Aṅgad, Guru

(A. D. 1504—1552)

Sikhism, the youngest of world reli-gions, was started by Guru Nānak (A. D. 1469—1539). It was nurtured, developed and stabilized by a succession of Gurus up to Guru Gobind Singh (A. D. 1666—1708) who declared that the sacred book, the Granth, respectfully called Guru Granth Sāhib would take the place of the Guru thereafter.

Guru Aṅgad was the immediate successor of Guru Nānak, chosen and anointed by Nānak himself. Before ordination his name was Lehna. Lehna who was the son of a trader called Pheru and lived in Khadur in the Punjab was a devotee of Mother Durgā. He used to lead pilgrims to the Durgā temple and the Jvālāmukhi (a volcanic vent nearby). By chance, he once heard the recital of the famous Sikh prayer Japji and diligently sought after its author. When he finally met the Guru Nānak his joy knew no bounds.

Then began his long tenure of single-minded and devoted service to his guru. During the period of internship and training he endured all the tests, trials and tribulations and earned Guru Nānak’s confidence and faith in the fullest measure. Much against the opposition of his own wife and two sons, Guru Nānak chose Lehna—now called Aṅgad—as his successor and anointed him as the next Guru in A. D. 1539.

Aṅgad, though eminently fitted for the Guru’s place, had to contend with the powerful rivalry of Siri Chand, Guru Nānak’s eldest son, who had started the Udāsī sect, a sect with Sikh principles and an ascetic character. In course of time this sect got merged in the general body of the Sikhs, mainly due to Guru Aṅgad’s efforts.

Another challenge he had to face was from the orthodox Hinduism. To keep up a distinct character for the Sikhs and Sikhism, he improved upon the Gurumukhi script and committed the hymns of Guru Nānak to writing, in that script, making it available to the common folk who got a scripture of their own, in their own language.

Aṅgad further strengthened the two institutions of laṅgar (free kitchen) and saṅgat (regular religious meetings in groups) established earlier by Nānak.

Vigorous preaching of Nānak’s doctrines, simple life in conformity with those doctrines, building a new town called Goindwal and introduction of physical culture as part of life and religion were his other contributions.

Guru Aṅgad breathed his last in 1552 at the age of forty-eight.