As Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty overruns northern India, he encounters a holy man who fearlessly confronts him and chides him for his cruelty. The name of the holy man is Guru Nanak, who is on the path to establishing a new world religion, Sikhism. The story shifts to the childhood of young Nanak, a precocious lad of spiritual bent who fearlessly challenges inequality and superstition. As a young man Nanak lays the foundation of an important institution that will go on to define the faith he is to create. Nanak has a spiritual epiphany that gives him a sense of mission and inspires him to set forth on a journey that is the start of a social revolution.
With his faithful companion, Mardana the minstrel in tow, Nanak sets out on a series of journeys that will last for decades and will bring him to wondrous places as he develops bold new ideas and creates the institutions which will ensure their propagation and survival. Nanak fearlessly confronts superstition and ritualism as he travels to the storied places of worship of his time.
Nanak travels to the far reaches of the Eastern Himalayas, where he is hailed as Nanak Rimpoche, an emanation of the Buddhist sage Padmasambhava, the patron saint of Sikkim. After his return to his homeland, he dons the garb of a Muslim pilgrim and sets out on the ancient Indo-Egyptian trade route to journey to Mecca. This will be his last great journey and on his return he will establish the town of Kartarpur.
Guru Nanak settles down in Kartarpur, initiating a period of institutional development that will last for almost two centuries. The task of giving shape to a new world religion has begun. As the time approaches for Guru Nanak to depart, he anoints one of his beloved followers, Angad as the next Guru, ensuring that the fledgling faith he has created will survive and thrive.
Guru Angad nurtures the faith that his late master entrusted him with, giving the gift of music to his followers and creating a new script for the preservation of the sacred writings of the Sikhs. In the tradition of Guru Nanak, he chooses Amardas, his humblest and most faithful disciple to succeed him as the next Guru, bypassing his own sons.
Guru Amardas receives the Mughal Emperor Akbar who humbly seeks his blessings. Finding his son-in-law, Ramdas to be loyal, humble and worthy, Guru Amardas decides to anoint him as the next Guru. Pleased with the devotion of his daughter, Bibi Bhani, Guru Amardas makes a prophecy which will have far reaching consequences for the faith.
Guru Ramdas establishes Ramdaspur, which will go on to become Amritsar, the greatest center of the Sikh faith. Guru Ramdas is plagued by the ill-will that his oldest son, Prithi Chand harbors towards Arjan, his youngest. Because of his faithfulness and devotion, Arjan is exalted to succeed his father as Guru, much to his older brother’s chagrin.
Guru Arjan establishes the Har Mandar Sahib, popularly known as The Golden Temple, which will become the most prominent place of worship for the Sikh faith and a symbol of its endurance. The Guru’s wife, Mata Ganga, distraught at being childless is sent to seek the blessing of Bhai Buddha, a venerable old Sikh, who has served the faith from the time of Guru Nanak.
Guru Arjan, in his crowning achievement, creates the Guru Granth Sahib, the egalitarian scripture of the Sikhs, with contributions from the Sikh Gurus as well as enlightened souls from other faiths. Prithi Chand tries to convince the Emperor Akbar that Guru Arjan’s new scripture is blasphemous and disrespectful of Islam and Hinduism.