Paying Obeisance to SRI GURU HAR RAI SAHIB on His 389th birth anniversary

Dr Amrit Kaur | February 17, 2019 07:56 PM
Dr Amrit Kaur

           Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib (1630-1661) the seventh Guru of the Sikh faith was born on

January 16, 1630 at Kiratpur Sahib in District Ropar of Punjab. He was the son of Baba

Gurditta Ji (1613-1638) and grandson of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib (1595-1644) the sixth

Guru of the Sikh faith. This year i.e. in 2019 his birth anniversary is being celebrated on

February 17 all over the world.

          In 1640, he was married to Bibi Sulakkhni Ji, daughter of Bhai Daya Ram Ji of

Anupshahr in District Bulandshahr of Uttar Pradesh. From very early childhood he was

deeply religious minded and was gentle by nature. He was Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib’s

favourite grandchild.

            An oft quoted incident of his childhood is that one day while he was returning from

his riding exercise, on the way he saw Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib. On seeing him he

hurriedly got off his horse to show respect to him. In this hurried movement, his robe was

caught in a bush, as a result of which some of the flowers got plucked and fell down. He felt

so much disturbed over this incident that he sat down on the spot and started weeping

bitterly. Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib said “wear your robe by all means, but be careful as you

walk”.  He advised him to be careful in future and said that, “It behoves God’s servants to be

tender to all things”. Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib, before leaving for his heavenly abode on 3

March, 1644 at Kiratpur Sahib nominated Har Rai Sahib as his successor.

          After assuming Guruship, Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib established the following three

important preaching missions called bakhshishes for the spread of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s

message in different parts of India as well as outside India. Out of these three missions : (I)


the first one was under Bhagvan Gir, renamed as Bhagat Bhagvan, who established

missionary centers in eastern India (ii) the second one was that of Sangatia renamed as

Bhai Pheru who preached in Rajasthan and southern part of Punjab and (iii) the third one

was under Bhai Gonda who preached in Kabul in Afghanistan. In addition to these he

deputed (I) Bhai Nattha to preach in Dhaka (which is now capital of Bangla Desh) (ii) Bhai

Jodh to preach in Multan which now falls in Pakistan and (iii) Suthre Shah to preach in Delhi.

Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib deputed two of his followers to cover the Malva region of Punjab

whose descendents later ruled Bagarian and Kaithal respectively. Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib

confirmed the blessings given by Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib to a poor boy named Phul who

had been brought by his fraternal uncle Kala because this boy had no sources of livelihood.

Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib had blessed the little child by saying that in times to come his

successors will be rulers of Patiala, Nabha and Jind states of Punjab. Sri Guru Har Rai

Sahib confirmed this blessing and therefore the successors of Baba Phul ruled in these

states until recent years. A similar blessing was bestowed on Buddha Singh, an ancestor of

Maharaja Ranjit Singh.                                                                        .

            Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib made it a point to cover those parts of Malva region of

Punjab which had not been covered by his predecessor Gurus. Thus, he himself travelled

extensively in this region although he kept his permanent seat at Kiratpur Sahib.

        During his preaching tours, in addition to (I) Galotian Khurd in Sialkot district which now

falls in Pakistan (ii) Srinagar, Akhnur, Jammu and Mota Tanda (native village of Makhan

Shah Lubana Ji) in Jammu and Kashmir and (iii) Thanesar in Haryana he visited Phagwara,

Chakk Prema and Bambeli now in Kapurthala district; Kartarpur, Pharala and Hakimpur in

Jallandhar district; Bajraur, Lahili Kalan and Bhungarni in Hoshiarpur district; Kiratpur Sahib,

Daulowal, Bunga and Gharuan in Ropar district; Lambe in district S.A.S. Nagar, Gahal in

Sangrur district and Amargarh and Bhokhri in Bathinda district of Punjab. He maintained the

stately style of his grandfather. He had at his command 2200 armed followers. But during the

period of his Guruship no threats were given by the ruling group and hence he was not

involved in any warfare.                    .

           He did not compose any hymns of his own. He spent the mornings explaining the

preachings of his predecessor Gurus. His daily routine included getting up early in the

morning, saying prayers, recitation of the hymns from Sri Guru Granth Sahib and explaining

the Sikh doctrine to the sangat. This was followed by kirtan i.e. singing of the hymns by the

musicians to the tune of instruments. It may be added here that in Sikhism kirtan is

considered the highest form of expression of adoration of God and is also considered as the

most efficacious means of linking the soul to the Divine power. The evening programme

included katha i.e. explaining the Sikh history and recitation of the paath of Rahuras Sahib

which was followed by ardas.


        He maintained a simple style of living and earned his livelihood by doing labour with his

own hands. In his preachings also he emphasized the importance of working with one’s own

hands and sharing one’s possessions with those in need. He further strengthened the

institution of langar i.e. community kitchen wherein people from all strata of life and from all

castes sit on the floor in queues and partake off food. He himself ate all his meals in the

community kitchen.

            He took care of sick and down trodden persons and especially the leprosy stricken

persons. His predecessor Sikh Gurus had also given special attention to lepers. Sri Gur

Nanak Dev Ji, the first Guru of the Sikh faith had spent a night in a leper’s hut at Goindval

Sahib, treated him and cured him. Henceforth, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji treated several lepers.

Sri Guru Amar Das Ji, the third Guru of the Sikh faith had cured a leper named Morari in

village Khai of District Lahore (now in Pakistan) and henceforth treated many lepers. Sri

Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Guru of Sikh faith had cured a leper of village Muradapur in

Tehsil and District Tarn Taran Sahib, who because of his own wishes was being taken by his

sons to be drowned in river Beas. Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji took charge of this leper and treated

him with his own hands. After curing this leper, he established a Lepers’ Home in Tarn Taran

Sahib, where thousands of lepers have been cured. Following the footsteps of his

predecessor Gurus, Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib also treated lepers and cured

them.                              .

          In May 1658, when Aurangzeb was struggling hard to acquire the Mughal throne, his

brother Dara Shukoh entered Punjab to seek the blessings of Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib who at

the time was at Goindval Sahib in District Tarn Taran. Dara Shukoh was an admirer of Sain

Mian Mir, a Muslim Sufi saint who is respected by the Sikhs for having laid the foundation

stone of Sri Haimandar Sahib, Amritsar. Earlier, Dara Shukoh had been cured of a serious

ailment through some rare medicine sent by Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib. According to Sarup

Das Bhalla, Mahima Prakash, Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib deployed his own troops at the ferry to

delay Aurangzeb's army which was closely pursuing Dara Shukoh. Some courtiers of

Aurangzeb incited him that Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib was himself a rebel and had helped Dara

Shukoh against him. The courtiers also told Aurangzeb that in the Sikh scriptures there were

some versus which were derogatory to Islam. Aurangzeb asked Raja Jai Singh of Amber to

have Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib brought to Delhi. When the royal summons were presented to

him he was astonished and as reported by Bhai Santokh Singh in Sri Gur Partap Suraj

Granth remarked that he ruled over no territory, he owed no taxes to the king, nor did he

want anything from the king, also there was no connection of teacher and disciple between

him and the king. Then what was the reason for sending the summons, he asked. Instead of

going himself to Delhi he sent his elder son, Ram Rai to Delhi along with Diwan Dargah Mall

as an escort. As reported by Piara Singh Padam and Giani Garja Singh in Guru Kian


Sakhian he instructed his son to (I) answer all questions of the Emperor franky without any

hesitation and (ii) read Sri Guru Granth Sahib with deep attention on the way.

            Gurdas Ji the great grandson of Bhai Bahilo Ji was asked to accompany Ram Rai

with a copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. When Ram Rai appeared before Aurangzeb to please

him he misread some lines from the Holy Granth. Because of this, Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib

anathematized him and he was debarred from presence before him. Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib

decided not to pass on the ‘Light’ to Ram Rai and chose his younger son Har Krishan Ji as

his successor.

          Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib celebrated Baisakhi of 1660 in Sialkot (now in Pakistan) in the

home of Nand Lal Puri Ji grandfather of Haqiqat Rai Ji (who was martyred as per the orders

of Governor of Lahore on January 29, 1742). During his travels he was accompanied by

Makkhan Shah Lubana Ji and Aru Ram Ji, the father of Kirpa Ram Ji who later led

the jatha of Kashmiri Pandits to Sri Guru Tegh Bahadhur Sahib to save them from

persecution by the Mughal emperor.

          Because his elder son Ram Rai had misread the lines of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and

had earned his displeasure Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib, before leaving for his heavenly abode

on October 6, 1661 at Kiratpur Sahib nominated his younger son Har Krishan Ji as his


          Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib will always be remembered for being peace loving and

caretaker of the poor and sick people. A painting of Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib which is

part of the collections in the Department of Archaeology Lahore, Pakistan shows Sri

Guru Har Rai Sahib giving alms to the poor.

Dr. Amrit Kaur, Retd. Professor, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab


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