The status of women in Hindu society at that time was very low. When the husband died, the wife either voluntarily burnt herself on the pyre of her husband or was thrown into the fire without her consent. In popular term the woman who did perform this act was called Sati (truthful). Guru Amar Das carried out a vigorous campaign against the practice of Sati. He gave special attention to the improvement of the status of women and thus prohibited this practice. G.B. Scott acclaims the Guru as the first reformer who condemned the prevailing Hindu practice of Sati. The Guru advocated the following:
“Satis are not those who are burnt with husbands, O Nanak, true Satis are whom pangs of separation can finish. Those are considered Satis who live contented, embellish themselves with good conduct;
And cherish the Lord ever and call on Him.”
(Var Suhi ki- Slok Mohalla 3, p-787)
The Guru lifted the status of women as equal to men. He prohibited the practice of Sati and preached in favor of widow marriage.
|Guru Amardas appointed women to conduct Sikh missionary and parish work. Districts under the charge of men were known as ‘Manjian’. Those in the charge of women were known as ‘Pirhian’, on which they sat to minister to the disciples. Their selection for this important task indicated the faith of the Guru in the capacity of women for organisational work.
The Guru’s following increased considerably. Steps were taken to organize the scattered congregation into a unified whole which was called Manji system. His whole spiritual domain took the shape of 22 Manjis (dioceses). It was so named because the in charge of a Manji sat on a cot (called Manji in Punjabi) to deliver the message of the Guru. The in charge of each and every Manji was a devoted Sikh who was blessed by the Guru before he was appointed to that position. His function was to preach the mission of the Guru, to keep the Sangat (congregation) in touch with the Guru and he was also responsible for the offerings of the Sikhs which they made in token of their reverence to the Guru. The following were the twenty-two Manjis:
1. Alayar: Alayar also called Allah Shah was a Pathan trader whose story has been given earlier, became Guru’s Sikh and was entrusted with the first Manji to spread Sikh faith.
2. Sachan Sach: He was a Brahman from Mandar village in Lahore district. He always used the word ‘Sachan Sach’ and so he was called Sachan Sach. One of the queens of Raja of Haripur became insane, and by the grace of the Guru, she recovered her sanity. The Guru married her to Sachan Sach. The couple preached Sikhism.
3. Sadharan: He was an inhabitant of Goindwal and was given a Manji for his devotion to the Guru.
4. Sawan Mal: He was a nephew of Guru Amar Das. The Guru sent him to Haripur in Kangra district to procure timber for the construction of houses in Goindwal. Sawan Mal propagated Sikh gospel in that area.
5. Sukhan: He was an inhabitant of Dhamian village in Rawalpindi district. He preached Sikhism in that area.
6. Handal: He was from Jandiala village in Amritsar district. He rendered great service in Guru’s kitchen.
7. Kedari: Bhai Kedari was an inhabitant of Batala in Gurdaspur district. He was a very famous devotee of the Guru.
8. Kheda: He was from Khemkaran village in Lahore district. He was a devotee of Durga goddess before he became Guru’s Sikh.
9. Gangushah: He was an inhabitant of Garh Shankar. The Guru sent him to preach Sikhism in Sarmaur state.
10. Darbari: Bhai Darbari was from Majitha village in Amritsar district.
11. Paro: Bhai Paro was a Sikh of Guru Angad. He was an inhabitant of Dalla. His devotion got him the eleventh Manji.
12. Phera: Bhai Phera was an inhabitant of Mirpur in Jammu area. He was a disciple of the Jogis before he became Guru Amar Das’s Sikh. He preached Sikhism in that hilly area.
13. Bua: Bhai Bua became Guru’s Sikh and was blessed with Nam, the fragrance of which he spread around his area.
14. Beni: He was a learned Pandit of Chunian in Lahore district. He was proud of his knowledge of Hindu Shastras and he defeated many in the debate of that knowledge. When he came to Goindwal, he fell on the feet of the Guru and became his Sikh. The Guru entrusted him with the fourteenth Manji.
15. Mahesa: He was an inhabitant of Sultanpur and he performed missionary work in that area.
16. Mai Das: Mai Das’s story has been given in the previous pages. He preached Sikhism in Majha area.
17. Manak Chand: His reference has been made in the previous pages. When he was drowned in the Bawli and then revived by the Guru, the Sikhs called him Marjiwra- the revived after death. His generation is called Marjiwre in Vairowal village in Amritsar district. Manak Chand was made a spiritual guide to Mai Das by the Guru.
18. Murari: He was an inhabitant of Khai village in Lahore district. His original name Prema and he was a leper. He heard about Guru Amar Das and came crawling all the way to Goindwal. By the grace of the Guru, he was fully healed. He was renamed as Murari. The Guru married him to Matho, daughter of Bhai Sihan. He was then sent out as one of the itinerant preachers of the Guru’s gospel.
19. Raja Ram: He was a Brahman. He became Guru’s Sikh. His generation now lives in Sandhma village of Jullundhur district.
20. Rang Shah: He was an inhabitant of Malupote village in Jullundhur district. He propagated Guru’s faith in Doaba area.
21. Rang Das: He was from Gharooan village (near Kharar) now in Rupar district.
22. Lalo: He was an inhabitant of Dalla and was a famous Vaid (doctor). He became Guru’s Sikh and preached Guru’s gospel.
Guru Amar Das established another organization called Piri system. The incharges of the Piris were ladies whose objective was to lit the flame of Guru’s word and spread the fragrance of Nam among women. Bibi Bhani, Bibi Dani and Bibi Pal were some of the most revered incharges of the different Piris. Guru Amar Das gave authority and power to 146 of his apostles to go to various parts of the country and unfold the glory of Nam. Out of these 146 persons, 94 were men and 52 were women. They were all glowing with Nam and filled with Divine Spirit.
One day a Sidh Jogi came to the Guru and complained that he performed every form of penance but did not obtain any peace of mind. He further showed his desire to abandon his body to be reborn in Guru’s family so that he be happy worshipping God and singing His praises. His wish was granted. The Guru had two sons, Mohan and Mohri. Mohri’s eldest son was Arth Mal and it is said that this Sidh Jogi was reborn as Mohri’s second son. When the Guru heard of the Jogi’s rebirth, he sent Bhai Ballu to bring the infant to him.
On seeing the child, the Guru uttered the composition of Anand (Ramkali Mohalla 3, Anand) or the Song of Joy, and called the child, Anand. This composition (Anand Sahib) is now recited on the occasions of marriages and rejoicing.
The Great Guru Amardas Ji, whose seva and devotion to Guru Angad made him eligible to wear the holy crown of the Guru Nanak throne.
Here, Deep in contemplation – a mood captured by the great Sobha Singh – the artist of the millenium.
It should be remembered that Guru’s eldest daughter, Bibi Dani was married to Rama who was a zealous Sikh. He used to work in Guru’s kitchen and administer to the needs of the pilgrims. Jetha was his younger son-in-law. One day the Guru asked Rama and Jetha,”Each one of you make a platform by the side of Bawli. I will sit on one in the morning and on the other in the evening.” When the platforms were completed, the Guru went to inspect them. Rama showed his work and thought that he had done well. The Guru told Rama,”Your platform is not straight, bring it down and rebuild it.” Rama dissented but rebuilt another one. It still failed to please the Guru. Rama after long argument, pulled the platform down but refused to build it third time.
The Guru inspected Jetha’s platform and said,”Jetha, I do not like it. Demolish it and build another one.” Jetha built the second one which was also not of Guru’s liking. He demolished it and rebuilt it. The Guru continued to find fault with it until it was destroyed and rebuilt seven times. Jetha then fell at Guru’s feet and begged, “I am a fool and lack understanding, while thou possesseth all knowledge. kindly bless me with the wisdom so that I may be able to erect the platform of your liking.”
On hearing this the Guru smiled and embraced Jetha and commented,” Obeying my order, you have built the platform seven times, so seven generations of thine shall sit on the throne of Guru Nanak.”
Bibi Bhani, Guru’s youngest daughter, used to attend her father. She used to fan him, draw water and work in the kitchen. One day the Guru was sitting on his couch (chauki) in deep meditation, when Bibi Bhani noticed that one leg of his couch had broken. Fearing that his meditation would be disturbed, she put her arm in place of the broken leg to support the couch. When the Guru opened his eyes, he found blood coming out of Bibi Bhani’s arm. On inquiry Bibi explained that broken leg might have caused disturbance in his meditation and so she thought herself fortunate to serve Guru by substituting her arm for the broken leg of the couch. The Guru commented,” Whosoever does good work, shall reap the reward thereof.” He invited her to ask for any favor. She humbly requested that the Guruship should remain in her family. It is believed that the Guru told Bibi Bhani that the Guruship was not a bed of roses and he warned her of the trouble and torture that the later Gurus would have to go through. Bibi Bhani agreed to embrace all those troubles, and again requested to grant her the wish that the Guruship would remain in her family. So far the Guruship was earned by obedience and devotion to the Guru. Here again Bibi Bhani earned it, for her family, with her devotion and sacrifice. The Guru granted her the wish and the Guruship thereafter remained in Bibi Bhani’s family.
Guru Nanak appointed his successor at Kartarpur but asked him to go and live at Khadur. Guru Angad asked his successor, Guru Amar Das to live in Goindwal. Guru Amar Das asked Jetha to search for a place other than Goindwal as a residence for the Sikhs. Jetha found an open land about 25 miles from Goindwal, and he established himself there. He built a house for himself and got a tank excavated which was called Santokhsar. It is also believed that the Guru asked Jetha to excavate another tank towards the east which would be called Amritsar- tank of nectar.
Guru Amar Das having tested Jethaji in every way, found him perfect and asked for special congregation. Then he asked Bhai Ballu to bring coco-nut and five paise. He asked Jethaji to bathe and clothe in new raiment. Then the Guru descended from his throne and made Jethaji seat on it and called him Guru Ram Das. Bhai Buddha, according to the custom, attached the tilak of Sovereignty to Guru Ram Das’s forehead.
Among great rejoicing, all Sikhs made offerings according to their means and saluted Guru Ram Das on his appointment. This ceremony was performed on August 30, 1574 at Goindwal.
Guru Amar Das proclaimed,” God’s summons hath come. Let there be no mourning when I have gone, sing God’s praises, read God’s Word (Gurbani), hear God’s Word and obey God’s Will.” On the first of September, 1574, Guru Amar Das left for his heavenly abode and the spirit blended with the Master Spirit.
FN-1: Guru had a mare.
FN-2: A Brahman draws a small square and washes the spot with water and calls it a purified square. He then prepares his meals within the square. If anyone enters the square, it gets polluted and the food prepared inside the square then is deemed impure