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Guru Angad Dev Ji's Contributions and His Message

04/23/2007

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    This is the nature of ego, that people perform their actions in ego. This is the bondage of ego, that time and time again, makes people suffer”

    Eliminate your conceit and then perform service to humanity,
    Only then you will be get honor - Guru Angad Dev


    Guru Angad Dev ji’s Contributions and His Message

    On April 18, 2007, the Sikhs marked the 503rd Birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev ji, the second Guru in Sikhism. The appointment of Guru Angad by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, as his own successor was an event of far reaching significance in the evolution of Sikhism. The second Guru, who believed to have embodied the spirit of his great predecessor, consolidated the infant faith movement through his energy and his global vision.

    On this auspicious occasion, let us remind ourselves of the simple and sublime teachings of Guru Angad, which are non-sectarian and universal in their application. Guru Angad is one of the world teachers whose message is of universal application and is valid for all time. It has particular relevance not only to us but to the whole of mankind at this critical period of human history, If only we pay heed to it, we can surely foster universal brotherhood based on mutual love, respect and understanding, and we can build and promote international peace.

    Guru Angad and His Contributions:

    Gurmukhi Script and Education

    Guru Angad Dev ji started the schools and also developed the Gurumukhi language in order to make education available to the downtrodden and the underprivileged of the society at that time. Guru Angad was a great teacher who personally taught Punjabi in Gurmukhi script to children. He provided education and means of communication to common folk who would no longer be dependent on the religious or political establishment to pursue their own economic, educational or spiritual goals. This was his way of empowering people to have higher goals in life.

    An imperfect Punjabi alphabet existed at the time of Guru Nanak, but Guru Angad modified and polished it. Since the Guru Angad had adopted the modified alphabet, it was called 'Gurmukhi'- meaning that which is spoken through the mouth of the Guru. Gurumukhi became the medium of writing in which the hymns of the Gurus were expressed and it also suited to the language of the people. Although the origins of the Punjabi Alphabets are unclear, it is clear that Guru Angad popularized the use of this simplified Gurumukhi script among the Sikhs starting around 1541.

    The invention of Gurumukhi helped the early Sikh community to dissociate itself from the Sanskrit religious tradition. Sanskrit language was used by the Brahmins, the upper castes and it was the language of the Vedas, the Hindu religious texts. People of lower castes and untouchables were barred from reading any spiritual literature. This maintained the status of the superiority of the upper castes. Gurmukhi enabled the Sikhs to grow and develop their own unprejudiced spiritual literature. Creating this new script was significant for many reasons. It gave the people who spoke this language an identity of their own, enabling them to express their thought without any restrictions. The guru also saw the need of a script which could faithfully reproduce the hymns of the Gurus keeping its purity and which would also prevent misinterpretation or misconstruction by any reader to suit his own purpose and prejudices.

    This step by Guru Angad Dev helped secure the unhindered development and growth of Sikhism. Guru Angad also initiated the writing of the first authorized biography of Guru Nanak completed in 1544, as well as having a number of copies of Guru Nanak's hymns written out in the new Gurmukhi script.

    Physical Fitness:

    Guru Angad took a keen interest in physical fitness, and encouraged his devotees to be involved in sports after their morning prayers. Guru Angad Dev ji inspired people to lead healthy lives. According to Guru ji, if you are physically fit only than you can pursue higher goals in life, because a sound mind can exist only in a sound body. He provided opportunities to underprivileged sections of the society to maintain good health. He encouraged all people to be involved in wrestling bouts or Mal Akharas to compete in physical competitions. This was again his way of doing away with social taboos of people of lower caste not having physical contact with higher castes. These steps initiated by him laid the foundation for a spiritually, educated and enlightened, healthy Sikh community, without distinctions of caste and creed.

    Women’s role:

    The position of woman at the time was deplorable. She was looked down upon because she was thought to be inferior to man and was regarded as merely a temptress. She was confined to her home and was not allowed to participate in any public work. Guru preached that man and women were equal before God. He welcomed women to the Sangat, offered them seats side by side and gave them religious rights that have so far been denied to her.

    Guru Angad scarcely worked alone. His wife and partner, Mata Khivi, is a very important woman who contributed significantly to Sikhism. Mata Kheevi played a major role in enlarging the women participation in the leadership position in Guru’s court. Mata Khivi was instrumental in creating and maintaining the institution of langar, whereby all devotees of the Guru and all people in general, were invited to come and eat together. This practice started initially with Mata Khivi serving food to the members of the community and the visitors who would come to see Guru Angad and it came to symbolize the Guru’s teachings; emphasizing the humanity in every single person and abolishing any innate discriminations. She did her job in a skillful and selfless manner, characteristic of her, and evoked spontaneous respect among the people. Her role in that capacity was unique and revolutionary because women were usually not seen in the forefront of the society. She also made sure that the food being fed was nutritious and wholesome because many who came to see Guru were needy and destitute. Mata Kheevi would embrace them all and offer love and food. She was, to use the simile of the contemporary ministrel Balwand, like a shady tree to the Guru’s disciples and afforded them effectual shade. Her role and praise is recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib.

    To this day, after every service, visitors to a Sikh gurudwara witness a congregation who join and eat Langar together. Langar also emphasized that service to fellow man was an important tenet of the Sikh way of life, as it is customary for members of the congregation to serve one another.

    Guru Angad Dev ji’s Message:


    Equality:

    Guru Angad stood for a casteless and classless society, in which no one was superior to the other and no one, through greed or selfishness, could be allowed to encroach upon the rights of others. In short, he visualized a society in which members lived like a family, helping and supporting one another. He not only preached equality but practiced it. To promote the acceptance of human equality, Guru established a community kitchen where all sat together in a row, regardless of caste or status, and ate the same food.

    Guru Angad said, “He Himself creates, O Nanak; He establishes the various creatures. How can anyone be called bad?. There is One Lord and Master of all; He watches over all, and assigns all to their tasks. Some have less, and some have more; no one is allowed to leave empty.” – Guru Angad Dev

    Furthermore, the guru stressed the importance of adopting a uniform way of praising God and the utility of a social organization based on equality. He established a holy congregation, or Sangat, where people of different beliefs and varying social status sat together to hear the Master’s singing of hymns and to be inspired to lead a noble life.

    Devotion and Love towards God:

    Guru stressed the oneness of God. The purpose of life is to seek God, find him and be united to Him. He called upon the people to give up formal and superficial rituals and rally around the Creator, who alone was Omnipotent and Omnipresent. According to Guru Angad, no one has ever found acceptance or achieved self-realization without true devotion to God.

    O Nanak, if someone judges himself, only then is he known as a real judge. If someone understands both the disease and the medicine, only then is he a wise physician. Do not involve yourself in idle business on the way; remember that you are only a guest here.”


    Good deeds are important but winning God’s Grace is still more important. Pride, greed and ego are the greatest distractions to keep away humans from the Creator. A guru or a spiritual divine teacher is needed to guide the man on the true path.

    “That virtuous person who does not walk in the way of greed, and who abides in Truth, is accepted and embraced by God”.

    This is the nature of ego, that people perform their actions in ego. This is the bondage of ego, that time and time again, makes people suffer”

    Guru Angad Dev also emphasized that one must control the greed and worldly attachment because they are impediments in the path of God. One must stay focused on the inner development.

    “They know that they will have to depart, so why do they make such ostentatious displays? Those who do not know that they will have to depart, continue to arrange their affairs. He accumulates wealth during the night of his life, but in the morning, he must depart. O Nanak, it shall not go along with him, and so he regrets.”

    “The mouth is not satisfied by speaking, and the ears are not satisfied by hearing. The eyes are not satisfied by seeing—each organ seeks out one sensory quality. The hunger of the hungry is not appeased; by mere words, hunger is not relieved. O Nanak, hunger is relieved only when one utters the Glorious Praises of the Praiseworthy Lord.”


    Fearlessness:

    He was a constructive architect of a society which focused on the social and religious freedom and equality, promoting dignity of action without distinction of caste and status. He was born at a time when ritual, caste distinctions and superstition had reduced the people to a low level of existence. He gave them courage and uplifted them.
    He taught the people to lead a righteous life and show due reverence and respect to God instead of supplicating before men. By his own example he made the people fearless and put a new life and spirit in them.

    “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.”


    The Guru also extolled the dignity of labor and decried the division of society on grounds of birth and founded a classless society based on the idea of equality and universal brotherhood.

    He was particularly aware of the degradation which the lower classes of the people suffered through centuries at the hands of rulers and the so called high caste people. He aligned himself with the down-trodden and the less fortunate sections of the people and preferred to stay with the working class people.

    Company of the Holy:

    Guru Angad confirms that “those who meditate on the Eternal Lord, who is fearless and is All Pervasive, are not only themselves emancipated, but they rescue many others form this net of illusion.”

    Sewa:

    Guru Angad believed in the service and well-being of all mankind and not just of his own followers. He laid stress on character building rather than observance of rituals and formalities. The path which Guru Angad pointed out to his Sikhs for achieving enlightenment was through service and good actions and devotion and worship of one God. He asked his followers to win Divine grace by prayer, singing His praises, cultivating humility, a spirit of service and submitting at all time to His will.
    Paying a fine under pressure, does not bring either merit or goodness. That alone is a good deed, O Nanak, which is done by one’s own free will. Sewa has to be done selflessly.

    Eliminate your conceit and then perform service to humanity,
    Only then you will be get honor - Guru Angad Dev

    Divinity Within:

    He stressed the importance of the physical body as an instrument of spiritual development. He told his followers that there was a spark of divinity in every human being. The body is the temple of God as it houses the soul. God’s presence can be felt by deeper contemplation and reflection within.

    “Twenty-four hours a day one looks for contentment in eight different directions but one must also explore the ninth place, which is to their own body and contemplate within. Within the body are the nine treasures of the Name of the Lord—seek the depths of these virtues. Those blessed with the karma of good actions praise the Lord and become true devotees” – Guru Angad Dev

    “Those who are blessed with the glorious greatness of Your Name — their minds are imbued with Your Love. O Nanak, there is only One Ambrosial Nectar; there is no other nectar at all. O Nanak, the Ambrosial Nectar is obtained within the mind, by Guru’s Grace.”

    Life of Action:

    He held firmly that physical austerity was not necessary and that spiritual development was not dependent on ritual and external wanderings.
    “austerity and everything come through immersing oneself in the meditation of the Lord’s Name. All other actions are useless. O Nanak, believe in the One who is worth believing in. By Guru’s Grace, he is realized.

    Guru Angad was at once a spiritual teacher and a man of action. To Guru Angad, religion was not only a spiritual experience but a way of life. Every action must have an impact of spirituality, humility and love. This can be achieved if one is always conscious of the presence of God. Guru Angad insisted that there should be harmony between thought and action and purity in life.
    “Doing some thing unwillingly or doing under pressure from someone, does not bring either merit or goodness. That alone is a good deed, O Nanak, which is done by one’s own free will.”

    “Mortals are known by their actions; this is the way it has to be. They should show goodness, and not be deformed by their actions; this is how they are called beautiful. Whatever they desire, they shall receive; O Nanak, they become the very image of God.” -Guru Angad Dev

    “O Nanak, the worldly achievements and glory is worthy of being burnt in the fire if it causes one to forget God. Usually these worldly things has caused mortals to forget the the Name of the Lord. Not even one of them will go along with you in the end.” - Guru Angad Dev



    - Dr Rajwant Singh
    Sikh Council on Religion and Education
    www.sikhcouncilusa.org
    202 460 0630
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