Guru Amar Das was born in the village of Basarke on May 5, 1479. He was the eldest son of Tej Bhan a farmer and trader. Guru Amar Das grew up and married Mansa Devi and had two sons Mohri and Mohan and two daughters Dani and Bhani. He was a very religious Vaishanavite Hindu who spent most of his life performing all of the ritual pilgrimages and fasts of a devout Hindu.
It was not until his old age that Amar Das met Guru Angad and converted to the path of Sikhism. He eventually became Guru at the age of 73 succeeding Guru Angad as described previously. Soon large numbers of Sikhs started flocking to Goindwal to see the new Guru. Datu one of Guru Angad's sons proclaimed himself as Guru at Khadur following his fathers death.
He was so jealous of Guru Amar Das that he proceeded to Goindwal to confront the Guru. Upon seeing Guru Amar Das seated on a throne surrounded by his followers he said; "You were a mere menial servant of the house until yesterday and how dare you style yourself as the Master?", he then proceeded to kick the revered old Guru, throwing him off his throne. Guru Amar Das in his utter humility started caressing Datu's foot saying; "I'm old. My bones are hard. You may have been hurt." As demanded by Datu, Guru Amar Das left Goindwal the same evening are returned to his native village of Basarke.
Here Guru Amar Das shut himself in a small house for solitary meditation. There he attached a notice on the front door saying, "He who opens this door is no Sikh of mine, nor am I his Guru." A delegation of faithful Sikhs led by Baba Buddha found the house and seeing the notice on the front door, cut through the walls to reach the Guru. Baba Buddha said, "The Guru being a supreme yogi, cares for nothing in the world - neither fame, nor riches nor a following. But we cannot live without his guidance. Guru Angad has tied us to your apron, where should we go now if you are not to show us the way?" At the tearful employment of the Sikhs, Guru Amar Das was overwhelmed by their devotion and returned to Goindwal. Datu having been unable to gather any followers of his own had returned to Khadur.
Guru Amar Das further institutionalized the free communal kitchen called langer among the Sikhs. The langar kitchen was open to serve all day and night. Although rich food was served there, Guru Amar Das was very simple and lived on coarse bread. The Guru spent his time personally attending to the cure and nursing of the sick and the aged. Guru Amar Das made it obligatory that those seeking his audience must first eat in the langer. When the Raja of Haripur came to see the Guru. Guru Amar Das insisted that he first partake a common meal in the langer, irrespective of his cast. The Raja obliged and had an audience with the Guru. But on of his queens refused to lift the veil from her face, so Guru Amar Das refused to meet her. Guru Amar Das not only preached the equality of people irrespective of their caste but he also tried to foster the idea of women's equality. He tried to liberate women from the practices of purdah (wearing a veil) as well as preaching strongly against the practice of sati (Hindu wife burning on her husbands funeral pyre). Guru Amar Das also disapproved of a widow remaining unmarried for the rest of her life.
Goindwal continued to experience growth as many Sikhs thronged there for spiritual guidance. Pilgrims moved there in large numbers to be close to the Guru. Muslims and Hindus also moved to the thriving town. When there was racial fighting between the three groups and calls for revenge, Guru Angad instructed his Sikhs; "In God's house, justice is sure. It is only a matter of time. The arrow of humility and patience on the part of the innocent and the peaceful never fail in their aim."
Once during several days of rain while Guru Amar Das was riding by a wall which he saw was on the verge of falling he galloped his horse past the wall. The Sikhs questioned him saying; "O Master, you have instructed us, 'fear not death, for it comes to all' and 'the Guru and the God-man are beyond the pale of birth and death', why did you then gallop past the collapsing wall?" Guru Amar Das replied; "Our body is the embodiment of God's light. It is through the human body that one can explore one's limitless spiritual possibilities. Demi-god's envy the human frame. One should not, therefore, play with it recklessly. One must submit to the Will of God, when one's time is over, but not crave death, nor invite it without a sufficient and noble cause. It is self surrender for the good of man that one should seek, not physical annihilation. "
With a view of providing the Sikhs with a place where they could have a holy dip while visiting Goindwal the Guru had a type of deep open water reservoir called a baoli dug. As the Hindus believed in reincarnation in 84 hundred thousand species, Guru Amar Das had the well dug with exactly 84 steps. To symbolize that God could be reached through his remembrance rather than just a cycle of reincarnations he declared that who ever would descend the 84 steps for a bath while reciting the Japji of Guru Nanak at each step would be freed from the cycles of births and deaths.