Behold the social reformer
Guru Amar Das jayanti marks the birth anniversary of Guru Amar Das, who was third Guru of Sikh religion. In Sikh religion, there 10 Gurus who are main and they were the one who led the religion and set standards related to this religion. According to Sikh calendar this year, the birth anniversary of Guru Amar Das will be celebrated on 23 May.
Guru Amar Das, who was the third of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism, became Guru at the age of 73 on 16 April 1552 following in the footsteps of Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib, who left for his heavenly abode at 48 years. Guru Amar Das ji was born in 1479, 10 years after Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru and founder of the Sikh faith.
Guru Amar Das was the eldest son of Sri Tej Bhan Ji, a farmer and trader and Mata Lachmi Ji, his devoted mother. He was a shopkeeper and lived in a village called Basarke which is near Amritsar. The third Sikh Guru was married to Mata Mansa Devi and they had four children - two sons named Bhai Mohan and Bhai Mohri and two daughters named Bibi Dani and younger daughter named Bibi Bhani. Bibi Bhani later married Bhai Jetha who became the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das.
It is recorded that before becoming a Sikh, Bhai Amardas Ji as he was known at the time, was a very religious Vaishanavite who spent most of his life performing all of the ritual pilgrimages and fasts of a devout Hindu. One day, Bhai Amar Das Sahib Ji heard some hymns of Sri Guru Nanak Dev being sung by Bibi Amro Ji, the daughter of Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib, the second Sikh Guru. Bibi Amro Ji was married to Bhai Sahib’s brother, Bhai Manak Chand Ji’ s son who was called Bhai Jasso Ji. Bibi Amro Ji lived together with Bhai Sahib’s brother. It happened so that Bhai Sahib was at his brother’s nearby house when he heard the wonderful recitation of Gurbani by his niece-in-law. Bhai Sahib was so impressed and moved by these Shabads that he immediately decided to go to see Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji at Khadur Sahib. It is recorded that this event took place when Bhai Sahib was 61 years old.
Bhai Sahib also had a younger brother called Bhai Ishar Das whose son Bhai Gurdas Ji, was a superb poet and scholar of comparative religions who would later become the scribe that was chosen by Guru Angad Dev to pen the first edition of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj.
Guru Amar Das has always been regarded as the true social reformer. He was the one who abolished the practice of Sati system in Sikh religion. Also he told people to avoid any type of caste system and other type of practices being carried out in the society. Meaning of Sati is that, a married woman used to burn herself when his husband dies. So Guru Amar das abolished that practice. He also encouraged the system of Langar, in which free food was served to people. And this practice has grown over the years and his widely used by the Sikh religion people. Also other religion has also accepted this tradition. And it is considered very good virtue and in the holy books also it is written that giving food to any human being is considered auspicious and good.
In 1635, upon meeting Guru Angad Dev Sahib, Bhai Sahib was so enthralled by the Guru’s message that he became a devout Sikh. Soon he became involved in Sewa (service) to the Guru and the community. Under the impact of the Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib Ji and the teachings of the Gurus, Bhai Amardas Ji became a devout Sikh. He adopted Guru Ji as his spiritual guide (Guru). Bhai Sahib Ji began to live at Khadur Sahib. He used to rise early in the morning, bring water from the Beas River for Guru ji’s bath, he would wash the Guru ji’s clothes and fetch wood from the jungle for ‘Guru ka Langar’. He was so dedicated to sewa and the Guru had completely extinguished pride and was totally lost in this commitment that he was considered an old man who had no interest in life, he was dubbed Amru, and generally forsaken.
However, as a result of Bhai Sahib’s commitment to Sikhi principles, dedicated service and devotion to the Sikh cause, Sri Guru Angad Dev Sahib appointed Sri Guru Amar Das Sahib Ji as third Sri Guru Nanak Sahib in March 1552 at the age of 73.