This weekend we are celebrating the birth of our third Guru, Guru Amar Das Ji. Guru Ji was born May 23, 1479 in Basarke, Amritsar, to parents Sri Tej Bhan Ji and Mata Lachmi Ji. Guru Ji worked as a shopkeeper, and married Mata Mansa Devi. Their children were Bhai Mohan, Bhai Mohri, Bibi Dani, and Bibi Bhani (she went on to marry Guru Ram Das Ji). In his younger days, before Bhai Amar Das Ji became Guru, he was a devout Hindu. At the age of 61, one day he heard the hymns of Guru Nanak Dev Ji being sung by his nice-in-law, Bibi Amro Ji (daughter of Guru Angad Dev Ji). These touched him so much, he went to meet Guru Angad Dev Ji and become a devout Sikh. He would carry water daily, wash Guru Ji’s clothes, and collect wood for langar. At the age of 73 he was named successor to Guru Angad Dev Ji. At the same time, Guru Angad Dev Ji’s son, Datu was jealous and called himself Guru. He went and physically kicked Guru Amar Das Ji off his chair, shocking the entire sangat. Guru Ji, however, said “‘I am old and my bones have grown very hard, I fear they have hurt your tender foot’”(1). He left the city of Goindwal, which he had established, and went to Basarke for meditation. He left a sign on the front door saying that whoever opened it wasn’t a Sikh and that he wasn’t their Guru. A group of Sikhs led by Baba Budda Ji cut a hole thorugh the wall instead and asked Guru Ji to show them direction. Thus he went back to Goindwal. He contributed 907 hymns to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, and composed Anand Sahib. Guru Ji also introduced the Anand Karaj (“blissful union”; our wedding ceremony) and the laavan were composed by Guru Ram Das Ji. Guru Ji established “manjis” as a system manage the congregation. He also was a strong advocate for equality and rights of women. He stood against female infanticide, sati, and purdah (including refusing to meet Raja Haripur’s wife because she refused to life the purdah), and said that widows should be allowed to remarry. Guru ji selected the site for construction of Harmandir Sahib, and constructed Baoli (a well of 84 steps) at Goindwal. He also continued to fight against casteism. He convinced emperor Akbar to waive the tax he put on non-Muslims crossing Yamuna and Ganga rivers.
Continuing on our theme from the last few posts about taking care of this body, I will share this small sakhi: “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’” (1).
So let us celebrate the Parkash Divas of Guru Amar Das Ji. The best way of us celebrating is to learn from the teachings of Guru Ji and continue to incorporate those into our life. We can stand up for equality and women’s rights. All of us have the opportunity to do this in our daily lives. We can remember the true purpose of the Anand Karaj (see my post on Anand Karaj for more information about the real meaning of the Anand Karaj). We can let go of our pride and ego, and learn from Guru Ji’s humility and dedication to sewa. We can take care of our bodies, and connect our minds to God. We can remember that it’s never too late to embark on a new path, because Guru Amar Das Ji even met Guru Angad Dev Ji at age 61.
I also wanted to share this Sikh family tree which I found:
References (including pictures!)
https://granthsahib.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/sikh.jpg à “family tree”