Guru Amar Das

Guru Amar Das Ji: was born at the village Basarke Gillaan Sarai (ਬਾਸਰਕੇ ਗਿੱਲਾਂ), in Amritsar district on 5th May 1479, (Vaisakh Sudi 14th, 8th Jeth, Samvat 1536). Some chronicles mention the month of April 1479. His father was Tej Bhan Bhalla and mother Lakhmi Devi (also reffered as Bakht Kaur and Sulakhani). Baba Amar Das had good basic education in early childhood. Baba Amardas Ji was married to Mata Mansa Devi ji in January 1503 before he was installed as the successor to Guru Angad Dev Ji. He had four childern: two daughters; Bibi Dani ji and Bibi Bhani ji and two sons; Mohan ji and Mohri ji. Bibi Bhani ji was married to Jetha Ji who later became the fourth Guru, Guru Ramdas Ji.

Baba Amardas Ji's parents were orthodox Hindus and used to pay annual visits to the Hindu sacred places, like Haridwar, etc on the banks of the sacred river Ganges of the Hindus. Baba Amardas Ji also became interested in religion and following the example of his parents, he also started paying annual visits to Haridwar on the river Ganges at the age of 42. He visited Haridwar every year for 21 years without much spiritual satisfaction.

Bibi Amro Ji, the daughter of Guru Angad Dev Ji was married to the nephew of Baba Amardas Ji. Shortly after Bibi Amro's marriage, one early morning, Baba Amardas Ji heard Bibi Amro singing the hymns of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. When he enquired from Bibi Amro about what she was singing, she answered that she was singing the hymns of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Because of his interest in spirituality, he became keen for immediately going to see Guru Angad Dev Ji at Khadur Sahib to know more about these hymns. Under the influence of the teachings of Guru Angad Dev Ji, Baba Amardas Ji adopted him as his spiritual guide (Guru) and started living at Khadur Sahib to learn and understand Gurbani and teachings of Guru Nanak. Out of devotion, he used to rise early in the morning to bring water for the bath of Guru Angad. He would then work in the Langar washing dishes and keeping the place clean. In addition, he would go out to fetch wood from the Jungle for "Guru ka Langar". He was very dedicated for serving at Khadur Sahib and his age and his family relationship to Guru Angad Dev Ji did not matter to him.

Baba Amardas Ji once visited Lahore. There he met an orphan, named Jetha who became orphan at the age of 7. His father passed away when he was nearly one year old. After the death of his mother, only person Jetha knew and who could look after him was his grand-mother from his mother's side. She belonged to Basarke Gillaan (ਬਾਸਰਕੇ ਗਿੱਲਾਂ), the birth place of Baba Amardas Ji. She brought Jetha to Basarke Gillaan. Grand-parents of Bhai Jetha were very poor and this made him to start selling boiled and salted corn in the nearby villages during the day to help his grand-parents. One day Bhai Jetha went to Goindwal for selling boiled and salted corn. Baba Amardas was supervising the construction of some projects started by Guru Angad Dev in this village. This included digging and building a well, later named as Baoli for serving needs of people for water.

Here at Goindwal, after finishing the selling work, he would go to the Guru Darbar and would spend time in helping in the Langar, doing dishes and serving water to people. Baba Amardas Ji had seen Bhai Jetha selling the boiled and salted corn in the village, working hard in the Langar and was very pleased with Jetha's service and his interest in in learning Sikhism.

In the mean time, Guru Angad Dev Ji was very impressed with Baba Amardas Ji's dedication and his services for Guru's mission. Guru Angad Dev Ji recognized that Baba Amardas Ji is suitable to carry on with the mission of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. One day, in the presence of the Sangat at Khadur Sahib, in January, 1552, Guru Angad Dev Ji bowed before Baba Amardas Ji and appointed Baba Amardas Ji as his successor. He gave him all his Bani (Hymns) and also that of Guru Nanak's Bani and the Bani of all the Bhagats that Guru Nanak Dev Ji had collected during his tours. Thus, Baba Amardas Ji became Guru Amardas Ji at the age of 73. This was a result of his services and his sincere devotion and commitment to the philosophy of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, which was further preached and promoted by Guru Angad Dev Ji. Guru Angad Dev Ji breathed his last on March 29, 1552 at the age of forty-eight.

Guru Amardas Ji decided to establish his headquarters at the newly built town, Goindwal. There he propagated the Sikh faith in a much planned manner. He divided the whole area of Sikh Sangats into 22 preaching centres (called Manjis), each under the supervision of a devout Sikh. Some women were also appointed as the heads of some preaching centres. He himself visited and sent Sikh missionaries to different parts of India to spread Sikhism.

He strengthened the tradition of "Guru ka Langer". To serve a serious blow to the caste tradition, he made it compulsory for the visitors to first eat in the Langar and then visit the Guru and the congregation, by saying "Pehlay Pangat Phir Sangat, ਪਹਿਲੇ ਪੰਗਤ ਫਿਰ ਸੰਗਤ".

Once the Emperor Akbar came to see Guru Ji and he also had to eat the coarse rice in the Langar before he could have an interview with the Guru. Emperor Akbar was very influenced by this system of Langar and expressed his desire to grant some Royal property for "Guru ka Langar". The Guru declined it with respect. Instead, Guru Amardas Ji persuaded Akbar to waive the toll-tax (pilgrim's tax) for non-Muslims while crossing Yamuna and Ganges Rivers. Akbar agreed to do so. Guru Amardas Ji maintained cordial relations with Emperor Akbar.

Guru Amardas Ji preached against the Sati system, the burning alive of a wife at the pyre of her deceased husband and advocated widow-remarriage. He asked the women to discard "Purdah" (veil). He introduced new birth, marriage and death ceremonies (Rituals) . Thus he created a fence around the infant like Sikhism and there upon met stiff resistance from the Orthodox Hindus and Muslim fundamentalists. He fixed three Gurpurbs for Sikh celebrations: Dewali, Vaisakhi and Maghi.

This prohibited the Sikhs from visiting Hindu pilgrimage centres and paying tributes to the Muslim places.

Guru Amardas Sahib constructed Baoli at Goindwal Sahib to meet the need of fresh water and also made it a Sikh pilgrimage centre for the first time in the history of Sikhism. He reproduced more copies of the hymns of Guru Nanak and Guru Angad for distribution among new followers of the Sikh Faith.

Guru Amardas Ji also purchased land from the Tung families and started building a town named Chak Ramdas, which began to be later called Ramdas Pur. This is now known as Amritsar. He asked Jetha Ji to supervise this place. He composed 869 verses (Hymns or Shabads) including Anand Sahib. According to some chronicles these verses were 709. Later on, Guru Arjan Dev Ji included all these Hymns (or Shabads) in Aad Granth Sahib.

Guru Amardas Ji did not consider anyone of his sons to be fit for Guruship and chose instead his son-in law, Jetha Ji to succeed him. Certainly it was practically the right step. This was not an emotional choice, because Bibi Bhani ji and Jetha Ji had true spirit of service and their keen understanding of the Sikh principles deserved this. Guru Amar Das Ji gave a new name, Ram Das Ji to Jetha Ji and as per the previous tradition established by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, he bowed before Ramdas Ji in the presence of the Sangat and gave him all the hymns he had received from Guru Angad Dev Ji, including his own hymns and named him the fourth Guru, Guru Ram Das Ji. This practice shows that Guruship could be transferred only to to the yone fit for the Sikh cause, the Mission of Guru Nanak and not as inheritance within the same family. At the ripe age of 95, Guru Amardas Sahib passed away on September 1, 1574, (Bhadon Sudi 14th, (1st Assu) Samvat 1631), at Goindwal Sahib near District Amritsar, after giving responsibility of Guruship to his successor, Guru Ramdas Sahib.

Brief Review

  1. What do we learn from this brief narrative about Guru Amardas Ji?
  2. How Baba Amardas Ji became interested in religion and at what age?
  3. How and when he became interested in Sikhism?
  4. Was he married before or after he became Guru Amardas?
  5. How many children Guru Amardas Ji had?
  6. Who was Bibi Bhani Ji and who was she married to?
  7. What did Baba Amardas Ji receive from Guru Angad Dev Ji when he became the Guru?
  8. At what age he became the Guru?
  9. What were Baba Amardas Ji's contributions at Goindwal?
  10. Where did Baba Amardas Ji saw Bhai Jetha?
  11. What was Bhai Jetha doing in those days when Baba Amardas Ji saw him?
  12. What services were provided by Baba Amardas Ji in the service of Guru Angad Dev Ji and towards promoting the Mission of Guru Nanak?
  13. What new projects and construction did Guru Amardas jI asked Bhai Jetha Ji to undertake?
  14. Name the other places that were developed by Guru Amardas Ji?
  15. What steps Guru Amardas Ji took to further promote and establish Sikhism on strong footings?
  16. Which new Gurpurbs for celebration of Sikhism were established by Guru Amardas Ji?
  17. When and at what age did Guru Amardas Ji passed away?
  18. What similarities did you note in the projects and efforts carried out by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Angad Dev Ji and Guru Amar Das ji in promoting Sikhism?

Back to previous page

Akali Singh Services and History | Sikhism | Sikh Youth Camp Programs | Punjabi and Gurbani Grammar | Home