by SS GuruSangat Kaur Khalsa, Great Falls VA
Guru Amar Das began his spiritual journey as a prosperous, generous landowner who had no Guru. He spent years praying at the Ganges, but because he had no Guru, holy men would not accept his offerings of food and shelter.
An ordinary person might react and say, “Oh well, I’ll just stick to my routine and accept that I’ll never be blessed because I have no Guru.” Or some might say, “I don’t need a Guru! I’m a devotee of the universe and these holy men don’t know what they’re talking about!”
However, because he was blessed to see God in all, Guru Amar Das accepted the words of the holy men as truth, and set out to find a Guru. When he heard Guru Angad’s daughter singing the Guru’s bani, he was deeply moved and asked her about her worship and her Guru. She brought him to Guru Angad. Guru Amar Das resurrected himself and became a true devotee of the Guru.
A True Servant
Guru Amar Das spent 12 years devotedly serving Guru Angad, daily carrying water in a large pot on his head in the Amrit Vela for the Guru’s bath. Many folks thought Guru Amar Das was crazy and not living up to his status as he should by performing such “menial” work for the Guru. Every year, Guru Angad would give him a turban, and Guru Amar Das would wrap it on top of the turbans which remained on his head from the beginning of his seva.
During the twelfth year of serving the Guru, Guru Amar Das set out as usual to fulfill his seva with the full pot of water on his head. A storm was raging. As he struggled to deliver the water in the storm, he stumbled and fell into a weaver’s workspace. The weaver’s grouchy wife insulted him, yelling that he was “Na Thaviya”—without a place.
When Guru Amar Das reached the Guru, Guru Angad asked why he was late. It was the first time in 12 years that Guru Amar Das had been late with the Guru’s bath water. Guru Amar Das explained what had happened.
Guru Angad asked why Guru Amar Das was wearing all the turbans he had received and had never removed them. Guru Amar Das replied simply, “You bestowed the blessed gifts. You never told me to take them off.” The turbans were all removed and Guru Angad saw many infected sores and blisters covering Guru Amar Das’ head. He was so moved by Guru Amar Das’ devotion, he used the water Guru Amar Das had brought for the Guru’s bath to wash Guru Amar Das’ head himself. All the sores were healed through the Guru’s loving touch.
Immediately, Guru Angad proclaimed Guru Amar Das the Guru. Guru Angad declared that Guru Amar Das would be the place for those who had no place, the protection of the unprotected, the grace of those without grace, etc. Guru Amar Das became deathless through his service.
Serving All as Equals
Guru Amar Das established the Guru’s Langar, so that all would be served and sit as equals, each as God’s priceless creation, together, to share the blessed experience of Guru Ka Langar. This was a radical act in those times, as people were rigorously divided by caste and class. When the king came to have an audience with the Guru, he was told that the Guru would not receive him until he partook of the Guru’s Langar. Deeply insulted, he stalked off in a fury. Eventually, he returned, his royal tail between his legs, and accepted the Guru’s rules, enjoying the Guru’s Langar before he was ushered in to see the Guru.
An Amazing Gift
“Amar” means without harm. Through truth and love, Guru Amar Das speaks unfiltered Truth directly to us through his Bani (hymn or holy recitation). His Bani, Anand Sahib—the Song of Bliss—is one of the five banis Sikhs and Khalsas recite daily. It is the only bani in which one speaks directly to one’s mind. What an amazing gift Guru Amar Das gave us with this Bani!
Ay man mayriaa, too sadaa raho har naalay.
Oh my mind, you always live with God.
Anand bhaiyaa mayree maa-ay Satiguroo mai paaiya.
Oh my mother, I am in Bliss! I have obtained the True Guru!
This radical declaration is recited by Sikhs on a daily basis. The Siri Singh Sahib once told me, “Across the valley of doubt is a sea of bliss. All you have to do is jump!”
Let us all leap into the bliss of Guru Amar Das’ Song of Bliss and live our lives resurrected from limitation and fear. Let us follow Guru Amar Das’ example, and renew ourselves daily through the powerful truth in his bani. The Siri Singh Sahib Ji said that Guru Amar Das was the embodiment of Ik Ong Kar Satgur Prasad (“One God, Doer of All, By the Grace of the True Guru.”). Let us, like Guru Amar Das, embody the truth of Ik Ong Kar Satgur Prasad, living in Truth, Love and Bliss. When, through Guru’s grace, we allow the perfect Naad of Anand Sahib to penetrate and permeate us, we too can experience and manifest God.
About the Author
SS GuruSangat Kaur Khalsa has been a Sikh Minister since 1977 and has taught Kundalini Yoga since 1972, starting out in the West Virginia mountains. She plays kirtan, studies and practices Sat Nam Rasayan as a Level 1 practitioner and makes art. GuruSangat Kaur and her husband, SS Guru Sangat Singh, live in Great Falls, Virginia. She is blessed to use her role as a Minister to teach about Sikh Dharma in schools and represent Sikh Dharma at interfaith events. She is grateful and delighted to be blessed with two wonderful children and four delightful grandchildren.