Last Days

The day came when Nanak was about to depart. In humility and Love Nanak bowed to His devoted disciple Angad, who had by now become a very part of His being, as the name indicates. The latter was one in spirit with his Master and the two were blended together in Him. The Guru then asked for his blessings and he sang a song of vijay or victory at the hour of His departure, asking all who were around him to join him in the chorus.

Sing ye my comrades! Sing ye all! Sing now my wedding song. Sing ye the song of His praise. May I be a sacrifice to Him – the Beloved. The blessed day hath dawned, the hour of consummation draweth nigh. Come ye, my comrades, come! And consecrate me with your blessings. Behold ye the Bride uniting with the Bridegroom.

Many of the disciples shed bitter tears of sorrow and grief. With deep agony in their hearts, they inquired:

Leaving us, You go! What rites should we perform? Shall we light the customary earthen lamp when You depart? Should we cast Your ashes and charred bones in the sacred waters of the Ganges, according to the prevailing custom?

To all these queries, the Guru characteristically replied:

Yes, light ye the lamp! The Lamp of the Name of God. Let my funeral rites be the remembrance of the Name of God. Know ye that He, the Lord above, is my support, here and in the hereafter. Sing ye the Name of God! That shall be my Ganga and my Kashi. Let my soul bathe in the water of His Name! For that alone is the True Bath. And offer unto me the Grace of God, and sing ye the Glory of God, night and day.

The Hindu disciples asked:

Shall we cremate Your body?

And the Muslim disciples:

Shall we bury Your body?

The Guru replied,

Quarrel not over my remains. Let Hindus and Muslims bring flowers and place them on each side of my body. And then let each do what they like. But see that the flowers remain fresh and green.

The Guru was indifferent to ceremonial disposal of the body either by cremation or burial. He only asked that the flowers should remain fresh and fragrant. What then were these flowers? The flowers of faith and Love.

It is in vain that the people look for the Guru in a tomb or on the cremation ground. The Living Guru is ever in the hearts of those who keep the flowers of faith and Love fresh and fragrant. He came for all. He lived for all. His teachings remain for all.

He founded no new sect. He revered all religions. He respected the saints of all times and places. He taught no new creed. He preached Love, faith and noble deeds. For Him all the people were of God. In the Hindus and in the Muslims, He saw the Vision of God in Man. In all the nations of the world, He beheld an endless procession of the race of man. To all countries and to all people, He sang the song of Naam or the Holy Word.

Nanak was the Prophet of peace and good will, harmony and unity. He was the Prophet of Light and gave Light to all for seventy long years (1469–1539). His work of loving service to humankind, as manifestation of the Unmanifest, was carried on vigorously by His successors. Guru Arjan, the fifth in the line of succession to Nanak, compiled the sayings of the Gurus in the Holy Granth, the Bible of the Sikhs; including therein the sayings of several other Saints of other religions as well as could easily be collected for the purpose. Thus in the Holy Book, He laid the foundation of a great banquet hall and offered therein choice and dainty dishes of Divine Wisdom coming down through the ages. This in a way serves as a model for the World Fellowship of Religions.

Love knows no reward. It is a reward in itself. Service and sacrifice characterise Love. The last two Gurus – Guru Teg Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh – sacrificed there all in the service of mankind for the Love of God.