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Guru Nanak

The First Sikh Guru 

By Rina Singh

Illustrated by Andrée Pouliot

The Sikh faith, the world's fifth largest religion, began with the teachings of Guru Nanak in the fifteenth century and evolved with the nine gurus who followed him. Their writings as well as those of Hindu and Muslim mystics are collected in the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs believe in placing God at the center of one's life, living truthfully, treating all equally, and rejecting empty ritual and superstition. There are nearly 280,000 Sikhs in Canada and 650,000 in the US, and their numbers are growing.

Guru Nanak tells the story of the first guru of the Sikhs, who was born in 1469 in India at a time when there were great tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Born into a humble Hindu family, Nanak was an extraordinary child who from a very young age questioned the rituals of religion and the ways of the world around him. He grew up to be a great spiritual teacher, revolutionary for his times, declaring that there was no difference between Hindus and Muslims, that men and women were equal and that caste was irrelevant. His attempt to define a universal humanity resulted in Sikhism -- a religion that embraces everyone.

In this biography, exquisitely illustrated in the Indian miniature-painting tradition, young readers learn about Guru Nanak's life, his spiritual journeys in which he spread his divine message from the Himalayas to present-day Sri Lanka to Mecca, and his teachings as expressed through his daily life and his poetry.

Rina Singh, the author, grew up hearing stories about Guru Nanak from her grandmother. Her version of the guru's life is based on the Janam Sakhis (birth stories) as well as the Sikh scriptures.

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