Guru Nanak Jayanti: Why his Journeys Were Referred to as Udasis. What Was Their Purpose?


โ€œThere is no need to leave your home or become a sannyasi to attain God” โ€” Guru Nanak.

According to the English calendar, his date of birth is said to be 15 April 1469. But his birthday is celebrated as the festival of lights on the day of Kartik Purnima, which falls 15 days after Diwali in October. He is the founder of Sikhism and the first of the Ten Gurus of Sikhs.

Since childhood, Guru Nanak had a deep interest in religion, spirituality, and indifference to worldly affairs. After marriage, he had two sons, after which he handed over his family to his father-in-law and went on pilgrimage. He undertook five journeys, referred to as Udasis, spanning 24 years, before returning to settle down in Kartarpur, currently in Pakistan. During his five Udasis covering several present-day countries, Guru Nanak travelled 28,000 km, mostly on foot.

What was the purpose?

The purpose of these Udasis was to spread his religious and spiritual knowledge to the masses. He wanted to explain the true nature of religion and God, eliminate the false customs and evils prevalent among the people and inspire and encourage them for love, sacrifice, and restraint.

Guru Nanakโ€™s Udasis

Between 1499 and 1509, he visited Sayyidpur, Talumba, Kurukshetra, Panipat, and Delhi at Sayyidpur, Talumba, Talwandi, Pehowa, Kurukshetra, Panipat, Delhi, Haridwar, Gorakh Matta, Banaras, Gaya, Bengal, Kamrup (Assam), Went to places like Sylhet, Dhaka, and Jagannath Puri, etc. From Puri, he returned to Punjab via Bhopal, Chanderi, Agra, and Gurgaon. During his travels, he influenced many aristocrats, saints, etc., and broke the superstitions of the people in many places.

Guru Nanak began his Second Udasi (1506-1513) at the age of 37 and travelled for seven years. During this, he travelled through Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Hyderabad to Rameswaram and Sri Lanka, after which he influenced many people and came back via Cochin, Gujarat, and Sindh.

The third Udasi of Guru Nanak took place between 1510 to 1515 and the fourth Udasi from 1517 to 1521. In the third Udasi, he went to Kangra, Chamba, Mandi Nadaun, Bilaspur, Valley of Kashmir, Mount Kailash, and Man Sarovar Lake. It is believed that he also went to Tibet and from there he returned to Punjab via Ladakh and Jammu.

In the fourth Udasi, he travelled to Mecca, Medina, and Baghdad and returned via Iran, Kabul, and Peshawar.

After this, Guru Nanak travelled to many areas of Punjab, which is considered to be part of the fifth Udasi.

Wherever he went, he influenced the people, worked to break their superstitions, and also discussed with the pundits the pilgrimages. He did not oppose any religion, but he continued to influence people with his teachings and rejecting fundamentalism.

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