instead embarked on a path of spiritual enlightenment that eventually led to the establishment of Sikhism. There were several reasons why Guru Nanak refused to follow Hinduism, and these reasons shed light on his teachings and the principles of Sikhism.

Reasons of Non-acceptance of Hinduism by Guru Nanak:

1. Condemnation of the Caste System and Ritualism:

One of the primary reasons Guru Nanak rejected Hinduism was his condemnation of the caste system and ritualistic practices. He believed that all individuals, regardless of their caste or social status, were equal in the eyes of God. Guru Nanak emphasized the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of their background. He saw the caste system as a form of discrimination that went against the principles of equality and social justice.

2. Rejection of Ascetic Practices:

Guru Nanak was also against the practices of yogis shaving their heads, smearing ash on their bodies, and renouncing the world. He believed that true spirituality was not about external appearances or extreme asceticism but rather about inner purity and devotion to God. Guru Nanak advocated for a balanced approach to life, where individuals could lead a spiritual life while still fulfilling their responsibilities in society.

3. Criticism of Idol Worship and Fear-based Worship:

Another aspect of Hinduism that Guru Nanak rejected was idol worship and worship driven by fear or personal gain. He emphasized the importance of worshiping the formless and omnipresent God, rather than getting caught up in rituals or materialistic desires. Guru Nanak believed that true devotion came from the heart and that external symbols or idols were not necessary for spiritual connection.

4. Refusal to Wear the Sacred Thread (Janeu):

When Guru Nanak’s parents wanted to perform the sacred thread ceremony (Janeu) for him, he refused to wear it. He had several reasons for his refusal. Firstly, he observed that many people who wore the sacred thread did not live according to the principles it symbolized. He saw hypocrisy in individuals who claimed to be pious but practiced discrimination based on caste. He believed that spirituality should be reflected in one’s actions and treatment of others, rather than in external symbols.

5. Brahmin caste System:

Guru Nanak criticized the exclusivity of the sacred thread ceremony, which was limited to the Brahmin caste. He believed that spirituality should be accessible to all, regardless of their caste or social background. He sought to break down barriers and promote equality among all individuals.

In his teachings, Guru Nanak praised traditional Hindu knowledge, such as the Vedas, but he questioned its misinterpretation and the misguided practices that had emerged over time. He sought to bring about a deeper understanding of spirituality and promote a more inclusive and compassionate approach to religion.

Guru Nanak’s rejection of Hinduism was not a rejection of Hindu philosophy or knowledge but rather a rejection of the societal practices and rituals that had deviated from the core principles of equality, compassion, and devotion to God. His teachings laid the foundation for Sikhism, a faith that embraces these principles and encourages individuals to lead a life of righteousness, equality, and service to others.

On 22 September 1539, the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak died at the age of  70 at Kartarpur in present-day Pakistan. Nanak Guru (15 April 1469 – 22 September 1539) was a Punjabi philosopherSufi sage, and mystic.

In conclusion, Guru Nanak’s refusal to follow Hinduism stemmed from his rejection of the caste system, ritualism, idol worship, and exclusivity. His teachings emphasized the importance of equality, inner purity, and devotion to the formless God. Guru Nanak’s decision to establish Sikhism was driven by his desire to reform society and promote a spiritual path that was accessible to all, irrespective of their background or social status.

The Enlightenment of Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Here are some recommended books on Guru Nanak:

  1. “Guru Nanak: His Life and Teachings” by Roopinder Singh
    • This book provides a comprehensive overview of Guru Nanak’s life and the philosophical foundations of Sikhism.
  2. “Guru Nanak: The First Sikh Guru” by Sukhbir Singh Kapoor
    • Kapoor’s book delves into the life of Guru Nanak, his travels, and the socio-religious landscape during his time.
  3. “The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings, and Authors” by Max Arthur MacAuliffe
    • Although an older work, MacAuliffe’s multi-volume set remains a valuable resource for understanding Sikhism, including the life and teachings of Guru Nanak.
  4. “Guru Nanak Dev Ji: A Short Biography” by Manjit Singh
    • This book offers a concise yet informative account of Guru Nanak’s life, focusing on key events and teachings.
  5. “Guru Nanak: The Founder of Sikhism” by Khushwant Singh
    • Khushwant Singh, a prominent Indian author, provides an accessible and engaging account of Guru Nanak’s life and his impact on Sikhism.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!