When Guru Nanak was nine years old the family priest came to put the 'Janeau' (sacred thread) on him. When questioned by Nanak, the priest explained that it was an ancient custom. Only high caste Hindus could wear it. It would make one a better person and unless you wear it, you would not go to Heaven.
Nanak refused to wear the holy thread and explained his refusal to follow such a pointless custom. He said anyone could wear the thread, there was nothing to prevent robbers and murderers from wearing it. Besides it could get lost, break, get dirty or get burnt.
He said it was more important to speak the truth, be good and kind. Only by doing this could one become a better person and be fit to go to Heaven.
All the neighbours and guests at the ceremony were amazed at the wise words of the child Nanak and accepted that this was no ordinary child and would surely grow up to become a great man.
On his journey towards East, Guruji visited many holy places of Hindus.
One day while at Haridwar, Guruji saw some people bathing in the River Ganga. They were facing the Sun and throwing water towards it. When Guruji asked them why they were doing so, they answered that they were offering the water to their ancestors (who were far far away). On hearing this Guruji also joined them, but he turned in the opposite direction and started throwing water in that direction. When people asked him what he was doing, he answered that he was watering his farm in Punjab. They laughed and said how could the water reach his farm which was far away. Then Guruji replied that if their ancestors who were much farther away than his farm could get the water then why not his farm?
Guruji explained that they should honour their ancestors by not indulging in such meaningless rituals but in doing good deeds which would truly bring honour to their ancestors.
The people understood what he was saying and bowed before him acknowledging him as a truly great and wise man.
On Guruji’s travels to the West he reached Mecca. On the outskirts, he and his companion- Bhai Mardana stopped to rest.
Guruji laid down to rest to get some sleep. Just then some of the local people who were passing them saw that Guruji was sleeping with his feet pointed towards Mecca. They woke him up telling him that he should not sleep with his feet pointing towards the Holy Mecca. Guruji, in his calm and serene way, asked them to tell him the direction where there was no God and he would point his feet in that direction.
The people fell silent as they had no answer. Guruji told them that God was everywhere. Instead of indulging in these sort of useless beliefs we should try and do good deeds to make the world a better place and become better people.
There is a monument built at that spot in memory of Guru Nanak Devji- the Wise One.
Once Guruji was staying in Lahore when a very wealthy man named Dhunni Chand asked Guruji to come and dine with him. After the meal Dhunni Chand boastfully asked Guruji if he could do anything for Guruji as he was very wealthy and could grant Guruji any favour he asked for.
Guruji thought for sometime and then smiled gently and took out a needle from his pocket and giving it to his host said he would be grateful if Dhunni Chand would give the needle to him when they met in the next world after they both were dead. The rich man was taken aback and asked Guruji in surprise that how could he take the needle to the next world?
To this Guruji replied that if such a small thing as a needle could not be taken to the next world, then how would he take all his riches which he was so proud of? Guruji explained to Dhunni Chand that only your good deeds and actions go with you when you die. Money is worthless unless it is used to help those who need it.
Dhunni Chand realized the wisdom of Guruji’s words and devoted the rest of his life to helping those who needed his help and distributing his riches among them.
There was a famous robber by the name of Sajjan who ran a 'Sarai' or a traveller’s guest house. In it he had built a Temple for Hindus and a Mosque for Muslims so as to lure them both to his guest house. While at night when they were asleep he would rob them off their money and jewels and then kill them!
One day Guru Nanak was passing nearby and decided to spend the night at Sajjan’s place. Sajjan was happy thinking he would rob Guruji and his companions as he usually did. So at night, after dinner, he urged Guruji to go to sleep. But Guruji told him that he and his companions always sang a hymn(prayer) before sleeping at night and he made Sajjan sit and listen. Then Guruji sang about birds of prey like herons and hawks who are found in holy places – that they were beautiful to look at but how they would cunningly catch their prey.
Sajjan realized that Guruji was referring to him when he sang about the birds of prey. He fell at Guruji’s feet repenting and asking for forgiveness. Guru Nanak told him that only God could forgive him if he was truly repentant and to right the wrongs he had done. Whatever Sajjan had stolen he donated it to the poor and became Guru Nanak’s follower.
The first Sikh temple in India was built by Sajjan, the robber, in gratitude to Guru Nanak who had transformed his life.