uru Angad Dev Ji is the second Guru of Sikhs. Their name was Bhai Lehna Ji before becoming the Guru. After their Guruship, Guru Nanak Dev Ji named them Angad, meaning ‘the limb of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’. In this article, we will learn more about Guru Angad Dev Ji’s life and how they became a Guru.
Life Before Sikhi
Guru Angad Dev Ji’s original name was Bhai Lehna Ji and was born on Saturday, Vasakhi Sudi 1, 1561 Bikrami which converts into 23rd April 1504 AD. Guru Ji was born in the family of Trehan lineage. Guru Ji’s father was Baba Pheru Mal Ji who worked as a trader. Guru Ji’s mother was Mata Sabrai Ji (Mata Daya Kaur Ji) and Guru Ji was born at a place called Matte Ki Serai (Nagge Di Serai), Ferozepur. Guru Ji got married to Mata Khivi Ji of Khadur Sahib at a young age and had two sons, Baba Dasu Ji and Baba Datu Ji. Guru Ji also had two daughters, Bibi Amro Ji and Bibi Anokhi Ji.
Bhai Lehna Ji led a comfortable life as a trader and shopkeeper. Under the influence of his devout Hindu mother, Bhai Lehna Ji also worshipped Mata Durga, a Hindu goddess. Bhai Lehna Ji was a leader of a pilgrims’ group and led worshippers to the Jawalamukhi Temple every year. Despite the strong focus on Hinduism and leading a devout life, Lehna Ji felt spiritually unfulfilled.
Meeting the Guru
One day, Bhai Lehna Ji was going somewhere and heard Bhai Jodh Singh, a Sikh, singing a Shabad (hymn) of Guru Nanak Dev Ji:
ਜਿਤੁ ਸੇਵਿਐ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਈਐ ਤੇਰੀ ਦਰਗਹ ਚਲੈ ਮਾਣੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Immediately falling in love with the Gurbani (Guru’s words), Bhai Lehna Ji asked Bhai Jodh Singh what are you singing and who wrote it. Bhai Jodh Singh told them that this is the writing of my beloved Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji who lives in Kartarpur. Bhai Lehna Ji decided to travel to Kartarpur Sahib to meet Guru Nanak Dev Ji. On the way to Kartarpur Sahib, Bhai Ji unknowingly ran into Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who was returning home from the fields. Bhai Lehna Ji asked Guru Ji how to reach the Dharamsala and Guru Nanak Dev Ji guided Bhai Ji’s horse.
Later, upon entering the Dharamsala, Bhai Lehna Ji was shocked to see that the man who showed him the way was actually Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He felt disappointed that his Guru walked while he sat comfortably on a horse. Spending time with Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Bhai Lehna Ji fell in love with his message and later returned to his village to share with everyone that he was no longer worshipping Durga, the Hindu goddess.
Transformation through Seva
Bhai Lehna Ji wanted to be close to his Guru and decided to move to Kartarpur Sahib. He informed his family about this transition, entrusting his shop in the hands of his eldest son Baba Dasu Ji. The following Gurbani quote explains the selfless Seva Bhai Lehna Ji did and became One with Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
ਸੇਵਾ ਕਰਤ ਹੋਇ ਨਿਹਕਾਮੀ ॥ ਤਿਸ ਕਉ ਹੋਤ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਸੁਆਮੀ ॥
Upon returning back to Kartarpur Sahib, Bhai Lehna Ji went to look for Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who he found removing weeds in the fields. Guru Nanak Dev Ji placed some weeds on Bhai Lehna Ji’s head and told him to take them home. Bhai Lehna Ji did this unhesitatingly, even though the mud ruined his new clothes.
Similarly, when Guru Nanak Dev Ji asked Bhai Lehna Ji to throw out a dead rat, Bhai Lehna Ji did so instantly. When Guru Sahib threw his mug into dirty water, Bhai Lehna Ji immediately jumped in to fetch it. At the time, such dirty tasks were supposed to be for low caste people, but like Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Bhai Lehna Ji also had no regard for caste divides.
The Sikh Sangat (congregation) was hungry and Guru Nanak Dev Ji told some people, including their own sons, to shake a bare tree for it would give fruit. While everyone else refused to shake a bare tree, Bhai Lehna Ji had full faith in his Guru and went to shake the tree. Some say the tree actually provided fruit.
Bhai Lehna Ji, later Guru Angad Dev Ji, is the perfect embodiment of the following Gurbani quote by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. However, we often use this Gurbani quote to refer to our many incredible Shaheeds (martyrs) but Guru Angad Dev Ji is also an amazing reflection of what it means to give your head to the Guru spiritually. Bhai Lehna Ji wholeheartedly and faithfully served Guru Nanak Dev Ji and did anything that Guru Ji asked without question or doubting them. Guru Ji resigned himself, his Haumai (ego) and his Manmat (desire driven mindset) to follow the Guru’s path.
ਜਉ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ ਗਲੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਆਉ ॥
Jau tau prem khelan kaa chaau || Sir dhar talee galee meree aau ||
Merging with Guru Sahib
One day, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was walking towards the forest and started beating anyone who tried to follow them with a heavy stick. Others fled rapidly, but Bhai Lehna Ji still followed, saying that Guru Sahib was the only shelter he had. That day, Guru Nanak Dev Ji realized that there was no longer any difference between them and Bhai Lehna Ji. Bhai Ji reflected the same spirit of seva and love for Vaheguru. At the age of 35, after seven years doing seva, Guru Nanak Dev Ji gave Bhai Lehna Ji the name Angad, which means “the limb of Guru'' and gave them the Guruship on Assu Vadi 5 1596 B ie 6th October 1539 AD at Kartarpur Sahib.
After Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Joti Jot (immersing into the Eternal Light), Guru Angad Dev Ji went to Khadur Sahib and established a city here.
Carrying Sikhi Forward
At the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, there was a basic Punjabi alphabet. Guru Angad Dev Ji further developed the alphabet to give us the Gurmukhi script that we have today. The Gurmukhi alphabet helped to maintain the purity of Gurbani and avoid any potential misunderstandings which could stem from changing pronunciations to match a different alphabet. The name “Gurmukhi,” means “Guru’s script.” The development of Gurmukhi allowed Sikhs to build their own religious identity.
While Sanskrit was taught to high-caste Hindus, Gurmukhi was made accessible to everyone.
Guru Angad Dev Ji formalized the Gurmukhi script and announced that every Sikh should learn this script. This allowed people from any background to understand Sikhi and Gurbani. Building on their love for Seva, Guru Angad Dev Ji started schools to help the underprivileged, teaching them the Gurmukhi personally.
Sikhi and Women
The Mughal ruler at Guru Ji’s time was Humayun. During the 1500s in India, women were thought to be inferior to men. Guru Angad Dev Ji, however, preached that men and women are equal. Guru Ji welcomed women to join the Sikh Sangat and provided them with religious rights that Hindu society did not offer them.
Guru Angad Dev Ji’s wife Mata Khivi Ji also played a big role in helping women participate in Sikhi. She was vital to building and sustaining Langar (community kitchen).
In Guru Ji’s 48 years of life, Guru Angad Dev Ji helped navigate Sikhi through one of its most critical moments: infancy. Given it was still a young religion, it could have easily fallen apart after Guru Nanak Dev Ji. But Guru Angad Dev Ji nurtured it and helped it grow. Like Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Angad Dev Ji traveled significantly to help establish new Gurdwaras and Sangats. He collected all the Gurbani in Pothis (Hymn books). Guru Sahib also started the practice of Mal Akhara (wrestling pits) to instill the importance of physical fitness amongst the Sikhs. He laid the groundwork, both intellectual and physical, for Sikhi to keep blossoming under the future Gurus, who like him, would reflect Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s ideals of Seva and love for Vaheguru.
Guru Angad Dev Ji’s Joti Jot (immersing into the Eternal Light) day falls on Chet Sudi 4, 1609 i.e. 1552 AD.
To learn more about Guru Angad Dev Ji, watch
Note: All recorded dates of Sikh history are in Bikrami Calendar. Bikrami Calendar is 57 years ahead of the standard Gregorian Calendar. To learn more about the Bikrami Calendar,