Guru Amar Das (1479-1574)
Guru Amar Das was the third Sikh Guru from 1552 to 1574. Although he had spent many years as a devout Hindu, he did not feel that he had found his true path. One morning he happened to hear his nephew’s wife recite Guru Nanak’s Japji. He thought it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard. He was 61 years old when he met Guru Angad in person, and felt such divine bliss filling the emptiness of his soul, that he immediately prostrated himself at the Guru’s feet. From that moment on, he devoted his life to serving the Guru. Every morning he would get up early and walk four miles to the river to carry water for Guru Angad’s morning bath. In Sikh art, he is often portrayed carrying a heavy pot of water. Even though some mistakenly viewed him as a “menial servant”, his devotion was so pure that Guru Angad named him as his successor.
Guru Amar Das maintained a free kitchen to provide food for all who came. But he made it a requirement that anyone who wanted to see him had to first eat together, even the emperor. People of all castes and religions ate together. At the time, this was a radical notion.
Guru Amar Das also trained 146 clergy, including 52 women, to spread the Sikh teachings. He established 22 community centers. He encouraged his disciples to live a family life and to practice “renunciation in the midst of the world”. He emphasized the importance of leading an ethical life including: rising early to meditate, maintaining control of one’s mind, eating in moderation, keeping the company of pious people, making an honest living, serving the holy, not coveting the wealth of another and not engaging in slander.
He was a prolific poet and many of his compositions are included in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, including the gorgeous Anand Sahib (Song of Bliss) that begins:
“O my mother, I am in ecstasy, for I have found the True Guru.
Yes, in a flash, I found my Lord and my mind is filled with the Song of Bliss,
Like every jeweled angel and the fairies of every region, all joined in chorus to sing the song of the Word.
All who have Him enshrined in their minds, sing the Word of the Lord.
Sayeth Nanak: I am truly in ecstasy for I have realized my True Guru.”
Guru Amar Das was the father of Bibi Bhani. A popular story describes how devotedly Bibi Bhani served him. One morning, it is said, as Guru Amar Das was absorbed in meditation, Bibi Bhani noticed that one of the legs of the low wooden seat on which the Guru sat was about to give way. She at once supported the stool with her hand, for hours. As the Guru ended his devotions, he discovered that her hand was bleeding from the injury she had sustained in supporting the broken leg of the seat. He blessed her by saying that one day her progeny would inherit the Guruship. She later married Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and was the mother of Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh Guru.
Imaginethe feeling of being on your true path with such complete harmony and devotion, that you have no duality and can serve with a whole heart.