Dr. Kala Singh MBBS
Sikhs all over the world are celebrating the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji on 6th November. In this context, it is pertinent to discuss the contribution of Guru Nanak Dev Ji to mental health.
When Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born about five centuries ago, Moslems were ruling over India, which had majority of Hindu population. Moslems considered themselves to be superior to Hindus. Hindus themselves were also divided basing on their castes. All this was causing a lot of tension and mental health problems in the society. Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s first sermon in 1499 AD was: “No one is Hindu or Moslem. All are children of God, so are equal.” Thus Guru Nanak Dev Ji laid the foundation of ‘Human Rights for All’ at that time.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji said pride, ego haumai is a great disease. Most of the conflicts in the world with its attendant mental health problems are due to haumai. Many of our problems start when our pride is hurt. Ego bound individuals get stress and mental health problems and give stress and mental health problems to others. Learning to control ego, haumai, by accepting humility as prescribed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji can directly improve the mental health of the individual and the community as well.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji neither accepted other’s viewpoints forcibly nor forced His ideas onto others. He always reasoned and made others understand His viewpoint. For example, He did not refuse to put janeo (Sacred thread), but said that this sacred thread will get dirty and break with time and will have to be replaced. O Pundit! put such a thread which does not need to be replaced. He did not force His view on Moslems that God is everywhere and not only in the direction of Kaaba. He went to Mecca and slept with His feet towards Kaaba. When Qazi hit Him with his foot and asked why you infidel sleeping with your feet towards Kaaba? Guru Nanak Dev Ji told him to put His feet to the direction where Qazi thinks there is no God. He used the same method when He discussed with Hindus, who were offering water to their dead ancestors in the direction of east. He started throwing water in the direction of west and said He is giving water to His fields in Punjab. If your water can reach another world, then my water can very well reach my fields in Punjab.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a great teacher. He went to Mecca and Benaras dressed like them and talked in their language. He taught us the importance of culturally sensitive ways to deliver the services. Before Guru Nanak Dev Ji came, majority of world religions had placed women in a secondary position to men. This had been a major cause of conflict, frustration, stress and mental disorders among women. Guru Nanak Dev Ji gave women social equality and religious freedom.
These are a few of many teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The need of the day is to enable these to reach mankind all over the world.
For more information Dr. Kala Singh can be contacted at 604 327 5253 or firstname.lastname@example.org