Story of the Guruís life
Roopinder Singh

Guru Nanak
by Harish Dhillon.
Indus Source Books, Mumbai. Pages 228. Rs 195.

THE story of Guru Nanak Devís life is so fascinating and inspiring that it has been retold by writers and bards for centuries. Here we have a contemporary storyteller visiting the same territory with a fresh perspective. Harish Dhillon likes to tell stories. He has been writing books for over 30 years now and his published works are largely novels, biographies or collections of short stories.

The setting is an area called the "cradle of civilization", in which invaders had left their mark: the Greeks, the Ghaznis, the Ghoris, the Tughlaqs, the Suris and the Lodhis. They were mostly plunderers who tore the fabric of society in India and left scars on whom they came into contact with.

An unintended consequence of these invasions was the exposure of the population to new ideas and ways of life. Though the largely Hindu indigenous population and the mainly Muslim invaders were enemies, there was bound to be a degree of interaction between them.

There is no contemporary account of the life of Guru Nanak Dev. The generally accepted accounts are based on what Bhai Gurdas said and what is contained in the Janamsakhis. But the story goes beyond these bare facts. It is here the storyteller in the author comes to the fore as he narrates, in a simple, easy-to-read account, the life of Guru Nanak, full of dialogues and descriptions that bring out in bold strokes the life of the Guru.

The author uses the skills of a fiction writer to bring alive various stages of Guru Nanak. His close relationship what he and his sister, Nanaki, shared is brought out well; his travels, or udasis, took him to various parts of India and even to the far-away Mecca, which would have been an arduous trek at that time, too. Wherever he went, he interacted with local sages, and met the people.

After his fourth udasi, Guru Nanak Dev decided to settle down at Kartarpur, where he lived a life of pious devotion and tended to his fields. He was an exemplar of what he taughtóthe universality of God, the oneness of humanity and the need to live a spiritual life without renouncing the world and while tending to day-to-day demands of the worldly lives.

The authorís rendering of the life of Guru Nanak, which is part of a series on spiritual masters, will find a place in the bookshelves of they who wish to know more about the founder of Sikhism.