Sri Guru Amardas Ji
Sri Guru Amardas Ji, the Third Nanak was born at village Basarke Gillan in Amritsar district on Vaisakh Sudi 14th, (8th Jeth), Samvat 1536 (5th May 1479). (Some chronicles mention the month of April 1479). His father Tej Bhan Bhalla and mother Bakht Kaur (also referred as Sulakhani and Lakhmi Devi) were orthodox Hindus and used to pay annual visits to the Ganges river at Haridwar. Sri Guru Amardas Ji was married to Mata Mansa Devi ji and had four children: two daughters; Bibi Dani ji and Bibi Bhani ji (she was married to Sri Guru Ramdass Ji), and two sons; Mohan ji and Mohri ji.
Once Sri Guru Amardas Ji heard some hyms of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji from Bibi Amro Ji, the daughter of Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji. He became too much impressed and immediately went to see Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji at Khadur Sahib. Under the impact of the teachings of Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji, Sri Guru Amardas Ji adopted him as his spiritual guide (Guru). Then he started living at Khadur Sahib. He used to rise early in the morning, bring water from the Bias River for Guru’s bath and fetch wood from the Jungle for „Guru ka Langar‟.
Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji appointed Sri Guru Amardas Ji as third Nanak in March 1552 at the age of 73. This was a result of his services and devotion to Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji and his teachings. He established his headquarters at newly built town Goindwal. There he propagated the Sikh faith in a very planned manner. He divided the Sikh Sangat area into 22 preaching centres. (Manjis), each under the charge of a devout Sikh. He himself visited and sent Sikh missionaries to different parts of India to spread Sikhism.
He strengthened the tradition of „Guru ka Langar‟and made it compulsory for the visitor to the Guru saying that “Pehle Pangat Phir Sangat”. Once the emperor Akbar came to see Guru Sahib and he had to eat the coarse rice in the Langar before he could have an interview with Guru Sahib. He was too much impressed from this system and expressed his desire to grant some royal property for „Guru ka Langar‟, but Guru Sahib declined it with respect. Sri Guru Amardas Ji persuaded Akbar to waive off toll-tax (pilgrim‘s tax) for non-Muslims while crossing Yamuna and Ganga, Akbar did so. Sri Guru Amardas Ji maintained cordial relations with emperor Akbar.
He preached against Sati and advocated widow-remarriage. He asked the women to discard “Purdah” (veil). He introduced new birth, marriage and death ceremonies. Thus he created a fence around the infant like Sikhism and there upon met stiff resistance from the Orthodox Hindus and Muslim fundamentalists. He fixed three Gurpurbs for Sikh celebrations: Dewali, Vaisakhi and Maghi. Visiting of Hindu pilgrimage centres and paying tributes to the Muslim places were prohibited.
Sri Guru Amardas Ji constructed Baoli at Goindwal Sahib having eighty-four steps and made it a Sikh pilgrimage centre for the first time in the history of Sikhism. He reproduced more copies of the hymns of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji. He also composed 869 (according to some chronicles these were 709) verses (stanzas) including Anand Sahib, and Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji made all the Shabads part of Guru Granth Sahib.
Sri Guru Amardas Ji did not consider anyone of his sons fit for Guruship and chose instead his son-in law (Guru) Ramdas Ji to succeed him. Certainly it was practically a right step not as emotional, because Bibi Bhani ji and Guru Ramdas Sahib had true sprit of service and their keen understanding of the Sikh principles deserved this. This practice shows that Guruship could be transferred to anybody fit for the Sikh cause and not to the particular person who belonged to the same family or of other. Sri Guru Amardas Ji at the ripe age of 95 passed away for heaven on Bhadon Sudi 14th, (1st Assu) Samvat 1631, (September 1, 1574) at Goindwal Sahib near District Amritsar, after giving responsibility of Guruship to the Fourth Nanak, Sri Guru Ramdas Ji.