The major part of guru Amar Das Ji’s life, till sixty years, has been gone in Devi pooja. Since his childhood , his father saw to it that he also got up early to do pooja with him. When he grew older ,over the years, he went often once or twice in a year to the holy town of Kurukshetra and Haridwar to do Ganga Pooja for getting the peace of mind . He spent lot of his money in helping the poor, the sick, and the needy. he was respected in the village and always work for the others. But in the last few years, his visits to the holy Ganga, and even the charity has not given him peace of mind. In the last year , his way back from holy town , he met a Sadhu, a Brahmi Chari with whom he spent a lot of time together in talking, even eating together in the way . All of sudden the monk asked.’ Your are so wise ,know much about religion-Who is your Guru? “. Guru Amar Das said,” I don’t have any Guru” The Sadhu said,” all my trip to Ganga with you , eating and talking together is just wasted. After saying this he immediately left him in anger and hurried back to Haridwar again to wash away the sin of being with nigure Amar Das Ji .
Guru Amar Das became very upset after this incidence and became restless. One early morning while going out, he heard a line of Gurbani, his brother’s daughter- in- law Bibi Amro was singing , in a low pitch but very sweet voice. In the beauty of Bibi Amro Shabad , he saw a path along which , he could continue his search. Guru Amar Das Ji went to his Brother’ courtyard and asked Bibi Amro the details of the Shabad . Bibi Amro said that it was Guru Nanak Shabad , who before his jyoti jyot nominated my father the next Guru, Guru Angad Dav Ji. Guru Amar Das said,’ you take me to Guru Angad Das immediately. Perhaps Manak Chand, his brother and Bibi Amro knew that it is a very special moment for him, So they gave in to fulfill Guru Amar Das wish .Bibi Amro and Guru Amardas set out for the journey to Khadoor Sahib. After reaching there Bibi Amro went inside his father room to inform about Guru Amar Das ji . Guru Angad Dev ji came out to embrace Guru Amar Das, but before that Guru Amar Sas ji fell at Guru’s feet and said,” I come as a humble disciple , Give me place at your feet”. He became true to his words and after that twelve years he worked very hard and with utmost devotion, as a humble servant of Guru Angad Das Ji and his Sangat.
When Choudhary Gobind built the Guru Mahal in Goindwal Sahib and requested Guru Angad Dev ji to stay there, Guru Angad Dev ji sent Amar Das Ji to stay there with his family. But while Amar Das Ji stayed in Goindwal Sahib , he did not forget his duty and daily come to Khadoor Sahib to fetch the water for his Guru. Once it was raining, Amar Das Ji missed his way, While he was passing through dhobi ghat , he slipped and fell in a pitch but he was still holding Gagar to save water inside for his Guru. When he asked for help Dhoban told to dhobi, who asked, who was that, who is asking for help Dhoban said,” ਹੋਇਗਾ ਅਮਰੂ ਨਿਥਾਵਾਂ ਜਿਸਨੂੰ ਨਾ ਦਿਨੇ ਚੈਨ ਹੈ ਨਾ ਰਾਤ ਨੂੰ “l She could not speak further and became dumb. Her husband could understand that why she has become dumb. He took her to Guru Angad Dev Ji explained everything and said sorry for her..\ Guru Angad Dev ji uttered these word for Amar Das Ji,’ ਇਹ ਤਾਂ ਨਿਥਾਵਿਆਂ di ਥਾਂ , ਨਿਘਰਿਆਂ ਦਾ ਘਰ , ਨਿਪੱਤਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਪਤ , ਨਿਗਤਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਗਤ ਤੇ — ਇਸ ਨੂੰ ਕੋਣ ਨਿਥਾਵਾਂ ਕਹਿ ਸਕਦਾ ਹੈ “l Guru embraced Amar Das ji , dressed him in new clothes ,called Bhai Budhha Ji and , bowed before him and blessed with Gurgadi to Guru Amar Das Ji and ask him to set his center in Goindwal Sahib. Goindwal was located on the way from Delhi to Lahore, So there always remained a huge rush of Sikh Sangat .
In 1553, Guru Amardas undertook a missionary journey to the eastern and south-eastern parts of the Punjab. He first visited Kurukshetra on the occasion of the Solar Eclipse to preach the Guru’s way to the thousands of pilgrims who had gathered there. Huge crowds followed the Guru’s party because the tax-collectors did not collect the pilgrim tax from the Guru. The Guru also held discussions with Yogis, Jain Digambars, Sanyasis and the exponents of the six systems of Indian philosophy and won their love and respect.
Baoli Sahib – in 1556
Guru Amardas: Meeting with the Yogis
Kingrinath with his band of Nath Yogis came to Guru Amardas at Goindwal. He held a discussion with the Guru on Yoga. The Guru told him what true Yoga is, through a hymn, as follows: “O Yogi! Put on the rings of modesty in your ears and make compassion your patched coat. Apply fear of birth and death to your body as ashes, then shall you conquer the three world
Sri Guru Amardas: Preservation of Life
Guru Amardas greatly valued human life and regarded it as a wonderful opportunity for working towards salvation. The body is the temple of God and as such, Guru emphasised the needs of good health must be cherished by all. Just as a tree, if preserved will bear blossom and fruit, in the same way, if the body is cared for, it can practice charity and meditation
Sri Guru Amardas: Langar Institutionalised
Guru Amardas developed Langar (Free Kitchen) into an institution for service of the community and for channelling the charities of the Sikhs. Moreover, he made it compulsory for everyone to eat in the Free Kitchen, before he could meet the Guru or join the congregation. His directive was – Pahlay Pangat, Pichhay Sangat: first take a meal in the Community Kitchen and then join the congregation
Guru Amardas’ Langar was open most of the day and night. According to one writer, all types of dishes were served: sweet, saltish, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent. The rations were supplied by the devotees in plenty and there was no shortage of foodstuffs at any time. Balwand and Satta – the court musicians – have made a special mention of the Guru’s Langar, as stated below: “Ever in your Kitchen, butter and flour are served in plenty” (p.986). The food was prepared and distributed to the rich and the poor alike, while they took their seats in a row on the carpeted ground. Whatever was left over was given to the birds and animals and even to the fish in the river Beas, flowing close by.
Emperor Akbar and the Raja of Haripur (Kangra hills) who came to meet Guru Amardas followed the tradition and took food with the ordinary men seated in a line in the Free Kitchen. When Akbar talked to the Guru, he offered land for the maintenance of the Kitchen, but the Guru did not accept it, saying that it is a Sikh institution and must be supported by the offerings and services of the disciples. He fought against the castle system, He championed the cause of women. He took them out of purdah , forbade the practice of sati, and encourged widow remarriage. He said that women are equal to men and fifty two peedis (ਪੀੜ੍ਹੀ)of his apostles were of women. He fixed three festivals for Sikh celebrations, Maghi Vaisakhi, Diwali.
Sri Guru Amardas: Cordial Relations with Akbar
The tolerant and liberal policy of emperor Akbar was to some extent responsible for the cordial relations between the Sikh Gurus and the Muslim gentry. Akbar had a regard for holy men of all faiths. Once he was called upon to give a decision on a complaint filed against Guru Amardas . Guru Amar Das sent Bhai Jetha to Lahore, who explained so well that Akbar was highly impressed and dismissed the petition in 1566. Failing in this attempt, Gond Khatri and his agent filed another false petition, that the Guru had illegally occupied the land at Goindwal belonging to them. This claim was also rejected as it was also proved to be wrong.
Amardas: Consolidation of the Sikh Church
The major contribution of Guru Amardas was the propagation of the message of Guru Nanak and Guru Angad and the consolidation and extension of missionary work. His teachings were,’ Do good to others by giving good advice, by setting good examples and by having the thought of thinking and wishing welfare of all the human beings . He in order to give a momentum to missionary activity, appointed his representatives for each region of India and estabished 22 centers and 52 sub-centres in every region, called Manjis, literally means cots, because the person in charge sat on a cot ,while giving updesh. These regions, were further divided into small units called Piris (small stools). So a number of missionary centres, each in charge of a devoted Sikh and Singhania were set up in different places all over the country.
Sri Guru Amardas: Some Devotees
Bhai Sawan Mal, the son of Guru Amardas’ brother was a devoted Sikh. He was sent to Haripur in the Kangra hills to arrange for the supply of timber for the construction of buildings in Goindwal. His humanism and spiritual wisdom endeared him to the Raja of Haripur who came to Goindwal and became a follower of the Guru.
Gangu Shah, a Khatri merchant of Lahore, suffered losses in business and came to Goindwal to seek the Guru’s blessing. The Guru said to him: “Go to Delhi and start your business. Remember God and help the needy and you will be wealthy”. A needy Brahmin sought financial aid from Guru Amardas for his daughter’s marriage. The Guru gave him a letter for Gangu Shah, asking him to help the Brahmin.
Wealth had made Gangu arrogant and miserly. He thought that if he helped the Brahmin, the Guru might send other men also to him for help. So he told the Brahmin that he could not do anything for him. The Brahmin returned disappointed to Goindwal. The Guru told the congregation to collect funds and also himself contributed some amount towards the marriage expenses of the Brahmin’s daughter. After some time, Gangu suffered losses in business, and returned to Goindwal empty-handed. He dared not show his face to Guru Amardas; so he served in the Langar for all the time. One day, the Guru called him and blessed him. He was put in charge of the mission at Lahore for the rest of his life.
Bhai Paro Jhulka – also called Parma Hans – belonged to Dalla village in the Doaba region. He used to visit Goindwal every day by crossing the river Beas. Guru Amardas was much pleased with his humility and devotion and desired to nominate him as his successor. Bhai Paro declined this honour, saying: “I am content with being the Guru’s disciple, because I have received the treasure of the Holy Name”. The Nawab (Governor) of Jallundur, named Abdullah became a Sikh, because he was impressed by the ideal living of Bhai Paro. The Guru told Baini that his followers are family-men. The Sikhs are enjoined to lead family life and devote themselves to good deeds and the Holy Word. They live in the world and yet remain detached from its attachments and pull of maya. The Guru said: “They are true house-holders whose minds are concentrated on Truth”. (p.230) Baini became the Guru’s follower and was regarded as a good preacher
Sri Guru Amardas: Training and Succession of Bhai Jetha
Bhai Jetha, the Guru’s son-in-law, proved himself a true and devoted Sikh. He had been in close touch with the Guru from 1546. After shifting to Goindwal, he served the Guru and the Sangat (congregation) at Baoli Sahab. Guru Amardas decided to establish a big centre of religion and trade at a new place for the Sikhs. So he deputized Bhai Jetha to find a suitable site close to the trade routes. Bhai Jetha purchased land from the Zamindars of Gumtula, Tung and Sultanwind and developed it. It came to be known as Chak Guru and later Ramadaspur. He collected a large number of masons, carpenters and ironsmith for the construction of residential buildings and shops. Soon a market sprang up, which to this day is called Guru-Ka-Bazar. A Free Kitchen – langar – was set up for the workers and the artisans. Bhai Jetha, though busy with the planning and construction work of the township, organized missionary work and delivered discourses to the congregations held at the site. The construction work which started in 1570 was interrupted for some time and restarted in 1576. The excavation of the tank – Amritsar – began in 1577 and was completed in 1581.
Guru Amar Das felt that his end was approaching and so he must select a successor. He devised a test to select the best Sikh as the next Guru. The two serious contenders were his two sons-in-law. He asked both of them to construct a platform according to his specification. Rama, the elder son-in-law, and Bhai Jetha, the other son-in-law, started the construction of separate platforms. When these were ready Guru Amardas inspected them and rejected them. He asked them to demolished the platforms and build new ones again. For three times he disapproved of the platforms built by both of them separately. Rama refused to build the platform for the fourth time; Bhai Jetha, however, completed the platform and it was rejected again. So he continued his efforts. When he built the platform for the seventh time, Guru Amardas approved of it and decided to select him as the successor because of his patience and devotion. He called the congregation and seated Bhai Jetha on the throne of Guru ship, as Guru Ramdas – the Fourth Guru of the Sikhs. Balwand and Satta composed the following coronation ode: “You are Nanak. You are Angad. You are Guru Amardas, so do we regard you; deeming you as the Transcendental Lord, your followers and the congregation bow before you”. (p.969)
The guru was a great poet and composed 907 hymns . He has written hymn for marriage ceremonies and death ceremonisfor sikhs, composed Anandpur Sahib. He advocated that after death of a person , instead of crying or weeping, good to do path or keertan to pave the way for dead person for sach khand. He fulfilled Guru Angad Dev’s prophecy in more than ample measure. He was truely home of homeless, the honor of the person who were not honored and the support of those who have no support. Guru Amardas passed away at Goindwal on 1st September 1573 at the age of ninety five. Before his death , He told his followers not to observe the rites and customs of mourning rather they should recite Bani.