Friday, May 27, 2011

Amru Nithawan.....Guru Amar Das Ji

Guru Amar Das

Sometime in the mid 16th century in Punjab near Goindwal, at a distance of 52 kms from Amritsar,…there was a small sleepy village Khadur and Guru Angad Dev Ji….. the second Guru  lived there and spread the message of God from here for years .

An elderly man named Amar Das served him in the Langar. He spent most of his time in remembering God and doing service for the Guru and his the people.. He used to get up at midnight and go to the river Beas, about three miles away….. After having his bath there, he would bring water for the Guru's early morning bath.

For twelve years he never failed this duty.

Amar Das was 62 years old….. Amar Das had crossed six decades of his life as a Hindu ……What happened that changed him to such an extent the he became immersed in the tenets of Sikhism?

Bibi Amro….
Bibi Amro was the daughter of Guru Angad Dev Ji. She received her early education directly from her parents, they taught her, along with her brothers and sister, to read and write in Gurmukhi script…..The script which he had revised and simplified. She also learnt many sacred hymns from her father as she had been gifted by nature with a sweet voice. In short, she was a talented girl.
When she came of age, she was married to Bhai Jasoo  son of Bhai Manak Chand, a well-known religious minded person of village Basarke, about eight miles from Amritsar.
Bibi Amro with father and Amar Das ji
Bibi Amoro’s parents encouraged her to continue singing sacred hymns and to preach Sikhism.
 As was the custom of the day, at the right age, she was sent to live with her husband's family in Basarke. Her father, Guru Angad though encouraged her to continue doing Kirtan and simran and to preach Sikhism to all that she came in contact with.
Her father-in-law, Manak chand had a brother called Bhai Amar Das who often visited his brother's house which was just next door. So Amar Das was her husband's uncle.
Once when he was visiting his brother's home, Amar Das heard Bibi Amro singing Japji. He was quite taken by her sweet melodious voice and touched by the deep meaning within the words.
He was so overwhelmed by the sacred Japji that He instantly rushed to the Holy Feet of Guru Nanak the Second, Sri Guru Angad Sahib.
This happened in 1540.

It is narrated that this is how she first introduced Amar Das to the teachings of Sikhism. As his interest grew it was she who sent him to her father to learn more about these teachings. Amar Das was so deeply influenced by Guru Angad Dev ji that he became a devout Sikh, so much that Guru Angad Dev ji announced him as his successor.

Thus for Guru Amar Das ji, the third Guru got to be his destiny of becoming a Guru through Bibi Amro.

But before this  for years, the aged Amar Das served His Beloved Satguru with unparalleled selfless devotion, adoration, and worship and wrapped himself in his bliss and divinity.

This was his unique and selfless Guru-Sewa, Guru-Bhavna, Guru-Prem, and Guru-Puja .

Once, it was a dark and rainy night. It was cold outside during January, 1552. As usual, Amar Das went to bring water for the Guru to bathe. He filled the brass pitcher with water from the river and started on his way back. Due to heavy rain, the path was filled with knee deep water. While groping through the dark, his foot stumbled against a peg of Karir tree (Capparis aphylla).

He fell into the pit of a weaver’s loom. Amar Das held fast on to the pitcher. On hearing the crashing sound, the weaver and his wife woke up to see who it was.
The weaver asked his wife, “who has fallen at our door.”
Weaver’s wife grumbled and said to her husband sarcastically, “who else could he be, but the Amru Nithawan ( homeless Amru) who neither sleeps nor rests”.

Duru Angad Dev ji

When this news reached Guru Angad dev ji ( 2nd Guru Nanak ) he said " Amardass ji is not homeless "infact Sri Guru Angad Sahib then said Amar Das Ji:

Purkha Ji (Guru Amar Das), ….You are the Shelter of the Shelterless.
Purkha Ji,…………………You are the Help of the Helpless.
Purkha Ji,………………..You are the Support of the Supportless.
Purkha Ji,…………………You are the Abode of the Abodeless.
Purkha Ji,………………..You are the Honour of the Honourless. 
Purkha Ji,………………………You are the Anchor of the Anchorless. 
Purkha Ji,………………..You are the Supreme Hope of the Hopeless. 
Purkha Ji,…………………………You are the Home of the Homeless. 
Purkha Ji,………………….You are the Refuge of those without any Refuge,
Purkha Ji,……………………..Strength of those without any Strength. 
Purkha Ji,………………………….You are the Conferer of all the Nine Treasures. 
Purkha Ji,……………………….You are the Bestower of Bread to the World. 

Guru Angad  Succesion

Months sliped by ..,,,then one day Guru Angad Dev Ji called his two sons, Datu and Dasu, in the Diwan ……Sikh religious meeting. He also called Amar Das. Then he said, "O my followers, I have found Amar Das to be a man of God and a hard worker. He is noble, gentle, kind, humble and intelligent. I, therefore, make him the next Guru of the Sikhs." 

Datu and Dasu were very upset to be rejected like this and they left the place grumbling.

After Guru Angad's Dev Ji ‘s death, Guru Amar Das left Khadur and moved away to Goindwal, which is on the bank of the river Beas. He moved to Goindwal from Khadur to avoid conflict with Guru Angad's son's., elder of whom named Datu had declared himself as a Guru.
Guru Amar Das performing last rites  

Guru Amar Das ji were on Gurugadi from 1552 to 1574,
Janam asthan Basarke

Guru Amar Das is the third Guru of the Sikhs. He was born at Basarke in Amritsar on May 5, 1479. He was married to Bibi Ramo Ji. He had two sons Mohan and Mohri, and two daughters, Bibi Daani and Bibi Bhaani.

Guru AmarDas ji was born as Bhalla Khatri at village Basarke about 13 kms south-west of Amritsar. His father was Tej Bhan Bhalla,, a local minor trader. They were all staunch sanatanists, and vegetarians.He often went to Haridwar and Jwalamuki on pilgrimages and strictly observed all religious rites and ceremonies.

Guru Amar Das is known for his humility and selfless service. He preached the good values of Simran, Sewa and Humility to realize self and Akal Purakh.

Gurgaddi was bestowed upon him at the age of 73 at Khadur Sahib on March 29, 1552. He spent most of his life at Goindwal.
Khadur Sahib

 Till today the seat of Sikh religion during the time of the second, Guru Angad Dev Ji turned the small village of Khadur into Khadur Sahib. A majestic Gurudwara Khadi Sahib or Khadur Sahib has been constructed here in remembrance of Guru Amar Das. 

The place where the beautiful Gurudwara stands today once had a khadi or loom of a cloth weaver
Guru Amar Das Ji took  many significant steps. He established new centres for conveying to the people the message of Guru Nanak. Guru Amardas ji,

  • Condemned Hindus for Sati,
  •  Allowed widow remarriage and
  • Against Caste systems
  •  He started Guru Ka Langar.
  • Guru Amar Das established missionary system to spread Sikhism
  • He constructed wells and water reservoirs.
  • He compiled Bani of his successors in the shape of Mohan Pothis.
  • He encouraged the Sikhs to get together in the shape of Sangat. He developed the spirit of Sewa (selfless service) among the Sikhs irrespective of caste, color and creed.
  • Guru Amar Das established 22 Manjis to strengthen the economy and religious preaching of the Sikh faith.

Emperor Akbar came to meet Guru Amar Das ……Emperor Akbar was asked first to 
take Langar. Then The Guru  impressed upon the Emperor to abolish Jazia (Discriminatory Tax) imposed on non-Muslims. He was a great reformer.

Guru Amar Das Ji selected Bhai Jetha …..Guru Ram Das, his son-in-law to be the fourth Guru of the Sikhs. ….Thus succession to Gurgaddi

 The Guru left for eternal abode on September 1, 1574 at Goindwal Sahib.
Gurudwara Goindwal

Bani of Guru Amar Das in Sri Guru Granth Sahib is clear and in simple words. Bani of Anand Sahib (Hymn of Bliss) is spiritual masterpiece of Guru Amar Das.
Guru Amar Das composed 907 hymns in 17 Ragas. He composed Anand Sahib in Rag Ramkali. His Bani describes the eternal bliss.

ਸਲੋਕ ਮਃ (1281)
Shalok, Third Mehl:
ਬਾਬੀਹਾ ਿਜਸ ਨੋ ਤੂ ਪੂਕਾਰਦਾ ਿਤਸ ਨੋ ਲੋਚੈ ਸਭੁ ਕੋਇ (1281)
O rainbird, the One unto whom you call - everyone longs for that Lord.

ਅਪਣੀ ਿਕਰਪਾ ਕਿਰ ਕੈ ਵਸਸੀ ਵਣੁ ਿਤਰ੍ਣੁ ਹਿਰਆ ਹੋਇ (1281)
When He grants His Grace, it rains, and the forests and fields blossom forth in their greenery.

ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਿਵਰਲਾ ਬੂਝੈ ਕੋਇ (1281)
By Guru's Grace, He is found; only a rare few understand this.

ਬਹਿਦਆ ਉਠਿਦਆ ਿਨਤ ਿਧਆਈਐ ਸਦਾ ਸਦਾ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਇ (1281)
Sitting down and standing up, meditate continually on Him, and be at peace forever and

ਨਾਨਕ ਅੰਿਮਰ੍ਤੁ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਵਰਸਦਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਿਖ ਦੇਵੈ ਹਿਰ ਸੋਇ (1281)
O Nanak, the Ambrosial Nectar rains down forever; the Lord gives it to the Gurmukh. ||1||

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Last Post....

The Story :May be its true,    ....maybe folklore …

Some of you may have heard the haunting song, 'The Last Post.' It's the song that gives us the lump in our throats and usually tears in our memory of all those young soldiers who never came back....

But, do you know the story behind the song? 
If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings.

Of all military bugle calls none is so easily recognised or more apt to render you   poignantly emotional ….as ‘The Last Post’. 

Originally it was significant to signal…‘lights out’ for troopers ….But , since 1885 all military funerals bid  farewell to a fallen comrade….  By playing The Last Post…..this very haunting  musical composition.

This bugle call has been passed down through the centuries in many countries of the world as an accompaniment to the impressive last rites of a soldier’s farewell - the closing bars wail out their sad valediction to the departing warrior.

If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which The Last Post was played; this will bring out a new meaning of it.

The bugle calls… Last Post is inextricably part of the end of day traditions which include Beating the Retreat and Tattoo.

Retreat is an older custom dating back to the 16th Century  consisting of prolonged drum beating at sunset to warn the night guard to mount their horses and begin the duty of the night sentinel… also was a reminder that the gates of the town walls were about to close. 

This custom was also part of the rituals at end of day battle procedure when guns fired a salute and a hymn played in honour of those who had fallen in battle during the day……. At this time of evening the troopers would march the colours …

Today this latter activity is replaced by the lowering of the National Flag.

Americans have an even more haunting tune, ‘Taps,’….a rendition of The Last Post” played at all their military funerals, wreath layings and memorial services as a tribute to their fallen.  Both tunes give us a lump in our throats and sometimes tears in our eyes. 

The story behind the bugle call…is both interesting and clouded in controversy……This may be a myth…however it makes a very moving tale to tell….

So they say… all began in 1862 during the American Civil War. Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia.  and the Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the quiet of the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field…..  Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the suffering wounded soldier back for medical attention.

Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the wounded soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.
When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier he had pulled back…. but sadly the soldier was dead.
The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. 
In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier…… and was stunned to see that he was his own son. 

His son was a mere boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out…..  Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The next morning the heartbroken father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status.
 His request was only partially granted. …
Capt  Ellicombe had requested if he could have a group of Army band members to play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. 
This request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. 

Out of respect for the father, however, they did approve his having one musician only. Capt Ellicombe chose a bugler and asked him to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform.  This request was granted.
The haunting melody we now know as “Taps” and is used in all military funerals was born.

Even as a moving story, it accurate with respect to time of composition and place of origin of the bugle call, but perhaps it cannot be authenticated without doubt as search of the Union muster rolls finds no record of a Captain Ellicombe whatsoever. May be its true….maybe folklore …

 It’s a pity, because it made a great story …..
The official record is again set in July 1862 following the Seven Days Battles at Harrison’s Landing, the wounded commander of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division of the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac, the then Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, collaborated with his bugler, Oliver Wilcox Norton, to re-work another bugle called the “Scott Tattoo” to create “Taps”.  

This is a beautiful piece of music, which can get deep in your soul.....

The words are:………………

Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lakes
From the hills.
From the sky.
All is well..
Safely rest.
God is nigh.

Fading light.
Dims the sight.
And a star.
Gems the sky.
Gleaming bright.
From afar.
Drawing nigh.
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise.
For our days.
Neath the sun
Neath the stars.
Neath the sky
As we go.
This we know.
God is nigh

I too have felt the chills while listening to 'The Last Post' but I  have never seen all the words to the song until now.  I didn't even  know there was more than one verse . 

I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn't know if you had either so I thought I’d pass it along.
  • I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.
  • Remember those who were lost and  wounded  while serving their country.
  • Also remember those who have served and returned; and for those presently serving in the armed forces.
A fallen soldier

Memorial to the fallen soldier

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dalai Lama, on the Millenium

Way on life

All sacred texts need to be understood to understand that they say the same thing....To build a more loving world ...we HAVE  to make an effort to spread the message.... :-))...

Instructions for Life From the Dalai Lama, on the Millenium

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs:
-Respect for self
-Respect for others and
-Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship. 

7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life. 13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon

Friday, May 6, 2011

Parenting Skills

Are You Doing Your Job

Culture has often been compared to water surrounding a fish. A fish is not aware that it is even wet because it knows of no other way to live. The point is that we are exactly the same as the fish. They're born into an environment and adapt to it without much thought.

Within that environment comes our culture. The fact that a ‘way of life’ plays such a predominant role in shaping our persona; we must ponder and evaluate our parental skills.

What is the ultimate goal for your children?

How much of current parenting trends do we pass on to our kids without stopping to reflect on them?

Believe it or not, even that varies by culture and time.

In Japan, parents wish for their kids to be "successful", particularly when it comes to business.
In some parts of the Middle East, parents primarily want their kids to be "devout in faith".
In America, we say we want our children to be "happy". But can a kid obtain all of these things.

So let us accept that parenting trends vary and sometimes clash from culture to culture.

So who is to say what is right or what is wrong… !!!

But God's message does not change with the time.

He sent his teachers over the ages to different places. Our Guru’s were our teachers. It is universally felt that the question of learning should be matured by parents, and the laws of nature be a guide to teach their kids how to act and live.

The ultimate goal for a child would be simple - to grow up as a good human being and HUMANISM is the basis of all religions.

So the challenge to parents is this— what values are you passing on to your children and where are you getting them from? If you are solely relying on culture, you will be sadly disappointed as culture changes so quickly both with time and place.

And your kids will question the values you teach them, so we need to have reasons for why we do what we do...not just the cliché of "because I said so."

So that settles the culture question.

For if we do not, we will truly be a fish out of water.

Help Us

Help us create a hub. It is our effort to give parents fun, practical tools for passing their faith on to their children. And all faiths edify only harmony and love.

Build Bridges. If you take the time to build a bridge with your kids and open up their hearts, they will be ten times more receptive to what you have to say.

You are the only one who can help us to put together a feel good factor in the young people. For if they respect themselves they will respect others. They will never resort to self abuse of any kind and become a performing member of society. They will become achievers.