Social Conditions Before Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Social Conditions Before Guru Nanak Dev Ji       

When we study the ‘Guru Nanak biography’ in English, we have the ‘Guru Nanak Dev ji di Jivani in Punjabi’ (in form of Janam Sakhis) as the main source of information. To know about the ‘Life history of Guru Nanak’ or the ‘Teachings of Guru Nanak Dev ji’ we have to study the Janam Sakhis or ‘Guru Granth Sahib.’ Those are the main sources of Sikh history.
     Social condition of the society before the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji was not good. If we learn the writings of Bhai Gurdas Ji, He says –

"The bounteous Lord heard the anguished cry, and so Guru Nanak Dev Ji He sent to this world of woe…….."

     India particularly the state of Punjab was under the Muslim rule. There was not a single King who had the supreme power in the country. Actually the country was divided up among several Governors who were quite independent in their states. Guru Nanak Dev Ji depicts their character and conduct in some expressive words like this – 

 ‘The Kings are tigers and their officials are Dogs.’ 

Society was divided into two major groups Hindu and Muslims. Because there was the Government of the Muslims so all higher posts in administration was given to the Muslims. Hindu were in very bad condition. Moreover Hindu people was divided in strict cast system 1 Brahmins 2 Khatris, Vaish and Sudaras. Brahmins have high status in Hindu society. They forgot their duties. They involved Hindu people in superstitions, unnecessary rituals and ceremonies. Religion and jihad, or exertion for the sake of religion, had come to be used as a ready excuse, and thorough justification of all sorts of irreligious acts of torture, oppression, and tyranny, particularly against the Hindu people. To understand the all about the Muslim rule, it will be better to give a brief account of the rise of Islam in India :-

  • In Kamilu-t Twarikh by Ibn Asir, it is recorded that Shahab-Ud-Din, King of Ghazni, the virtual founder of the Muhammadan Empire in India in 1170AD – 1206AD, put Prithvi Raj to death in cold blood. He massacred thousands of the inhabitants of Ajmer and reserved the remainder for slavery. At Benaras the slaughter of the Hindus was immense. None were spared except women and children who were led into slavery, and the carnage of the men was carried on until. As it has been said the earth grew weary of the monotony.
  • Hassan Nizam-i-Naishapuri states in his Taj-ul-Ma’asir that Qutb-ud-Din Aibak demolished the Hindu temples in Meerut and erected mosques on their sites. In the city of Koil (now called Aligarh, he converted the hindu inhabitants to Islam by the sword. He beheaded all who adhered to their religion. In Kalinjar he destroyed one hundred and thirteen temples and built mosques on their sites, massacred over one lakh Hindu people. He made slaves of them around fifty thousand people. It is said that the place became black as pitch with the decomposing bodies of the Hindu people.
  • ‘in the Tabagat-i-Nasiri by Minhaj-ul-Sirj it is stated that when Muhammad Bakhtyar Khilji conquered Bihar, he put to sword about on lakh Brahmins, and burnt a valuable library of ancient Sanskrit books.’
  • Abdulla Wassaf writes in his Tazjiyat-ul-Asar that when Ala-ud-din Khilji captured the city of Cambayat at the head of the Gulf of Cambay, he killed the adult male hindu inhabitants for the glory of Islam, set flowing seas of blood, sent the women of the country with all their gold, silver, and jewels, to his own home, and made about twenty thousand maidens his private slaves.
  • Ala-ud-din once asked his Qazi what the Muhammadan law prescribed for Hindu was. The Qazi replied, “Hindus are like the earth if silver is demanded from then, they ought, with the greatest humility, to offer gold. If a Muhammadan desire to spit into a Hindu’s mouth the Hindu should be open it wide for the purpose. God created Hindus to be slaves of the Muhammadans. The Prophet hath ordained that, if the Hindus do not accept Islam, they should be  imprisoned, tortured, and finally put to death and their property confiscated.”
  • Amir Khusrau writes in his Twarikh Alai or Khazain-ul-Futuh that when the Emperor Feroz Shah Tughlak took the city of Bhilsa in Bhopal, he destroyed all hindu temples, took away their idols, placed them in front of his fort, and had them daily bathed with the blood of a thousand Hindus.

     After the Tughlaks, Sayyids and the Lodhis came in India. All of them were fierce bigots, their reigns too offer little but scenes of bloodshed, tyranny and treachery.
     The Afghans had established in the year 1459 at Delhi the Lodhi dynasty of Sultans. They were also like other Muslim rulers. They started to teas the Hindu community. They broke down temples and built mosques in their room as in the days of Mahmud Ghazni. They have left a bad name in India. Guru Nanak Dev Ji himself has described the political and religious atmosphere of the times when he was born as follows –

ਕਲਿ ਕਾਤੀ ਰਾਜੇ ਕਾਸਾਈ, ਧਰਮੁ ਪੰਖ ਕਰਿ ਉਡਰਿਆ।।
ਕੂੜੁ ਅਮਾਵਸ, ਸਚ ਚੰਦਰਮਾ, ਦੀਸੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਹਿ ਚੜਿਆ।।

Means – Kings are butchers, cruelty is their knife and sense of duty has taken wings and vanished. Falsity prevails like the darkness of the darkest night, and the moon of truth is visible nowhere.

     Lawless Afghans had over-run the Hindustan and were quite uncontrolled by Government. Women, children and poor people could  find no help against the powerful persons of the society.  The hindus on the other hand were again hopelessly divided among themselves, sunk low in the depths of ignorance and superstition, they had become spiritual slaves. They were divided in so called class system. If a shudra hear a Sanskrit shalok (prayer) which could only be adequately punished by pouring molten lead into his ears. There was no less corruption among the rdligious systems which prevailed in the country during that period. Purity of heart and faith were no factors in the popular religious systems. Hinduism or Muhammadanism, both had become a set of formalities and ceremonies, which were performed by their votaries, as if automatically. God was no longer an object of worship or faith. The Muslims with all their symbols and ceremonies, only deeled it necessary to attend at the Musjid, to bow down in the House of God to repeat a certain set of Arabic words, without understanding or seeking to understand.


  1. Very interesting. I didn't know much about Sikh culture, but this blog has opened a window for me. Thank you.


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