The word Guru is so popular in India that in order to understand the fundamental concept of ‘guru’ in Sikhism, one must first completely drive out of one’s mind the prevalent popular notion of a guru. The    popular term ‘guru’ often used for a Brahman, a yogic teacher or a guide or even a school teacher, has made the Guruship so cheap that a scholar describes these gurus as ‘wicks which smell foul after the lamps are     extinguished.’


            The term ‘Guru’ in Sikhism is not used for a teacher or a guide or an expert or even a human body. The word Guru is composed of two terms -

            GU - means darkness and

            RU- means Light


            In Sikhism the word ‘Guru’ is, thus, defined as the Light that    dispels all darkness, and that is called JOT (Divine Light).


God was sitting alone in an Absolute trance before the world was created and Sikhism refers to Him as the Guru :

            “How shall I utter the Glory of the Guru,

            For, the Guru is Ever-awake Spring of  Truth

            In prime and beginning of the ages and all the ages  through

            He is the Perfect Lord God”

                                    (Asa Mohalla 5, p-397, Guru Granth Sahib)


In Sikhism God Himself is the Guru and, therefore, meditate upon such a Guru all the 24 hours, says Guru Nanak -

            “The Guru is Himself the Transcendent Lord, the Supreme God, Saith Nanak : meditate thou on that Guru.”

                                                (Asa Moh. 5, p-387)

The word ‘Guru’ has been used for the Almighty, the Formless and the Infinite in Sikh Religion. How one can describe His Traits, says Guru Nanak -

            “The Guru is Almighty, Guru is Formless, High, Inaccessible and Infinite, Ineffable is His Praise, what can a sayer say ?

                                                (Sri Rag Moh. 5, p-52)


The Guru is the Divine Light of the three worlds -

            “The Guru is the Beneficient, the Sanctuary of Peace,

             The Light of the three worlds.”

                                                (Slok Moh. 1, p-137)


One world is what is above us to infinity and the second world is what is below us to infinity. The third world is what is at our level to infinity. The Divine Light which  is all-pervading and shines all the three worlds, caused Himself to be called, ‘Guru Nanak’ -


            “Jot-roop Har aap Guru Nanak kahayio.”

                                                (Swayai Moh. 5, p-1408)

            “Guru, the Embodiment of Divine Light has caused

             Himself to be called Guru Nanak.”

                                                (Translation of the above)


Guru Nanak was, therefore, the Embodiment of Divine Light :

            ‘Gur Nanak Dev Govind roop.’

                        (Basant Mohalla 5, p-1192, Guru Granth Sahib)   

            ‘Guru Nanak is embodiment of the Light of God.’

                                                (Translation of the above)

            The Guru in Sikhism is a perfect Prophet or Messenger of God in whom the Light of God shines fully, visibly and completely. Guru is in union with Divine. Thus he ushers the devotees, the seekers of Truth into a spiritual birth. Through him the Glory of the Lord is transmitted to     humanity. On account of his  Divine prerogatives, the Guru, though human in form, is Divine in Spirit.


     Literally Guru Nanak’s body was a platform from which God spoke Himself and delivered His message - Gurbani (Sikh Divine Word). God manifested Himself through Guru Nanak :


            ‘Gur meh aap samoai sabad vartaya.’

                                                (Var Malar ki Mohalla 1, p-1279)

            ‘In the true Guru (Nanak) He installed His Own Spirit

            Through him, God speaketh Himself.’

                                                (Translation of the above)

            In another place in Gurbani (Divine Word coming out of Guru’s mouth - Sikh Holy Scripture) it is said :

            ‘Gur meh aap rakhaya kartarey.’

                                                (Maru Mohalla 1(15), p-1024)

            ‘In the body of Guru (Nanak) God revealeth Himself.’

                                                (Translation of the above)


            God is in the Guru and Guru is in God. Though God is             everywhere and in everybody but His traits are illuminated through the Guru. The Jot (Divine Light) that enshrined Guru Nanak’s body and the Primal Jot of God are, therefore, one and the same :


            ‘Gur Nanak Nanak har soai.’

                                                (Gaund Mohalla 5, p-865)

            ‘O Nanak, Jot of Nanak and God are one.’

                                                (Translation of the above)

            Again the Janamsakhis (biographies) reveal that God spoke to Guru Nanak and said :


            ‘Mei aad parmeshar aur tu gur parmeshar.’

            ‘I am the Primal God and thou art Guru God.’

            Guru Nanak never claimed that only his disciples or devotees could get salvation or go to heaven. Since he was the embodiment of Divine Light, and as the Divine Light does not belong to any particular sect or religion, so he stood guarantee for the entire humanity, and said,“Whosoever meditates upon One God, the Formless, will get               salvation.”

            ‘Jo jo japai so hoi punit

            Bhagat bhai lavai man hit.’

                                                (Gauri Sukhmani Mohalla 5, p-290)

            ‘He shall become pure whosoever repeateth His Name

            With devotion, affection and heartfelt love.’

                                                (Translation of the above)


            When Guru Nanak conferred Guruship on Bhai Lehna ( his    devotee later called Guru Angad), the JOT was passed on and Guru Angad too became the embodiment of Divine Light. After conferring Guruship, Guru Nanak himself bowed before Guru Angad Dev. He did not bow to the body of Guru Angad Dev but he bowed before the Divine Light (Guru) which he passed on by his Divine Power. In the same way all the nine Gurus were the embodiments of Gur Nanak Jot 1. The tenth   Master, Guru Gobind Singh then conferred Guruship on the ‘Adi Granth’ (Sikh Holy Scripture), which too became the embodiment of Divine Light and was called Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh then bowed      before Guru Granth Sahib himself and asked his Sikhs to do so. Some people still call it ‘Adi Granth’ which is wrong and disrespectful to the Guru. Gur Nanak JOT is, therefore, enshrined and preserved in Guru Granth Sahib, and it is the Living Guru for ever. For the Sikhs, the Guru Granth is the manifestation of the Guru’s Spirit and through it, Guru Nanak lives on in the Sikh Faith.


     Sikhism endeavors to uplift the human soul from the shackles of Maya (materialism). It aims at a virtuous life which leads to the ultimate         realization of a state of Eternal Bliss. The objective of Guru Nanak’s Guruship was to give instructions in the True Name, to save humanity from immersing in the ocean of distress and misery arising out of worldly life, and to blend the human souls with their Creator, thus, emancipating them from the cycle of transmigration breaking all barriers and bonds of sufferings. This is the essential character of Sikh faith.


            The law of Karma or fatalism is repugnant to Sikh Religion as it does not reconcile with the merciful trait of the Almighty Lord. There is no such thing in Sikhism as eternal damnation or an everlasting pit of fire created by the revengeful God. Guru’s grace erases the blot of thousands of evil deeds of the past and the present. It is also the savior of the future. Meditation on Naam (Name of God) burns countless sins.


            Singing the glory of the Lord through the Divine Word, can redeem a repentant sinner and, thus, doctrine of Karma ceases to operate. Such is the splendor of Guru Nanak’s doctrine of God’s Grace and Compassion. 



  1. Gur Nanak Jot is not a human body but the Divine Light.