HAR RAI ( 1630-1661, Guruship 1644-1661 )
Guru Har Gobind had five sons and one daughter. The eldest son was
Baba Gurditta who had two sons, Dhir Mal and Har Rai. Dhir Mal turned
out disloyal and disobedient. He had some influence in the court
of Emperor Aurangzeb and was in communication with the Guru's enemies.
When Guru Har Gobind moved to Kiratpur, Dhir Mal with his mother,
remained at Kartarpur and took possession of the Guru's property
and also of the priceless original copy of the Adi Granth. He thought
that as long as he had its possession, the Sikhs would look upon
him as their religious leader and thus as mentioned in the last
chapter, Dhir Mal refused Guru's invitation to come to Kiratpur
on his father's death. Guru Har Gobind nominated Har Rai, younger
brother of Dhir Mal, as his successor before he departed for the
heavenly abode on March 3, 1644.
day as a child, while passing through a garden, his loose flowing
robes damaged some flowers and scattered their petals on the ground.
This sight effected his tender heart and brought tears in his
eyes. After that he always walked with his skirts tucked up, and
resolved never to harm anything in the world. When he grew up,
he carried the same spirit with him. He used Baba Farid's quotation
men's hearts are jewels; to distress them is not at all good;
If thou desire the Beloved, distress no one's heart."
Har Rai was most magnanimous. His food was very simple, he did
not desire dainty dishes. Whatever valuable offerings were made
to him, he used to spend on his guests. On the advice of his grandfather,
Guru Har Gobind, he kept twenty-two hundred mounted soldiers.
In the afternoon he used to go to chase. The Guru took some of
the animals he had obtained from the chase, freed them and protected
them in a zoological garden, which he had made for the recreation
of his followers. In the evening the Guru used to hold his court,
listen to hymns sung by his choir, and then give divine instructions.
Emperor Shah Jahan had four sons, Dara Shikoh, Shuja Mohammad,
Aurangzeb, and Murad Bakhsh. Dara Shikoh who was the heir-apparent,
was very dear to his father. Aurangzeb was very clever, cunning
and ambitious, and aimed at succeeding to the throne. It is said
that Aurangzeb administered tiger's whiskers in a dainty dish
to Dara Shikoh who became dangerously ill as a consequence. The
best physicians were consulted but in vain. The Emperor, filled
with anxiety, sent for astrologers and diviners from every country
but of no avail. The wise men arrived at a conclusion that until
tiger's whiskers were removed from Dara's bowls, there was no
hope of recovery. They were of the opinion that if a chebulic
myrobalan weighing fourteen chitanks (14/16th of a pound) and
a clove weighing one masha could be administered to the patient,
he would be restored to health. The Emperor searched for these
articles everywhere in his empire but in vain. At last some one
told him that the required items were available in the Guru's
storehouse. On the advice of his courtiers the Emperor found it
necessary to humble himself before the Guru, and accordingly addressed
him the following letter:
predecessor, the holy Baba Nanak granted sovereignty to Emperor
Babar, the founder of my dynasty; Guru Angad was exceedingly well
disposed to his son, Emperor Humayun; and Guru Amar Das removed
many difficulties from my grandfather Akbar's path. I regret that
the same friendly relations did not subsist between Guru Har Gobind
and myself, and that misunderstandings were caused by the interference
of strangers. For this I was not to blame. My son Dara Shikoh
is now very ill. His remedy is in your hands. If you give the
myrobalan and the clove which are available in your store, and
add to them your prayers, you will confer an abiding favor on
noble carried the letter to the Guru at Kiratpur, who commented,"Behold,
with one hand man breaks flowers, and with the other he offers
them, but flowers perfume both hands alike. Although the axe cuts
the sandal-tree, yet the sandal perfumes the axe. The Guru is,
therefore, to return good for evil." He sent the necessary
medicine which was administered to Dara Shikoh. The medicine effected
a speedy and complete cure. The Emperor was naturally very pleased,
forgot all enmity against the Guru, and vowed that he would never
again cause any annoyance to him.
day during a ride, the Guru halted and knocked at the door of
a poor woman and said,"Good lady, I am very hungry, bring
me the bread you have prepared." The woman, throbbing with
joy, brought out some coarse bread which he partook on horseback,
without washing his hands, and relished it very much. He then
blessed the woman and cut off the shackles of her transmigration.
Next day the Sikhs prepared dainty dishes with great attention
to cleanliness and offered them to the Guru at the same hour.
He laughed and said,"O Sikhs, I ate food from that woman's
hands because she was holy. This food which you have prepared
with attention to ancient ceremonial is not pleasing to me."
The Sikhs asked,"O true king, yesterday you ate bread on
horseback from the hands of an old woman whom you did not know.
There was no consecrated space and the food was in every way impure.
Today we have prepared the food for you; no impurity is attached
to it, yet you reject it. Be kind enough to explain the reason."
The Guru replied," The woman with great devotion and faith
prepared food for me out of what she had earned from the sweat
of her brow. On this account the food was very pure, and I partook
of it. The Guru is hungry for love and not for dainty dishes.
In the matter of love for God, no rule is recognized. It is not
what man eats that pleases God, it is man's devotion that is acceptable
GURU'S PREACHING TOURS:
Arjan had practically completed the organization of his followers
on peaceful lines and under Guru Har Gobind, Sikhism had added
into itself an army. Apart from laying emphasis on the free kitchen
and religious congregation and faith in the Adi Granth, Guru Har
Rai undertook extensive tours in Malwa and Doaba regions of the
Punjab. These regions provided good opportunities for the Sikh
faith to sprout. Guru Har Rai made some notable conversions among
the landed families of the Punjab who were, at that time, considered
the natural leaders of the people.
one of the Guru's tours, he stayed at Mukandpur in the present
district of Jullundhur. There he drove a bamboo shoot into the
ground in memory of his visit; and it still survives as a stately
tree. From there he went to Malwa and visited the tank near Nathana
where Guru Har Gobind had fought. Kala and Karm Chand, two brothers
of Mahraj tribe, came to him to complain that the people of Kaura
tribe did not allow them to live among them. The Guru tried to
settle the matter amicably but when Kaura tribe refused to listen,
he helped the Mahraj brothers to take forcible possession of a
piece of land and settle there. He remained for some time at Nathana
preaching to the people, and Kala and his friends frequently waited
on him. He made many disciples. His hearers abandoned the worship
of cemeteries and cremation grounds, and embraced the simple worship
of God. One day Kala with his two nephews, Sandali and Phul, whose
father was killed in the battle during Guru Har Gobind's time,
went to visit the Guru. When the children arrived in his presence,
Phul who was five years old, struck with his hands his own naked
belly like a drum. When asked for the reason, Kala explained that
he was hungry and wanted something to eat. The Guru took compassion
on him and said," He shall become great, famous and wealthy.
The steeds of his descendants shall drink water as far as the
Jamna river; they shall have sovereignty for many generations
and be honored in proportion as they serve the Guru." When
Kala reached home and his wife heard Guru's benediction, she put
pressure on him to take his own sons to him, and teach them to
strike their bellies in token of hunger. When Kala and his own
sons appeared before the Guru, he told him that he acted in obedience
to his wife. The Guru said," The parents of these children
are alive, but at the same time they shall have their own cultivation,
eat the fruit of their toil, pay no tribute, and dependent on
no one." This prophecy has been fulfilled and their descendants
owned twenty-two villages called the Bahia. Phul had six sons.
From the eldest, Tilok Singh, the Rajas of Nabha and Jind were
the descendants. From Phul's second son, Ram Singh, the Maharaja
of Patiala was the descendant. These three were known as the Phul
ke Raje, or Phulkian chiefs. After India became independent in
1947, these states along with other hundreds of states in the
county, were annexed by the Government of India.
Guru, having been convinced of the deterioration of Masand system,
evolved Bakhshishs or missionary centers. Six centers were manned
by Suthrashah, Sahiba, Sangata, Mihan Sahib, Bhagat Bhagwan, Bhagat
Mal and Jeet Mal. Bhagat Bhagwan was appointed as the incharge
of the preaching work in the east, where he along with his followers,
established as many as 360 gaddies (centers) to carry on these
efforts. Bhai families of Kaithal and Bagrian were made responsible
for missionary work in the land between the Jamna and Satluj rivers.
Bhai Pheru was responsible for the area between the Beas and Ravi
rivers. Another center was established in the central districts
of Punjab. Bhai Aru, Sewa Das, Naik Das, Durga Chand and Suthra
Shah were the important priests of the Guru's times who did missionary
work in Kashmir.
THE GURU, HIS SON RAM RAI AND MUGHAL EMPEROR:
Emperor, Shah Jahan, kept his eldest son Dara Shikoh near him.
He made his second son, Shujah Mohammad, the governor of Bengal.
The third son, Aurangzeb was appointed governor of Dakhan and
Murad Bakhsh received the province of Gujrat. Their ambition was
not satisfied and each one of them was eagerly seeking to become
Emperor, and for that purpose they amassed wealth and armies in
their respective regions. When Shah Jahan became ill and showed
no signs of recovery, a war of succession broke out. Dara Shikoh
dispatched Raja Jai Singh against Shujah Mohammad and sent Raja
Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur to Dakhan. Jai Singh defeated Shujah
Mohammad but combined armies of Aurangzeb and Murad forced Jaswant
Singh to retreat. Upon this Aurangzeb prepared to retaliate and
tried to seize the reigns of empire. Dara proceeded with great
pomp and show to oppose Aurangzeb, and pitched his camp at Samugarh
near the margin of the river Chambal. Aurangzeb soon appeared
at the head of his own and Murad's armies and ensued a determined
battle. Aurangzeb succeeded in capturing Dara's several nobles.
Dara himself fled from the battle field. Aurangzeb came to Agra
and imprisoned his father and his brother Murad, and then proceeded
to Delhi. Dara fled towards Lahore.
Muslim saint Mian Mir was Dara's priest from whom he had heard
Guru's praises. Dara's life was saved with the medicine from the
Guru. In view of these circumstances Dara had great regard for
him. Since Dara became governor of Punjab, there were healthy
relations between the Emperor and the Guru. Shah Jahan had an
order against the Hindu temples while Sikh temples were exempt
from such an order.
Dara Shikoh was on his way to Lahore, the Guru happened to be
in Goindwal. They both met. Many writers give their own fanciful
accounts of the assistance that the Guru gave to Dara. What type
of assistance Dara asked or the Guru gave to Dara, is a big question?
He had all the royal wealth, he had his generals and he had his
army of thousand` and thousand of men. He enlisted twenty thousand
men in his army within days at Lahore. He had everything but he
lacked a brave heart to fight in the battle-field. He fled from
the field and ultimately was captured through a Pathan who betrayed
him. He was brought to Delhi and was executed.
made his position secure on the throne of Delhi, Aurangzeb embarked
on his religious crusade against the Hindus. After Dara the enemies
of the Guru got a chance to poison the mind of Aurangzeb that
he had rendered assistance to Dara against him. Upon this Aurangzeb
summoned the Guru to his presence in Delhi. The Guru had vowed
not to see the Emperor. Instead he sent his eldest son Ram Rai
to Delhi instructing him to rely on the divine power of the Gurus,
not in any way recede from the principles of his religion, and
in all his words and actions to fix his thought on God, everything
would prove successful.
the Emperor was informed that the Guru had not come himself but
sent his son, he thought that if his object in trying the Guru
was not fulfilled by his son, he would send for the Guru himself.
It is said that Ram Rai performed seventy miracles. The Emperor
sent him poisoned robes which he wore but was not hurt. In one
interview a sheet of cloth was spread over a deep well so that
Ram Rai when asked to sit, would fall into the well. The sheet
did not give way and Ram Rai was miraculously preserved. The Emperor
was shown the sight of Mecca while sitting in Delhi. After seventy
such miracles were shown, Aurangzeb was almost convinced of Ram
Rai's powers and became friendly to him. Then came the last question.
The Qazis' asked Ram Rai," Ram Rai, your Guru Nanak has written
against the Muslim religion. In one place he has said,
Musalman ki peirei paee kumiar; Ghar bhandei itan kia, jaldi karei
(Asa Mohalla 1, p-466)
'The ashes of the Mohammadan fall into the potter's clod; Vessels
and bricks are fashioned from them; they cry out as they burn.'
(Translation of the above)
is the meaning of this?"
Rai had won Aurangzeb's respect so much that he perhaps did not
want to displease him and forgot his father's parting injunctions
not to recede from the principles of his religion. So in order
to please the Emperor, Ram Rai replied," Your Majesty, Guru
Nanak wrote, 'Mitti beiman ki', that is the ashes of the faithless,
not of the Musalmans, fall into the potter's clod. The text has
been corrupted by ignorant persons and Your Majesty's religion
and mine defamed. The faces of the faithless and not of the Musalmans,
shall be blackened in both worlds." All the Mohammadan priests
were pleased with this reply. The Emperor then conferred a mark
of favor on Ram Rai and dissolved the assembly.
Sikhs of Delhi immediately sent an envoy to Kiratpur and informed
the Guru of the pomp and honor with which Ram Rai had been received
in Delhi, and detailed miracles he had exhibited. The envoy then
explained how he had made an alteration in a line of Guru Nanak
in order to please the Emperor. The Guru was much distressed at
the insult and remarked that no mortal could change the words
of Guru Nanak and that 'the mouth which had dared to do so should
never be seen by me.' The Guru decided that Ram Rai was not fit
for Guruship. He confirmed," The Guruship is like a tigress's
milk which can only be contained in a golden cup. Only he who
is ready to devote his life thereto is worthy of it."
Ram Rai had resided in Delhi for some time, he decided to go to
Kiratpur and try to convince his father to reverse his decision
regarding him. He pitched his camp near Kiratpur and wrote to
his father for permission to visit him. He confessed that he had
suffered for his sins and desired forgiveness. The Guru replied,"Ram
Rai, you have disobeyed my order and sinned. How can you aspire
to become a holy man? Go whither your fancy leads you. I will
never see you again on account of your infidelity?"
Guru feeling his end approaching thought of his successor and
called for a meeting of his Sikhs. He seated his younger son,
Har Kishen who was only five years old, on Guru Nanak's throne.
He then placed a coco-nut and five paise before him, circumambulated
him three times and had a tilak or patch put on his forehead.
The whole assembly then rose and did obeisance to the young Guru.
Guru Har Rai enjoined all his Sikhs to consider Har Kishen as
his image, to put faith in him, and they would obtain salvation.
Har Rai closed his eyes and went to his heavenly abode on October
It is also said that Ram Rai told Aurangzeb that Guru Nanak did
not mean the ashes of Musalman but he actually meant that of the
'beiman', the faithless. Ram Rai thus did not alter the original
verse but only changed the meaning of it.