Sikh: Two Birthdays of Gurus Who Shaped the Faith

SUNDAY, APRIL 18: It’s a double birthday celebration for Sikhs on the Nanakshahi calendar, the religious calendar for most Sikh centers around the world. On this day, devotees mark the birthday of both Guru Tegh Bahadur and of Guru Angad Dev. (The photo at right features the Golden Temple, the temple begun by Guru Angad Dev.) The Gurus were 10 enlightened Sikh leaders who succeeded one another, and the title was finally bestowed upon the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, following the last living Guru.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was the ninth Guru of Sikhism who taught liberation from attachment, fear and dependence, and taught that these could be achieved through meditation, the sharing of one’s earnings and bathing before morning prayer. (SikhNet features an article on Tegh and his life.) He founded the city of Anandpur, which would later become a center of Sikhism, and his poetry is in the Guru Granth Sahib. Events that followed in the years after this Guru’s tragic death are marked at Vaisakhi each year.

Guru Angad Dev was the second Guru of Sikhism. He became a Guru not as the son of a previous Guru, but as a faithful Sikh disciple. (Read more on him at Wikipedia.) Guru Angad Dev opened multiple schools for children and increased literacy rates, wrote the first biography of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and expanded the idea of the Guru communal kitchen. ( also has a page on him.) By establishing hundreds of Sikh centers, Guru Angad Dev essentially transformed Sikhism from a small following to a well-known religion.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, you can click the “Our Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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