Guru Amar Das Ji



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Fast Facts
200px-GuruAmarDas.jpg
Function: 
Guru
Traditions: 
Sikhism, Sant Mat, Surat Shabd Yoga
Main Countries of Activity: 
India
Date of Birth: 
5 May 1497
Place of Birth: 
Amritsar,India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
1 September 1574
Other Related Gurus: 
Guru Nanak Dev | Guru Angad Dev | Guru Amar Das | Guru Ram Das | Guru Arjun Dev | Guru Har Gobind | Guru Har Rai | Guru Har Krishan | Guru Teg Bahadur | Guru Gobind Singh | (Followed by Guru Granth Sahib, Perpetual Guru of the Sikhs)

Biography

Guru Amar Das (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਅਮਰ ਦਾਸ) (5 May 1497 - 1 September 1574) was the third of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism and became Guru on 26 March 1552 at the age of 73 following in the footsteps of Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib Ji, who died on 29 March 1552 aged 48. Guru Amar Das ji was 73 years old when he became the Sikh Guru.

Guru Ji was the eldest son of Sri Tej Bhan Bhalla Ji a farmer and trader and Mata Lachmi Ji, his devoted mother. He was a shopkeeper and lived in the village of Basarke near Amritsar. The third Sikh Guru was married to Mata Mansa Devi and they had four children - two sons named Bhai Mohan and Bhai Mohri and two daughters named Bibi Dani Ji and Bibi Bhani Ji. Bibi Bhani later married Bhai Jetha who became the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das. See article Platforms of Jetha.

Amar Das made many contributions to Sikh philosophy and practice, including:

* All visitors to Gurdwaras were to first take Langar (Free Blessed Food) together before seeing the Guru. "First Pangat then Sangat"

* Further abolished the caste system.

* Guru lifted the status of women and gave them equality with men. He strictly prohibited the practice of Sati (the dying of the wife on her husband's funeral pyre), "Parrda" (veil to cover the face), etc.

* Established an administration system for management of the increasing size of the Sikh congregations

* Gift of the prayer called Anand Sahib, which is one of the Five Banis recited daily by devout Sikhs.

* Established the city of Goindval on the banks of river Bias in 1552 A.D.

* The Guru contributed a total of 907 hymns to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Before Guru Ji died at the age of 95, he nominated Guru Ram Das (Bhai Jetha) as the fourth Guru of the Sikhs.

Hindu who spent most of his life performing all of the ritual pilgrimages and fasts of a devout Hindu. One day, Bhai Amardas Sahib Ji heard some hymns of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Sahib Ji Maharaj being sung by Bibi Amro Ji Ji, the daughter of Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib Ji Maharaj, the second Sikh Guru Sahib. Bibi Amro Ji was married to Bhai Sahib's brother, Bhai Manak Chand Ji' s son who was called Bhai Jasso Ji.

Bibi Amro Ji lived together with Bhai Sahib's brother. It so happened that Bhai Sahib was at his brother house when he heard the wonderful recitation of Gurbani by his niece-in-law. Bhai Sahib was so impressed and moved by these Shabads that he immediately decided to go to see Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib Ji at Khadur Sahib. It is recorded that this event took place when Bhai Sahib was 61 years old.

Bhai Sahib also had a younger brother called Bhai Ishar Das who had a son called Bhai Gurdas Ji, who was a superb poet and scholar of comparative religion who would later go on become the scribe of the first edition of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj.

In 1635, upon meeting Guru Angad Dev Sahib Ji, Bhai Sahib was so touched by the Guru's message that he became a devout Sikh. Soon he became involved in Sewa (Service) to the Guru and the Community. Under the impact of the Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib Ji and the teachings of the Gurus, Bhai Amardas Ji became a devout Sikh. He adopted Guru Ji as his spiritual guide (Guru). Bhai Sahib Ji began to live at Khadur Sahib. He used to rise early in the morning, bring water from the Beas River for Guru ji's bath, he would wash the Guru ji's clothes and fetch wood from the Jungle for 'Guru ka Langar'. He was so dedicated to Sewa and the Guru and had completely extinguished pride and was totally lost in this commitment that he was considered an old man who had no interest in life, he was dubbed Amru, and generally forsaken.

However, as a result of Bhai Sahib's commitment to Sikhi principles, dedicated service and devotion to the Sikh cause, Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib Ji appointed Sri Guru Amar Das Sahib Ji as third Sri Guru Nanak Sahib in March 1552 at the age of 73. He established his headquarters at newly built town Goindwal Sahib, which Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib Ji has established.

[edit] Guruship

Soon large numbers of Sikhs started flocking to Goindwal to see the new Guru. Datu one of Guru Angad's sons proclaimed himself as Guru at Khadur following his father's death. He was so jealous of Guru Amar Das that he proceeded to Goindwal to confront the Guru. Upon seeing Guru Amar Das seated on a throne surrounded by his followers he said; "You were a mere menial servant of the house until yesterday and how dare you style yourself as the Master?", he then proceeded to kick the revered old Guru, throwing him off his throne. Guru Amar Das in his utter humility started caressing Datu's foot saying; "I'm old. My bones are hard. You may have been hurt." As demanded by Datu, Guru Amar Das left Goindwal the same evening and returned to his native village of Basarke.

Here Guru Amar Das shut himself in a small house for solitary meditation. There he attached a notice on the front door saying, "He who opens this door is no Sikh of mine, nor am I his Guru." A delegation of faithful Sikhs led by Baba Buddha found the house and seeing the notice on the front door, cut through the walls to reach the Guru. Baba Buddha said, "The Guru being a supreme yogi, cares for nothing in the world - neither fame, nor riches nor a following. But we cannot live without his guidance. Guru Angad has tied us to your apron, where should we go now if you are not to show us the way?" At the tearful employment of the Sikhs, Guru Amar Das was overwhelmed by their devotion and returned to Goindwal. Datu having been unable to gather any followers of his own had returned to Khadur.

[edit] Administration

At Goindwal, Guru Amar Das propagated the Sikh faith in a logical and planned manner. He himself visited and sent Sikh missionaries to different parts of India to spread Sikhism. He divided the Sikh Sangat area into 22 branches called Manjis and appointed a local devout Sikh preacher at each place. The preacher sat on a Manji (a cot) while the congregation all sat around the Manji or cot. Here are the initial 16 names of the people he appointed to preach Sikhism.

In the area of Majha (Amritsar, Lahore, Sialkote)

* 1. Manak Chand Jhinwar (Water Carrier) at Variowal in Amritsar.
* 2. Sada ram, a Blacksmith near Amritsar.
* 3. Hindal at Jandiala near Amritsar.
* 4. Gangu Shah banker at Lahore.
* 5. Mutho-Murari, a devoted couple, at Chunian in Lahore Dist.

In Jalandhar Doab

* 6. Paro Julka at Jalandar.
* 7. Mahesh Dhir at Sultanpur Lodi.

In Kangra Hills

* 8. Sawan mal, Nephew of Guru Amar Das, at Haripur Guler.
* 9. Name not given, at Dharamsala.

Kashmir Hills

* 10. Phirya at Mirpur.

Malwa (Area of Patiala, Ludhiana, Bhatinda)

* 11. Kheira at Firozpur.
* 12. Mai Das Bairagi in charge of Ludhiana dist.
* 13. Mai Bhago at village Wayun, tehsil Kharar, dist. Rupar.
* 14. Mai Sewan at Village Gardnoh in Patiala District.
* 15. Sachna Shah in charge of Ambala distt.

Sind

* 16. Lalu in chage of some area in Sind.

* 17 to 22: Unknown

Guru Amar Das was impressed with Bhai Gurdas' thorough knowledge of Hindi and Sanskrit and the Hindu scriptures. Following the tradition of sending out Masands across the country, Guru Amar Das deputed Bhai Gurdas to Agra to spread the gospel of Sikhism. Before leaving, Guru Amar Das prescribed the following routine for Sikhs:

"He who calls himself a Sikh of the True Guru, He must get up in the morning and say his prayers. He must rise in the early hours and bathe in the holy tank. He must meditate on God as advised by the Guru. And rid himself of the afflictions of sins and evil. As the day dawns, he should recite scriptures, and repeat God's name in every activity. He to whom the Guru takes kindly is shown the path. Nanak! I seek the dust of the feet of the Guru's Sikh who himself remembers God and makes others remember Him." (Gauri)

Guru Ji strengthened the tradition of 'Guru ka Langar' and made it compulsory for the visitor to the Guru saying that 'Pehle Pangat Phir Sangat' (first visit the Langar then go to the Guru). Once the emperor Akbar came to see Guru Sahib and he had to eat the coarse rice in the Langar before he could have an interview with Guru Sahib. He was too much impressed with this system that he expressed his desire to grant some royal property for 'Guru ka Langar', but Guru Sahib declined it with respect. Guru Amardas Sahib persuaded Akbar to waive off toll-tax (pilgrim's tax) for non-Muslims while crossing Yamuna and Ganga, Akbar did so. Guru Amardas Sahib maintained cordial relations with emperor Akbar.

He preached against Sati and advocated the re-marrying of widows. He asked the women to discard 'Purdah' (veil). He introduced new birth, marriage and death ceremonies. Thus he raised the status of women and protected the rights of female infants who were killed without question as they were deemed to have no status. These teachings met stiff resistance from Orthodox Hindus and Muslim fundamentalists. He fixed three Gurpurbs for Sikh celebrations: Dewali, Vaisakhi and Maghi. Visiting of Hindu pilgrimage centres and paying tributes to the Muslim places were prohibited.

When the Raja of Haripur came to see him, Guru Amar Das insisted that he first partake a common meal from the community kitchen, called langar, irrespective of his caste. The Raja obliged and had an audience with the Guru. But one of his queens refused to lift the veil from her face, so Guru Amar Das refused to meet her. Guru Amar Das not only preached the equality of people irrespective of their caste but he also tried to foster the idea of women's equality. He tried to liberate women from the practices of purdah (wearing a veil) as well as preaching strongly against the practice of sati (Hindu wife burning on her husband's funeral pyre). Guru Amar Das also disapproved of a widow remaining unmarried for the rest of her life.

Guru Amardas Sahib constructed Baoli at Goindwal Sahib having eighty-four steps and made it a Sikh pilgrimage centre for the first time in the history of Sikhism. He reproduced more copies of the hymns of Guru Nanak Sahib and Guru Angad Sahib. He also composed 869 (according to some chronicles these were 709) verses (stanzas) including Anand Sahib, and then later on Guru Arjan (fifth Guru) made all the Shabads part of Guru Granth Sahib.

Once during several days of rain while Guru Amar Das was riding by a wall which he saw was on the verge of falling he galloped his horse past the wall. The Sikhs questioned him saying; "O Master, you have instructed us, 'fear not death, for it comes to all' and 'the Guru and the God-man are beyond the pale of birth and death', why did you then gallop past the collapsing wall?" Guru Amar Das replied; "Our body is the embodiment of God's light. It is through the human body that one can explore one's limitless spiritual possibilities. Demi-gods envy the human form. One should not, therefore, play with it recklessly. One must submit to the Will of God, when one's time is over, but not crave death, nor invite it without a sufficient and noble cause. It is self surrender for the good of man that one should seek, not physical annihilation."

When it came time for the Guru to marry off his younger daughter Bibi Bhani, he selected a pious and diligent young follower of his called Jetha from Lahore. Jetha had come to visit the Guru with a party of pilgrims from Lahore and had become so enchanted by the Guru's teachings that he had decided to settle in Goindwal. Here he earned a living selling wheat and would regularly attend the services of Guru Amar Das in his spare time.

Guru Amar Das Sahib did not consider any of his sons fit for Guruship and chose instead his son-in law (Guru) Ram Das to succeed him. Certainly, it was practically a right step not as emotional, because Bibi Bhani and (Guru) Ram Das had true sprit of service and their keen understanding of the Sikh principles deserved this. This practice shows that Guruship could be transferred to anybody fit for the Sikh cause and not to the particular person who belonged to the same family or of other. Guru Amar Das Sahib died aged 95 on Bhadon Sudi 14th, (1st Assu) Samvat 1631, (September 1, 1574) at Goindwal Sahib near District Amritsar, after giving responsibility of Guruship to the Fourth Nanak, Guru Ramdas.

[edit] External links

* Sri Guru Amar Das Ji - Guru Sewa
* Eternal Glory of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji
* Learn more about Sri Guru Amar Das Ji
* The Teachings of Guru Amardas Ji - eBook
* allaboutsikhs.com
* sikhs.org
* sikh-history.com
* Articles on Sikhism by Gurudwara.Net

Audio:

* srigurugranthsahib.org

Sources: 
WIKI

Teachings

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