Sri Guru Angad Sahib Ji
Guru Angad (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਅੰਗਦ; 31 March 1504 – 28 March 1552) was the second of the ten Sikh Gurus. He was born in the village of Sarai Naga, previously named as 'Matte Di Sarai', in Muktsar District in Punjab on 31 March 1504. The name Lehna was given shortly after his birth as was the custom of his hindu parents. He was the son of a small but successful trader named Pheru Mal. His mother's name was Mata Ramo (also known as Mata Sabhirai, Mansa Devi and Daya Kaur). Baba Narayan Das Trehan was the Guru's Grandfather, whose ancestral house was at Sarai Naga near Sri Muktsar Sahib.
In 1538, Guru Nanak chose Lehna—his disciple—to be his successor as Sikhism's Guru, rather than one of his sons. Lehna was then given the name Angad and designated as Guru Angad, becoming the second guru of the Sikhs. He continued on the work started by the first Sikh Guru.
Guru Angad married Mata Khivi in January 1520 and had two sons (Dasu and Datu) and two daughters (Amro and Anokhi). The entire family of his father had left their ancestral village in fear of the invasion of Babar's armies. After this the family settled at Khadoor Sahib, a village by the River Beas near what is now Tarn Taran a small town about 25 km from the city of Amritsar, the holiest of Sikh cities.
The following is a summary of the main highlights of Guru Ji's life:
• To do Nishkam Sewa Selfless Service to humanity.
• Stood for a casteless and classless society, in which no one was superior.
• Completely surrender to the Will of God.
• Disapproval of exhibitionism and hypocrisy.
• Formalised the present form of the Gurmukhi script.
Devotion And Service To Guru Nanak
Guru Angad, (Bhai Lehna Ji) was born in Sarai Naga, previously named as 'Matte Di Sarai', in Muktsar district in Punjab, on Vaisakh Vadi 1st, (5th Vaisakh) Samvat 1561, (31st March 1504). He was the son of a sucessful trader named Bhai Pheru Mall usually referred to as Bhai Pheru. His mother's name was Mata Ramo Ji (also known as Mata Sabhirai, Mansa Devi, Daya Kaur). Baba Narayan Das Trehan was his Grandfather, whose ancestral house was at Sarai Naga near Sri Muktsar Sahib. Pheru Ji moved back to this place.
Under the influence of his mother, Mata Ramo, Bhai Lehna Ji began to worship Durga (a mythological hindu goddess). He used to lead a batch of worshippers to Jawalamukhi Temple every year. He was married to Mata Khivi Ji in Jaunary 1520 and had two sons (Bhai Dasu and Bhai Datu) and two daughters (Bibi Amro and Bibi Anokhi).
The whole family of Bhai Pheru had to leave their ancestral village because of the ransacking by the Mughal and Baloch militia who had come with Babur. After this the family settled at village Khadoor Sahib beside the Beas river, near Tarn Taran Sahib (A small town about 25 km. away from Amritsar City).
One day, Bhai Lehna heard the recitation of a hymn of Guru Nanak from Bhai Jodha a neighbour who was a follower of the Guru. His mind was captured by the tune and while on his annual pilgrimage to Jawalamukhi Temple he asked his group if they would mind going to see the Guru. Everyone thought this most inappropriate and refused. Not one to shirk his responsibilities, he was after all the guide and leader of the group, he couldn't abandon them with thieves along the way. But man of honor and dharma that he was, the poems and prayers (kirtan) of Guru Nanak still held onto his every thought. So one night without telling anyone he mounted his horse and proceeded to the village now known as Kartarpur (God's city) to visit with Guru Nanak.
Upon receiving directions to the Guru, Bhai Lehna found a number of people working on a field. Bhai Lehna did not recognize the Guru as he looked just like the ordinary field workers, and asked Guru Nanak if he could take him to the Guru. Nanak agreed and took the saddle strings of the horse while Bhai Lehna sat upon the horse comfortably. After some time the Guru reached his home and told Bhai Lehna to sit down whilst he went to get the Guru; when the Guru returned, this time after freshening up, Bhai Lehna realized instantly what a huge mistake he had made. He had several thoughts going through his head about what a huge sin he had committed by making the Guru pull him and his horse home whilst he sat upon the horse comfortably. His face at once dropped and Guru smiled, he asked what is your name, Bhai replied 'Bhai Lehna'. The Guru then replied: 'don't worry when someone comes to take something they would come as you have' (as Lehna means to take something) 'if you give me the strings of your mind as you did with the horse saddles and let me direct you, you will be amazed... '
Bhai Lehna displayed deep and loyal service to Guru Nanak. Several stories display how Bhai Lehna was chosen over the Guru's sons as his successor. One of these stories is about a jug which fell into mud. Guru Nanak's sons would not pick it up; Sri Chand, the older, refused on the grounds that the filth would pollute him, and Lakshmi Chand, the younger, objected because the task was too menial for the son of a Guru. Bhai Lehna, however, picked it out of the mud, washed it clean, and presented it to Guru Nanak full of water. A different version of this story counts this as a key part of Guru Nanak deciding upon Bhai Lehna for his successor.
The Guru's wife, Mata, said to Nanak "My Lord, keep my sons in mind," meaning that she wished them to be the ones considered for succession to the guruship. Guru ordered them to come, and he threw a bowl into a pond of muddy water. The Guru ordered them to retrieve it for him, and both of them refused to do it. Guru Nanak then asked Bhai Lehna to retrieve it, and Bhai Lehna promptly complied.
In one instance, the Guru orders a wall of his house, which had fallen down, to be repaired. His sons refused to fix it immediately because of the storm that had knocked it down, and the lateness of morning. Guru Nanak said that he needed no masons while he had his Sikhs, and ordered them to repair it. Bhai Lehna started to repair the wall, but Nanak claimed that it was crooked when he was finished, and ordered him to knock it down and build it again. Bhai Lehna complied, and Nanak still claimed the wall was not straight. The Guru ordered him to attempt it a third time. At this, the Guru's sons called Bhai Lehna a fool for putting up with such unreasonable orders. Bhai Lehna simply replied that a servant's hands should be busy doing his master's work.
Yet another anecdote exists where Guru Nanak asks his Sikhs and his sons to carry three bundles of grass for his cows and buffaloes, and, as with the other examples, his sons and his followers failed to show loyalty. Bhai Lehna, however, immediately asked to be tasked with carrying the bundles, which were wet and muddy. When Bhai Lehna and the Guru arrived at the Guru's house, the Guru's wife complained at Guru Nanak's terrible treatment of a guest, noting how his clothes were covered from head to foot with mud. Guru Nanak then replied to her, "This is not mud; it is the saffron of God's court, which marketh the elect." Upon another inspection, the Guru's wife saw that Bhai Lehna's clothes had, indeed, changed into saffron. To this day, Sikhs consider the three bundles as important symbols of spiritual affairs, temporal affairs, and the Guruship.
In one of the most significant stories, Guru Nanak travels through the forest with his disciples. The Guru made gold and silver coins appear in front of the group, and all but two followers ran to pick them up: Bhai Lehna and Bhai Buddha. Guru Nanak led them both to a funeral pyre, and ordered them to eat the corpse that was hidden under a shroud. Bhai Buddha started thinking, but Bhai Lehna obeyed. When he lifted the shroud, he found the Guru Nanak himself underneath it. In a different version of this story, Bhai Lehna is met with Parshad (sacred food) instead of Guru Nanak. Bhai Lehna offers the Parshad to the Guru, satisfied to eat of the leavings. Guru Nanak, after this test, reveals the Japuji to Bhai Lehna, proclaims Bhai Lehna is of his own image, and promises that Bhai Lehna shall be the next Guru.
Guru Nanak had touched him and renamed him Angad (part of the body) or the second Nanak on 7 September 1539. Before becoming the new Guru he had spent six or seven years in the service of Guru Nanak at Kartarpur.
After the death of Guru Nanak on 22 September 1539, Guru Angad left Kartarpur for the village of Khadoor Sahib (near Goindwal Sahib). He carried forward the principles of Guru Nanak both in letter and spirit. Yogis and Saints of different sects visited him and held detailed discussions about Sikhi with him.
When Bhai Lehna finally met Guru Nanak he was shocked and surprised.
Bhai Lehna began living at Kartarpur, soon he succeeded in attaching himself to Guru Nanak's personal staff.
When Humayun reached the Guru's house, Guru Angad Sahib Ji was busy teaching students. Therefore, he did not notice the Emperor.
A hindu yogi named Tapa, also known as Shiv Nath, tried to turn people against Guru Angad but failed miserably.
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Guru Angad (1539–1552)
Guru Angad popularized the present form of the Gurmukhi script. It became the medium of writing the Punjabi language in which the hymns of the Gurus are expressed. This step had a far-reaching purpose and impact. First, it gave the people who spoke this language an identity of their own, enabling them to express their thought directly and without any difficulty or transliteration. The measure had the effect of establishing the independence of the mission and the followers of the Guru. Secondly, it helped the community to dissociate itself from the Sanskrit religious tradition so that the growth and development of the Sikhs could take place unhampered and unprejudiced by the backlog of the earlier religious and social philosophies and practices. This measure, as shown by the subsequent growth of Sikhism, was essential in order to secure its unhindered development and progress as it required an entirely different approach to life.
Earlier, the Punjabi language was written in the Landa or Mahajani script. This had no vowel sounds, which had to be imagined or construed by the reader in order to decipher the writing. Therefore, there was the need of a script which could faithfully reproduce the hymns of the Gurus so that the true meaning and message of the Gurus could not be misconstrued and misinterpreted by each reader to suit his own purpose and prejudices. The devising of the Gurmukhi script was an essential step in order to maintain the purity of the doctrine and exclude all possibility of misunderstanding and misconstruction by interested persons.
The institution of the langar was maintained and developed. The Guru's wife personally worked in the kitchen. She also served food to the members of the community and the visitors. Her devotion to this institution finds mention in the Guru Granth Sahib.
The Guru earned his own living by twisting coarse grass into strings used for cots. All offerings went to the common fund. This demonstrates that it is necessary and honorable to do even the meanest productive work. It also emphasizes that parasitical living is not in consonance with the mystic and moral path. In line with Guru Nanak's teaching, the Guru also declared that there was no place for passive recluses in the community.
Like Guru Nanak, Guru Angad and the subsequent Gurus selected and appointed their successors by completely satisfying themselves about their mystic fitness and capacity to discharge the responsibilities of the mission.
Guru Angad took great interest in the education of children by opening many schools for their instruction and thus increased the number of literate people. For the youth he started the tradition of Mall Akhara, where physical as well as spiritual exercises were held. He collected the facts about Guru Nanak's life from Bhai Bala and wrote the first biography of Guru Nanak. He also wrote 63 Saloks (stanzas), which are included in the Guru Granth Sahib. He popularised and expanded the institution of Guru ka Langar (the Guru's communal kitchen) that had been started by Guru Nanak.
Guru Angad travelled widely and visited all important religious places and centres established by Guru Nanak for the preaching of Sikhi. He also established hundreds of new centres of Sikhi and thus strengthened its base. The period of his Guruship was the most crucial one. The Sikh community had moved from having a founder to a succession of Gurus and the infrastructure of Sikh society was strengthened and crystallised – from being an infant, Sikhi had moved to being a young child, ready to face the dangers that were around. During this phase, Sikhi established its own separate religious identity.
Guru Angad Sahib Ji's Contributions
This is the nature of ego, that people perform their actions in ego. This is the bondage of ego, that time and time again, makes people suffer. Eliminate your conceit and then perform service to humanity, Only then you will be get honor - Guru Angad Sahib
The appointment of Guru Angad by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, as his own successor was an event of far reaching significance in the evolution of Sikhism. The second Guru, who believed to have embodied the spirit of his great predecessor, consolidated the infant faith movement through his energy and his global vision.
The simple and sublime teachings of Guru Angad, are non-sectarian and universal in their application. Guru Angad is one of the world teachers whose message is valid for all of time. It has particular relevance not only to us but to the whole of mankind at this critical period of human history, If only we pay heed to it, we can surely foster universal brotherhood based on mutual love, respect and understanding, and we can build and promote international peace.
Gurmukhi Script and Education
Guru Angad Sahib Ji started the schools and also developed the Gurmukhi language in order to make education available to the downtrodden and the underprivileged of the society at that time. Guru Angad was a great teacher who personally taught Punjabi in Gurmukhi script to children. He provided education and means of communication to common folk who would no longer be dependent on the religious or political establishment to pursue their own economic, educational or spiritual goals. This was his way of empowering people to have higher goals in life.
An imperfect Punjabi alphabet existed at the time of Guru Nanak, but Guru Angad modified and polished it. Since the Guru Angad had adopted the modified alphabet, it was called 'Gurmukhi'- meaning that which is spoken through the mouth of the Guru. Gurumukhi became the medium of writing in which the hymns of the Gurus were expressed and it also suited to the language of the people. Although the origins of the Punjabi Alphabets are unclear, it is clear that Guru Angad popularized the use of this simplified Gurumukhi script among the Sikhs starting around 1541.
The invention of Gurumukhi helped the early Sikh community to dissociate itself from the Sanskrit religious tradition. Sanskrit language was used by the Brahmins, the upper castes and it was the language of the Vedas, the Hindu religious texts. People of lower castes and untouchables were barred from reading any spiritual literature. This maintained the status of the superiority of the upper castes. Gurmukhi enabled the Sikhs to grow and develop their own unprejudiced spiritual literature. Creating this new script was significant for many reasons. It gave the people who spoke this language an identity of their own, enabling them to express their thought without any restrictions. The guru also saw the need of a script which could faithfully reproduce the hymns of the Gurus keeping its purity and which would also prevent misinterpretation or misconstruction by any reader to suit his own purpose and prejudices.
This step by Guru Angad Sahib helped secure the unhindered development and growth of Sikhism. Guru Angad also initiated the writing of the first authorized biography of Guru Nanak completed in 1544, as well as having a number of copies of Guru Nanak's hymns written out in the new Gurmukhi script.
Guru Angad took a keen interest in physical fitness, and encouraged his devotees to be involved in sports after their morning prayers. Guru Angad Sahib Ji inspired people to lead healthy lives. According to Guru Ji, if you are physically fit only than you can pursue higher goals in life, because a sound mind can exist only in a sound body. He provided opportunities to underprivileged sections of the society to maintain good health. He encouraged all people to be involved in wrestling bouts or Mal Akharas to compete in physical competitions. This was again his way of doing away with social taboos of people of lower caste not having physical contact with higher castes. These steps initiated by him laid the foundation for a spiritually, educated and enlightened, healthy Sikh community, without distinctions of caste and creed.
The position of woman at the time was deplorable. She was looked down upon because she was thought to be inferior to man and was regarded as merely a temptress. She was confined to her home and was not allowed to participate in any public work. Guru preached that man and women were equal before God. He welcomed women to the Sangat, offered them seats side by side and gave them religious rights that have so far been denied to her.
Guru Angad scarcely worked alone. His wife and partner, Mata Khivi, is a very important woman who contributed significantly to Sikhism. Mata Kheevi played a major role in enlarging the women participation in the leadership position in Guru's court. Mata Khivi was instrumental in creating and maintaining the institution of langar, whereby all devotees of the Guru and all people in general, were invited to come and eat together. This practice started initially with Mata Khivi serving food to the members of the community and the visitors who would come to see Guru Angad and it came to symbolize the Guru's teachings; emphasizing the humanity in every single person and abolishing any innate discriminations. She did her job in a skillful and selfless manner, characteristic of her, and evoked spontaneous respect among the people. Her role in that capacity was unique and revolutionary because women were usually not seen in the forefront of the society. She also made sure that the food being fed was nutritious and wholesome because many who came to see Guru were needy and destitute. Mata Kheevi would embrace them all and offer love and food. She was, to use the simile of the contemporary ministrel Balwand, like a shady tree to the Guru's disciples and afforded them effectual shade. Her role and praise is recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib.
To this day, after every service, visitors to a Sikh gurudwara witness a congregation who join and eat Langar together. Langar also emphasized that service to fellow man was an important tenet of the Sikh way of life, as it is customary for members of the congregation to serve one another.
Guru Angad Sahib Ji's Message:
Guru Angad stood for a casteless and classless society, in which no one was superior to the other and no one, through greed or selfishness, could be allowed to encroach upon the rights of others. In short, he visualized a society in which members lived like a family, helping and supporting one another. He not only preached equality but practiced it. To promote the acceptance of human equality, Guru established a community kitchen where all sat together in a row, regardless of caste or status, and ate the same food.
Guru Angad said, "He Himself creates, O Nanak; He establishes the various creatures. How can anyone be called bad?. There is One Lord and Master of all; He watches over all, and assigns all to their tasks. Some have less, and some have more; no one is allowed to leave empty." – Guru Angad Sahib
Furthermore, the guru stressed the importance of adopting a uniform way of praising God and the utility of a social organization based on equality. He established a holy congregation, or Sangat, where people of different beliefs and varying social status sat together to hear the Master's singing of hymns and to be inspired to lead a noble life.
Devotion and Love towards God
Guru stressed the oneness of God. The purpose of life is to seek God, find him and be united to Him. He called upon the people to give up formal and superficial rituals and rally around the Creator, who alone was Omnipotent and Omnipresent. According to Guru Angad, no one has ever found acceptance or achieved self-realization without true devotion to God.
"O Nanak, if someone judges himself, only then is he known as a real judge. If someone understands both the disease and the medicine, only then is he a wise physician. Do not involve yourself in idle business on the way; remember that you are only a guest here."
Good deeds are important but winning God's Grace is still more important. Pride, greed and ego are the greatest distractions to keep away humans from the Creator. A guru or a spiritual divine teacher is needed to guide the man on the true path.
"That virtuous person who does not walk in the way of greed, and who abides in Truth, is accepted and embraced by God".
"This is the nature of ego, that people perform their actions in ego. This is the bondage of ego, that time and time again, makes people suffer"
Guru Angad Sahib also emphasized that one must control the greed and worldly attachment because they are impediments in the path of God. One must stay focused on the inner development.
"They know that they will have to depart, so why do they make such ostentatious displays? Those who do not know that they will have to depart, continue to arrange their affairs. He accumulates wealth during the night of his life, but in the morning, he must depart. O Nanak, it shall not go along with him, and so he regrets."
"The mouth is not satisfied by speaking, and the ears are not satisfied by hearing. The eyes are not satisfied by seeing—each organ seeks out one sensory quality. The hunger of the hungry is not appeased; by mere words, hunger is not relieved. O Nanak, hunger is relieved only when one utters the Glorious Praises of the Praiseworthy Lord."
He was a constructive architect of a society which focused on the social and religious freedom and equality, promoting dignity of action without distinction of caste and status. He was born at a time when ritual, caste distinctions and superstition had reduced the people to a low level of existence. He gave them courage and uplifted them. He taught the people to lead a righteous life and show due reverence and respect to God instead of supplicating before men. By his own example he made the people fearless and put a new life and spirit in them.
"Those who have the Fear of God, have no other fears; those who do not have the Fear of God, are very afraid. O Nanak, this mystery is revealed at the Court of the Lord."
The Guru also extolled the dignity of labor and decried the division of society on grounds of birth and founded a classless society based on the idea of equality and universal brotherhood.
He was particularly aware of the degradation which the lower classes of the people suffered through centuries at the hands of rulers and the so called high caste people. He aligned himself with the down-trodden and the less fortunate sections of the people and preferred to stay with the working class people.
Company of the Holy
Guru Angad confirms that "those who meditate on the Eternal Lord, who is fearless and is All Pervasive, are not only themselves emancipated, but they rescue many others form this net of illusion."
Guru Angad believed in the service and well-being of all mankind and not just of his own followers. He laid stress on character building rather than observance of rituals and formalities. The path which Guru Angad pointed out to his Sikhs for achieving enlightenment was through service and good actions and devotion and worship of one God. He asked his followers to win Divine grace by prayer, singing His praises, cultivating humility, a spirit of service and submitting at all time to His will. Paying a fine under pressure, does not bring either merit or goodness. That alone is a good deed, O Nanak, which is done by one's own free will. Sewa has to be done selflessly.
Eliminate your conceit and then perform service to humanity, Only then you will be get honor - Guru Angad Sahib
He stressed the importance of the physical body as an instrument of spiritual development. He told his followers that there was a spark of divinity in every human being. The body is the temple of God as it houses the soul. God's presence can be felt by deeper contemplation and reflection within.
"Twenty-four hours a day one looks for contentment in eight different directions but one must also explore the ninth place, which is to their own body and contemplate within. Within the body are the nine treasures of the Name of the Lord—seek the depths of these virtues. Those blessed with the karma of good actions praise the Lord and become true devotees" – Guru Angad Sahib
"Those who are blessed with the glorious greatness of Your Name — their minds are imbued with Your Love. O Nanak, there is only One Ambrosial Nectar; there is no other nectar at all. O Nanak, the Ambrosial Nectar is obtained within the mind, by Guru's Grace."
Life of Action
He held firmly that physical austerity was not necessary and that spiritual development was not dependent on ritual and external wanderings. "Austerity and everything come through immersing oneself in the meditation of the Lord's Name. All other actions are useless. O Nanak, believe in the One who is worth believing in. By Guru's Grace, he is realized."
Guru Angad was at once a spiritual teacher and a man of action. To Guru Angad, religion was not only a spiritual experience but a way of life. Every action must have an impact of spirituality, humility and love. This can be achieved if one is always conscious of the presence of God. Guru Angad insisted that there should be harmony between thought and action and purity in life. "Doing some thing unwillingly or doing under pressure from someone, does not bring either merit or goodness. That alone is a good deed, O Nanak, which is done by one's own free will."
"Mortals are known by their actions; this is the way it has to be. They should show goodness, and not be deformed by their actions; this is how they are called beautiful. Whatever they desire, they shall receive; O Nanak, they become the very image of God." -Guru Angad Sahib
"O Nanak, the worldly achievements and glory is worthy of being burnt in the fire if it causes one to forget God. Usually these worldly things has caused mortals to forget the the Name of the Lord. Not even one of them will go along with you in the end." - Guru Angad Sahib
Joti Jot (Merging with God) and Successor
Guru Angad, following the example set by Guru Nanak, nominated Guru Amar Das as his successor (The Third Nanak) before rejoining with God. Guru Angad presented all the holy scripts, including those he received from Guru Nanak, to Guru Amar Das. He became joti jot on 29 March 1552 at the age of forty-eight. It is said that he started to build a new town, at Goindwal near Khadoor Sahib and Guru Amar Das was appointed to supervise its construction. It is also said that the deposed Mughal Emperor Humayun (Babar's son), while being pursued by Sher Shah Suri, came to obtain the blessings of Guru Angad in regaining the throne of Delhi.