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SIKH GURUS

GURU AMAR DAS SAHIB
(1479-1574)


GURU AMAR DAS SAHIB (15.04.1509 - 01.09.1574), son of Mata Bakht Kaur (also referred as Sulakkhani and Lakhmi Devi) and Baba Tej Bhan, was born at village Basarke (district Amritsar). He was a follower of Vaishanav faith and was a regular pilgrim to Haridwar (a Hindu centre). Bhai Amar Das was married to (Mata) Mansa Devi in 1532 and had one daughter Bibi Bhani (in 1533) and two sons (Mohan, in 1536 and Mohari, in 1539). His niece-in-law Bibi Amaro was the daughter of Guru Angad Sahib. Once Bhai Amar Das joined his niece-in-law to Khadur Sahib and met Guru Angad Sahib. Bhai Amar Das was so enchanted by the personality of Guru Angad Sahib that he decided to spend the rest of his life in the service of Guru Sahib. At the request of Bhai Goinda, a follower of Sikh faith, he founded the town of Goindwal, near river Beas.

Bhai Amar Das was installed as the Third Nanak (since the Guru Amar Das Sahib), in 1552. Guru Angad Sahib presented Guru Amar Das Sahib all the Sikh Scriptures and merged his light with the light of Guru Amar Das Sahib. In 1557, he took a vast tour of the zone to propagate the mission of Guru Nanak Sahib. During this tour, he also visited Kurukshetra. He organized Sikh mission and appointed 22 Manjis (regions/diocese) and appointed one devout Sikh as the in charge of each region. Besides these 22 regions, he established 52 Pihras (sub-regions). One of these positions was given to a female Bibi Matho; hence granting a honorable status to the women. In 1556, he got a Baoli (a deep well) built, at Goindwal, to provide drinking water to the residents of the area. He promoted Guru Nanak Sahib's institution of Langar(sacred community kitchen) and made it a part of Sikhs' daily religious practice in Gurdwaras. He began holding the gatherings of the Sikhs from all the part of the sub-continent, thrice a year, on the day of Diwali as well as the first days of the Magh and Wisakh months (of the Hindu calendar, prevalent in those days). [He chose these days not because of any religious, cultural or any other significance but because it was easy to know these dates, as no calendar or diaries were available during those days. Conceptually speaking, Sikhism has nothing to do with these or any other festivals, days or dates]. Guru Sahib institutionalized the Sikh rites for birth, marriage and death etc. He asked the women to discard Purdah (veil). He also preached widow-marriage. Guru Amar Das Sahib composed 869-verse stanza, including Anand Sahib and all these hymns are a part of Guru Granth Sahib.

His crusade against the Hindu ritual of Sati (burning alive of widow on the pyre of her husband) saved lives of thousands of widows. It seems that Akbar had been inspired by Guru Amar Das Sahib, when he banned Sati, because when Akbar issued orders, Guru Amar Das Sahib had died several years earlier to that. Guru Sahib made it obligatory for the Sikhs to dine in Langar before joining congregation. Guru Sahib preached that there was no place of hierarchy of caste, colour, creed, area or sex in Sikhism. When Akbar, the Mogul emperor, visited Guru Sahib at Goindwal Sahib he had to join the Sikhs in Langar before joining the congregation. Akbar expressed his desire to grant some royal estate for the mission but Guru Sahib declined the offer. Akbar issued orders exempting the Sikhs from paying so-called pilgrimage-tax. All the non-Muslims had to pay toll tax while crossing Yamuna and Ganges River. The Hindus used to visit Kurukashetra and Haridwar and to reach these towns they had to cross the rivers Yamuna and Ganges respectively. Thus, any one crossing these rivers was considered a pilgrim and had to pay toll-tax. Akbar declared that the Sikhs do not make a pilgrimage of the Hindu centers, hence they will be exempt from so-called pilgrimage-tax. By that time, the number of the Sikhs had increased enormously. Guru Amar Das Sahib had to establish new centers for the Sikhs. He asked (Guru) Ram Das Sahib to establish a new city (now known as Amritsar).




 
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