By Swami Harshananda
Aṅgada the Sikh Guru
Guru Aṅgad (A. D. 1504-1552) was the immediate successor of Guru Nānak, chosen and anointed by Nānak himself. Before ordination his name was Lehna. Lehna who was the son of a trader called Pheru and lived in Khadur in the Punjab. He was a devotee of Mother Durgā. He used to lead pilgrims to the Durgā temple and the Jvālāmukhi (a volcanic vent nearby). By chance, he once heard the recital of the famous Sikh prayer Japji and diligently sought after its author. When he finally met the Guru Nānak his joy knew no bounds.
Then began his long tenure of single-minded and devoted service to his guru. During the period of internship and training he endured all the tests, trials and tribulations and earned Guru Nānak’s full confidence and faith. Though opposed by his own wife and two sons, Guru Nānak chose Lehna, now called Aṅgad, as his successor and anointed him as the next Guru in A. D. 1539.
Aṅgad, though eminently fitted for the Guru’s place, had to contend with the powerful rivalry of Siri Chand, Guru Nānak’s eldest son, who had started the Udāsī sect, a sect with Sikh principles and an ascetic character. In course of time this sect got merged in the general body of the Sikhs, mainly due to Guru Aṅgad’s efforts. His other contributions are as follows :
- He had to face a challenge from the orthodox Hinduism.
- To keep up a distinct character for the Sikhs and Sikhism, he improved the Guru- mukhi script and published the hymns of Guru Nānak to writing, in that script, making it available to the common folk who got a scripture of their own, in their own language.
- Aṅgad further strengthened the two institutions of laṅgar (free kitchen) and saṅgat (regular religious meetings in groups) established earlier by Nānak.
- He vigorously preached Nānak’s doctrines, simple life in conformity with those doctrines, built a new town called Goindwal and introduced physical culture as a part of life and religion.
Guru Aṅgad breathed his last in 1552 at the age of forty-eight.
Aṅgada in Rāmāyana
A well-known hero of Rāmāyana, Aṅgada was the son of Vālī and Tārā. His exploits are many and varied. When Sugrīva was anointed as the king of Kiṣkindhā, Aṅgada was appointed as the yuvarāja, the heir apparent. He was the leader of the group of monkeys that was sent to the south in search of Sītā. Before the commencement of the war, Srī Rāma had sent him to Rāvaṇa for a peace mission. Later, when the war was in progress he succeeded in disturbing the sacrifice at Nikumbhilā performed by Indrajit. He killed many rākṣasa heroes of Rāvaṇa’s army during the battles.
Other mentions of Aṅgada
There are two more Aṅgadas mentioned in the itihāsas:
- Aṅgada, the first son of Lakṣmaṇa and Urmilā
- Aṅgada, a kṣattriya king, who fought for Duryodhana in the Kurukṣetra war
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore