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The Third Master Sri Guru Amar Das Ji (1479 - 1574)

When it came time for the Guru to marry his younger daughter Bibi Bani, he selected a pious and diligent young follower of his called Jetha from Lahore. Jetha had come to visit the Guru with a party of pilgrims from Lahore and had become so enchanted by the Guru's teachings that he had decided to settle in Goindwal. Here he earned a living selling wheat and would regularly attend the services of Guru Amar Das in his spare time.

In 1567 while on his way to Lahore the Emperor Akbar decided to visit and see for himself Guru Amar Das. He stopped at Goindwal to meet the Guru, whose teachings he had heard about. The Guru agreed only to seem Akbar if he would first eat in the langer. Akbar agreed and here the Emperor sat down and ate with the poorest of the poor in his company. Akbar was so impressed by Guru Amar Das that he wanted to give the Guru a parting gift of the revenue collected from several villages to help support the langer kitchen. Guru Amar Das refused saying that the langer must be self supporting and only depend upon the small offerings of the devout.

The jealousy of the teachings of the Gurus by the high caste Khatris and Brahmins continued. They pleaded with Akbar at the royal court that the teachings of Sikhism would lead to disorder as they went against the teachings of Hindus and Muslims. Akbar summoned the Guru to his court for an explanation. Guru Amar Das politely excused himself on account of his old age, but sent Jetha to answer the charges leveled against the Sikhs. In the royal court Jetha explained the teachings of Sikhism. Akbar was open minded and deeply impressed by the religious doctrine of the Sikhs and decided that no further actions were required.

Guru Amar Das continued a systematic planned expansion of the Sikh Institutions. He trained a band of 146 apostles (52 were women) called Masands and sent them to various parts of the country. He also set up 22 dioceses called manjis across the country. These twenty two dioceses helped to spread Sikhism among the population while collecting revenues to help support the young religion. Guru Amar Das also declared Baisakhi (April 13), Maghi (1st day of Magha, mid January) and Diwali (festival of lights in October/November) as three special days where all the Sikhs should gather to hear the Guru's words. Although advanced in years, Guru Amar Das undertook a tour of a number of Hindu places of pilgrimage along the banks of the Yamuna and Ganga rivers as well as Kurukshetra. Here the Guru would hold religious services and large numbers of people would come to hear his preaching.

For their religious scriptures Guru Amar Das collected an anthology of writings including hymns of Guru Nanak and Guru Angad and added his own as well as those of other Hindu saints whose poems conformed to the teachings of Sikhism. All of these were in Punjabi and easily understood by the common people. When a learned Brahmin once questioned the Guru; "Why do you impart instruction to your disciples not in Sanskrit, the language of gods in which all the Hindu lore is written, but in their mother-tongue, like Punjabi, the language of the illiterate mass." To this Guru Amar Das replied; "Sanskrit is like a well, deep, inaccessible and confined to the elite, but the language of the people is like rain water - ever fresh, abundant and accessible to all." He said; "I want my doctrines to be propagated through every language which the people speak, for it is not language but the content that should be considered sacred or otherwise."

Seeing the rapid expansion of Sikhism, Guru Amar Das asked his son-in-law and trusted follower Jetha to oversee the founding of another city. He wanted him to dig a tank there and to build himself a house. Jetha first purchased the lands for the price of 700 Akbari rupees from the Zamindars of Tung. Here he started the digging on the tank. This new township called Ramdaspur would in due time become present day Amritsar, the holiest city of the Sikhs.

On September 1, 1574 sensing that his end was near, Guru Amar Das sent for Baba Buddha and other prominent Sikhs including his tow sons Mohan and Mohri. He declared; "According to the tradition established by Guru Nanak, the leadership of the Sikhs must go to the most deserving. I, therefore, bestow this honour on my son-in-law Jetha." Guru Amar Das then renamed Jetha as Ram Das, meaning Servant of God. As was the custom Baba Buddha was asked to anoint the forehead of Amar Das with the saffron mark. All those present bowed before Guru Ram Das except for Mohan, Guru Amar Das's eldest son. Shortly thereafter Guru Amar Das breathed his last on the full moon day of Bhadon in 1574 at the ripe old age of 95.

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