AṄGAD DEV, GURŪ, (1504-1552), the second of the ten Gurūs or prophet-teachers of the Sikh faith was born Lahiṇā on Baisākh vadī 1, Sammat 1561 Bikramī, corresponding with 31 March 1504. His father, Bhāī Pherū, was a Trehaṇ Khatrī and a trader of humble means, whose ancestral home was located near the village of Matte dī Sarāi, now known as Sarāi Nāṅgā, 16 km from Muktsar, in present-day districṭ of Farīdkoṭ in the Punjab. His mother's name is variously given as Sabhirāī, Rāmo, Dayā Kaur and Mansā Devī.

        In Māgh 1576 Bk/January 1520, he was married to Khīvī, daughter of Devī Chand, a Marvāh Khatrī from the village of Saṅghar, near Khaḍūr, in Amritsar district. Two sons, Dāsū and Dātū, and a daughter, Amaro, were born to the couple. According to some writers, Gurū Aṅgad had two daughters, Amaro and Anokhī.

        Lahiṇā became a disciple of Gurū Nānak in his late twenties. There are two main versions concerning the manner in which he was converted to the teachings of Gurū Nānak. The janam sākhīs of the Purātan tradition describe Lahiṇā as the pujārī of Khaḍūr. With only one exception, the inhabitants of Khaḍūr were all worshippers of the goddess Durgā and Lahiṇā accordingly served as a pujārī of the Devī cult. The one exception was a Sikh who regularly chanted Gurū Nānak's hymns. On one occasion, Lahiṇā overheard him singing a śabda and upon asking who had composed it he was told that it was by Gurū Nānak. Further converse with the Sikh convinced Lahiṇā of the truth of the Gurū's words and, casting aside the trappings of Durgā-worship, he too became a Sikh. No initial meeting with Gurū Nānak is described in this account. The next Purātan anecdote assumes that Lahiṇā is already in his company at Kartārpur. The other version, to be found in the Ādi Sākhīāṅ (q. v.), the B40 Janam Sākhī (q. v.) and the Miharbān Janam Sākhī (q. v.), opens with Lahiṇā living in the village of Harīke, near Matte dī Sarāi. In common with other inhabitants of the village, Lahiṇā made an annual pilgrimage to a "shrine of Durgā" which the Mahimā Prakāsh Kavitā later identifies as Jvālāmukhī. On one such pilgrimage, the party happened to pass by Kartārpur and, hearing that it was the abode of the renowned Gurū Nānak, they decided to visit the village in order to receive his darshan. While they were in his presence, Gurū Nānak briefly conversed with Lahiṇā who was instantly converted. In spite of the protests by the pilgrim party which he was leading, he announced that the purpose of the pilgrimage had been fulfilled in Kartārpur and that he would proceed no further. For the remainder of his master's lifetime, he resided partly in Kartārpur and partly in Khaḍūr .

        Gurū Nānak bestowed the name Aṅgad on him to signify that the disciple had become as much a part of him as his own limbs (aṅg). Aṅgad devoted himself whole-heartedly to the Gurū's word and to deeds of service. He cleaned the utensils and swung the fan. The janam sākhīs and the Mahimā Prakāsh lay insistent stress on the patient, unquestioning loyalty of Aṅgad the disciple, distinguishing him in this respect not merely from Gurū Nānak's sons but also from other reputable disciples whose endurance proves to have limits. This quality of Aṅgad's character is repeatedly affirmed through a series of anecdotes, each seeking to express a limitless faith and boundless humility. These stories, explicitly or by implication, point forward to Aṅgad's succession as Gurū. Because he surpasses all others in loyal obedience, he is the disciple chosen to lead the Panth at the death of its first Master.

        Two anecdotes from the janam sākhīswill serve to illustrate this aspect of Gurū Aṅgad's character. Aṅgad once visited Gurū Nānak out in the fields and was there commanded to carry a bundle of wet paddy back to the house. Notwithstanding the fact that he was wearing new clothes, Aṅgad unhesitatingly seized the sodden bundle and placed it on his head. By the time he reached the house, slime oozing from the paddy had ruined his clothing. When Gurū Nānak's wife protested at such apparently thoughtless treatment, he replied that far from being drenched with mud he had in fact been baptized with saffron. The slime was, in other words, the insignia of his unquestioning obedience and so of his fitness for the succession. The second anecdote recounts the incident which is said to have clinched the succession issue. In order to test the loyalty of his followers, Gurū Nānak once escorted them to a jungle where he made silver and gold coins appear before them. Many of his Sikhs immediately disqualified themselves by seizing all they could grasp. Further on most of those who remained eliminated themselves by picking up jewels which had similarly appeared on the ground before them. Only two Sikhs now remained, one of them being Aṅgad. Gurū Nānak led them to a funeral pyre and commanded them both to eat the corpse which lay on it concealed beneath a shroud. The second Sikh fled but Aṅgad, obedient to the end, lifted the shroud to do his master's bidding. Under it he discovered no corpse but Gurū Nānak himself. The test had been miraculously contrived and Aṅgad alone had passed it. Needless to say the truth of this anecdote lies not in the series of miracles which it related but in the supreme loyalty and obedience which it so vividly depicts.

        Bypassing his own sons, Gurū Nānak nominated Aṅgad his successor on Hāṛ vadī 13, 1596 Bk/13 June 1539.

        The installation on gurgaddī took place a few days before the death of Gurū Nānak on Assū vādī 10, 1596 Bk/7 September 1539. Gurū Nānak had made Aṅgad more than his successor. He had made him equal with himself. He transferred his own light to him. Aṅgad became Nānak, Nānak II.

        Gurū Aṅgad now shifted to Khaḍūr from where he continued his work. Like his predecessor, he taught people the virtues of piety and dedicated service. The musician Balvaṇḍ, who composed in praise of the Gurū a portion of the panegyric popularly known as Ṭikke dī Vār, declares that Gurū Aṅgad was celebrated for his practice of meditation, austerities and abstinence (japu tapu saṅjamu). Other anecdotes are on record testifying to these qualities, as also those of humility, wisdom and generosity. His regular daily programme consisted of the following activities. During the last watch of the night, he would rise, bathe and then meditate until daybreak. Then the musicians sang Gurū Nānak's Āsā kī Vār. Gurū Aṅgad was always present. Afterwards, he attended to sick persons. Such persons, particularly lepers, came from all parts to be healed by the Gurū. Later he preached and expounded Gurū Nānak's hymns. At mealtime, all sat together without distinctions of caste or creed to eat from the community kitchen. The Gurū's wife looked after the laṅgar. The Gurū and his family ate a simple meal which he earned by twisting muñj, reed fibre, into string. The afternoon was for children's instruction. Gurū Aṅgad himself taught them Gurmukhī letters. In the evening there would be more kīrtan followed by instruction from the Gurū. Khaḍūr became the centre of the Sikh faith as Kartārpur had been in Gurū Nānak's time. Sikhs came from far and near to seek instruction and renew their faith. According to Sikh tradition, Emperor Humāyūṅ came to Khaḍūr and sought Gurū Aṅgad's blessing.

        Two varieties of memorials bear visible witness to the life and teachings of Gurū Aṅgad. The first consists of gurdwārās commemorating particular episodes in his life and these are almost all clustered in or near Khaḍūr. The main one, now named Darbār Sāhib, stands within the town at the place occupied by Gurū Aṅgad's residence and darbār. On the northern outskirts of the town is Mall Akhāṛā, marking the spot where the Gurū used to give instruction in wrestling. Further out in the same direction, Tapiāṇā Sāhib designates the place where the Gurū is said to have performed austerities (tap). This gurdwārā stands besides a tank, opposite the samādh of Bhāī Bālā. A short distance to the southwest of Khaḍūr, in the village of Khān Rajādā, stands a gurdwārā commemorating a specific episode in the life of Gurū Aṅgad. According to tradition, there once arrived in Khaḍūr a yogī who managed to persuade the local cultivators that current drought would remain unbroken until they had evicted Gurū Aṅgad. The Gurū agreed to go and, leaving Khaḍūr, he moved to a theh (site of a ruined village), known at the time as Khān Rajādā. The drought persisted, however, and did so until (Gurū) Amar Dās intervened. Following his instructions, the cultivators tied a rope to the yogī's feet and pulled him round the village. Wherever they dragged him, rain fell in torrents. The humiliated charlatan was then permitted to depart and Gurū Aṅgad returned to his rightful place. There is another gurdwārā associated with Gurū Aṅgad in village Bharovāl, southwest of Khaḍūr, between Khān Rajādā and Khaḍūr Sāhib. In addition to these five commemorative gurdwārās in the Khaḍūr area there is one in Sarai Nāṅgā, the village formerly known as Matte dī Sarāi, the birthplace of Gurū Aṅgad.

        The second kind of memorial is provided by the small collection of compositions by Gurū Aṅgad preserved in the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Amongst the Gurū Granth Sāhib collections of works by the first five Gurūs, this is the smallest, comprising sixty-three ślokasscattered through vārs which are primarily the work of the first, third and fourth Gurūs. Fifteen of his ślokashave been incorporated in Vār Āsā, twelve in Vār Mājh, eleven in Vār Sūhī, nine in Vār Sāraṅg, and the remaining sixteen in the vārs of Sirī Rāga (2), Soraṭh (1), Rāmkalī (7), Mārū (1) and Malār (5).

         Gurū Aṅgad was an inspired poet. The ślokas, in chaste Punjabi, faithfully reflect the teachings embodied in the works of Gurū Nānak. In them we find the same stress upon the perils of worldly concerns and self-centred attitudes, and the same insistence that regular meditation on the divine Name (nām) provides the only sufficient means of escape. Man is the creature of his self-centred haumai. God, however, is gracious and proffers in the Divine Name a means of liberation accessible to all who pursue a life of disciplined meditation and virtuous living. Early morning is the time for meditation and virtue is the necessary supplement during the remainder of the day. Two doctrines receive particular emphasis in these ślokas. One is the total authority of God. This imposes upon all who seek liberation an inescapable obligation to know and observe the Divine Will (hukam). The second prominent doctrine concerns the means of recognizing the Divine Will. It is, Gurū Aṅgad insists, by the grace of Gurū that man may know the way of liberation. Only those who turn to the Gurū may have both, the hope and the assurance of finding it. The style in which this message finds expression is simple, direct, and effective. Pungency is the quality which distinguishes the ślokas of Gurū Aṅgad, an unadorned vigour which communicates his message in terms easily understood by any member of his following. Using the same simple style, the Gurū gives pithy expression to refined doctrine as well as to homely wisdom.

        Gurū Aṅgad passed away at Khaḍūr on Chet sudī 4, 1609 Bk/29 March 1552, passing on succession to Gurū Amar Dās who became Nānak III.


  1. Bhallā, Sarūp Dās, Mahimā Prakāsh. Patiala, 1971
  2. Vīr Siṅgh, Bhāī, ed. , Purātan Janam Sākhī. Amritsar, 1982
  3. Piār Siṅgh, ed. , Ādi Sākhīāṅ. Ludhiana, 1989
  4. Santokh Siṅgh, Bhāī, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth. Amritsar, 1926-37
  5. Satibīr Siṅgh, Kudaratī Nūr. Jalandhar, 1981
  6. Macauliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Religion. Oxford, 1909

W. H. McLeod