Guru Amar Das ji and King Akbar
Akbar was a famous king of India. He was a kind and good king and respected the Sikh Gurus for their teachings. In the year 1569, Akbar came to the Punjab and wanted to see the Guru. So he sent a message to Guru Amar Das ji that he was coming to visit him. The Sikhs were very happy at the news. Some Sikhs thought that special arrangements should be made to welcome the king. But the Guru said, “Akbar is as much a human being as others are. The Guru’s place is open to all. The king and his subjects, the Hindus and the Muslims, the rich and the poor are all equal here. So Akbar will be welcomed like all other visitors to the Guru’s place and special arrangements need not be made.”
“Caste has no power in the next world; Only the humble are exalted there. It is only the good who are honoured for good acts.” ( Guru Amar Das in GGS ji – 469 )
The king, along with the Rajah of Haripur, arrived in Goindwal where the Guru lived. The Guru and a few Sikhs received them warmly. They were shown round the place. Akbar was interested to know how the Guru’s Langar was run. Simple food was served to all in the Guru’s Langar. It remained open day and night. Travellers, beggars, and strangers, as well as the followers of the Guru, were all served with food. Whatever was left was thrown to the cattle and birds so that nothing was wasted. The Guru had given an order that all persons coming to visit his place must have their food in the Langar(when hungry). There they were to sit in rows (Pangat) as equals and were to be served simple food in turn.
Akbar and the Rajah of Haripur took their meals in the Guru’s Langar. They sat among the common people in a row and the Sikhs served them food. They enjoyed the simple food and were very happy. Akbar liked the working of the Guru’s Langar very much. Before leaving, Akbar said to the Guru, “I like Guru Nanak’s religion very much and I respect you for your teachings. I want to make a grant of land for running the Langar. Would you mind it!”
“Dear Akbar,” said the Guru, “I am very glad you like the path of Baba Nanak. I am also grateful to you for your offer of a grant of land for the Langar, but I am sorry I cannot accept it because the Guru likes all to work hard to earn (Kirt Karni) and to share their honest earnings (Wand Chakna) with others, by giving something to the Langar from their honest earnings to help others. As such, the Guru’s langar is the people’s (Sangat’s) Langar and it must be run on people’s free gifts and not on a royal grant. That is why all share equally in the Guru’s Langar and no one is looked upon as an outsider. In the Guru’s Langar, each gives as much as we can spare and takes as much as he/she needs. Here, there is no difference between kings and beggars. All sit together; and eat simple food served with loving care.” Akbar liked the Guru’s idea very much.