by the Sikh Missionary Society: (Guru) Nanak Dev, when he was about 30 years old and staying at Sultanpur Lodhi, Punjab, went as usual to a nearby river for bathing. When he did not return for three days the people got very worried and feared he had drowned. They were, however, overjoyed when they saw (Guru) Nanak Dev alive and coming to the village. A big crowd gathered around him. (Guru) Nanak Dev gave his first formal sermon on that day. “God loves everyone of us; for Him there is no Hindu, no Muslim; all of us are his children, hence, equal human beings.”
Both Hindus and Muslims loved Nanak and had gathered there to welcome him. He made them all sit together as equals and named the unique congregation sangat. The Guru explained his philosophy by reminding them that people are composed of two things: the “body” which in itself is dead matter and the “life” which makes all actions of the body possible. Ram and Allah are the cause of these two. We are living because the “body” and “life” are together. Then how can we separate Ram and Allah? God, the Almighty, is both Ram and Allah; those who love Him as Ram are called Hindus and those who love Him as Allah are called Muslims. We should remember the truth – both Hindus and Muslims are human beings created by God and have to be considered as equals.
Guru Nanak Dev while traveling in the Middle East visited Mecca, Baghdad and Madina, the holy places of the Muslims. During his discussions with the Muslim theologians, he was asked who he was. The reply of the Guru was the same, “Neither a Hindu, nor a Muslim, just a human being.”
They questioned the Guru, as to who was the superior of the two, the one who followed Islam or the one who followed Hinduism. The reply given by the Guru is well documented by Bhai Gurdas, who scribed the first compilation of Adi Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Nanak Dev told them, “Without good deeds, both will repent.”
The brave reply of the Guru embarrassed the Muslim religious leaders because they had been preaching that if a person becomes a Muslim, he is assured of reaching heaven after death. The Guru emphasized that God values our deeds and not our beliefs.
All humans, being God’s children, have equal status. Sincere honest deeds done to serve human beings are the right path to realize God.
NOTE: This preaching of Nanak has now been accepted by the World Conference for Religions and Peace. According to their declaration at New Jersey, 1979, “Too often the names and practices of our religions have been associated with warfare and strife. Now we must reverse this by:
(a) Breaking down barriers of prejudice and hostility between religious communities and institutions;
(b) Confronting the powers of the world with the teachings of our religions rather than conforming to them when they act contrary to the well-being of humanity; and
(c) Building inter-religious understanding in our local communities, particularly where prejudices run strong.