Guru Amar Das
Guru Amar Das was the third Sikh guru. He was born on 23 May 1479, ten years after First Sikh Guru Nanak Dev (Founder of Sikhism) was born. Guru Amar Das attained Guruship at the age of 73. Guru Amar Das was born to father Tejbhan Ji and mother Lachmi Ji in Basarke village near Amritsar. Bhai Amar Das was a shopkeeper. He was married to Mata Mansa Devi. They had two sons, Bhai Mohan & Bhai Mohri and two daughters, Bibi Dani & Bibi Bhani. Bibi Bhani was married to Bhai Jetha (Guru Ram Das Ji)
Journey to the Guruship: Bhai Amar Das was a devout of Hindu Goddess Mata Vaishno Devi and for years observed all religious rites and ceremonies. Once Baba Amar Das heard Bibi Amro Ji singing hymns of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Bibi Amro Ji was daughter of Guru Angad Dev Ji (Second Guru). She was married to Bhai Jasoo Ji, who was son of Bhai Amar Das’ brother, Manak Chand. His brother’s family lived nearby, so Bhai Amar Das enquired about the hymns and decided to see Guru Angad Dev who was on Guruship that time. Bhai Amar Das’ age was 61 when he met Guru Angad Dev in Khadur Sahib. He was touched by Guru’s message and become a devout Sikh and stayed there to provide sewa (selfless service) to the Guru and the community. Bhai Amar Das used to rise early to bring water from Beas River for Guru Ji’s bath. He would wash Guru’s clothes and bring wood from forest for the Langar (Community Kitchen), a concept started by Guru Nanak Dev. As a result of Bhai Amar Das’ commitment to Sikh principles and devout service to the community, Guru Angad Dev appointed him the third Sikh guru naming him Guru Amar Das at the age of 73 in the year 1552. Guru Amar Das established his headquarters in the new town of Goindwal Sahib.
Soon large numbers of pilgrims started coming to Goindwal Sahib to meet the new guru. Guru Angad Dev’s son, Bhai Datu was angry and claimed to be the next guru after his father. He went to Goindwal Sahib to confront Guru Amar Das with his few supporters. He saw Guru Amar Das sitting on the throne and said, “You were a menial servant of the guru yesterday, how dare you sit on the throne?” He kicked the aged Guru Amar Das and he fell on the floor. Bhai Datu sat on the throne and proclaimed as guru. The congregation was shocked to see the incident. But Guru Amar Das righted himself and caressed Bhai Datu’s foot and said, “ My old and hard bones may have hurt your foot”
Guru Amar Das went back to his village Basarke and shut himself in a small house for solitary meditation. He put a notice outside the door that said, “He who opens the door is no Sikh of mine, nor am I his Guru.” Some faithful Sikhs led by Baba Budha Ji found the house where Guru Amar Das shut himself. Reading the notice they decided to go between the Guru’s words and cut a hole through a wall to reach the Guru. Baba Budha Ji said to the Guru that we know you care for nothing in the world-fame, riches and following, but Guru Angad has tied us to your apron and we don’t know where to go without your guidance. Overwhelmed by the devotion of the Sikhs Guru Amar Das returned to Goindwal Sahib. Bhai Datu already left for Khadur Sahib as he was unable to gather any followers of his own.
Contributions: Guru Amar Das not only further promoted the values of his predecessors but also did the value additions during his Guruship.
- Further abolished the caste based discrimination.
- Everyone visiting the Gurdwara would eat in Langar first (Free community kitchen) then Guru will see him or her.
- Gave equality to women in the society and prohibited the veil and practice of Sati (where wife was burnt alive on her husband’s pyre)
- Established the Manji system to administer the expansion of Sikh congregation.
- Prayer of Anand Sahib, which is one of the five Banis of Nitnem.
- Established Goindwal Sahib on the banks of Beas River.
- Contributed 907 hymns to Guru Granth Sahib.
- Restricted to become recluse or ascetic as Guru stressed that body is a Temple of God and we must keep it healthy and sound.
In the year 1574, Guru Amar Das bestowed the Guruship to his son-in-law Bhai Jetha and named him Guru Ram Das. Baba Budha Ji anointed the forehead of Guru Amar Das with saffron mark. Everyone present bowed to Guru Ram Das except Bhai Mohan, Guru Amar Das’ elder son. Guru Amar Das left his heavenly abode in the year 1574 at the age of 95.
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