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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh

 

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Contribution of Guru Angad Dev Ji in the Field of Education

Dr Rajni Bala

Education in the largest sense is any act or experience that has formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. In its technical sense, education is the process by society deliberately transmiting its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another.

Education develops the individual like a flower which spreads its fragrance all over the environment. In this sense education is that conducive process which drags a person from darkness, poverty and misery by developing his individuality in all its aspects-physical, mental, emotional and social. With the harmonious development a person becomes a responsible, dynamic, resourceful and good citizen of good moral character who uses all of his faculties to develop himself, his society and his nation to the highest extent by contributing his best to the national honour, glory, culture and civilization of nation of which he is a part, an integral part. Education is the backbone of national development. The money spent on education is an investment in the future of the country. Education is the most effective instrument for bringing progressive change.

Guru Angad Dev Ji played an important role in the field of education. Guru Angad Dev {Bhai Lehna Ji} was born in the village named Harike in Ferozepur district in Punjab on Vaisakh Vadi 1st{5th Vaisakh} samvat 1561{March 31,1504}.He was the son of a petty trader named Pheru Ji. His mother’s name was Mata Ramo Ji (also known as Mata Sabhirai Mansa Devi and Daya Kaur) Baba Narayan Das was his grand father, whose ancestral house was at Matte-di-Sarai near Mukatsar He was married to Mata Khivi Ji in January 1520 and had two sons {Dasu Ji and Datu Ji} and two daughters {Amro Ji andAnokhi Ji} The whole family of Pheru Ji had to leave their ancestral village because of the ransacking by the Mughal and Baloch militia who had come with Babur. After this the family settled at village Khadur Sahib beside the Beas river, near Tarn Taran Sahib {A small town about 25 km away from Amritsar}. Once Bhai Lehna Ji heard the recitation of a hymn of Guru Nanak Sahib from Bhai Jodha Ji {a Sikh of Guru Nanak Dev Ji} and was thrilled and decided to proceed through Kartarpur to have a glimpse of Guru Nanak Sahib at the time of yearly pilgrimage to Jawalamukhi Temple. His very first meeting with Guru Nanak Dev completely transformed him .He renounced the worship of Hindu goddess, dedicated himself so profoundly and selflessly to the doctrine of Guru Nanak Sahib and his faith was so great that he was installed as the Second Nanak on September 7,1539 by Guru Nanak Sahib himself. Earlier Guru Nanak Dev Ji tested him in various ways and found an embodiment of obedience and service in him. Guru Nanak gave him the name of Angad{Guru Angad Sahib}. He had spent six or seven years in the service of Guru Nanak Dev ji at Kartarpur. On the advice of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Angad Dev Ji left Kartarpur for Khadur Sahib near Goindwal Sahib. He carried forward the thoughts of Guru Nanak Dev Ji both in letter and spirit .Yogis and Saints visited him and held detailed discussions about Sikhism with him.

Guru Angad Sahib introduced a new alphabet known as Gurmukhi Script, modifying the old Punjabi script. It became the script of masses very soon. He took great interest in the education of the children by opening many schools for their instruction and thus increased the number of literates. For the youth he started the tradition of Mall Akhara, where physical as well as spiritual exercises were held. He collected the facts about Guru Nanak Dev Ji‘s life and got it written the first biography of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He also wrote 60 shalokas {stanzas},these are included in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. He popularised and expanded the institution of Guru Ka Langar started by Guru Nanak Sahib. Earlier, Guru Angad Sahib visited all important places and centres established by Guru Nanak Dev for preaching Sikhism. He also established hundreds of new sangats, i.e.Sikh religious institutions and thus strengthened the base of Sikhism The period of his Guruship was  the most crucial one .It was difficult for Hinduism to swallow the newly formed Sikhism. Sikhism established its own separate identity. “Eliminate your conceit and then perform service to humanity; only then you will beget honour”-Guru Angad Dev ji

Thus Guru Angad Dev made education available to the downtrodden and the under privileged of the society. Guru Ji 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 dependant 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 ‘lande’ alphabet existed at the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, but Guru Angad Dev Ji modified and polished it. Since Guru Angad Dev had adopted the modified alphabet, it was called Gurmukhi, meaning that which is spoken through the mouth of Guru. Gurmukhi became the medium of writing in which the hyms of Gurus were expressed and it also reflected the language of the people. Although the origin of the Punjabi Alphabet is not known, it is clear that Guru Angad Dev Ji popularized the use of this simplified Gurmukhi Script. The invention of Gurmukhi helped the early Sikh community to dissociate itself from the Sanskrit as a religious compulsion. Sanskrit language was used by Brahmins, the upper caste and it was the language of the Vedas, the Hindu religious texts. People from lower castes and untouchables were barred from reading any spiritual literature. This maintained the status of superiority of the upper castes. Gurmukhi enabled the Sikhs to grow and develop their own unprejudiced spiritual literature. 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 hyms of the Gurus keeping its purity and which would also prevent misinterpretation or misconstruction by any reader to suit his own purpose and prejudices. He gave utmost importance to the teacher. “If a hundred moons were to rise, and thousand suns to appear, even with so much light, there would still be pitch darkness without the Guru.”-{Guru Angad Dev Ji}

Guru Ji took 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 a healthy life. He believed that sound mind can exist only in a sound body. He provided opportunities to under privileged sections of society to maintain good health. He encouraged all people to be involved in wrestling bouts or Mal Akharas to compete in physical competitions. These steps initiated by him laid the foundation for spirituality, education and enlightenment of the Sikh community without distinctions of caste and creed.

He worked a lot for women education and their equal status with men. The position of women’s at that time was deplorable. They were looked down upon because they were considered to be inferior to men and were regarded as mere temptresses. They were confined to home and not allowed to participate in any public work. Guru Ji welcomed women to the sangat, offered them seats beside men and gave them religious rights that were till then denied to women. Mata Khivi, Wife and partner of Guru Ji was a very important woman who contributed significantly to the spread of Sikhism. She played a major role in enlarging the women’s participation in an important position in the Guru‘s court. Mata Khivi was instrumental in creating and maintaining the institution of langar, whereby all devotees of the Guru Ji and all people in general were invited to come and eat together. This practice started initially in Guru Nanak’s time at Kartarpur, received impetus with Mata Khivi lovingly serving food to the members of the community and visitors who would come to see Guru Angad Dev Ji . She did her job in a skillful and selfless manner, characteristics 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 made sure that the food being served was nutritious and this fact has been recorded in Guru Granth Sahib Ji

Guru Angad Dev Ji 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 .He not only preached equality but practised it. To promote the acceptance of human equality, in langar, all sat together in a row, regardless of caste or status and ate the same food.

“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 go empty” (Guru Angad Dev Ji.) Guru Ji wanted fearless society because downtrodden people were afraid of upper castes. He, as a constructive architect of the society which focused on the social and religious freedom and equality, promoting dignity of action without distinction of caste and status. He taught the people to lead a righteous life and show due reverence and respect to the Supreme instead of supplicating before men. By his own example he made people fearless and put a new life and spirit in them. Guru ji also extolled the dignity of labour 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 people suffered through centuries at the hands of rulers and the so called upper class people. He aligned himself with the downtrodden and the less fortunate sections of the people and encouraged the working class people.

Guru Ji believed in the service and well-being of all mankind and not just his own followers. He laid stress on character building rather than observance of rituals and formalities. Guru Angad Dev Ji was at once a spiritual teacher and a man of action. Guru Ji established the tradition of using Nanak as his pen-name to demonstrate his total fusion with Guru Nanak Devji, which was adopted by the succeeding Gurus and proved of great significance in the Mentor’s continuity and consolidation in the Sikh religion.

 

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