Meaning: noun: Literally, river of the gods, the Ganges or Ganga, a major river in the Indian subcontinent flowing through the plains of northern India into Bangladesh.
ਤ੍ਰਿਤੀਆ ਆਏ ਸੁਰਸਰੀ ਤਹ ਕਉਤਕੁ ਚਲਤੁ ਭਇਆ॥
triteeaa aa-e sursaree tah kautak chalat bha-i-aa
Third, Guru Amar Das went to the Ganges, and a wonderful drama was played out there
– Guru Ram Das Sahib, Guru Granth Sahib, 1116
The tax collectors were very captivated by the visit of the Guru. The Guru’s personality and teachings had such an impact on them that they had a change of heart. They did not collect any tax, not only from the Guru but even from the accompanying Sikhs and the people following them.
They whispered, “Whom should we charge, everyone is walking in the shelter of the Guru.” Instead of collecting any toll, they locked the money boxes and left the booth.
Notes: According to some Sikh historians the tax collectors did not collect any tax from the Guru and his Sikhs as during the rule of Akbar, and even before him, the rulers had stopped charging jizya or jizyah (a tax on certain non-Muslim subjects) on Sikhs. Hence, all those who declared themselves as Sikhs escaped from paying tax.
There is a Gurdwara in Kankhal near Haridwar to commemorate the visit of Guru Amar Das.
Etymology: Blend of Sanskrit sur (god) + sarit (stream) → Pali saritaa → Prakrit sari (river, spring).