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The Teachings of Guru Amardas Ji
The Teachings of Guru Amardas Ji

Sikh Missionary Society: Publications: The Teachings of Guru Amardas Ji:

 His Teaching and Philosophy

His Teaching and Philosophy: Sikh Way of Life

The life of Guru Amardas is an example of how an ideal man lives in this world. His Sewa (voluntary and selfless service) of Guru Angad and the entire Sangat (congregation) which he did for a period of more than eleven years, is a model of holy and ideal living. The purpose of Sewa is the elimination of the ego, which is a hurdle in the way of universal love remembrance of God's Name. Ego has to be over-come through humility and works of charity. Even when the disciple does good deeds, worldly people criticise him. However, if he does not take to heart what others say and shows patience and practises for-bearance, people will ultimately realise the value of his work and wisdom.

Guru Amardas' attitude to Datu - son of Guru Angad - is a great lesson for every Sikh. Datu kicked the Guru but the latter did not retaliate and quietly left the village. He never minded the apparent insult in the presence of the congregation. On the contrary, he showed exemplary patience and thus won the respect of his followers. Similarly his forbearance and humility in the face of hostility and aggression of Gond Marwaha, Tappa and the Brahmins of Goindwal is a testimony to his saintly nature. The story of Prema the leper whom he cherished and brought back to good health - and later got married - is an outstanding example of his benevolent disposition and his great compassion.

One day, Bhai Budha lovingly asked Guru Amardas on behalf of the sangat, to tell them of the Sikh discipline in daily life. The Guru replied as follows: "Listen, O Sikhs of the Guru! Get up early at dawn and take a bath. Then sit in a corner and collect your mind and recite the Holy name till sunrise with concentration. Then go about your daily work or profession and earn your living honestly. Do not tell lies or speak ill of others. Share your joys and sorrows with your fellow beings. Resign yourself to the will of God and do not find fault with the doings of the Creator. Do not run after transitory pleasures of this world. Give up deceit, jealousy, and covetousness. Always seek the company of the good and the virtuous. Mould your conduct according to the instructions of your religious guide".

His Teaching and Philosophy: His Philosophy

Guru Amardas laid down the universal highway for every seeker of Truth. In this connection, I have given in this section quotations from the hymns of the Third Guru. Guru Amardas learnt the Sikh way of life from his predecessors and emphasised the important role of the Guru in guiding the discipline. Fortunately, we have now the permanent guidance of Sri Guru Granth Sahab which contains the message and the instructions of the Gurus.


According to Guru Amardas, the Guru is a kind of boat or ship to ferry man across the world's tempestuous ocean, or a ladder for spiritual ascent Guru Amardas says in this connection:

"Imbued with the Name, the True Guru is the ship in the Dark Age" (p.552).
"By serving the Guru, man saves his capital; the Guru is a ladder or boat of salvation. Nanak says, he who loves God receives the quintessence. The true Lord is attained through the true mind." (p. 1279)
The Guru destroys the disciple's ego through humility and service:
"Nanak says, by meeting the True Guru, man's self-will is destroyed, and the True Lord comes to dwell in his mind" (p.560).
"Without the Guru, man cannot perform Bhakti and cannot love the Holy Word" (p.1417).
"Divine knowledge and the jewel of Naam are obtained from the Guru; after subduing desire, the mind remains stable within" (p.1044).
The Guru holds the key to the spiritual treasure. Guru Amardas says in his connection:
"In the True Guru's hand is the key. None else can open the door. By perfect good luck, the Guru is met" (p.124).
"Virtues are accumulated and vices disappear. With the Guru's help, one merges in the Holy Word" (p.361).
Commenting on the Three-fold aspect of the Guru - God, the perfect man, the Shabad (Gurbani) - Guru Amardas concludes that all the three constitute a single Reality:
"There is one Bani (divine gospel) uttered by the only Guru and one Shabad (Holy Name) to reflect upon" (p.646).
"Everyone talks of bliss, but bliss is obtained through the Guru" (p.917).
"The perfect Guru showed me the Lord, and through the Guru's hymns, I realised him" (p.592).
(2) SEWA:

The Guru also teaches the disciple the true way of service of all creation, without any show or motive. The disciple must submit himself to the guidance and the will of the Guru:

"When one does the service of the Guru, the mind becomes pure and finds refuge in the true Home" (p.120).
"Through the service of the Guru, one gets real happiness, which cannot be found anywhere else" (p.548).
"Nanak says, if one follows the will of the Guru, one naturally merges in the Truth" (p.1249).

The Guru recognised the validity of all religions and revelations and prayed for universal welfare.

"O God, do save this burning world through Thy Grace, Save it by whatever way it can be saved" (p.853).
All men and women are equal, because they are the creation of the Lord:
"From the Unique Lord come all forms and colours. The air, water and fire are kept together amongst all" (p. 160).
"The whole world is made out of one clay, but the Potter has fashioned it into vessels of many kinds" (p. 1128).

The Company of the pious is beneficial to the disciple for his spiritual progress. The Guru calls mammon a snake and holy-men snake charmers. In the society of saints, man learns Sadhana (spiritual practice) and the secret or technique of Naam Simaron (Remembrance of the Holy Name). God's elixir is relished in the saint's congregation. The company of like minded pious persons strengthens the devotee's conviction and provides him a lot of moral support in his spiritual effort. Guru Amardas says in this connection:

"Come dear saints, let us speak of the gospel of the Ineffable God" (p.918).
(5) DETACHMENT: Through the Sikh leads a family life, his mind does not get involved in worldly matters. He does not renounce the world, but rather its worldliness and mammon. Guru Amardas describes the life of the Gurmukh (God-orientated person) in the following words:
"the Guru-orientated becomes desireless and attain to supreme bliss. In house-hold, they remain unattached and imbibe affection for the Lord. Sorrow and separation cling not to them and they remain happy in the Lord's Will. Nanak says, they ever remain imbued with their God and He blends them with Himself" (p.1249).
The disciple does actions but they are done without the ego or the self and as such, these "detached" actions brings no reactions:
"He alone is above actions who reflects over the Guru's hymns. Within his mind is the divine knowledge and thereby he effaces his ego" (p.128).

Guru Amardas affirms that the Holy Name is within man himself, but its secret is imparted to him by the Guru. Kirtan or the singing of the glories of God disassociated man from his physical environment and takes him to the inner consciousness. Since Kirtan is nothing but the Holy Name, man feels the presence of the Guru. Then the Guru takes him to the Shabad and thus the meditation of the Holy Name produces a inner joy, which is called Amrit rasa or Har rasa.

"Imbued with the Lord's nectar, I now easily sing His praise and my tongue utters the Lord's Name" (p.1049).
"The tongue tastes the Lord's nectar; the mind is drenched with the Lord's love, and the mortal medicines on the True Name. The inner well is brimful with the Lord's ambrosia. Through the Name's meditation, the tongue draws and drinks it" (p.570).
Guru Amardas realised that bliss is obtained by singing the Lord's praise and His glory:
"Within the minds of devotees is bliss. They are imbued with the love of the True Lord. Night and day, they ever sing the praises of the Pure One and are easily absorbed in the Praiseworthy Lord" (p.122).
"In the minds of such friends of God is bliss. They reflect over the Guru's hymns, They enshrine the Name of their minds, their pain is dispelled and the Creator blesses them with Divine Light" (p.549).
God's Name is the sweetest delicacy. It removes all sorrows. It is the surest way to salvation:
"O my Soul, supremely sweet is God's Name. It is the destroyer of sins and fears of millions of births. By the Guru's grace, the Unique Lord is seen" (p.1233).
"Let some one see and study the Shastras and Simiritis, Without the Name, none is emancipated" (p.229).
But one must understand the Shabad and reflect on it and put it into practice:
"Within this body are the nine treasures of the Name and they are attained by reflecting on the Guru's word" (p.754).
"Man melodies of joy play for one in whose mind the Lord's Name abides" (p.917).

The benefits of meditation on the Holy Name or the singing of hymns are significant. Firstly, just as soap removes dirt, in the same way, the Holy Name washes clean the inner consciousness of man. Secondly, it smoothens the path of Sadhana and helps in the life of service, piety and noble action. The disciple carries out his daily chores with a sense of peace and joy.


Devotion is nothing but love and respect for the Guru and the Holy Name. The devotion finds expression in conduct and action. Look at Guru Amardas' love of Guru Angad. Even while accidentally stumbling on a stormy wintry night, he minded the pail of water meant for the bath of his Guru. He thought of his beloved Guru then, instead of his own fall or injury.

"If one forgets the Beloved for a moment, what kind of devotional service is it; One whose body and soul are soothed by the True Name never allows his breath to go to waste" (p.35).
The disciple surrenders his all - body, mind and soul - to the Guru and the Lord:
"Surrender your body, soul and wealth to the Guru and submit to his Will to win the Lord" (p.918).

Without God's grace, the devotee's efforts may not succeed. Man does his best to please the Lord and yet not get near Him. Sikhism is essentially a religion of grace. Sadhana or spiritual effort or what is called Kamaee has to be blessed by the Lord in order to bear fruit. Man may sow the seed, water the plant and supervise the crop, but what harvest can he reap if there is flood or snow:

"If an account is called for, by God, who could satisfy Him? Accounting cannot bring any satisfactory result The True Lord Himself grants pardon and having forgiven blends Himself" (p.111).
"By God's grace, the mortal serves the Guru and through God's grace, the service is performed. By God's grace, the mind is controlled, and by His grace the mind becomes pure" (p.558).

God in His grace can awaken a sleeping mortal and give him enlightenment and wisdom:

"He who has made the mortal sleep shall awaken him. By the Guru's instructions he obtains understanding" (p.112).
When the disciple serves the perfect Lord, he gradually imbibes His virtues and walks in His Way:
"If you walk according to His Will, you shall be like Him whom you serve" (p.549).

In Anand Sahab, Guru Amardas has given in detail the gospel of bliss and the means to achieve it. Firstly, he has pointed to the hurdles that lie in the way and which have to be crossed. These hurdles are: argumentation, worldly wisdom, neglect of higher values, ritual, false-hood, hypocrisy, duality, greed, avarice, ego - in short the manifestations of maya. The responsibility of the family and professional career and commitment to the community are real challenges to test the mettle of man. Secondly, the Guru has mentioned certain positive steps which the disciple has to take in order to develop his spiritual side. The association with the Guru, the sincerity of Sadhana, selfless service the company of the holy, the performance of, or listening to Kirtan or Gurbani, the relish of Nam rasa, the direction of organs of perception and organs of action like eyes, ears, the tongue and others to higher goals, and finally the acceptance of God's Will are some of the necessary steps towards the earning of God's grace. When the Sahaj stage or Dasam duaror Tunya is attained, all sorrows and maladies vanish, the fear of death is overcome and divine melody is heard within, and ineffable joy is experienced. The devotee shines with an inner radiance and wisdom which make him feel the presence of God within himself.

He is Jiwan-mukt - liberated while alive - and he merges in the Ocean of Bliss:

"Some rare Guru - ward becomes emancipated in life He easily blends with Him, the True God" (p.232).
Merger in the Infinite is the final goal of human life. It is difficult to describe this condition. Like a dumb man who cannot tell the taste of a sweet fruit after eating it, the devotee - intoxicated with the divine nectar - cannot depict the state of bliss, because it is beyond the experience of the physical senses.
"He who soars above the nine gates (organs) and hears the playing of the celestial melody in the Tenth gate is liberated" (p.110).
"Their hearts remain saturated with God's elixir and their mental pride is destroyed; Their mind-lotus blooms and their meditation is dissolved in the Lord" (p.26).
Guru Amardas relates his own experience of the state of beatitude in the following words:
"There, one neither sleeps nor hungers; he lives in peace in the true Nectar - Name of God; Nanak says, pain and pleasure cling not to man; there is the illumination of the All-Pervading Soul" (p.1414).
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