First of all, Guru Angad Dev turned his attention to the collection of Guru Nanak’s hymns, which were mostly written in a language called Lande Mahajni, and some of them which had not been written at all, but were sung regularly. Guru Angad knew Lande Mahajni. He modified the language by giving its alphabets a better shape, and a new order. The new script came to be called Gurmukhi or from the mouth of the Guru. It was in this script that Guru Angad wrote down the hymns of Guru Nanak, penned down his own compositions, and gave lessons to the villagers.
By compiling Guru Nanak’s hymns, Guru Angad not only saved them for the
forthcoming generation, but also negated the possibility of misinterpretation. It provided the basis of the essential Sikh doctrine that there is no essential difference between the Guru and his shabad or bani (word). Guru Angad Dev assigned a very high place to the shabad by making it a pathway to salvation.
However, by limiting his sermons to only one language he was unable to draw followers from outside Punjab.
Guru Angad followed the tradition of free kitchen (langar) set up by Guru Nanak.
However, he was more involved than even Guru Nanak. He served the meals to the visitors who were often poor and of other castes, and even sat down to eat with them.
Thus, he broke the shackles of the caste system which were so binding in that age. The persons incharge of the kitchen were supposed to be polite and sweet.
To perpetuate the principle of dignity of labour and self dependence, the Guru’s wife, Mata Khivi, worked in the kitchen with the other workers. The Guru himself earned his living by twisting coarse grass called myrj into strings used for making cots. The offerings of the langar were served to people sitting in a line. This helped in erasing social and economical inequality of caste and creed, and also provided a medium of social integration.
Guru Angad is said to have established a new town, Goindwal, near Khadur. There is an interesting story about how this town came into existence.
One of Guru Angad’s disciples, named Gobind, also known as Gondu, was fighting a case with his relatives. He used to often pray to Guru Angad and had vowed that if he won the case he would establish a new township on the shores of the river Beas, to show his gratitude. He won the case and as promised, sought the Guru’s blessings and began to work on the township. However, the masons were astonished to see that whatever they put up during the day, would be destroyed by night. At first, they thought that there was some fault in the material they used, but within a few days, they came to the conclusion that it was the work of the evil spirits that was believed to haunt the place.
They went straight to Gobind and
narrated the unusual happenings to him.
Gobind in turn went to Guru Angad to seek his help with the holy work. The Guru promised to help him. He knew that there were no spirits, but that certain trouble makers in Khadur were responsible. He then sent for his disciple, Amardas, and asked him to stay near the construction site and personally supervise the work there.
Amardas did as he was told, and within no time the township was complete, without any further mischief. Guru Angad then named the town ‘Goindwal’ after his founder devotee Gondu, and blessed the city.
Guru Angad, however, did not leave his ancestral house at Khadur. But he did not want to disappoint Gondu either. And so, he asked Amardas, who he knew would soon succeed him as the next Guru, to go to Goindwal and establish himself there.
Amardas, who considered Guru Angad’s orders as the last word, left for Goindwal immediately with his family. But so strong was his will to serve Guru Angad that he would get up early in the morning everyday, and carry water for his Guru’s bath, all the way to Khadur. He would attend to his Guru’s needs all day and in the evenings, he would return to Goindwal.