He who regards all men as equals is religious
October 22, 20194 Minutes

Picture this: it’s a rainy evening and you’re taking shelter at a bus stop waiting for the next one. You’re drenched and shivering. You see a couple sitting on the bench also waiting. Their ride arrives and they invite you to hop on as well. You agree and sit with them in the back seat. You may not think it, but their act of asking you to join them was an indication of them treating you as an equal.

Equality is simply treating others with the same rights, opportunities, and freedom. Three times Michelin star awardee, Italian chef Massimo Bottura runs a chain of restaurants by the name Refettorio where the most vulnerable of the society as well as the privileged are welcomed to enjoy a meal prepared by a professional chef. As you can see, an affluent chef preparing meals for everyone and not just for those who are at the same stature defines the equality Guru Nanak had preached.

Guru Nanak said,

ਉਹ ਜੋ ਸਾਰੇ ਮਨੁੱਖਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਬਰਾਬਰ ਸਮਝਦਾ ਹੈ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਹੈ”

“वह जो सभी पुरुषों को एक समान मानता है वह धार्मिक है।”

“He who regards all men as equals is religious”

Guru Nanak believed that every individual enjoys the same freedom and rights as one another without discrimination of any form and manner. He institutionalized the concept of ‘Langar’ or free community kitchen where people from all religions, caste, color, creed, gender, age, or social status would sit in on the ground and have food together. The food was prepared by volunteers and served to anyone who wished to have a meal. There were no constraints as to who would cook, who would serve, and who would be served. It also upheld the values of sharing, community, and oneness of all humankind.

Take the example of Mr. Satish Gupta. Mr. Gupta owns a small shop in Mumbai and sells vada-pav. He has customers from all walks of life. A working professional and a rickshaw puller, both wait in the same line to have the same vada-pav. He doesn’t prioritize the requests of the car-owner over a bicycle rider. And just like this equality, he also performs seva by not charging those who can’t pay. People can recognize his generosity and those who are well off will pay extra to help him.

The difference between the rich and the poor is greater today than ever before and hence, presents an opportunity to imbibe Guru Nanak’s values. So, how will you practice equality and selfless service (seva) in today’s times?