The word "Sikh" means learner. God is the Creator of all, All Wisdom, as well as the Primal Teacher. He is present in us all and we are to submit to Him in complete love and devotion, live with Him, listen to His Commands and obey them. This in brief is Sikhism. There is nothing sectarian in the Sikh Teachings. Universal human problems have been taken up and the solutions thereto have been given in the Sikh Scriptures. The Scriptures do not contain biographical sketch of any Guru, Avtar or Prophet.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the founder of Sikhism. He was born on April 15, 1469 in Sheikhupura district of Punjab, which now forms a part of the Pakistan state. Nine Gurus followed Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, one after the other. The successor Guru was always commissioned by the Guru in office, sufficient time before his death, when the Divine Call was received by him.
The Gurus proclaimed that the Divine Light, which illumined the person of Nanak Dev as the Guru, was passed on to the succeeding Nine Gurus. There was therefore One Guru in Ten Human Forms. In the Var of Ramkali uttered by Rai Balwand and Satta, it is stated -
"Nanak established the Kingdom of God: he raised the fortress of Truth on firm foundations. He made the Lord's Canopy wave over Angad's (2nd Guru) head, who drank the Nectar of Praises of God. With the Mightiest Power of the Sword of God's Wisdom, Guru Nanak completely changed the life of Angad. Guru Nanak, while he was alive, bowed down on the feet of his disciple. See, he anointed him as the Guru, while yet he was himself alive. With Guru Nanak's blessings, now Guru Angad's fame spread far and wide. For, the Light was the same, only the body changed. Over his Throne now waved God's Canopy and he sat therein..."
Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1661-1708 A.D.) was the Tenth Guru. He, in his Composition 'Vichitar Natak' states -
"Nanak assumed the body of Angad (2nd Guru) and spread Righteousness in the world. Afterward Nanak was called Amar Das (3rd Guru), just as one lamp is lit by another....."
The Guru period lasted for 239 years, i.e. from 1469 to 1708 A.D.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, upon his advent, found religion a seething mass of moral putrefaction. He detected that the people were rigidly dogmatic and utterly superstitious. The people of different religious denominations were fighting with each other in the name of their respective gods. The ways and means which were to be adopted to achieve the ultimate goal, had become the goal themselves. He saw the living spirit dried up into merely reading of the scriptural formulae only. There was the mechanical worship, meritorious readings of the scriptures, or the promises for rich material rewards for their repeated readings, but no genuine love or search for Truth. He struck at the root of this mistaken beliefs by laying emphasis on love and search for Truth to lead a truthful life. He cleared away everything that encumbered the relation between God and man. He recognized no incarnation of God, no human intercession on behalf of man in the Court of God. He preached Oneness of God, the Embodiment of Truth, Justice and Purity. He is the Creator of the Universes and all life, and His light is the source of life in all living things. Man is required to pay heed to his Conscience, which is God's Voice, Who abides within each and every creature. One should love Him as his real Self and live up to His Commands. Man is to live with God, which practice enables him to control his mind. It is the mind, which leads him astray for fulfillment of his selfish ends by adopting false and corrupt means. No one can get lasting happiness in leading an immoral life in pursuit of mind's morbid sensual desires, as these are all of temporary perishing nature. In the long run they create more pain and misery than any satisfaction.
The Guru laid stress on Divine Presence in all and every thing, as all owe their existence to Him alone. Human body is verily God's Temple, and we should find Him within us and in every one alike. One should give up his selfishness, reflect his mind on God abiding within him, listening to His Commands and acting thereon to lead the truthful life. Our mind or the stream of consciousness should most humbly submit in love to God present within us, and totally efface himself and live by his Real Self (God's Light in him). The Guru called God's Light in each one of us as "Satguru", The True Teacher or Preceptor. God's Light in us has the same characteristics as that of the Absolute Unknowable, Unfathomable and Infinite God, the Creator of all and every thing. It is through His Light in us we see and meet with the Absolute God, just as we see the sun through its rays of light. When there is darkness we cannot see the sun. We should in all humility and love search for Him within ourselves, as the body is His Temple, where He abides in all equally. God is the only Source of all imaginable virtues and the qualities and He is the Bestowal of such qualities to man. He is the Creator and Sustains all life and the material things. He dissolves the universes and the creatures at His Will, and re-creates at His Will.