Guru Nanak (c. 1469 – 1539), the founder of the Sikh religion, was born in Talwandi, a village later called, in his honor, Nanakana Sahib. This village is located in the present-day Pakistan. Guru Nanak’s 974 shabads, “hymns,” are contained in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhs. Even though Guru Nanak knew many languages—Sanskrit, Hindi, Persian—he composed his shabads in Sant Bhasha, a language drawn from various dialects and tongues common to northern and northwestern India. This has made Guru Nanak’s teachings accessible to many people.
Guru Nanak traveled throughout India and beyond to impart his teachings of peace, love, service, and mutual respect for all in God’s creation. He taught through his ecstatic poetry, instructing through the tradition of kirtans, the joyous singing of hymns, and by demonstrating that the way to the direct experience of God is with bhakti, heartfelt devotion.