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At Goindwal

Guru Angad's parting counsel to Guru Amar Das was that he should hold his Durbar at Goindwal and not at Khadur. This precaution was considered necessary in view of the fact that his sons Datu and Dasu were not well disposed towards Guru Amar Das. Otherwise, too, this change of headquarters was most convenient to the new Guru as he had already built his residence there.

After his arrival in Goindwal in his new capacity Guru Amar Das for a whole week confined himself in a solitary room on the upper story of his house, meditating on God and pondering Guru Angad's instructions. No one was permitted to meet him while he was thus engaged. In a few days' time his followers became impatient for the holy sight and approached Bhai Ballu to help them. The Bhai was the only person then who had the privilege of attending on the Guru. At his earnest appeal, the Guru agreed to receive the flock. Amongst the first to approach him were the minstrels Satta and Balwand. On witnessing the divine atmosphere surrounding the Guru, they experienced the same elevation of spirit as they had felt at the court of the last Guru Angad Dev. They put down their experience subsequently in the form of a poem opening on the following note:1

"Guru Amar Das obtained the same mark, the same throne and the same court;

The grandson was as acceptable as the father and the grandfather".2

From then onwards Guru Amar Das held his daily congregation regularly. Every morning and every evening there were kirtan services by Satta and Balwand to whom reference has just been made. Devotees from far and near in ever increasing numbers flocked to the Guru's Durbar to listen to his divine message. Those who came were fed from the Guru's free kitchen which was conducted from the offerings of the faithful.

The growing popularity of Guru Amar Das was an eyesore for Datu who was simultaneously trying to build up his gurudom at Khadur. He had even issued a proclamation to the effect:3 "Amru (Guru Amar Das) is old. He is my servant. I am prince of the Guru's line''. But no one was fooled by this and with every passing day the number of people visiting him dwindled. In consequence his jealousy of the Guru went on mounting. One morning, incited by one of his dependents, he came to Goindwal and seeing the Guru sitting on the singhasan (gaddi or throne) kicked him off his seat and remarked in bitterness, "Only yesterday thou wert a water-carrier in our house and today thou sitteth as a Guru''. The Guru merely answered,4 "O great king, pardon me. Thou must have hurt thy foot". Saying this, the Guru rose and retired to his room (chaubara). The Sikhs present on the occasion felt very bad about it and left the place immediately.

Since Datu decided to stay at Goindwal, the Guru quietly retired to his native place Basarke where he shut himself up in a closed room. He got the only door of that room bricked up and had a sign board put up outside reading: "Whoever openeth this door is no Sikh of mine nor am I his Guru".

But even Guru Amar Das's going away failed to help Datu. He was regarded with still greater contempt and the devotees who unknowingly came to Goindwal went away as soon as they heard of his having insulted the Guru. In utter disgust, Datu packed up and left for Khadur. On the way back he was attacked and looted by robbers. One of the robbers struck Datu on the foot which caused him severe agony.

In the meantime the Sikhs had been feeling distressed over the disappearance of their Master. They made searches in all directions but with no success. Ultimately, on the advice of Bhai Budha, the Guru's mare was employed to guide them to the place where the Guru was residing. The mare led them straight to the place where the Guru had betaken himself. Now the difficulty confronting them was how to get in to see the Guru in view of the prohibitory injunction displayed outside the door. Ultimately this hurdle was crossed by leaving the closed door as it was and forcing a fresh opening in the wall at the back of the house.5 The Guru was greatly amused at the ingenuity of the manner in which they had managed to reach him. Bhai Budha pleaded as their spokesman : "Guru Angad hath attached us, O Guru, to thy skirt; yet thou hast deserted us and concealed thyself. How are we to receive spiritual consolation?" The Guru could not disregard this demonstration of ardent love and devotion by his Sikhs and mounting his mare returned to Goindwal. His return was celebrated with illuminations and rejoicings.6

The author of Mehma Prakash7 has referred to the daily schedule of activities observed by the Guru after assuming his pontifical duties at Goindwal. The Guru rose three hours before day-break. Immediately after that the attendant Ballu brought fresh water for his wash. The Guru washed his hair with curd and Ballu assisted him in this. After the bath was over, the Guru put on his clothes, and taking a seat on the singhasan absorbed himself in deep meditation. At dawn Satta presented himself and performed kirtan (sacred music) with his rebeck. On hearing the melodious notes of holy music, devotees assembled in congregation and were rewarded with spiritual bliss. At noon the visiting devotees proceeded to the Guru's langar for lunch. The Guru also accompanied them and had his meal along with them. No caste distinctions were observed and people from all varnas were treated alike. They were all required to sit on the ground in pangats (rows) before they could be served with meal. On this principle of equality of castes the Guru was so strict that he declared that he would be accessible only to the people who had first partaken of food cooked and served in the Guru ka langar.

The mid-day meal being over, the Guru would retire to his room (chaubara) for rest. When only a quarter of the day was left, the evening congregation was held. This assembly usually started with katha8 , a form of religious exposition. One scholar called Keso Gopal was specially engaged for this purpose. This was followed by a service of kirtan which was performed jointly by Satta and Balwand. The congregation continued until it was time for people to take their evening meal. The Guru retired for sleep when the night was already past three hours. It was a regular practice with him not to spare any provisions in his langar for the morrow. What was offered daily for the use of his mess was consumed on the same day. In case anything was left over after all people had been fed, it was offered to the cows of the camp. If there was something more it was thrown into the Beas to feed the fish.9

The personal life of Guru Amar Das was a model of simplicity. He slept very little and spent most of the night in meditation. The only food he took was ogra, a saltless preparation of rice and lentils.

It was but natural that with its becoming the headquarters of Sikhism, Goindwal should grow rapidly. It had been founded, as we have seen before, in the time of Guru Angad by a Marwaha Khatri, Chaudhuri Gobind. Guru Amar Das too had played an important role in surmounting its teething troubles. But when he ascended the exalted spiritual throne of Nanak after his Master's death in 1552 AD and decided to make Goindwal the seat of his functioning, a great fillip was imparted to its development. Every day people came from far and near in large numbers to seek his blessings. Many of them in course of time decided to settle down there. Among them were the Guru's own kith and kin like the families of his daughters Dani and Bhani. Another factor making for the fast growth of the town was its strategic location on the highway connecting Delhi with Lahore. This opened up bright prospects of trade and commerce for those who were interested in these activities. Since it was a much-frequented road, hardly a day passed when wayfarers did not stop at, or pass by, Goindwal. Quite often, large contingents of troops or strings of oxen, mules and horses traversed their weary way through this place. Realizing the tremendous possibilities that Goindwal held out, Guru AmarDas sent a special mission headed by his own nephew Sawan Mal to Haripur in the Kangra district to cut down pine trees and cedars and float them in rafts down the river Beas.10

Sawan Mal was instructed to meet the Raja of Haripur and make a request to him for help in the procurement of the required timber for construction of houses at Goindwal. When he reached there, his impressive personality and saintly bearing made a great hit and people in large numbers flocked and made their obeisance to him. Just then he was informed of the death of a son of the Haripur Raja and of the intense grief caused by it in the royal family as well as among the people in general. Immediately he proceeded to the royal palace and consoled the Raja, his queen and other people around through his gift of spiritual knowledge. The tradition as recorded by Mehma Prakash11 and other chronicles, however, has attributed a miracle to him. It says that before his departure for the hills, Sawan Mal had been granted a handkerchief by Guru Amar Das as a token of his commission and had been told to rely on that in case of any difficulty. The story goes that on approaching the dead body he asked the cloth covering to be removed from its face. When this had been done, he took out the Guru's handkerchief and touched the face with it. The boy was instantly restored to life to the great joy and astonishment of everyone who saw it or heard about it. Thereafter, the grateful Raja offered to render any service to him or his Master at Goindwal. Sawan Mal told him about the purpose for which he had arrived. The Raja at once ordered his men to cut down pine trees and cedars and to dispatch them by rafts on the Beas to Goindwal. When the timber reached Goindwal, the Guru distributed it among the people who used it to build their havelis (houses). Among those who benefited from the Guru's noble gesture were people drawn from all the four Varnas-Brahmins, Khatris, Vaishas and Sudras. Of them the Khatris alone counted among themselves as many as twenty-two sub-castes.12 The result was that Goindwal developed into a beautiful and flourishing town. The flowing Ganga-like waters of the Beas by its side13 increased its charms further.

But the success of Sawan Mal's mission is not to be measured merely in terms of procurement of timber. He created a deep impression upon the minds of the bill people. They looked upon him as a miracle man and assembled around him to seek the fulfilment of their wishes. The Raja and his Rani particularly showed great deference to him and were ever ready to minister to his needs and requirements.14 Much pleased with his newly gained prominence, he prolonged his stay there. A long time passed in this way and yet he showed no inclination to return. At last the Guru sent him a hukamnama (epistle) requiring him to come back immediately. He had no choice now but to obey the Master's command. When he requested the Raja's permission to leave his country, the latter expressed a wish to accompany him to behold the Guru and to make his human life fruitful. Sawan Mal reached Goindwal in advance and informed the Guru of the forthcoming visit of the Raja and his family. The Guru welcomed the visit but insisted that the Raja must observe the condition of eating in the Guru ka Langar prior to his admittance into his presence. As required, the Raja, his queens and his attendants all had their meals in the langar in spite of their deep-rooted prejudices in matters of caste.15 Before the meeting was allowed, two more injunctions had to be carried out: (i) every member of the party must be dressed in simple clothes; (ii) no lady of the entourage should observe purdah.

Neverthelesss, when the Raja and his party went in, one of the ladies, lately married, veiled her face. Thereupon, the Guru said to her,16 "Crazed lady, if thou art not pleased with the Guru's face; why hast thou come hither?" It is said that she immediately turned mad and casting off her clothes ran away all naked into the forest. Efforts were made to stop her but in vain. The Raja felt disgusted over her conduct and decided to abandon her.17 A few days later, the Raja and his people took leave of the Guru and set out on the homeward journey. Before he departed, he told the Guru about the great impression that Sawan Mal had created in his country. He implored him that Sawan Mal should be allowed to accompany him and resume the good work he had begun. The Guru was aware of the good qualities of his nephew and gladly granted the Raja's desire. But while granting the permission, he warned him of dangers arising from love of wealth, prominence, and supernatural powers. To impress firmly upon his mind that whatever success, prominence or status he had enjoyed during his sojourn in Haripur was derived from the commission granted to him, he was asked to return the Guru's handkerchief.18 Sawan Mal forthwith realized his weakness and unhesitatingly came out with a solemn promise never to depart from the Master's injunctions in future. The Guru was pleased to hear this and renewing his commission appointed him a manjidar (missionary).

Now let us see what happened to the insane queen who casting off her clothes had escaped into the forest. As the tradition goes, a devotee of the Guru called Sachan Sach used to go to the same forest to gather firewood for the Guru's kitchen. One day when he was thus engaged, the demented woman made her appearance and attacking him reduced him to a sad plight. With great difficulty he escaped and made his way home dripping with blood. The Sikhs on seeing his sad condition inquired of him as to what had occurred. He related the incident of his collision with a witch in the forest. On hearing this the Guru consoled him and said,19 "Take my slipper and if the witch comes again, touch her head with it. When she is restored, bring her here". When Sachan Sach went to the forest next time, the insane woman again attacked him. But when he touched her with the Guru's slipper, she immediately recovered her sanity and felt abashed from Sachan Sach's gaze on account of her nakedness. He promptly tore up the blanket on his own person and gave her half of it. Wrapping herself with it, she proceeded along with her benefactor. When she fell at the Guru's feet and asked for his pardon, he readily gave his blessing to her. Under instructions from the Guru she married Sachan Sach.20 The Guru gave Sachan Sach the other slipper of the pair also and directed him to go home and work for public welfare with the help of the Lord's Name.21

As the importance of Goindwal grew, a few Muhammadan families also settled there. Prominent among them were the families of Shaikhs who belonged to the ranks of Muslim orthodoxy. Being narrow in outlook they resented the growing popularity of Guru Amar Das. As the number of visitors coming down to pay homage to him mounted, their indignation against the Guru and his devotees was increasingly intensified. To give vent to their ire they thought of an ingenious device. While keeping themselves in the background they instigated some urchins of their community to harass the Sikhs who went to fetch water for the Guru's kitchen. Their earthen vessels were struck with pellets and clods and quite often were broken to pieces. If any Sikh remonstrated, they would even go to the extent of assaulting him physically. Realizing that they were crossing all limits of decency, the Sikhs complained to the Guru about their misbehaviour. The Guru advised them not to lose patience in any case and asked them to use goat-skins instead of earthen vessels. When the Sikhs adopted this device, the urchins resorted to piercing the goatskins with arrows and the harassment continued as before. The Guru then counselled his people to make use of brass utensils. Even this did not end their troubles because the vessels were knocked off their heads with bricks and stones. But even then they were advised to remain patient and forgiving under all circumstances. When Sikhs questioned the Guru as to how long they were to continue to bear this tyranny, the Guru is said to have replied.22 ''As long as you live. It is not proper for saints to take revenge. Nay, there is no greater penance than patience, no greater happiness than contentment, no greater evil than greed, no greater virtue than mercy and no more potent weapon than forgiveness. Whatever man soweth he shall reap. If he sows trouble, trouble shall be his harvest. If a man sows poison, he cannot expect ambrosia". These words of supreme wisdom calmed down the aroused feelings of the Sikhs and gave them fresh moral boosting.

In due course, it so happened that a band of armed Sanyasis23 arrived in Goindwal and witnessed the Shaikh urchins pelting the water vessels of the Sikhs with stones and clods. When they were engaged on this nefarious game, one of the stone pieces struck and seriously injured one of the eyes of the leader of the band. Enraged at this, the Sanyasis assaulted the aggressors. A fierce clash ensued in which lethal weapons were used on both sides. Each party suffered losses, but the Shaikhs suffered more heavily than the Sanyasis. The Sikhs regarded the smashing of the Shaikhs as divine chastisement24 for their tyranny against the peaceful Sikhs.

 A much severer form of divine chastisement was visited upon the Shaikhs when some time later they became objects of official wrath. A detachment of soldiers guarding imperial treasure was on its way from Lahore to Delhi. A terrible dust-storm appeared as soon as the convoy reached the vicinity of Goindwal. Strong winds and poor visibility scattered the mules laden with treasure. When the storm had blown over, a hurried search was made to reassemble the scattered animals. With the exception of one mule all were recovered. A thorough search was made for the missing one but for long no trace was available. Then it was decided to search each and every house. The town-crier made the proclamation warning the culprits of dire consequences. Yet there was no success. When house· searching was proceeding, all of a sudden the neighing of the missing animal was heard from within a Shaikh's house. On this the search party wanted to enter the house for scrutiny. The owner of the house resisted the demand on the plea that the privacy of the house, particularly the ladies' room, was inviolable. In this he was supported by his brother Shaikhs. But the searchers were determined. The greater the resistance offered, the greater the keenness on their part to carry through the search. Ultimately, they bad their way and entering the forbidden room recovered the missing animal.

The commander of the soldiers reported the matter to the authorities. The complaint against the Shaikhs mentioned, besides their attempt to rob the Government of its treasure, their annoyance of Guru Amar Das and his Sikhs and their aggression against the Sanyasis. The Emperor ordered that they should be imprisoned, their houses razed to the ground and all their property confiscated. Such, said the Guru, would be the condition of those who bear enmity to men who desire to live in peace.26

The increasing popularity of Guru Amar Das also turned the head of Chaudhuri Gobind's elder son. So long as the Chaudhuri was alive, he had the profoundest reverence for the Guru. He was well aware that but for the benevolent help of the Guru his project of founding the city of Goindwal would never have been accomplished. But his sons were made of a different stuff. They prided themselves on being the proprietors of the city and behaved arrogantly towards its inhabitants. Their attitude towards the Guru and his Sikhs was no better. Besides, too much of wealth had spoiled them and they had fallen into bad company, particularly the elder one. As usually happens in such cases, profligacy led to financial stringency which in turn led to disgraceful behaviour. Being the principal proprietor of the place, the elder son put forth a claim to a share (sirdari) in the offerings of the Guru's devotees. The Guru taking pity on him told him to take anything he wanted from the Guru's kitchen. He was not satisfied with this and brazenly demanded money. Even this untenable demand was entertained by Guru Amar Das and he was allowed to have every 8th day's income.

But there is no greater vice than greed, they say. It was this very vice which soon entangled him in a situation from where there was no escape. A high government dignitary (called 'Nawab' in Mehma Prakash26) came travelling along the Delhi Lahore highway and stopped at Goindwal for a brief halt. While he was staying there, his camp was burgled and one of his mules laden with treasure was whisked away. Seeing this the officer was beside himself with rage and immediately sent for all Chaudhuris of the place including Chaudhuri Gobind's son. He ordered them to get the missing animal restored forthwith, otherwise, he warned them, they would be hanged.27 When they failed to produce the culprit and restore the stolen treasure, the threat was carried out. The officer gave them the condign punishment they deserved before resuming his journey. This is how another detractor of the Guru met his sad end by divine chastisement. This was a big blow to the family of the late Cbaudhuri Gobind. All arrogance was now gone and the Chaudhuri's widow with her surviving son appeared before the Guru and in all humility besought his pardon for the past mistakes. The Guru, who bore enmity to none, was much pleased with the change in the family's behaviour and extended his blessings to it.28

Like orthodox Muhammadans, orthodox Hindus too were upset over the growing popularity of the Guru's teachings. They were mostly drawn from the ranks of Brahmins and Khatris living in Goindwal and its surrounding areas. Their minds were narrow and they always thought in terms of protecting the Hindu tradition coming down the centuries, whatever its demerits. For them Brahmanical priesthood, tirath-yatra (pilgrimage), varnashram (fourfold division of society into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras) along with its offshoots such as jati-pratha (caste system) and untouchability, idol-worship, ritualism and infallibility of Vedas, were sacrosanct and inviolable religious tenets beyond the range of any questioning. It bothered them little that all was not well with everything that went by the name of Hindu tradition. Their thinking had been so fossilized that it was too much for them even to imagine the desirability of making any change in what they had inherited from tradition. On the other hand, what Guru Amar Das taught or for that matter what his great predecessors Nanak and Angad had taught, was something radically different, something which breathed a spirit of liberalism rather than of conservatism or traditionalism. The Brahmin priest, who was the chief custodian of the citadel of conservatism, had been made a special target of criticism. A simple mode of worship based on love and devotion had been substituted for the complicated and costly Hindu ritualism. Worshipping of idols had been regarded as a grave offence against the worship of the one God and going on pilgrimage as no more than a mere formality. No value had been attached by the Sikh Gurus to the varnas and jatis of the Hindu society. To them they were all man-made and had no divine sanction. Similarly, untouchability was considered a morbid outgrowth of the Indian social system and had no place in the egalitarian concept of society cherished and preached by the Sikh Gurus. Vedas were respected as great repositories of spiritual knowledge but it was not admitted that they were the only and final authority on religious matters

Already bitter and sore, these champions of Hindu conservatism- the Brahmins and Khatris - were rendered more so by the huge concourse of people who assembled at Goindwal under the Guru's orders to participate in the Baisakhi fair.29 When and under what circumstances it was decided to organize this fair annually, will be discussed in a later chapter but it may suffice here to say that this fair held each year on the 1st of the month of Baisakh made a great hit from its very inception and attracted large numbers of people. Whatever their caste positions, they were all expected to eat in the Guru's kitchen as a precondition of their being admitted into the Guru's presence. Muslims, Brahmins , Khatris, Vaishyas and Sudras were seen openly and unreservedly mingling together and rubbing shoulders with one another. It was a unique spectacle holding great promise for the future and was a source of great joy to those having the unity of all mankind at heart. However, it proved an eyesore to the opponents of Sikhism. They had the feeling as if the very ground under their feet was being knocked out. For them it was not merely a question of some of their long cherished beliefs and practices being challenged; the issue was much deeper and far more vital as they felt that the very social positions they held in the society were at stake.

Thus motivated, these enemies of Guru A mar Das launched a malicious propaganda drive against him and his followers. If there was any opportunity or device to malign the Sikhs, they were not the people to miss it. There is no definite evidence to prove it but there is some ground for thinking that they had their lurking sympathies with the Shaikhs when the latter were harassing the peaceful Sikhs some years earlier. Their best opportunity, however, came with the arrival of Emperor Akbar in Punjab in the beginning of 1566 A.D. On hearing that his half-brother Mirza Hakim had crossed the Indus, and was proceeding towards Lahore with the object of capturing it, Akbar left Agra on November 17, 1565 and reached Lahore towards the end of February 1566.30 Seeing this Mirza Hakim lost heart and staged a hurried retreat to Kabul wherefrom he had come. Akbar did not like to pursue him, but by way of precaution stayed on at Lahore for more than a year. He left for Agra in March 1567.

When the Emperor was encamped at Lahore, the ill-disposed Brahmins and Khatris first prompted a well-to-do and influential Marwaha Khatri31 merchant belonging to the family of the late Chaudhuri Gobind to lodge a complaint against the Guru in the Imperial Court.32

The Marwaha while setting out for Lahore took one of his servants along with him and dressed him up in ragged and dirty clothes because such was the custom of the Mughal court that anyone who intended to make a complaint, had to appear in this form. To arouse public pity further the servant's face was blackened. As they proceeded on their way to Lahore, they indulged in malicious propaganda against the Guru accusing him of doing great injustice to the Marwahas. When at last they reached the Imperial Court, they submitted their petition enumerating the wrongs they claimed to have suffered at the hands of the Guru. A Pathan admirer of the Guru was standing by when the petition was being heard.33 Intervening he strongly defended the Guru and observed that the petition was utterly false. After careful thought the Emperor dismissed the complaint and ordered the complainants to be turned out of his sight immediately. Owing to this disgrace, the Marwaha fell in the estimation of the people including his own kith and kin. The indignities suffered by him as the result thereof have been beautifully portrayed by Guru Ram Das in the following lines:34

"The perverse man put on his perverse servant a blue-black patched coat filled with filth and vermin. No one in the world would allow him to sit near him;

He fell into ordure and still more dirt attached to him.

The perverse man sent his servant to slander and back bite others, but the result was that the faces of both were blackened.

It was quickly heard through the whole world, my brethren, that the perverse man with his servant had been shoe-beaten; with addled brains they arose and returned home.

The perverse man for the future was not allowed to mix in society or even with his marriage relations; then his wife and his niece went and brought him home.

He hath lost this world and the next, hungry and thirsty he ever crieth out.

Thanks to the Lord, the Creator, who Himself seated in the judgement seat caused real justice to be done.

He who slandereth the perfect true Guru, the True One punisheth and destroyeth.

God who created the whole world hath uttered these words, that is , has inspired me to utter these words".

The failure of the Marwaha's complaint did not discourage his abettors. They themselves now got ready to approach the Emperor and lodge a complaint against the Guru. Their petition, according to Macaulilfe,35 was worded as follows :

"Thy Majesty is the protector of our customs and the redressor of our wrongs. Every man's religion is dear to him. Guru Amar Das of Goindwal has abandoned the religious and social customs of the Hindus and abolished the distinction of the four castes. Such heterodoxy hath never before been heard of in the four ages. There is now no twilight prayer, no gayatri, no offering of water to ancestors, no pilgrimages, no obsequies, and no worship of idols or of the divine salagram. The Guru hath abandoned an these and established the repetition of Wahguru instead of Ram, and no one now acteth according to the Vedas, or the Smritis. The Guru reverenceth not Jogis, Jatis or Brahmans. He worshippeth no gods or goddesses, and he ordereth his Sikhs to refrain from doing so for ever more. He seateth all his followers in a line and causeth them to eat together from his kitchen, irrespective of caste-whether they are Jats, strolling minstrels, Muhammadans, Brahmans, Khatris, shopkeepers, sweepers, barbers, washer men, fishermen or carpenters. We pray thee, restrain him now, else it will be difficult hereafter. And may thy religion and empire increase and extend over the world!”

After hearing this complaint, the Emperor dispatched a messenger to request the Guru's attendance at the Court. The Guru was too old to undertake the journey and nominated Bhai Jetha (future Guru Ram Das) to represent him before the Emperor. Bhai Jetha was at first a little hesitant to undertake this difficult mission36 but all his diffidence was gone when the Guru patted him affectionately on the shoulder and blessed him for the task. Five trustworthy Sikhs were selected to accompany and help him in accomplishing the mission. Before Bhai Jetha departed on his journey, he was enjoined to answer all questions and queries put to him boldly and fearlessly. Mehma Prakash writes:37

ਸੁਨ ਸੁਤ ਤੁਮ ਕਹੋ ਸਮਝਾਇ । ਜੋ ਕਹੋਂ ਕਰੋ ਸੋ ਊਹਾ ਜਾਇ ।

ਕਾਹੂ ਕੋ ਮਨ ਭੈ ਨਹੀਂ ਕਰਨਾ । ਜੋ ਪੂਛੈ ਉਤਰ ਦੇ ਮਨੁ ਭਰਨਾ ।

Listen, O’ Son, let me give you a piece of advice. As I tell you, so going there you do.

You must not have any fear in your mind. Whatever is enquired, you reply it with confidence.

When Bhai Jetha appeared at the Court, he was interrogated on all those points which had been raised in the petition of the complainants. His answers, which were in the best spirit of Sikh teachings, convinced the Emperor fully of the hollowness of the complaint against the Sikh Guru. The liberal-minded Emperor greatly appreciated the Sikhs' position on the issues of castes, pilgrimages, scriptures, rituals, idols, gods and goddesses and dismissed the complaint with the following words:38

"I see no hostility to Hinduism in this man (Guru Amar Das), nor do I find any fault with his compositions. To repeat or not to repeat the gayatri is at his own discretion. It certainly doth not concern me to cause the gayatri to be repeated or twilight devotions to be performed. Jetha’s words show how the mind may be purified and hypocrisy renounced. There is no difference between God and His darwesh. No man can vie with either. You complainants are enemies of truth and are only causing needless annoyance".

The good impression created by the replies of Bhai Jetha on the Emperor's mind aroused a keen desire in his mind to meet the Sikh Guru. But immediately there was no time for it as he had to go back quickly on account of Mirza Khan-i-Zaman's rebellion. On hearing that Mirza Hakim of Kabul was again thinking of attacking Punjab, Mirza Zaman, a close relative of Akbar, had risen in revolt and recited the khutba in the name of Mirza Hakim. Lest this Uzbek rebellion should spread further and assume dangerous proportions, the Emperor returned to Agra hurriedly, reaching there in April 1567. Four years later he paid another visit to Punjab. On 30 August 1569 was born his first son, Salim (future Emperor Jehangir). To offer his thanks at the Chisti saint Muin-ud-Din's Dargah for the auspicious birth of the son, he visited Ajmer in early 1570 returning to his capital Agra on 2 May, 1570. When on 7 June, 1570 another son, Murad, was born, he made another pilgrimage to Ajmer. From there he proceeded to Nagor where he stayed for a period of 50 days. Then he proceeded to Pak Pattan (Ajodhan) to pay his homage to the holy memory of another great Chisti saint, Shaikh Farid. After a brief stay there, he marched to Lahore via Dipalpur and arrived at Lahore on 17 May 1571. This time his stay at Lahore was rather brief, not more than one month. He left Lahore sometime in the month of June and reached Hissar on 5 July 1571, on his way to Ajmer again.39 It was about this time, while he was travelling to Hissar, that he made a brief halt at Goindwal and had a meeting with Guru Amar Das.40

The writer of Mehma Prakash41 has furnished a graphic account of this meeting, of which a brief summary is as follows: When the Emperor reached near Goindwal, he sent a messenger to inform Guru Amar Das that he wanted to meet him. The Guru welcomed it and a piece of daryai cloth was spread on the way as a mark of respect for the honoured guest. However, the Emperor put the cloth aside with his own hand and preferred to walk on bare ground. Before he could meet the Guru, he was asked to eat from the Guru's kitchen. This was, as mentioned earlier, an essential condition for any one being admitted into the Guru's presence. As no exception could be made, not even for the highest in the land, the Emperor gladly agreed to observe the formality-rather he appreciated it because its underlying idea that all human beings are alike and should be treated as such , was also dear to his heart. When he sat down to his meal, he enquired as to what kind of food was eaten by the Guru and expressed that he would prefer to be served with the same food. So saltless ogra (course unseasoned rice), the favourite food of the Guru, was brought and served to him, which he greatly relished. After the meal was over, the interview took place in which the Emperor thanked the Guru profusely for his blessings. This was followed by long conversation on spiritual matters. At the end of the interview, Akbar wished to make a land grant42 for the Guru's kitchen. But the Guru showed no keenness for this; rather he replied that he did not need anything. But Akbar was insistent and proposed to make the grant to the Guru's daughter, Bibi Bhani. According to Suraj Prakash43, the offer in the modified form was accepted. Macauliife's account of this particular incident based on Suraj Prakash reads as follows:

"Having seen the large number of people fed from the Guru's kitchen he requested him (Guru Amar Das) to accept his service and his offerings. He added, 'I will make thee a grant of whatever land thou desireth and I am ready to perform any other office that may be pleasing to thee'. The Guru replied, 'I have obtained lands and rent-free tenures from my Creator. He who cherisheth all existences giveth also unto me. My Sikhs devoutly give me wherewithal to supply my kitchen. Whatever cometh daily is spent daily and for morrow my trust is in God'. The Emperor pressed on him the acceptance of several villages but the Guru was firm in his refusal. The Emperor then said, 'I see thou desireth nothing. From thy treasury and thy kitchen countless beings receive bounties, and I entertain similar hopes. The villages which thou refuseth I will grant to thy daughter Bibi Bhani'. The Emperor upon this signed a grant of the villages in her name."

Sometime after the Emperor had departed, the headmen of the villages falling in the granted area waited upon the Guru with offerings. The Guru refused to accept them and referred them to his-son-in-law, Bhai Jetha.

In the midst of his heavy daily schedule, Guru Amar Das was able to take interest in his children and grandchildren as well. Three sons were born to his elder son, Mohri, namely Arth Mal, Anand and Arjani. The birth of each one of them was an occasion of great rejoicing in the family. The celebrations marking the occasion of Anand's birth are given in some detail in Mehma Prakash44 • For instance, it is mentioned that as soon as the news of the child's birth was conveyed to the Guru, he desired to have an immediate look at him. Accordingly the attendant Ballu went in and brought the child carefully wrapped in cotton wool. The Guru took him in his lap and showered blessings on him. Guru named him Anand and as goes the tradition composed the famous Anand Bani45 (song of joy) in honour of that happy occasion. After that Bhai Ballu went on house top and calling the people's attention with beat of drum recited the new composition. About the third son Arjani's birth it is recorded by the chronicler that he died as soon as he was born but revived soon after through the Guru's blessings.46

Mohan, the younger son of Guru Amar Das, led the life of a recluse and kept himself most of the time confined in a closed room. He neglected his wife completely. On finding no change in her son's attitude, Mohan's mother requested the Guru to speak to Mohan and bring him to the right path. The Guru did not think that Mohan had become crazy. He said47 "People know not Mohan's greatness. Tell his wife to decorate herself and fall at her husband's feet." This advice was acted upon. The result turned out to be as expected. In due course of time a son was born who was named Sans Ram.48 From the first the Guru showed great love and affection for this child. He was even permitted to eat with the Guru from the Guru's own plate. When he grew up, he rendered considerable help to the Guru in the collection of sacred writings of Sikh Gurus (Gurbani).49

Similarly, Guru Amar Das evinced lively interest in the children of his daughter, Bibi Bhani. The youngest of all, Arjun Dev was the dearest of all to him. He often used to take him in his lap and fondle him. The child, too, was very fond of his maternal grandfather. A story is told that once while the Guru was taking his meal the child crawled into his chamber and put his hand into his plate. The mother took the child away but he returned and acted as before. He was again removed. On his return for the third time, the Guru gave him a morsel from his food and blessed him. There is still another story showing the Guru's love for the child Arjun. One day when the Guru was deep in meditation, the child came running into his room in search of his ball. He was playing with the ball which had entered the Guru's room. As it was lying underneath the Guru's seat, Arjun went unhesitatingly under it to take it out but in so doing slightly knocked against the chair or cot on which the Guru happened to be seated at the moment. Instead of feeling disturbed the Guru blessed the child by saying, “He will be a great man50”.

Several other things also engaged the attention of Guru Amar Das at Goindwal. Prominent among them were his measures to improve the organisation of his Panth. Since this is an important aspect requiring independent treatment, a separate chapter has been devoted to it.


1. Rag Ramkali, Tikke di Var (Coronation Ode), Pauri 6. A part of the remainder of the Pouri is given below:

The wise being Guru Nanak descended in the form of Amar Das.

Firm as the mountain of Meru thou art swayed not by gusts of wind.

Searcher of hearts, thou knowest the secrets of men.

How can I praise thee, 0 true King, when thou art wise and omniscient?

Let Satta have whatever gifts please the true Guru. The Sect was astonished on seeing Nanak's Umbrella over Amar Das's head. (Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 59)

2. Father here refers to Guru Angad Dev and grandfather to Guru Nanak Dev. The idea behind the use of this figure of speech is to stress the unity of spirit among the various Sikh Gurus.

3. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 63.

4. ibid., p. 64.

5. At Basarke Gillan this house is still shown with that forced opening called sanh. Gurdwara erected on the site in memory of this is called Sanh Sahib. Every year a fair is held on Bhadon 14 in commemoration of the event.

6. Mehma Prakash (Sarup Das Bhalla) and Bansavali Nama (Kesar Singh Chhibbar) do not mention this story. Rather it is implied in the account of Mehma Prakash that good relations continued to exist between Guru Amar D as on the one hand and Datu and Dasu on the other. Probably the earliest work to mention this event is Bhai Santokh Singh's Suraj Prakarh. Macauliffe seems to have borrowed it from there.

7. Mehma Prakarh, Sakhi 2, p. 100.

8. The chroniclers mention that the moral stories of the Puranic texts were a favourite subject of the katha.

9. Mehma Prakash, p. 109.

10. Timber was the principal need of the people for building houses. According to Mehma Prakash a representation was made by the people to the Guru through his attendant Ballu for help in the supply of hill timber which was co nsidered superior to the timber found in the plains.

11. ibid., p. 108. This is one of those stories which subsequently became current among the faithful. Otherwise, none of the Sikh Gurus believed in miracles.

12. Mehma Prakash , p. 109.

13. ibid.

14. ibid., p . 110.

15. ibid., p . I 12.

16. Macauliffe, op. cit., p. 62; Mehma Prakash, p. 113.

17. Probably, the Raja was unhappy that she had refused to obey his as well as the Guru's orders. That perhaps was the reason he felt disgusted and abandoned her.

18. Mehma Prakash, p. 111.

19. Macauliffe, op. cit., 62; Mehma Prakash, p. 115.

20. Mehma Prakash , p . 116.

21. The author of Mehma Prakash (p. 117) mentions that Sachan Sach carried on his mission from his headquarters in Sheikhupura. He was widely respected for his saintliness and for his powers of curing physical and mental ailments. The Guru's slippers remained in his custody as long as he lived. They were regarded by all as miracle articles. The shrine of Sachan Sach is situated near the town of Sheikhupura.

22. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 68.

23. Akbar Nama describes a fight between two groups of armed Sanyasis assembled at Kurukshetra for a Kumbh fair. The fight took place when Akbar reached Thanesar en route from Lahore to Agra in early 1561. The instance is being given here in order to show how the Sanyasis used to conduct themselves in those days.

Each group appealed to the Emperor complaining against the other for fraudulently occupying the place. Akbar tried to arbitrate but neither of the groups listened to his advice, and both prepared to fight it out. There was a pitched battle in which arrows and swords were freely used, and as one group was inferior in number, Akbar deputed some of his troops to assist it. Many men from both sides were killed. Srivastava, Akbar the Great, Vol. 1, pp. 98-99.

24. Sikhism no doubt believes in the virtues of patience and forgiveness as well as in divine chastisement of tyranny and oppression. But it is not opposed to use of force for a righteous cause. Indeed even when force is used in this manner, it is part of the process of divine chastisement. The principle was later clearly enunciated by Gurus Hargobind and Gobind Singh. When the third Guru gave a homily on the virtues of patience under all provocations and in all circumstances, this was the wisest course for the emerging community yet at its initial stage of development. Effective use of force for a noble cause requires organization, strength, unity and discipline. The Nanak Panth had yet to undergo a long course of intensive training before it could be said to have acquired these necessary attributes.

25. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p, 70; Bhai Vir Singh, Shri Asht Gur11 Chamatkar, p. 161.

The earlier works like Mehma Prakash make no reference to the episode of the Shaikhs. Bhai Santokh Singh is perhaps the first writer to make a reference to it. From him cue was taken by Macauliffe and now it has become a popular Sikh tradition. It seems that Guru Amar Das's scathing criticism of Shaikhs in the following verses bears close relationship with this episode.

O Shaikh, abandon the violence of thy heart, fear God and dismiss thy madness.

Through fear of the Guru how many have been saved, through fear the Fearless One is obtained.

Let the word penetrate thy hard heart, so shall peace come to dwell therein.

Whatever deed is done in peace is acceptable to the Lord. Nanak, no one hath obtained Him by lust and wrath; go and ask those who possess divine knowledge.

(Adi Granth, Bihagre di Var, Mahalla 4, 551)

It is possible that the Guru's critical remarks about the Shaikhs are based on some such experience of his own. On the other hand it is also possible that the Guru's own critical remarks may have given rise to the popular Sakhi.

26. Mehma Prakash, p. 133.

27. In the medieval period, local responsibility was a legally recognized practice employed for purposes of maintenance of law and order. Muqaddams and Chaudhuris were personally held responsible for law and order in their respective areas. In the event of any breach of peace or theft taking place, the local Muqaddams or Chaudhuris, as the case may be, were under obligation to produce the culprit or culprits failing which they were liable to be arrested and punished.

28. Mehma Prakash, pp. 134-135.

29. The project of the baoli (well with descending steps) was taken in band soon after the holding of the first Baisakhi fair at Goindwal. With the undertaking of this project the fears of the high-caste detractors of the Guru were intensified.

30. The invasion of Mirza Hakim on Punjab posed a serious security problem for the empire. A great amount or resentment had been created by the unorthodox and liberal religious policy of Akbar among the Muslims. Therefore, a plot was hatched to dislodge him from the throne and to place Mirza Hakim on it. The invasion of Mirza Hakim was to be followed by rebellions of Mirzas (Akbar's kith and kin) in other parts of India. The rebellions no doubt occurred as planned but Akbar proved much too strong and clever for them and they alt ended in failure.

31. Macauliffe (op. cit., Vol. II, p. 103) and Bhai Vir Singh (p . 177) have said that this man was no other than the elder son of the late Gobind Chaudhuri. But this view is untenable in view of the categorical evidence of Mehma Prakash already cited.

32. All writers on the third Guru are agreed that this complaint was made to Akbar during his stay at Lahore. If so, then in all probability the complaint was made during his visit to Lahore from February 1566 to March 1567. Prior to this, Akbar had visited Lahore twice, in 1557 and 1560. In 1557 he was just a minor and all power was wielded by Bairam Khan. His stay at Lahore then lasted for four and ha If months only. In J 560, he came hurriedly in connection with Bairam Khan's rebellion. At this time his stay at Lahore was even shorter. Moreover, he had not yet assumed political power. By 1566 he had not only assumed full power but had also introduced some of his liberal religious measures. The manner in which he dealt with the complaint clearly reflects his liberalism which would have been impossible in case the complaint had been lodged in 1557 or 1560. After 1567, Akbar made only one more visit to Lahore in 1571 during the life-time of Guru Amar Das. That was most probably the year when the Emperor called upon Guru Amar Das at Goindwal. If all this be correct; then it has to be admitted that it was during the Emperor's visit of 1566-67 to Lahore that the complaint was lodged.

33. Bhai Vir Singh has written in his book Shri Ashta Guru Chamatkar, p. 176, about another complaint to the same effect made earlier at the court of a Lahore official, Jaffar Beg . The official made a thorough inquiry and even visited the spot to hear witnesses on the subject. The complaint was ultimately dismissed. The Pathan official, under reference here, it is said, reminded the Emperor of the result of this earlier inquiry and thereby convinced him of the falseness of the complaint.

34. Gauri ki Var, Mahalia IV, Adi Granth, p. 306. It may be noted that these lines contain a clear reference to the incident described here, though the name of the person is not mentioned.

35. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 105. The contents of this petition are corroborated by Mehma Prakash on p. 137.

36. Mehma Prakash, p. 138.

37. ibid.

38. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 108.

39. A.L. Srivastava, Akbar the Great, Vol. I, p. 118.

40. All Sikh writers, old and new, refer to this meeting but they seldom say in which year it took place. Persian sources on the other hand make no mention of it. All the same, there is every likelihood that Akbar met Guru Amar Das at Goindwal. If this is admitted, then in all probability the visit occurred in 1571 when the Emperor was on his way back from Lahore. In support of this contention following arguments may be advanced.

(i) Before 1567 Akbar had no direct acquaintance with Sikhism. His first introduction to it was made when Bhai Jetha visited his court at Lahore and answered the charges of Brahmins and Khatris against Guru Amar Das. It was only after this that a meeting was possible between the Emperor and the Guru. But as the Emperor was in great hurry to return to Agra on account of a formidable Uzbek rebellion, the meeting could not take place immediately. After 1567, 1571 was the only time when the Emperor visited Punjab during the life-time of Guru Amar Das. So that is the only occasion when the Emperor could have met the Guru,

(ii) The Emperor's tour in 1570-71 was mainly a tour undertaken for visiting religious places. He began the tour with his visit to Ajmer and ended it with another visit to the same sacred place. In between he paid a visit to the sacred shrine of Shaikh Farid. So the visit to Goindwal very well fits in with the spirit of the tour.

(iii) There is a strong Sikh tradition that the completion of Baoli Sahib at Goindwal synchronized with the reduction of the fort of Chitter. It is said that when the siege of the fort of Chitter got protracted, Akbar became anxious and prayed to various holy men including the Sikh Guru for help. The siege which had begun in September 1567 ended successfully towards the end of February 1568. Now if the purpose of the Emperor's meeting the Guru was to thank him for the help rendered during the siege of Chittor, then it is obvious that the meeting took place when the Emperor was on the way back from Lahore in June 1571.

41. Mehma Prakash, Sakhi 25, pp. 240 -243. It is mentioned here that after the visit Akbar marched to Lahore. This appears to be incorrect because, as we have seen earlier, Akbar was at this time coming from and not going to Lahore.

42. According to the Amritsar Gazetteer (1883-84) the land granted by the Emperor measured 500 bighas. But the Gazetteer is silent about the source from which this information has been derived. Therefore we cannot say anything about its authenticity. Bansavali Nama (p. 35) writes that twelve and a half villages in the Pargana of Patti were granted.

43. Suraj Prakash, Ras II, Ansu II; Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 197.

44. Sarup Das Bhalla, the author of this book, was a descendant of Anand and hence has paid more attention to his own ancestor than to others, Arth Mal and Arjani. This should not mean, therefore, that there were no celebrations on the births of other sons. Mehma Prakash, Sakhi 17, PP· 202-203.

45. This is incorporated in the Adi Granth on pp. 917-922. It is written in the measure of Ramkali. The total number of pauris comprising it are 40 out of which 38 belong to Guru Amar Das. Out of the remaining two, one belongs to Guru Ram Das and the other to Guru Arjun. The composition is now recited on occasions of marriages and other rejoicings. For English translation of the composition see Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. H, pp. 117-129.

46. No doubt the miracle is ascribed to the Guru but the actual story may be different as the Sikh Gurus never encouraged such feats of supernatural power.

47. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 130.

48. The name has been variously given; Sahans Ram, Sans Ram, Sant Ram etc.

49. Mehma Prakash, Sakhi 18, p. 208.

50. Kesar Singh Chhibbar, Bansavali Nama, p. 35.