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Starting around 1500 in Punjab, Guru Nanak spread a new message about the divine, which developed into the Sikh religion. He served as the spiritual guide of the original community in the town he founded—Kartarpur ("Place of the Creator").


The early Sikh tradition challenged the more rigid and rule-based forms of Islam and Hinduism, as well as the self-denying ideologies of other religious groups. The Sikh founders sang of a Universal Creator, and desired to create lasting institutions around worship that could be shared by all people.


Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in a village called Talwandi (now in Pakistan) to a revenue official of the Bedi clan. Nanak was a family man as well as a spiritual guide to disciples ("Sikhs"). In his own lifetime, he nominated the first of his nine successors, Guru Angad.

Sacred Texts

The Guru Granth Sahib is the sacred scripture of the Sikhs, and its bedrock is the body of compositions of Guru Nanak. The compositions of his successors are also contained in the book, as are songs from other Sikhs praising the Gurus, and non-Sikh poet saints from Hindu and Muslim backgrounds.

Historical Perspectives

The tradition's own scholarship, which wrote about revelation and the growth of the community, goes back several centuries. Today, emerging out of the shadow of colonialism, scholars are involved in the critical study of early Sikh texts and artifacts, and are also trying to understand later trends in the history of the community.