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Guru Nanak was born into a Hindu family in what is today Pakistan. He has been described as having been a curious, bright child who was adept at learning languages, loved to sing to his conception of God, and who had Hindu and Muslim friends.
In his late 20s or early 30s, Guru Nanak had a spiritual awakening. He was bathing in a river when he disappeared for three days. It was thought that he drowned, but three days later, he reappeared. He had been visiting with God and told the people there were no Hindus and no Muslims; there was only one God
Guru Nanak taught monotheism that there was only one God for all humanity, and that you could communicate directly with God through meditation and hymns; that you did not need an intermediary such as a priest or imam. He went on four major spiritual journeys throughout India, parts of the Middle East, Near East, and other nearby regions. Everywhere he went he attracted followers.

Guru Nanak also taught that all people are equal, including women, and that the caste systems and other sources of social hierarchy were irrelevant. He wrote of women that Whatever be the qualities of the man with whom a woman is united according to the law, such qualities even she assumes, like a river, united with the ocean.

Guru Nanak believed that no one is better or worse than another person and taught that whether you were commoner or a king, all should share what they had with one another and be treated the same. He eschewed rituals and idolatry and encouraged community and fellowship. Guru Nanak shared seven teachings with his followers, some of which you may find familiar from your knowledge of other faith traditions. These seven teachings were:

  1. You must submit yourself to God
  2. You must practice goodwill to everyone
  3. A Guru, or voice of God, is necessary to teach and guide you
  4. Honesty and speaking the truth should always be practiced
  5. You must shun the five evils which are: lust, ego, attachment, anger, and greed
  6. You must not discriminate
  7. You must always keep God in your thoughts by chanting His name, share with others, and make an honest living

Guru Nanak equated serving communities with serving God and encouraged people to help one another. He instituted communal kitchens where everyone, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or social status were welcome. He encouraged people to be kind to others and to always keep thinking of God. He believed that by following his teachings that your soul could join with God when the body died.

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