The home town of Sri Amar Das was Basarkay, about 30 kilometers west of the river Beas. Right from his early age he was devoted to God. His main desire was to live a holy life. He tried to put into practice what the Hindu priests preached.
At the time of Sri Amar Das, most people of Basarkay believed that bathing in the Ganges River was a good deed, supposedly to wash away their sins. Another good deed was to feed the Brahmins and give them clothing and money. Every year people went to the banks of the Ganges at Hardwar to take a dip and pay their dues to the Hindu priests. This river flows about 400 kilometers away from Basarkay. Travelling was difficult, because there were no cars or buses in those days. But Sri Amar Das wanted to do anything that would please God. Year after year, he travelled to the Ganges to bathe in its water. The journey took about a month and cost him quite a bit of money, but he kept doing it for 21 years. During these visits he noticed that the people he met at Hardwar were really not any holier than those he left back home. He began to wonder what good this bathing could do for him. The people who really seemed to benefit from his visits were the Brahmins, who received money claiming to be the agents of God. He felt more and more disillusioned.
Baba Amar Das was 63 years old, when his nephew got married to the daughter of Guru Angad Dev. The bride’s name was Bibi Amro. She was a very devoted person, and knew many of Guru Nanak’s hymns by heart. In her new home at Basarkay, she recited those hymns early in the morning, just as she did in her father’s home. One morning Baba Amar Das came to their home while Bibi Amro was still reciting. When he heard the praise of God in his own language for the first time, he was spellbound. As she finished, he asked Bibi Amro about who wrote those wonderful hymns and where she got to learn them. The bride told him about Guru Nanak and also about her holy father, Guru Angad Dev. That very day, Baba Amar Das accompanied Bibi Amro to Khadoor to visit the Guru. On seeing the two arrive, the Guru immediately got on his feet and rushed towards Baba Amar Das. He wanted to receive Baba Ji with respect, for he was the uncleinlaw of his faughter. As the Guru opened his arms to, embrace him, Baba Ji declined to be received as an equal. Instead, he touched the Guru’s feet, bowed before him and prayed so that he could become a true Sikh of the Guru. Baba Ji also told the Guru about the many valuable years of his life that he had wasted in his visits to Hardwar before finding him. The Guru appreciated Baba Ji’s love for Gurbani and welcomed him to the Sikh assembly.
During the next ten years, Baba Amar Das served the Guru and the Sikh sangat day and night. Just before Guru Angad Dev was to pass away, he made Baba Ji the next Guru. He then bowed before Guru Amar Das, and so did all the Sikhs in the assembly. Thus Guru Amar Das became Guru Nanak the Third, and was blessed to write 907 more beautiful hymns of his own. In the following is given a translation of one of his most commonly recited hymns
Published by U.N.E.S.C.O. in the Sacred Writings of The Sikhs:
Rejoice with me, mother,
That I have found the True Guru,
The True Guru have I found without penance,
And songs of rejoicings are in my heart.
The excellent Ragas and the race of the heavenly Muses
Have come to hymns to the Lord;
Those in whose hearts the Lord indwelleth,
Sing the Song of praise to Him.
Saith Nanak: My heart is full of joy
That I have found the True Guru.
Dear young readers:
You have just read about how dissatisfied Baba Amar Das became with his visits to Hardwar and how eager he was in his search for a true spiritual guide, which he finally found in Guru Angad Dev. The above reading is primarily intended for children of 9 to 16 years of age. You’re seven and eight year old brothers and sisters may also find it a useful experience, but they might need some help from you in reading. For more fun and understanding, try answering questions given below and have your answers checked by an elder in the family. Should you have any comments on this educational experience, your editor would be pleased to receive those.
- How far did Sri Amar Das have to travel to reach the Ganges River How long did the two-way journey take?
- What did the pilgrims do when they reached Hardwar?
- What were the people supposed to gain from this annual exercise? Did they?
- For how many years did Sri Amar Das follow this Hindu teaching of going on pilgrimage?
- Who were the real beneficiaries of these visits to Hardwar?
- Who did Baba Amar Das learn from about Guru Nanak? How did that come about?
- Why did Baba Ji decline to be received as an equal by Guru Angad Dev?
- How old was Baba Amar Das when he became the Third Sikh Guru?
- How many verses did Guru Amar Das compose in all?
- Can you guess the first line of the original hymn which has_ been translated in the above reading?
Article extracted from this publication >> March 15, 1985