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When he was about thirty years old, Nanak went missing after taking his customary bath in the nearby river. Three days later he returned and pronounced to his friends "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim, so whose path shall I follow? God is neither Hindu nor Muslim, and thus the path I shall follow will be God's." It would seem that the Guru, believing that the two existing paths had lost sight of spirituality in concentrating on rituals, felt called to offer a message through which liberation, not attachment, could be achieved. Leaving his home and family, he spent the next three decades travelling widely preaching his message in the form of poetical compositions, to which his companion, the Muslim Mardana, provided a musical accompaniment.
Although Guru Nanak undoubtedly wished for religious harmony, the purpose of his mission was not to unite Hindus and Muslims as has often been suggested. Still less was it a wish to create a new religion. Rather it was to assure men and women that spiritual liberation was available to everyone and to help them realize it.
Here in this portrait Guru Nanak is seen in the familiar aspect and stance of an aged, spiritual teacher- figure the full grey beard, the saintly expression, and the slightly inclined head, with a surround of a finely drawn nimbus against a deep golden background making up the serene portrait. Over his loosely worn robe is another wrap thrown across the shoulders.
Cole, W. Owen, and Piara Singh Sambhi. A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism: New Delhi, Rupa & Co., 1990.
Goswamy, B.N. Piety and Splendour, Sikh Heritage in Art: New Delhi, National Museum, 2000.
Of Related Interest:
Painting: Guru Nanak
Silver Pendant: Guru Nanak
Comic Book: Guru Nanak