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Guru Nanak was born in Talwandi, a village in Punjab, in 1469 at a critical period of Indian history. The Lodi rulers wallowed in luxury and did not care for the affairs of State and welfare of their subjects. Their weakness and sloth brought Babar on to the Indian scene. Guru Nanak protested against the foreign domination and warned the rulers that if they did not look into the grievances of the people, they would meet the punishment they deserved. Guru Nanak challenged the fanaticism and intolerance of the Muslims, of his time. During his visit to Mecca, he made the Kazis realize that God's house is everywhere and not only in the direction of the Kaaba. Similarly, Guru Nanak also exposed the meaningless ritual and caste prejudices prevalent among the Hindus. He demonstrated to them the fallacy of feeding Brahmins at the time of the performance of the Sharaadha. At Hardwar, in a very amusing way, he exposed the folly of offering water to the manes of ancestors. Guru Nanak's life may be divided into three parts.
The first period of 30 years was spent at Talwandi and Sultanpur as a householder. The second period of 22 years was spent in missionary travels far and wide and for the third and the last period of 18 years he stayed at Kartarpur for the benefit of his followers. He established places of worship called Dharamsalas. Wherever he went, he urged people to perform acts of charity and render services to the poor and the needy. Guru Nanak propagated the equality of man. He treated Hindus and Muslims alike. He went to their important shrines and explained to them the true way of spiritual life. He opposed the distinctions of caste. He called himself a member of the lowest caste. Guru Nanak insisted on Grahstha - living a house-holder's life. The path of renunciation or Sanyas is the way of escapism and defeat. Man must do his worldly duties and at the same time keep his spirit detached from worldly things. Finding that his end was approaching, Guru Nanak tested his disciples and passed Gurudom onto the most worthy of them, Guru Angad, in 1539.