GURU AMAR DAS JI
Born in 1479, Guru Amar Das ji was 62 years old when he met Guru Angad Dev ji (the second Guru). He was so deeply touched by Guru Nanak's bani and Guru Angad Dev ji's pious personality that he decided to become his disciple. For 12 years he did wholehearted and selfless service and became the third Sikh Guru at age 73. He was 95 when he passed on the Sikh leadership (Guruship) to his son-in-law, Guru Ram Das ji.
· His major contribution was strengthening of Sikhism and giving it a distinct character.
· He compiled a collection of the banis of the first two gurus and his own (Anand Saheb is written by Guru Amar Das ji). This collection was later known as Mohan Pothi. Many copies of this compilation were made and distributed among the Guru's followers.
· He established 22 centers of worship in various regions, called Manjis, for the spread of sikh religion. Each center was run by a missionery (a disciple of the guru). They used to have bi-annual conferences, on Baisakhi and Diwali, to discuss problems in running these centers and other issues.
· He started the community kitchen or the langar, where everyone, rich or poor, sat down side by side to eat langar. This brought people of different casts and sects closer to each other by making them share the same food in a common place.
· He started the custom of voluntary contribution of one tenth of one's income, called Daswand, for community kitchen and other expenses.
· He banned the custom of women covering their faces, called "purda", among sikh families.
· He stopped the practice of killing female child at birth, which was prevalent at that time among Hindus.
· He banned among sikhs the practice of "sati", which forced a widow to die on the funeral pyre of her husband. He encouraged remarriage of widows.
· He stopped his followers from drinking alcohol and intoxicants of all kinds.
· He gave a sense of identity to Sikhs by establishing simple and meaningful ceremonies at the time of birth, marriage, and death. Any sikh could perform these ceremonies; therefore, this removed the hardship caused by the monopoly of some brahmin priests, who imposed strict conditions expenditures for performing elaborate ceremonies to exploit people. He prohibited weeping and wailing at the time of death or afterwards.
· He stopped his followers from consulting astrologers and palmists, and awaiting omens before starting any work. Instead, he instructed Sikhs to offer a prayer to God and seek His blessings for any work.