Year 7 Religious Studies and World Views: SIKHISM 2. Guru Amar Das

New Learning Unit: Sikh Gurus
Target time: 60 minutes

Today’s learning: Guru Amar Das

Why is he important to Sikhism? How has he helped Sikhs and the disadvantaged in society?

Objectives

I can: describe the contributions Guru Amar Das has made to Sikhism
So that:
I can evaluate to what extent Guru Amar Das has helped the disadvantaged in society

Equipment

Blank paper/ pen or pencils/ colours if you want them OR set up a word document or powerpoint if you want to work on a computer


1. Quick Recap

STARTER: In short answers, answer the questions below before checking your answers and giving yourself a score out of 5!

  1. Who was the founder of Sikhism?​
  2. Guru Nanak: ‘God is neither Hindu nor Muslim. So who’s path should I follow? I shall follow ____’s path’  ​
  3. What does the term ‘Guru’ mean?​
  4. The Guru Granth Sahib is the Sikh holy _____.​
  5. What term is used to describe the kitchen in a Sikh temple? 
ANSWERS
  1. Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism​
  2. After disappearing in a river, Nanak said “God is neither Hindu nor Muslim… I shall follow God’s path”​
  3. The term Guru means teacher 
  4. The Guru Granth Sahib is the Sikh Holy Book 
  5. The kitchen in a Sikh Temple is called Langar (the word is also used to describe the food they serve)

2. Let’s have another look at the Key Concepts

TASK 1: Spend a minute reading through the key terms below. Today we will be particularly looking at Langar. ​


3. Who is Guru Amar Das? Why is he so important to Sikhs? 

Task 2: As you read each point, THINK about why it might make him important to Sikh

  • Guru Amar Das was Sikh leader from 1552 (when he was 73!) until his death in 1547.​
  • Guru Amar Das continued the work of the previous Gurus by developing the langar – he insisted that anyone who came to visit him must first go to the langar and eat.​
  • He spent most of his time looking after the sick and the elderly. ​
  • He did a lot of work to make women’s lives better. For example, he spoke out against Sati, a ritual where women burn themselves alive on their husband’s funeral pyre. He said that women could remarry and encouraged them to spread the message of the Gurus to others.
  • At the time Sikhism was growing fast. Guru Amar Das split Sikhs in to 22 different districts. He appointed a religious leader to each district. These leaders were made up of men and women, which was unheard of in a time when women had very little power.​

Funeral Pyre = a pile of wood on which a body is burnt as part of a funeral ceremony.


4. Why is the langar so important?

Guru Amar Das helped develop the Langar which we know already is the kitchen and hall where food is freely shared. But it means a lot more than that!

TASK 3: Watch the Short Langar story on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iuMW37I0bE) and answer the questions below…

  1. Why do you think Aaron is helping the man at the beginning of the video?
  2. Use the feelings wheel below the video to give three feelings the man might have when he visits the Gurdwara
  3. For each feeling, explain why you think he might have felt this way.(E.g. I think he would have felt loved because he now knows that there are people who care enough to feed him when he is hungry)
  4. Why do you think someone might choose to volunteer in the Langar kitchen?
  5. How do you think you might feel while volunteering in the Langar?

5. Why is the Langar so important? Continued…

As you can see from the video, the Langar can have an amazing impact on individuals throughout the community; from the Sikhs working in the kitchen to the struggling individuals in society who can always receive a hot meal.

TASK 4: Read the information below and answer the questions

How does the langar ensure that the Gurdwara is a place of charity and service as well as worship? 

Unlike most other places of worship, Gurdwaras must contain somewhere for people to cook and share food. This part of the Gurdwara is called the langar. The food made and served here is also called langar. The langar is open to everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, caste or religion. For this reason, all the food that is prepared and served in it is vegetarian. Everyone receives the same food. It is often vegetarian dahl (lentil curry) served with yoghurt and rice or chapatti bread. Sikhs are expected to volunteer at the langar by donating, cooking and serving food, as well as washing up and cleaning. This is a key part of the duty Sikhs refer to as sewa (selfless service to others)​

Sikh beliefs in equality are also shown by the seating arrangements in the langar. Traditionally, people sat on the floor to eat so that everyone was at the same level, with no one in a higher position. Today, this is still the case in some gurdwaras, but in others people sit on benches. In the langar, people sit in rows rather than around a table. Again, this is to show that no one is more important than anyone else. Men and women eat side by side in the langar….

The langar for the community 

Some experts claim that in recent years many non-Sikhs have started to rely on the langar for food. In 2013, The Sikh Federation UK estimated that approximately 5,000 meals were being served to non-Sikhs in Britain’s gurdwaras each week. Homeless people and others who live in poverty often go to a Gurdwara for a daily meal, and most Sikhs welcome them. ​

Fact: The langar in the Golden Temple is the largest free kitchen in the world and regularly feeds up to 100,000 people on a daily basis. This number can double or triple during Sikh festivals. 

QUESTIONS: (look out for the answers published with next weeks lesson!)

  1. What are the two definitions of the term Langar?​
  2. Write down 3 ways the Langar promotes equality (the belief that all people are equally valuable)?​
  3. Why are Sikhs expected to volunteer at the Langar?​
  4. Who in our society do you think benefits most from the Langar?​
  5. In your opinion, what values does the Langar represent? (Use the Grid of Human Values below) 

6. CHALLENGE TASK

CHALLENGE TASK: Complete one of the activities below using all the information you’ve learnt this lesson.

GREEN: Look at the values you have listed for the previous task. What could you do in your community that also represents the same values? (fully explain your answer)​ (e.g. The Langar represents responsibility because Sikhs are taking responsibility for the disadvantaged in society. It also represents…. ​ I could represent these values by picking up litter because I would be taking responsibility for my community area…)

ORANGE: Create a poster persuading Sikhs to volunteer at the Langar.

RED: Answer the following question as a short essay answer: To what extent has Guru Amar Das helped the disadvantaged in society? (This question is asking  you to explain how much YOU agree with the idea that the Langar helps the disadvantaged in society.)


7. FINAL TASK! You’ve done it!

Plenary: Before you go, test yourself on the key terms of the topic by writing down as many as you can remember from the descriptions below before scrolling back up to check your answers!