Friday, July 2, 2010

Guru Nanak was a Hindu


In contemporary devotional pictures and posters of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), as seen in taxis and shops, the Guru is invariably shown as wearing a pagari or turban, like his pupils (Sikh-s) today. But this is a recently-imposed convention, not followed in his own day and in subsequent centuries.



In traditional paintings, the Gurus never wore turbans, a custom that even according to Sikh teaching itself was only instituted by the tenth and last Guru, Govind Singh, in 1699. All the Gurus are typically shown as wearing a topi (Hindu-style cap) and patka (sash). We discuss one instance.

K.C. Aryan (born 11 August 1919, died 2002), a Partition refugee from West Panjab, was an accomplished painter. He founded the Museum for Tribal and Folk Art in Gurgaon, still functioning today. He saved plenty of old paintings, sculptures and other arts & crafts objects for posterity by collecting them in his museum or donating them to more established institutions.

In 1970, he presented to the publishing unit of Punjabi University Patiala a manuscript with illustrations for a book, 100 Years Survey of Panjab Painting (1841-1941). It was eventually published by the PUP in 1975, but only in mutilated form. The Senate Board of the University objected to the inclusion of one particular painting, and threatened that if it were published, the grant for the whole publishing unit would be stopped.

The contentious painting, executed by a Pahari painter in the mid-19th century (whose name, as often in folk art, remains unknown), shows a topi-wearing Guru Nanak praying to Lord Vishnu. The Board took the Sikh-separatist line that that Sikhism has nothing to do with Hinduism, and that the Gurus are above the “Brahminical” gods. It is the same line that keeps the Sikh establishment from calling their central shrine, the Hari Mandir (“Vishnu temple”), by its proper name, hiding it behind the superficial designation “Golden Temple” or the Moghul term “Darbar Sahib”. It is also why in 1922 they threw out from the Hari Mandir the murti-s that had been worshipped there ever since Arjan Dev inaugurated it in 1604. Sikh identity as a separate religion, rather than as one of the many panth-s in the Hindu commonwealth, is based on a denial of history, and this requires a constant censoring of unwilling historical data: names changed, scriptures doctored, murti-s thrown away, the publication of a painting suppressed.

K.C. Aryan donated the painting in ca. 1982 to the Himachal State Museum in Shimla. There, it is significantly not on display but kept in storage. That is, if it has not been lost or illegally sold by some babu unconcerned with art and heritage; or somehow eliminated by one with Khalistani.leanings eager to destroy the evidence for an inconvenient fact: that Guru Nanak was every inch a Hindu.

25 comments:

sunaath said...

Truth is more important than dogmas. Thanks for unveiling one true instance.

InternetHindu said...

A truly amazing revelation I must say. I await thousands of such truths to be revealed by you.
Though you inform the public it is left to us to carry this forward and utilize it for the benefit of dharma.
Thank you sir. Bedankt

Shankara said...

Sir, what a coincidence I am reading History of the Sikhs by Khushwant Singh and he alludes to it but does not openly come out or probably does. In any case your observation is 110% correct. In fact the 10th guru Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa a band of pure warriors. I guess in later years all people following Guru Nanaks teaching started growing beards and wearing long hair.

B.N.Gururaj said...

I think, particularly in 20th century, the Sikhs started giving semitic shades, in particular, islamic, to Sikhism for political reasons. Granth Sahib is replete with reference to Hari, Ram, Parabrahma etc,occurring hundreds of times. Even Khushwanth Singh admits that Wahe guru occurs only about six times! But, for people out to doctor history and use religion as political tool, historical truths are inconvenient nuisances.

shrivathsa said...

Dr. Elst,

Thanks for bringing this fact out.

Shrivathsa. B.

Apuleius Platonicus said...

This is an excellent example of a subject that appears esoteric and marginal to most, but which has profound and very broad implications.

吳婷婷 said...
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金正偉 said...
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Wallpaper said...
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雅莊王edgd春2蕙婷余惠其 said...
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黃惠雯 said...
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manju said...

Thank you Mr. Elst for your erudite posts. These are rare gems to be treasured. Pl write most often on the contemporary issues in Indian specifically Hindu society.

Jagmohan Singh Khurmi said...

Nanak was as much a Hindu as Jesus was a Jew !

uk-Indian said...

Hindu simply means Indian/ Hind meaning India. Therefore we must understand that all religions born, preached, and propagated from India are part and parcel of the collective-name Hindu religion, or Indian religion. If Guru nanak had been born in Israel or Arabia obviously Sikhism would not have been Hinduism.

Is it difficult for some people to understand that Hind, India etc are all names given by forreign invaders to our country Bharat, and all Indians were collectively called Hindus? Sikhism is not Vaishnavim or Shaivism, but it is definitely Hinduism or an Indiuan religion, in other words. Comprehendo?

Desikottam said...

It is really surprising that all groups in India want to reinforce and re-emphasize their separateness with other groups. What a contrast with the rest of the world (developed) where it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between a Japanese and and and American teenager. On the one hand some people dream of one world and try to find, reinforce and emphasize similarities between differnt groups, and on the other we have mad mullahs (some pundits also) who go against this trend.

Venkat said...

Guru Nanakji was certainly a Hindu. "Rama Nama binu birathe jagi janama" (life is fruitless without Rama's Name)..Can a non-Hindu write this? His teachings are very similar to Sant Kabir's. Now Sant Kabir cannot be thought of as half-muslim as a half-muslim is no muslim..Also Kabir's writings are replete with Hindu diety names though he favored worship of Nirguna Brahman.


Venkat

Sandeep said...

@Desikotham
"It is really surprising that all groups in India want to reinforce and re-emphasize their separateness with other groups"

They have spent a lot of efforts and monies to this manufacture of 'seperateness' . In this case, it started right after the fall of the SIKH empire.

Malik44 said...

Heard about a publication titled "Hum Hindu nahin hain" by a Sikh ideologue purportedly written to rebut an earlier one titled "Hum Hindu hain". There is longstanding debate about the authenticity of "Dasham Granth" (compiled writings of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru) the granth is replete with references to Hindu pantheon.

It bears repetition.. "They have spent a lot of efforts and monies to this manufacture of 'seperateness'. In this case, it started right after the fall of the SIKH empire." The divide and rule tactic deserves to be studied and documented.

Truth said...

ridiculous non-sense and its obvious that anyone that says otherwise, has there post removed. Maybe you should actually read the guru granth sahib and other sikh texts and see that when hindu dieties and scripts are mentioned, it is often to critisize them. And for everyone saying that guru nanak was a hindu, keep dreaming. I leave you with a quote from guru nanak dev ji: "I am no Hindu, I am no Mussulman"

Truth said...

Here are actually quotes from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, for anyone wanting the truth.

There are four castes of Hindus and four sects of Muslims in the world
The members of both religions are selfish, jealous, proud, bigoted and violent.
The Hindus make pilgrimage to Hardvar and Banaras, the Muslim to the Kaaba of Mecca.
Circumcision is dear to the Muslims, sandal mark (tilak) and sacred thread to the Hindus.
The Hindus invoke Ram, the Muslims, Rahim, but in reality there is only One God.
Since they have forgotten the Vedas and the Katebas, worldly greed and devil have led them astray.
Truth hidden from both; the brahmins and maulvis kill one another by their animosities.
Neither sect shall find liberation from transmigration. (Guru Nanak dev Ji.)

ravi said...

great post

Param Shakti Peeth

Sandy Shaw said...

I like your blog post. Keep on writing this type of great stuff. I'll make sure to follow up on your blog in the future.
Spiritual Gurus of India

Vinod Kumar said...

I don't understand why Hindu supremacists are always so eager to say Guru Nanak was a Hindu. Nanak preached that all religions are one so calling him Hindu just because he took birth in a Hindu family is foolish. Nanak and all Sikh Gurus were unifier of all religions including Islam and Hinduism.

Sagar M said...
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John Anderson said...

A great discussion. thank you for sharing this great info about guru nanak.

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