Guru Nanak Dev
"If there is one God, then there is only His way to attain Him, not another. One must follow that way and reject the other. Worship not him who is born only to die, but Him who is eternal and is contained in the whole universe."
Guru Nanak Dev was born to a simple Hindu family; his father was an accountant to Muslim authorities. It is claimed that he was gifted in learning, was interested in life's meaning, and liked taking part in Muslim and Hindu religious discussions. He married, had two sons, and worked as an accountant. In his spare time, he would meditate and sing hymns with a childhood friend. It was claimed that while bathing in the river one morning, he had holy communion with God and his experience of enlightenment left him in a trance. When he came out of his trance, he said, "There is no Hindu, no Muslim." He later left his job, gave to the poor, and began traveling and spreading his messages in the form of musical hymns. He taught that there is only one God and that everyone has direct access to him without rituals and priests. He was known for questioning Hindu and Muslim traditions and was against the caste system, believing everyone to be equal. After years of traveling and preaching, he moved to some land that one of his disciples had given him. He farmed the land with his family and established a township there. Following his teachings and separating from the caste system, the people who lived there strived to work hard and share what they had. When he was close to dying, he named Lehna (Angad) his successor, claiming that his sons were not deserving of this responsibility.
SIKHISM: A monotheistic religion founded in northern India in the 1500s by the Guru Nanak. Sikhism rejects caste distinctions, idolatry, and asceticism and is characterized by belief in a cycle of reincarnation from which humans can free themselves by living righteous lives as active members of society.
Followers of Sikhism: Less than 1% of the world's population (note).
Authoritative Text: Adi Granth (Sri Guru Granth Sahib): a collection of close to 6,000 hymns, poetry, and the teachings of the first five and ninth gurus.
Authors: Gurus Nanak, Angad, Amar Das, Ram Das, Arjun, and Hindu and Islamic saints
*The first version compiled by Arjun Dev, the 5th Sikh Guru; the tenth and final guru, Gobind Singh, added hymns of Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Sikh Guru.