Paying Obeisance to Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji on his 519th Birth Anniversary on April 21, 2023

Dr Amrit Kaur | April 23, 2023 02:05 AM

The second prophet-teacher of the Sikhs, first known as Lahina Ji and then named 'Angad' by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born on Baisakh Vadi 1, Sammat 1561 Bikrami which corresponded with 31 March, 1504. His father Bhai Pheru Ji also known as Bhai Pheru Mal Ji, a Trehan Khatri by caste lived in the village 'Matte Di Sarai', now known as 'Sarai Nanga' 16 kms north-east from Muktsar, the district headquarter of the present day district Muktsar of Punjab. The historians have difference of opinion about the name of his mother which is variously given as Mata Sabhirai Ji, Mata Ramo Ji, Mata Daya Kaur Ji and Mata Mansa Devi Ji, the majority however agreeing on the name Mata Sabhirai Ji.

Bhai Pheru Ji was born in his ancestral village Mangowal which now falls in Gujarat district of Pakistan but he was brought up in the house of his matrenal grand-parents in the village Matte Di Sarai.

Bhai Pheru Ji was a very learned scholar and was well versed in the Persian language who alongwith trade also worked as a munshi (scribe).

In January 1520 Bhai Lahina Ji was married to Bibi Khivi Ji, the daughter of Bhai Devi Chand Ji Marwaha Khatri by caste of the village Sanghar which falls in the present day district of Tarn Taran. This village now exists only in the form of a mound formed by ruins. Two sons Dasu and Datu and two daughters Amaro and Anokhi were born to the couple.

Around 1526 during an invasion by Babar the village Matte Di Sarai was plundered and the residents of this village migrated to other places. As such, along with his parents and other members of his family Bhai Lehna Ji left this village and after living for some time at Harike which falls in the present day district of Tarn Taran shifted to Khadur Sahib which also falls in the present day District Tarn Taran and is situated at a distance of 19 kms in the eastern direction from Tarn Taran Sahib headquarter of the district of Tarn Taran Sahib. Bhai Pheru Ji's dharam sister (co-religionist sister) Mai Bharai Ji was married in this village. Thus along with other members of the family Bhai Pheru Ji migrated to Khadur Sahib, the village of in-laws of Mai Bharai Ji.

During this period some unclad ascetis (mendicant order of naked ascetics) constructed a temple on the ruins of Matte Di Sarai and as such this place came to be called 'Saran of Naked Ascetics' or 'Sarai Nanga'. With the passage of time a Gurdwara Sahib was established on the mound of this village which is named as Gurdwara Sahib Janam Asthan Patshahi Dusri. The picture of this Gurdwara Sahib is given at the end.

It is believed that Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji had visited Sarai Nanga and Lehna Ji's father Bhai Pheru Ji had also received his blessings. In the sacred memory of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji's visit to Sarai Nanga Gurdwara Sahib Pahili Patshahi has been established.

After the demise of his father, Bhai Lehna Ji had to undertake the responsibilities of his father. Bhai Pheru Ji was devi bhagat (follower of Devi) and used to conduct a pilgrimage of the followers to the shrine of Durga annually. Thus Bhai Lehna Ji started conducting an annual pilgrimage of the devi bhagats to the shrine of Durga. During one such pilgrimage, Bhai Lehna Ji, happened to pass by Kartarpur Sahib, which now falls in District Narowal, Pakistan and is usually referred to as Kartarpur (Ravi) to distinguish it from the town of the same name in District Jalandhar of Punjab. The pilgrims decided to have a darshan (holy glimpse) of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

When the pilgrims had a darshan of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Bhai Lehna Ji was so much impressed by his spiritual grace that he was instantly converted. Inspite of the protests by the co-pilgrims Bhai Lehna Ji decided to stay there. During the remaining lifetime of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Bhai Lehna Ji lived partly at Kartarpur Sahib and partly at Khadur Sahib.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji named him 'Angad' the word 'ang' means limb. Thus, the name Angad signified that he had become as much a part of him as his own limbs. Bhai Lehna Ji became a staunch devotee of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. At Kartarpur Sahib he cleaned utensils in the community kitchen and also swung the fan.

By quoting several anecdotes the historians have stressed his patient and unquestioning loyalty towards his Master. One anecdote is that once he visited Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji out in the fields. Guru Sahib asked him to carry a bundle of wet paddy to his house. Inspite of the fact that he was wearing new clothes he carried that bundle to his home. When he reached Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji's house drenched with muddy clothes Guru Sahib's wife asked Guru Sahib as to why Bhai Lehna Ji had been given this shabby treatment. Guru Sahib replied that his disciple was not drenched with mud but had in fact been baptized with saffron. Another incident quoted by historians is that to test the loyalty of his followers Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji took them to a jungle where he made silver and gold coins appear before them. Except two all of his followers immediately started collecting the coins. Out of the two followers who passed this test one was Angad Dev Ji. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji took these two followers to a funeral pyre and commanded them both to eat the corpse lying on the pyre covered with a shroud. The second follower refused but Anged Dev Ji lifted the shroud to do what his Master had commanded. To his surprise there was no corpse but Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji himself. Seeing the loyalty of Anged Dev Ji, byepassing his sons Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji nominated him as his successor on 13 June 1539 and passed on the spiritual light to him a few months before he left for his heavenly abode on 7 September, 1539.

Thus Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji became the second prophet-teacher of the Sikhs on 7 September, 1539. Bhai Balvand Ji and Bhai Satta Ji Rababis, i.e., rebeck players in their hymns have stated the transfer of spiritual light from Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji as follows :

lahnay Dhari-on chhat sir kar siftee amrit peevdai. mat gur aatam dayv dee kharhag jor puraaku-ay jee-a dai. gur chaylay rahraas kee-ee naanak salaamat theevdai. seh tikaa ditos jeevdai. ||1||

lahnay dee fayraa-ee-ai naankaa dohee khatee-ai.

jot ohaa jugat saa-ay seh kaa-i-aa fayr paltee-ai.

jhulai so chhat niranjanee mal takhat baithaa gur hatee-ai.

karahi je gur furmaa-i-aa sil jog aloonee chatee-ai. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, P 966)

He installed the royal canopy over Lehna's head; chanting the Lord's Praises, He drank in the Ambrosial Nectar. The Guru implanted the almighty sword of the Teachings to illuminate his soul. The Guru bowed down to His disciple, while Nanak was still alive. The King, while still alive, applied the ceremonial mark to his forehead. ||1|| Nanak proclaimed Lehna's succession - he earned it. They shared the One Light and the same way; the King just changed His body. The immaculate canopy waves over Him, and He sits on the throne in the Guru's shop. He does as the Guru commands; He tasted the tasteless stone of Yoga.

Bhai Balvand Ji and Bhai Satta Ji in their hymn (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, P 967) have described this transfer of spiritual light by saying:

jot samaanee jot maahi aap aapai saytee miki-on. sikhaaN putraaN ghokh kai sabh umat vaykhhu je ki-on. jaaN suDhos taaN lahnaa tiki-on. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, P 967)

His Light merged into the Light, and He blended Him into Himself. Guru Nanak tested His Sikhs and His sons, and everyone saw what happened. When Lehna alone was found to be pure, then He was set on the throne. Bhai Balvand Ji and Bhai Satta Ji have also described the transfer of light from Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji as follows:

satgur aakhai sachaa karay saa baat hovai darhaalee. gur angad dee dohee firee sach kartai banDh bahaalee. naanak kaa-i-aa palat kar mal takhat baithaa sai daalee. dar sayvay umat kharhee maskalai ho-ay jangaalee. dar darvays khasamm dai naa-ay sachai banee laalee. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, P 967)

Whatever the True Guru says, the True Lord does; it comes to pass instantaneously. Guru Angad was proclaimed, and the True Creator confirmed it. Nanak merely changed his body; He still sits on the throne, with hundreds of branches reaching out. Standing at His door, His followers serve Him; by this service, their rust is scraped off. He is the Dervish - the Saint, at the door of His Lord and Master; He loves the True Name, and the Bani of the Guru's Word.

After assuming guruship Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji invited Bhai Bala Ji, the life-time companion of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and got prepared Janam Sakhi of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji covering the journeys and preachings of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. This Janam Sakhi called 'Bhai Bale Wali Janam Sakhi' was prepared in Sammat 1601 i.e. year 1544.

In Khadur Sahib at the place where Bhai Bale Wali Janam Sakhi was prepared now stands Gurdwara Tapiana Sahib. Opposite Gurdwara Tapiana Sahib is Gurdwara Tap Asthan Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji where Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji used to sit in meditation.

According to Sikh chronicles after assuming Guruship Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji decided to go into undisturbed meditation for some time and as such instead of going to his own house he shut himself up in a small room in Mai Bharai Ji's house and locked the door from inside. However, Baba Buddha Ji conducted the followers to Khadur Sahib. At the site of Mai Bharai Ji's house now stands Gurdwara Mai Bharai Ji.

At Khadur Sahib Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji, would get up in the early hours of the morning, take a bath and prayed to God till day break. After that he listened to Aasa di Vaar being sung by the musicians. After that he motivated the sangat to follow the preachings of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. After that he took care of the sick persons who came from far and near and also included leprosy stricken persons. He treated and cured these sick persons.

He and all members of his family ate in the community kitchen where people from different castes and creeds sat on the floor. Thus he carried one step further Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji's preaching of caste-less society.

He assigned the supervision of langer (community kitchen) to his wife Mata Khivi Ji which enhanced the status of women.

Bhai Balvand Ji has described it by saying that balvand kheevee nayk jan jis bahutee chhaa-o patraalee. langar da-ulat vandee-ai ras amrit kheer ghi-aalee. gursikhaa kay mukh ujlay manmukh thee-ay paraalee. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, P 967)

Balvand Ji says that Khivi, the Guru's wife, is a noble woman, who gives soothing, leafy shade to all. She distributes the bounty of the Guru's Langar; the kheer - the rice pudding and ghee, is like sweet ambrosia. The faces of the Guru's Sikhs are radiant and bright; the self-willed manmukhs are pale, like straw.

As a source of his livelihood he twined reed fibre. In Sammat 1598 he started an educational campaign using Gurmukhi script. He also established a children's school. The work of literacy started by him at Khadur Sahib has been continued till today and the classes are run regularly. At the place where he taught Gurmukhi and to promote health organized youth wrestling bouts Gurdwara Mall Akhara Sahib has been established.

In the evening again kirtan was performed and he also preached. When his praises were at the peak a 'yogi' came to Khadur Sahib and incited the farmers that the drought in the area will remain until Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji is pushed out of Khadur Sahib. Thus, Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji went to a theh (site of a ruined village) then called Khanpur and now called Khan Chhapri. But drought continued.

Then (Sri Guru) Amar Das Ji told the farmers that they should tie the feet of this yogi with a rope and drag him in the village. Wherever the yogi was dragged rainfall started. Having become shameful, the yogi left that place and Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji returned to Khadur Sahib. Sixty-three of his slokas have been included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Following the footsteps of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in these slokes as well as in his preaching he has empasized that (i) God is all powerful (ii) human being is a slave of Haume (self pride or egoism) and because of self pride the worldly possessions that he/she amalgamates create several types of dangers for him (iii) these dangers can be evaded by regular meditation on the divine (iv) those who pray live a pious life and achieve salvation (v) it is only by the grace of God that a person can know the way of salvation and (vi) we should praise the God almighty.

In one of of his hymns, Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji has stated as follows:

jinaa bha-o tinH naahi bha-o much bha-o nibhvi-aah.

naanak ayhu patantaraa tit deebaan ga-i-aah. ||1|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, P 788)

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. ||1|| Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji says :

mehlaa 2. keetaa ki-aa salaahee-ai karay so-ay saalaahi.

naanak aykee baahraa doojaa daataa naahi.

kartaa so salaahee-ai jin keetaa aakaar.

daataa so salaahee-ai je sabhsai day aaDhaar.

naanak aap sadeev hai pooraa jis bhandaar.

vadaa kar salaahee-ai ant na paaraavaar. ||2|| (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, P 1239)

Why praise the created being? Praise the One who created all. O Nanak, there is no other Giver, except the One Lord. Praise the Creator Lord, who created the creation. Praise the Great Giver, who gives sustenance to all. O Nanak, the treasure of the Eternal Lord is over-flowing. Praise and honor the One, who has no end or limitation. ||2||

In addition to the Gurdwaras in Khadur Sahib in his sacred memory there exists a Gurdwara in village Bharoval which is named Gurdwara Sri Guru Angad Sahib where Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji stayed awhile on his way from Khan Chhapri to Khadur Sahib.

During his guruship Khadur Sahib became the centre of the Sikh faith. Sikh sangats came from far and near to receive his blessings. Even emperor Humayun came to Khadur Sahib to seek his blessings. He was asked to partake off food in the community kitchen before having darshan of Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji.

Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji left for his heavenly abode on 29 March, 1552 at Khadur Sahib. At this place now stands Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib. In close proximity to this Gurdwara is a square domed marble pavilion called Killa Sahib or Khaddi Sahib. Khaddi means a 'weaver's pit'. This is the khaddi where Baba (later Guru) Amar Das Ji carrying a pitcher of water in a pitch dark night for Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji had stumbled against a killa. There is an old well near the gateway of Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib known as 'Bibi Amaro Ji da Khuh (well)'. Bibi Amaro Ji as mentioned earlier was Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji's daughter.

Before Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji left for has heavenly abode on 29 March, 1552 he passed on the spiritual light to Sri Guru Amar Das Ji who thus became the third prophetteacher of the Sikhs.

This year i.e. in 2023 Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji's 519th Birth Anniversary is being celebrated on April 21, 2023 when the Sikhs all over the world will pay their obeisance to this great prophet.

Dr. Amrit Kaur Retd. Profesor Punjabi University Patiala, Punjab

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