In September 1539, Guru Nanak passed on the Guruship to Bhai Lehna, who was then renamed to Guru Angad Dev Ji.
Guru Angad Dev Ji was born in March 1504 in the village of Matte-di-Sairan in Ferozpur but eventually his family moved to Khadpur. His father was Sri Pheru Mal Ji, a kind-hearted grocer and his mother was Mata Sabrai Ji. He was married to Sri Khivi Ji in 1519 and had two sons namely Dasu and Datu and two daughters, Amro and Anokhi.
Like his father, he was a devout worshipper of the goddess Durga and accompanied him on his annual pilgrimage to the temple of the goddess. During one of these journeys he came across Bhai Jodha, who was reciting a prayer which touched him deeply. On enquiry he was told that it was Guru Nanak’s prayer, he decided to pay a visit Guru Nanak in Kartarpur. Upon meeting Guru Nanak at the age of 27, Lehna became a devout disciple of Guru Nanak and renounced his former practices.
Under the benign influence of the divine personality of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, he stayed on in Kartarpur for seven years in dedicated service of his Master. Bhai Lehna (old name of Guru Angad Dev Ji), would not hesitate to carry out the wishes of Guru Ji even for an instant. No act was regarded as below one’s dignity in Guru Nanak’s domain.
Once, during his stay in Kartarpur, Guru Nanak has asked his sons to pick a utensil, which has fallen in to the dirty drain, but they refused to do as said. Without any hesitation, Bhai Lehna, jumped at once into the dirty drains with his clothes on and pulled out the utensil.
Another instance was during the mid-winter when Guru Nanak has asked Bhai Lehna to rebuild a wall which had crashed. Disregarding the intense cold he sat to the task of rebuilding the wall and completed it.
Bhai Lehna followed every word what Guru Nanak Dev Ji told him to do. Impressed by his sincere devotion and his spirit of humility Guru Nanak Dev Ji called him ‘Angad’ – part of myself – and finally called him as Angad Dev.
|Guru Angad’s first encounter with the divine light was in 1532 and he himself became the divine light in 1539.|
Guru Nanak instructed Lehna to return to Khadur to instruct people in the ways of Sikhism. Here Lehna spent his time in prayer and serving the people. He distributed food to the poor daily. Longing to be with Guru Nanak he eventually returned to Kartarpur where he became totally devoted to the service of Guru Nanak. After undergoing countless tests, Guru Nanak eventually appointed Guru Angad as his successor in 1539 Upon the death of Guru Nanak, Guru Angad returned to Khadur where he went into seclusion and meditation for six months. Eventually a delegation of Sikhs led by Baba Buddha convinced the Guru that they needed him. Guru Angad longed for Guru Nanak, when he said to Baba Buddha:
“He whom you love, die for him. Accursed is the life without the beloved. The head should be sliced that does not bow before the Master. O Nanak! the body should be burnt that suffers not the agony of separation.” (Sri Rag) “He who has been blessed by Guru Nanak is lost in the praises of the Lord. What could one teach those, Who have Divine Nanak as their Guru ?” (Majh)
Guru Angad followed the daily routine that Guru Nanak had. He would wake up early at dawn to recite Guru Nanak’s Japji (Morning Prayer) as well as sing Asa di var with his congregation, work during the daytime and then have evening prayers.
Guru Angad also maintained langar where people of all religions and casts could gather for a free meal. Guru Angad also took a keen interest in physical fitness, and encouraged his devotees to be involved in sports after their morning prayers. It thus became a permanent part of the practice of the Sikh faith.
Guru Angad invented the present form of the Gurmukhi script. He guided and encouraged the Sikh devotees to make copies of the holy hymns for recitation and meditation which had brought about a complete change in his own life. It became the medium of writing the Punjabi language in which the hymns of the Gurus are expressed.
Earlier, the Punjabi language was written in the Landa or Mahajani script. This had no vowel sounds, which had to be imagined or construed by the reader in order to decipher the writing. Therefore, there was the need of a script which could faithfully reproduce the hymns of the Gurus so that the true meaning and message of the Gurus could not be misconstrued and misinterpreted by each reader to suit his own purpose and prejudices. The devising of the Gurmukhi script was an essential step in order to maintain the purity of the doctrine and exclude all possibility of misunderstanding and misconstruction by interested persons.
Whilst carrying out his mission he made use of two qualities of which he has become a ‘Model’ to all the Sikhs. He taught them self-less service and showed them the way to devotional prayers. Guru Angad Dev Ji is synonymous with ‘Nishkaam Sewa and Bhagati’.