Guru Angad (1504-1552)
tore down the walls and rebuilt them. Once more, Guru Nanak looked at them and told Guru Angad to rebuild them again. Without hesitation or complaint, Guru Angad again tore down the walls and rebuilt them. Finally, after many attempts, the job was done and Guru Nanak approved. Of course, this story is not about building walls correctly, but about devotion and obedience. Yogically, it is about being detached from the fruits of one’s labors.
Guru Angad was just 25 years old when he became Guru. He went into seclusion to meditate for six months, and then returned to active leadership. He set an example of righteous living and service. He was particularly fond of children, organizing games for them and giving out prizes. He took an interest in their education through teaching which lead him to work on Gurmukhi script, which made Guru Nanak’s writings easy to read.
Before Guru Angad simplified Gurmukhi, only the Hindu priestly class was permitted to read the scriptures. Illiterate people paid the priests to read and perform ceremonies for them. Guru Angad gathered Guru Nanak’s hymns and rewrote them in the simple phonetic script of Gurmukhi. This enabled everyone an opportunity to read the scriptures for themselves and directly experience the healing and uplifting effect of the sacred hymns.
Guru Angad was a proponent of physical fitness and encouraged his devotees to be involved in sports. He said that only if you are physically fit can you pursue higher goals in life, because a sound mind can exist only in a sound body. He encouraged all people to be involved in wrestling competitions. This was 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 elevated Sikh community, without distinctions of caste and creed.
Guru Angad’s wife and partner, Mata Khivi, also contributed to the development of Sikhism, at a time when women were considered inferior and worked in the background. She was instrumental in creating and maintaining the institution of “langar”, where all people ate communally, a radical concept at the time. She served selflessly and gracefully and chose wholesome food for the needy.
Guru Angad wrote: “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.”
Imaginewhat it would take for you to be as obedient as Guru Angad? Perhaps your list includes finding your true Guru, trusting that relationship, being detached from the temptations of maya, a willingness to work hard, and being detached from the outcome of your work.
Guru Angad was the second Sikh Guru from 1539 to 1552. He grew up as the son of a wealthy trader, but as soon as he met Guru Nanak, he entered a life of service, including doing menial work. But first, Guru Nanak told him to go home and make sure that his wife and children were provided for and his household affairs settled. ”Angad” means “limb” because Guru Nanak saw that they were of such like mind, that Guru Angad was an extension of him. In his writings, Guru Angad described himself as the “second Nanak”, starting a tradition of attributing all writings to Guru Nanak.
Before appointing Guru Angad as his successor, Guru Nanak tested him. During the winter rains, the walls of Guru Nanak’s house were crumbling. He said that he wanted them rebuilt that very night. His sons declined and said that the masons should do it. But the future Guru Angad immediately agreed. He rebuilt the walls and Guru Nanak inspected them and said, “They’re uneven.” Without hesitation or frustration, Guru Angad