Guru Amar Das Ji | short biography

3. Guru Amar Das Ji
(1479-1574)

Bhai Amar Das Ji was a spiritual genius at the same time of Guru Angad Dev Ji:

In his twenties he became interested in Hinduism and became a great pilgrim. Every year for the next forty years he went to the sacred river Ganges, walking bare-foot singing divine hymns.

Once on his return from a pilgrimage, a Hindu Sadhu (Saint) refused to eat the food served by Bhai Amar Das Ji “as he had no Guru”. Bhai Amar Das Ji was deeply affected by this and began his intense search for the Satguru (True Guru).

One morning, early at dawn he heard Bibi Amro, Satguru Angad Dev Ji’s daughter, singing Jap Ji Sahib, while churning butter in a clay pot:

He felt a solace in the angelic voice, that he’d never felt before and asked:

whose song is it?”,

Bibi Amro Ji replied it is the Jap Ji Sahib of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, she then took Bhai Amar Das Ji to meet Guru Angad Dev Ji.

Bhai Amar Das JI (at the age of 62) at last found his true Guru and experienced great spiritual bliss (Anand). So deep and intense was his passion that he would find pleasure in doing every type of seva for his Master:

For 13 years, early in the morning in pitch darkness he would fetch a pitcher of fresh river water for Guru Angad Dev Ji’s bath, he would wash Guru Ji’s clothes and serve Guru Sahib Ji langar.

Bhai Amar Das Ji extinguished his own ego so thoroughly that he was considered mad:

Even Guru Angad Dev Ji, though sweet to everyone else was not so gentle with Bhai Amar Das Ji, nevertheless Bhai Amar Das Ji showed no annoyance at the treatment he received.

Eventually Bhai Amar Das Ji was crowned the Third Guru.

Throughout his time Guru Amar Das Ji placed emphasis on seva of all mankind (true seva involved serving God and mankind without expectation of any reward), which enables man to realise the universal brotherhood.

During a meeting with Emperor Akbar he persuaded Akbar  not to collect land tax in Lahore due to hardships caused by the current drought.

Guru Amar Das Ji was a great social reformer:

• Guru Sahib Ji organised his followers into 22 Manjis (Parishes) and further strengthened the Sikh religion as a distinct way of life.

• Fought against the caste system, by institutionalising langar (free kitchen) as part of all Sikh Gurdwaras, people sat in rows to take simple food without any distinction of caste or creed, emphasising equality, tolerance and humility.

Even Emperor was made to have the same langar as everybody else before he could meet Guru Ji.

• He raised the profile of women, by fighting against the practice of sati (widow burning) and allowed widows to remarry and he also prohibited the wearing of a veil by Sikh women and fought against female infanticide.

Guru Ji was also a great poet and composed 874 hymns in 17 raags,

Anand Sahib the Song of True Bliss is one of his popular compositions, it spells out the strategy for achieving bliss; first of all, negativity and egoism has to be subdued, the hurdles of worldly wisdom, falsehood, ritual, hypocrisy and greed have to be conquered.

On the positive side Guru Ji advocated sincere and selfless service of fellow-man, the company of the holy and direction of the organs of perception and action (eyes, ears, tongue) to higher goals:

A person who practices these is called Gurmukh (God oriented) or Jiwan-mukti (liberated while alive) for he feels the presence of God within him and without.

Guru Ji lead the Sikh nation for 33 years and passed to God’s court at the age of 95.