Emperor Akbar and the Guru : Guru Amar Das JI

Akbar, the Mughal emperor, visited Goindwal to meet Guru Amardas after the victory over the Rajputs at Chittbre. Akbar met Guru Amardas at Chaubara Sahib. Even today Chaubara Sahib is a double storeyed building in an enclosed courtyard. The room, which the Guru had occupied, has its walls and ceiling artistically made with glass and stones of different colour set in multi-coloured plastic designs.

When Emperor Akbar reached Goindwal he was told of the Guru’s instructions that nobody could see him unless he had taken his food in Guru-ka-langar. The king partook of the simple food in the langar. The more he had it the more he wanted it.

Later, he had an audience with the Guru.

Emperor Akbar was impressed by the equal treatment given to one and all at the langar.

The king wished to make a contribution to the Guru by granting jagirs for the maintenance of free kitchen. The Guru declined the offer.

Emperor ^Akbar, however, presented the jagir to Bibi Bhani, the Guru’s daughter. The Guru accepted it saying that the emperor’s contribution would be utilised for the widows and orphans, with Bibi Bhani as the trustee and treasurer. Those villages later on formed the nucleus for building the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Jetha

One day, a group of devotees from Lahore arrived at Goindwal and expressed their wish to see the Guru. They had walked all the way from Lahore to have a glimpse of Guru Amardas and pay their respects to him. After they had eaten at the langar, the Guru granted them an audience. He met his devotees, and blessed them all.

In the group, Guru Amardas noticed a handsome young man, who had been

introduced to him as Bhai Jetha. He could not help staring at Jetha as he saw a strange sparkle in his eyes and a certain glow in his face. He was also struck by the sincere devotion he had for him.

All the while that he stayed there in Goindwal he was never still and idle. He would always be busy doing some work or the other. What “pleased Guru Amardas most was that he did all the work with equal joy, dedication and satisfaction, no matter how demeaning the job was. He would always be busy cleaning utensils in the kitchen or serving food in the langar or helping in the construction of the bawli. He would look after his Guru’s personal needs, and soon, Guru Amardas developed a deep affection for Bhai Jetha. He also learnt that the boy was from a poor but hardworking family, who were also very religious by nature. He had joined the group of devotees only because he wanted to see the Guru he had heard so much about.

Bhai Jetha had decided that he wanted to stay on at Goindwal and serve the Guru. He asked his Guru’s permission to stay. Guru Amardas was only to happy. Even the Guru’s family was pleased that he was staying back since he had endeared to them through his devotion and selfless service. One day, when Guru Amardas’s wife was pestering him to look for a suitable match for their daughter, Bibi Bhani, Guru Amardas immediately decided on Bhai Jetha, and soon they were married.

On the wedding day, Guru Amardas,

while blessing his son-in-law, Bhai Jetha, asked him to choose a gift for himself, as was the tradition in those times. At this, Jetha humbly asked to be able to serve mankind as God to the best of his ability. Immensely pleased with his answer, Guru Amardas blessed him and also realised then that Bhai Jetha had all the qualities and virtues that were needed in a Guru. He found him worthy of the seat of the Guru because of his devotion and dedication to God and man. Even after his marriage, Jetha continued to stay in his Guru’s house, and serve him with the same dedication as before.

Pilgrimage by Guru

It is said that the Guru undertook pilgrimage to the sacred Hindu places on the advice of Emperor Akbar, so that the Guru’s detractors would have no cause to complain. He travelled through Ambala, Pipli,

Kurukshetra and Karnal. When they were crossing the Yamuna bridge in Panipat the collector demanded tax. Guru strongly felt that there should be no tax on God’s worship.

So the Guru brought the matter to the notice of Emperor Akbar. Akbar was a just king and on Guru Amardas’s advise he abolished the religious tax.