As the Sikhs all over the world today observe the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, and they congregate in the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib through the Kartapur Corridor, this book is not only well-timed but also comes as a mark of great respect.
Nanak traveled far and wide teaching people the message of one God who dwells in every one of His creations and constitutes the eternal Truth. He set up a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue.
‘A Gift of Grace – The Essence of Guru Nanak’s Spirituality’ (Niyogi Books) by Daler Aashna Deol is a new book befitting the occasion. She has made Guru Nanak’s core spiritual message for the modern reader much simpler. Part I of the book enunciates the spiritual foundation of the guru’s worldview and his cardinal religious beliefs about the nature of God. Topics in this chapter include bridging different stages of the spiritual journey, leading a virtuous life, living in harmony with the natural world, and developing compassion and helping others.
‘Japji Sahib’, which is the seminal text and the axis of Guru Nanak’s ecclesiastical legacy, is incorporated in its entirety in Part II of the book. All meditations are presented in transliterated text, English translation, along with a brief commentary. Part III of the book has a representative selection of Guru Nanak’s hymns.
A former lecturer of Political Science at Delhi University, Aashna Deol lives in Maryland. Co-author of Japji: The Path of Devotional Meditation with Surinder Deol, she has also translated Tu Hi Tu, a collection of selected poems by Maulana Rumi and Rabindranath Tagore, and Masiha, an adaptation of Khalil Gibran’s classic ‘The Prophet.’
As the blurb says, ‘Guru Nanak’s spiritual beliefs and practices, based on his direct experience of God were profoundly transformational. He brought the path to enlightenment closer to the masses by his use of a language that they understood. His monotheism, coupled with his emphasis on the pursuit of divinity while living the life of an ordinary householder, was a significant departure from the prevailing beliefs in renunciation, pilgrimage, and other rituals.’
While enunciating the spiritual foundation of the guru’s world view and his conception of reality, including the nature of God, Japji Sahib – the foundational religious text – is presented in its original form together with an English translation. There is an in-depth commentary of each of the original statements which enhance the worth of the book.
Nanak’s words are registered in the form of 974 poetic hymns in the holy text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, with some of the major prayers being the Japji Sahib, the Asa di Var and the Sidh-Gosht. It is part of Sikh religious belief that the spirit of Nanak’s sanctity, divinity, and religious authority descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus.
Guru Nanak had spread the message of oneness and people from different faiths had become his followers. Nanak is not limited to just one religion (Sikhism) because the core value of his philosophy as he said was “Sabhna jiya ka ik daata” (There is only one giver of life, one God) and “Na koi Hindu, na Musalman” (There is no Hindu, no Muslim).
In the turbulent times as these, the book is an enlightening study for anyone who wants to be acquainted with Guru Nanak Dev and the quintessence of his theology.
‘A Gift of Grace – The Essence of Guru Nanak’s Spirituality’
By Daler Aashna Deol
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