Bibi Amro Ji
by Sawan Singh Gogia
Bibi Amro, daughter of Guru Angad Dev, the second Master and Mata Khivi, was the noble woman who deserves the credit of attracting Amar Das, an idol worshipper, to Sikhism. Later on, he became Guru Amar Das, the 3rd Master. Thus she was an indirect instrument in the development of Sikhism.
She was born in 1532 at village Khadur near Amritsar. She had two brothers, Dassu and Datu, and one younger sister named Anokhi. She received her early education directly from her parents. Guru Angad Dev taught her, along with the other children, to read and write in Gurmukhi script, which he had revised and simplified. She also learnt many sacred hymns from her father. Writer of the Bansawali Namma writes that she had learnt by heart sacred hymns like ‘Sidh Goshat’. 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. Bhai Gurdas, a well–known Sikh scholar, also belonged to this family. Bibi Amoro‘s parents encouraged her to continue singing sacred hymns and to preach Sikhism. Giani Gian Singh, writer of Panth Parkash, writes on page 84 that she was a religious minded and virtuous lady. (Dharmatam Gun Roop Lapeti). Writer of Suraj Parkash also certifies the fact that devotion had manifested itself in the body of Bibi Amro. She was an ideal daughter in law who spent her time in meditation, household affairs and service of her family.
Amar Das, real brother of Bhai Manak Chand and her husband‘s real uncle, lived in the house next to her. He was attracted to the sacred hymn (Shabad) of Guru Nanak sung by her in her sweet melodious voice early in the morning when she was churning curd. He was in a receptive mood and in search of a Guru. The sacred hymn touched his heart. Two last lines from this hymn written on page 990 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib along with their meaning are given below:–
bhaeiaa munoor ku(n)chun fir hovai jae gur milai thinaehaa ||
eaek naam a(n)mrith ouhu dhaevai tho naanuk thrisuttas dhaehaa ||
(Copied from www.sikhitothemax.com )
The mind turned into rusted iron is again transformed into gold if it meets with the (philosopher‘s stone of) the Guru. He blesses the mortal with the Ambrosial Name of the One Lord, and then, O Nanak, cease therewith ( the wanderings of)the mind.
He approached Bibi Amro through her mother in law, Bibi Bhago, and wanted her to repeat that hymn once more. She hesitated, but being encouraged by her mother in law, she sang it once again. Amar Das asked her who composed it and where he lived. She said, “It was composed by Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru, predecessor of my father. I have learnt it from my father, Guru Angad Dev, the second Guru who lives at Khadur.” She also explained to him the meaning of the whole hymn. His interest grew so much that he wanted to learn more about Sikhism. He asked her to take him to her father. She did not want to go uninvited and more over she had been there only a few days ago. On being asked by her mother in law, she accompanied Amar Das to Khadur the next day.
Amar Das was 62 and Guru Angad Dev was only 37 at that time. In spite of that Guru Angad Dev stood up out of respect to embrace Amar Das as he was the uncle of his daughter’s husband. Amar Das fell at the feet of Guru Angad Dev and said, “I have come not as a relative, but to be your disciple and follower”. Amar Das became a devoted Sikh and Guru Angad Dev made him his successor, ignoring his own sons. Thus through Bibi Amro, Guru Amar Das got the chance of becoming the Guru and leading the Sikhs . This also raised the prestige of Bibi Amro in her family.
Some writers have written that Guru Amar Das had made Bib Amro in-charge of one of his 22 teaching districts called Manjis (cots). It means that such a person would sit on Manji while the other Sikhs sat on the ground and listened to his/her preachings. He/she guided the Sikhs of his/her area in religious matters and accepted their offerings for the Guru. This appointment can be compared to the position of Bishop in the Christians Church. Bibi Amro’s district included Basarke, her husband’s village, and surrounding few villages. It is due to the efforts of Sikh preachers like Bibi Amro that Sikhism spread so rapidly in that area.
There is a tank (man made pool) near the village Basarke and it is called Bibi Amro Da Talab (Tank of Bibi Amro). It reminds everybody that a noble soul, Bibi Amro who occupies a special place in the Sikh History once lived there.
“India-USA Magazine” is thankful to Mr. Sawan Singh Gogia to allow us permission to bring to you this article. In the coming weeks, we plan to publish more of his work on the web and also in the Magazine.
About the Author: Sawan Singh Gogia
Sawan Singh Gogia was born at Narpur Thal District Sargodha (Pakistan) on 23rd December, 1923 in a middle class Sikh family. His father, the late S. Partap Singh was in business, earlier as a cloth merchant, and later as a share broker. S. Sawan Singh received his early education in Mian Channu and then at Nurpur. (both in Pakistan). As he was a brilliant student with proficiency in Persian, he passed Munshi Fazal exam in 1942. For a number of years, he worked a teacher and it was only after partition that he did his graduation privately while in service (he attended DAV College Ambala for two months only) and BT (Bachelor of Training) from Govt. College, Faridkot (1949–1950 respectively.)
He started his regular teaching career in 1950 at Government Balbir School, Faridkot and while in service he completed his Graduation in History and Post Graduation in Punjabi. He got a state award for being one of the best five heads of five schools, when he was serving at Mansa. He became Principal of a Government Primary Teachers Training (JBT) School at Budhlada (Bhatinda) and served there until he was deputed with the Punjab School Education Board, Mohali as officer in charge of the Adarsh Schools. From there he retired in December, 1981. From 1984 to 87 he served as Honorary Founder Principal of an Elementary Model School started by Gurdwara Sector 15, Chandigarh (Gurdwara Guru Tegh Bahadur), which is now a recognized Higher Secondary School. As a teacher he was always a role–model by self example and also by guiding the students regarding the spiritual values and teachings of Sikh religion.
When his retired life started after shifting to USA where his three sons and only daughter are settled, he took the role of a teacher and a writer on Sikhism. In highly advanced age, he learnt operating computer and started working as a dedicated teacher. He has written 12 books and more than 100 articles on Gurbani and Sikh history which can be seen on his website www.sawansinghgogia.com He himself published some of these books but never sold any of them. Rather, he distributed them in different Gurdwaras, not for free, but for the donation that went to the Gurdwaras where distributed.
Three of his books, namely, “Thus say Sri Guru Granth Sahib”, “Noble and Brave Sikh Women”, and “How to Reach God?” have been published by a reputed publisher of Amritsar. Seven of his books are being sold on line by Amazon in many countries. Most of his articles are published in the Sikh Review (Kolkata), Abstract of Sikh Studies (Chandigarh), Kesar Mari (Delhi), Gursikh (Canada), Sikh Bulletin (California) and Punjabi Weeklies in USA. On Sundays, He serves in the library having four thousand books at Gurdwara Sikh Center, Santa Ana.
Now Sawan Singh Ji is 93 years old and remains a role–model playing his role of a teacher and a writer with dedication and spirit having complete faith in the grace of God. He still does one Sehaj Path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib every year by reading about four pages with meanings each day. He is grateful to his dutiful and religious minded sons who have supported him and enabled him to do whatever he wanted to do for his religion. He lives in Santa Ana, California, USA.