GURU ANGAD DEV
(1504-1552, Guruship- 1539-1552)
Guru Angad Dev was born on March 31, 1504 in a village called Harike in Ferozepur district of the Punjab. His father, Bhai Pheru was a trader. His parents called him Lehna. He was married at the age of fifteen. His wife, Khivi was a native of Mattei di Sarai in Ferozepur district. His father grew weary of Harike and with his family returned to his ancestral place, Mattei di Sarai and lived there. Bhai Lehna’s wife gave birth to two daughters, Amro and Anokhi, and two sons called Dasu and Datu.
When Mattei di Sarai was sacked by the Mughals and Baloches, Bhai Lehna and his father moved to Khadur, now a famous town near Tarn Taran. Bhai Lehna grew very religious under the influence of his mother, Daya Kaur, and became a devotee of Durga, the goddess of Shakti. He used to organize yearly pilgrimage of devout Hindus to Jawalamukhi, a place of Durga temple in the lower Himalayas where fire issued from the mountains. He used to lead Durga dance around the fire in a harness of jingling bells.
Bhai Jodha, a Guru’s Sikh, lived in Khadur and it was his daily routine to rise early every morning and recite Japji and Asa di Var. One day as Bhai Lehna attentively listened the Divine Sabad recited by Bhai Jodha, his mind obtained peace. After the day break he asked Jodha who had composed that stimulating hymn. Bhai Jodha then told him all about Guru Nanak, who was living at Kartarpur at that time. The touch of Divine Sabad made such an impact on Bhai Lehna’s mind that he got impatient to meet the Guru. When he was on his annual pilgrimage to Jawalamukhi, he broke his journey at Kartarpur to offer his obeisance to the Guru. During his meeting, the Guru spoke to him of the True Creator, leaving such an impression on Bhai Lehna that he threw away the jingling bells, which he was carrying with him to dance before the goddess. He had obtained such a peace of mind that he decided to discontinue his pilgrimage and abide with the Guru. On seeing his increasing devotion, the Guru said to him one day that he should go home and settle his affairs and on his return he would initiate him as his Sikh. Upon this Bhai Lehna returned to Khadur for some time.
A detailed account has been given in the last chapter regarding the circumstances which led to his succession to Guruship. One day as Sikhs assembled, Guru Nanak seated Bhai Lehna on his throne, put five paise and a coco-nut in front of him and bowed before him and then said to Bhai Buddha,“ This is my successor- Guru Angad ; put a tilak on his forehead in token of his appointment to the Guruship.” Bhai Buddha did so. The Guru then ordered his followers to obey and serve Guru Angad; who was in his own image. Bhai Gurdas describes the succession to Guru Angad (Var 1, pauri-45) :
“Angad got the same tilak, the same umbrella over his head, and was seated on the same true throne as Guru Nanak. The seal of Guru Nanak’s hand entered Guru Angad’s, and proclaimed his sovereignty.”
After his appointment to the Guruship, Guru Nanak directed Guru Angad to return to Khadur. Upon this Guru Angad returned to Khadur and lived there.
GURU ANGAD IN SECLUSION :
The Guru sat in a room locked from outside near Khadur, and meditated on God without any distraction or interruption. He did not eat or drink anything except a pot of milk daily. About six months passed like this and the Sikhs did not know the whereabouts of the Guru. One day Bhai Lalo, Bhai Saido and Bhai Ajita and other Sikhs came to Bhai Buddha and asked him the whereabouts of the Guru. They had searched Khadur and other places but could not find him anywhere. It is said that Bhai Buddha concentrated his thoughts on the Guru and was able to visualize his place of meditation. Next morning they all went to the house near Khadur where the Guru was sitting in seclusion. The owner of the house gave them no information but went inside the house and told the Guru about the visit of four Sikhs. The Guru told the owner that they should be shown inside. He embraced Bhai Buddha and uttered the following Slok :
“Cut off the head which boweth not to the Lord, Nanak, take and burn the wretched body which feeleth not the pain of separation.”
(Slok Mohalla 2, p-89)
Bhai Buddha requested him to take his seat as Guru and receive the Sikhs publicly. After this Guru Angad came forth from his seclusion. When the Guru came out, crowds went to see him and presented to him their offerings. Whatever he received, the Guru passed on to his kitchen. There were continuous preaching, singing of hymns and repetition of Name.
EMPEROR HUMAYUN COMES TO THE GURU :
Emperor Humayun succeeded his father Baber but he was badly defeated by Sher Shah. Humayun inquired for some saint who could help him regain his throne and kingdom. He was advised to seek assistance of Guru Angad. Upon this Humayun came to Khadur. At that time the Guru was in a trance and the minstrels were singing the hymns. The Emperor was kept standing unattended. Humayun felt offended and in moment of rage, he put his hand on the hilt of his sword with the intention of striking the Guru. The sword, however, did not come out of the sheath which gave Humayun time to repent his act. Upon this the Guru addressed to him,“Where was your sword when you were facing Sher Shah? Now when you have come amongst the priests, instead of saluting them respectfully, you want to draw your sword on them. In a cowardly manner you fled from the battle ground, now posing as a hero you wish to attack the priests engaged in their devotion.” Humayun repented and begged for Guru’s spiritual assistance. The Guru replied,“Hadst thou not put thy hand on the hilt of thy sword, thou shouldst at once obtained thy kingdom. Thou shalt now proceed for a time to thine own country, and when thou returnest thou shalt recover thy kingdom.” Humayun went back to his country and having obtained a reinforcement of cavalry from the king of Persia, he returned to India. After fighting a pitched battle he recovered his empire and captured Delhi.
GURMUKHI SCRIPT :
Clipped or imperfect alphabet of Punjabi existed at the time of Guru Nanak, but Guru Angad modified and polished the existing script. Since the Guru had adopted the modified alphabet, it was called ‘Gurmukhi’- spoken through the mouth of the Guru. The significance of the adoption of this script by Guru Angad lies in the fact that he rejected all other scripts, and adopted the script which was his own and suited to the language of the people. It also helped to enhance their culture. The Guru recorded everything onwards in Punjabi in Gurmukhi script.
BABA AMAR DAS COMES TO GURU ANGAD :
Baba Amar Das was living in a village called Basarka near Amritsar. He was a firm believer of Vaishnav faith and used to fast regularly. Every year he went to Hardwar for pilgrimage, bathed in the river Ganges and would give alms to the poor. It was the twenty-first year of his pilgrimage and he was sixty-two years old. He was coming back from Hardwar when he decided to lay down to sleep outside the village of Mihra. Here he met a Vaishnav Sadhu (a monk) with whom he became so intimate that they cooked for each other. As they continued their journey and as the monk found Baba Amar Das zealously discharging all the duties of a pious Hindu, he asked him (Baba) who his guru was who taught him such piety and wisdom. Baba Amar Das replied that he had no guru. On hearing this the monk said,“I have committed a sin by eating from the hands of a man who has no guru. My ablutions bathing in the Ganges are of no avail now. I can only be purified if I return to bathe in the Ganges again.” After lamenting like this, the Sadhu departed.
This was a great shock to Baba Amar Das and he was jolted in his heart thinking he was a man of no guru (Nigura) :
“Satgur bajho gur nahi koee, nigurei ka hai nau bura.”
(Rag Asa Mohalla 3, p-435)
‘Satgur is the competent guru and without that no other guru is worthy of acceptance but if a person has no guru at all, that
person’s name is sinful.” (translated)
He started thinking seriously how he could find a guru and he prayed for that. One day early in the morning he heard a divine melody which thrilled his heart and he stood spell-bound listening to the hymn. This was voice of Bibi Amro, Guru Angad’s daughter, who was recently married to his nephew. It was Bibi Amro’s routine to rise early, bathe and recite Japji and other hymns of Guru Nanak. Bibi Amro had recited the following Sabad which was heard by Baba Amar Das :
“ Neither sisters, sisters-in-law, nor mothers-in-law remain
with one ;
But the true relationship with the Beloved, when found
through the Guru, shall never be sundered.
I am a sacrifice to my Guru, I am ever a sacrifice unto him.
I have grown weary of wandering so far without a Guru ;
Now the Guru hath united me with my Beloved.
(Maru Mohalla 1, p-1015)
Baba Amar Das asked Bibi Amro whose composition it was. She replied that it was Guru Nanak’s hymn and she had learnt it from her father who was the successor to Guru Nanak. Baba Amar Das then requested her to take him to the Guru. After some days he accompanied Bibi Amro to visit the Guru in Khadur. When Baba Amar Das arrived, the Guru on account of his relationship, wanted to embrace Babaji and receive him respectfully, but Babaji fell on the feet of the Guru and said,“Thou art as God and I am only a worm.” Baba Amar Das was so much overwhelmed by Guru’s darshan (holy sight) that it was unbearable for him to leave his presence. The love for the Master sprang so deep and intense in his heart that he wanted to serve him in every possible way.
One day meat was prepared for dinner and Baba Amar Das commented,“If the Guru is the knower of hearts, he should know that I am a strict Vaishnav and do not touch meat.” Realizing this the Guru ordered the Sikh who was serving the dinner (langar) that only dal (bean-curry) not meat should be served to him (Baba Amar Das).
Soon after that, Baba Amar Das realized that a disciple, whose practice differed from that of his Guru, must inevitably fail. He told the cook that if the Guru were kind enough to give him his meat leaving, he would partake of it. In order to further remove his prejudices, the Guru instructed him,”These are the meats to abstain from- others’ wealth, others’ wives, slander, envy, covetousness and pride.” The Guru then recited the Slok Mohalla 1 of page 1289 on the subject.
CITY OF GOINDWAL :
One day a man, Gobind, came to the Guru and said that if he became victorious in a lawsuit against his relations, he would found a city in honor of the Guru. Fortune favored him and he started to found the city on the bank of the river Beas. He began the work but what was done during the day, was in some mysterious manner undone at night. Gobind came to the Guru and prayed to him to grant him his desire to build the city.
Upon this the Guru sent Baba Amar Das to help him. Babaji prayed to God for His assistance. The city’s work proceeded without any further delay and Baba Amar Das named it Gobindwal and later on it was called Goindwal. Gobind did not forget to build a palace in it for his benefactor Amar Das. When the work was successfully completed, Gobind went to the Guru to offer his thanks and to beg him to come and live in the newly founded city. The Guru did not wish to leave his town, so he ordered Baba Amar Das to go and live in Goindwal by night and come to him by day. Babaji obeyed the Guru and settled in Goindwal. In the process of time he took with him all his relations from Basarka and helped them in settling there.
Baba Amar Das was now living in Goindwal and his daily routine was- to rise very early in the morning, take a pitcher of water from the river Beas and proceed to Khadur which was about three miles away. The pitcher of water was for Guru Angad to bathe with. On the way he would recite Japji. There was a mid-way spot which was called Damdama or breathing place where he could rest for a while. A temple was erected on this spot later on. After attending the morning service, Asa di Var, he would fetch water for the Guru’s kitchen, clean dishes and bring firewood from the forest. During the day he would learn Gurbani (Word) from the Guru. In the evening he would attend Sodar and evening Kirtan. After putting the Guru to rest, he would return walking to Goindwal backwards in supreme reverence for his Master.
GURU ANGAD AND TAPA :
There lived a Sadhu (monk), Tapa in Khadur. He was worshipped as a Guru by the Khahira Jats only. Tapa had jealousy against the Guru and contended reverence shown to Guru by his followers. He maintained that he should be worshipped instead of the Guru since Guru was a family man and not an ascetic.
One year there were no monsoons and as a result there was a drought in the land. People were distressed and went to Tapa for his help to procure rain. Tapa told them that he was a monk, yet no one worshipped him and instead everybody worshipped the family man (Guru), and so he asked them to go to the Guru and ask him to procure rain for them. They went to the Guru who replied,“Be satisfied with God’s Will.” They came back to Tapa who told them,“If you expel the Guru from the town, I will bring rain within twenty-four hours.” Ultimately the Guru left the town and went seven villages away from Khadur where Tapa had no influence.
When Baba Amar Das arrived in Khadur next morning, he found the Guru’s house empty. On inquiry the people narrated the whole story to Babaji. In the meantime Tapa failed to bring any rain. Upon this Baba Amar Das asked the people if a lamp could be substituted for the sun. He asked them to punish Tapa if they wanted rain. It so happened that as Tapa was being punished, the rain came in torrents. After that the people went to the Guru to ask for forgiveness for their acts.
When Guru Angad heard of Tapa’s punishment, he felt much grieved and addressed to Amar Das,“You have not obtained the fruits of my companionship, which are peace, forbearance and forgiveness.” On hearing this Babaji fell at the feet of the Guru and humbly sought his pardon. He confessed that he got Tapa punished because he could not take Guru’s insult and promised to obey the Guru’s instructions in future.
One night in March 1552, it rained all night, cold winds blew and lightning flashed. Baba Amar Das brought a pitcher of water from river Beas for his Master. While he was coming to the Guru’s house, he struck against a wooden peg which a weaver had driven into the ground, and he fell into the loompit. It was a weavers’ colony and when they heard the thud of his fall, one of the weavers’ wife said,“Who could it be at this early hour? It must be that homeless Amru who sleeps not, who knows no rest and who tires not. He is ever bringing water from the river and firewood from the forest; and what a Guru to serve!”
The Master felt the twitch and was deeply moved. He embraced Baba Amar Das who was seventy-three years old then and said,“ My Amar Das, he will be the home of the homeless, the honor of the unhonored, the strength of the strengthless, the support of the supportless, the emancipator of the captive.”
After that Guru Angad installed Baba Amar Das in his seat, put five paise and a coco-nut before him, and asked Bhai Buddha to put saffron tilak of Guruship on his forehead. He was then declared as Guru Amar Das :
“Jot uha jugat sai seh kaya pher paltiai.”
(Ramkali ki Var- Rai Balwand, p-966)
‘Divine Light is the same
Way and Mode are the same
The Master has only changed the body.”
(Translation of the above)
Guru Angad directed him to live in Goindwal and left for his heavenly abode on March 29, 1552.
Submission to Guru’s order and worship of God, was the guiding principle in selection of the Guruship. In spite of the opposition of his sons and relations, Guru Angad conferred the Guruship on Baba Amar Das who was proved to be the fittest and the most worthy for the Divine throne of Guru Nanak.