Religions

PAYING OBEISANCE TO SRI GURU RAM DAS JI ON HIS 485TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY

October 09, 2019 10:37 AM
Guru Ram Dass ji (pic taken from Painting)

SHRI GURU RAMDAS JI 

               Sri Guru Ram Das Ji (1534-1581) the Fourth Guru or spiritual mentor of the Sikhs was born on 25 Assuu Sammat 1591 i.e. 24 September 1534 in his ancestral place Chuna Mandi area, Lahore (now in Pakistan). At his birthplace now stands Gurdwara Janam Asthan Guru Ram Das Ji. The words Ram Das mean 'servant' or 'slave of God'. His earlier name was 'Jetha' which means first born. In fact, he was the only child. His father Hari Das Ji, Sodhi Khatri by Caste was a shopkeeper. His mother was Bibi Daya Kaur Ji. When he was seven-years-old, he lost both of his parents. Thus, he was brought up by his maternal grandmother in her village Basarke Gillan 13 kms south-west from Amritsar in District Amritsar, Punjab. This village is also the ancestral village of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji, the Third Guru of the Sikhs. By living in Basarke Gillan, he got a chance to know about Sri Guru Amar Das Ji.

               Being an only child and having lost his parents he had to earn his livelihood at a very early age. Thus, he started selling ghungnian (boiled grams) in the market to earn his livelihood. It is believed that even as a child he was a very kind and merciful person and gave away his food to hungry people.

   Sri Guru Amar Das Ji had bought land (the present site of Amritsar) and the work of digging the pool and construction of some residential houses had been initiated which was being supervised by (Guru) Ram Das Ji. There is some difference of opinion regarding how this land was acquired. As recorded in the Amritsar District Gazetteer, 500 bighas (one bigha is approximately 1/2 or 5/8 acres of land) of land was purchased from the landowners village Tung for 700 Akbari rupees. 

               In 1546 i.e. when he was 12 years of age he got a chance to travel to Khadur Sahib which is at a distance of about 20 kms from Tarn Taran Sahib and falls in District Tarn Taran, Punjab. From Khadur Sahib he went to Goindval Sahib, which is 6 kms south-east of Khadur Sahib, is situated on the right bank of river Beas and also falls in District Tarn Taran. The habitation of Goindval Sahib had been founded by (Guru) Amar Das Ji the same year i.e. in 1546 under the direction of Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji (1504-1552) the Second Guru of the Sikhs. Thus in 1546 when (Guru) Ram Das Ji went to Goindval Sahib he started serving Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji and the sangat whole heartedly.

               Sri Guru Amar Das Ji (1479-1574) assumed Guruship in March 1552. Henceforth, (Guru) Ram Das Ji started serving Sri Guru Amar Das Ji and the sangat. Day in and day out he spent his time serving Sri Guru Amar Das Ji and the sangat wherein he would undertake all types of work and responsibilities.

               Impressed by his talent Sri Guru Amar Das Ji sent him to Lahore to meet the Mughal Emperor Akbar to counter the objections raised by Brahmans against the institution of langar (community kitchen) wherein all persons, irrespective of their religion, caste or socio-economic status sit together to partake off food. The Brahmans had objected that the system of langar disregarded the caste differences propagated by the Hindus since a long time wherein the people are divided into four castes - Brahman, Kashatariya, Vaish and Shudra. In this classification Brahmans are considered the highest caste and Shudras are considered the lowest class and are considered untouchables. (Guru) Ram Das Ji disposed off the objections of Brahmans declaring that all people are equal in the eyes of God.

               At Goindval Sahib (Guru) Ram Das Ji helped in the digging of the Baoli Sahib which was an important work with far reaching benefits. At that time hallats (Persian wheels) had not come into existence and there were only two sources of water (i) wells from which water was fetched with the help of bokas (leather vessels used for drawing water from a well) by plying bulls or camels and (ii) wells with steps going down to the water level wherein people would go down the steps to fetch water in some type of utensils. Thus, the construction of Baoli Sahib at Goindval Sahib with 84 steps going down to the water level during 1556-1560 was a unique contribution of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji in which (Guru) Ram Das Ji's contribution was praiseworthy.

               Sri Guru Amar Das Ji was very much impressed by the selfless service and devotion of (Guru) Ram Das Ji. Sri (Guru) Ram Das Ji was endeared not only by Sri Guru Amar Das Ji but also the sangat.

               Sri Guru Amar Das Ji and his wife Bibi Mansa Devi Ji both recognized his talent and were appreciative of his devotion. Thus, they married their daughter Bibi Bhani Ji to him on 18 February 1554. After their marriage. (Guru) Ram Das Ji and Bibi Bhani Ji instead of returning to their native city i.e. Lahore decided to stay at Goindval Sahib. Thus, at Goindval Sahib they continued to serve Sri Guru Amar Das Ji and the sangat with full devotion. By this time instead of the name 'Jetha' he was called by his proper name 'Ram Das'.

               At Goindval Sahib three sons Prithi Chand (born 1558), Mahadev (born 1560) and (Guru) Arjan Dev Ji (born 1563) were born.

               Impressed by the whole hearted service and devotion of (Guru) Ram Das Ji Sri Guru Amar Das Ji decided to make him his successor i.e. to pass on the spiritual light to him. But Sri Guru Amar Das Ji foresaw the problems likely to occur in implementing his decision.

               Sundar Das Ji, the great-grandson of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji in Sadd Ramkali has recaptured in a six stanza verse the advice Sri Guru Amar Das Ji gave to his followers and members of his family just before he left for his heavenly abode. He instructed them not to wail at his death.

 

ਮੇਰੇ ਸਿਖ ਸੁਣਹੁ ਪੁਤ ਭਾਈਹੋ ਮੇਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਣਾ ਆਉ ਮੈ ਪਾਸਿ ਜੀਉ ॥

ਹਰਿ ਭਾਣਾ ਗੁਰ ਭਾਇਆ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਕਰੇ ਸਾਬਾਸਿ ਜੀਉ ॥

ਭਗਤੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਸੋਈ ਜਿਸੁ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭਾਣਾ ਭਾਵਏ ॥

ਆਨੰਦ ਅਨਹਦ ਵਜਹਿ ਵਾਜੇ ਹਰਿ ਆਪਿ ਗਲਿ ਮੇਲਾਵਏ ॥

ਤੁਸੀ ਪੁਤ ਭਾਈ ਪਰਵਾਰੁ ਮੇਰਾ ਮਨਿ ਵੇਖਹੁ ਕਰਿ ਨਿਰਜਾਸਿ ਜੀਉ ॥

ਧੁਰਿ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਪਰਵਾਣਾ ਫਿਰੈ ਨਾਹੀ ਗੁਰੁ ਜਾਇ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਪਾਸਿ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥

ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਭਾਣੈ ਆਪਣੈ ਬਹਿ ਪਰਵਾਰੁ ਸਦਾਇਆ ॥

ਮਤ ਮੈ ਪਿਛੈ ਕੋਈ ਰੋਵਸੀ ਸੋ ਮੈ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਭਾਇਆ ॥

ਮਿਤੁ ਪੈਝੈ ਮਿਤੁ ਬਿਗਸੈ ਜਿਸੁ ਮਿਤ ਕੀ ਪੈਜ ਭਾਵਏ ॥

ਤੁਸੀ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਪੁਤ ਭਾਈ ਹਰਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਪੈਨਾਵਏ ॥

ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਪਰਤਖਿ ਹੋਦੈ ਬਹਿ ਰਾਜੁ ਆਪਿ ਟਿਕਾਇਆ ॥

ਸਭਿ ਸਿਖ ਬੰਧਪ ਪੁਤ ਭਾਈ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ ਪੈਰੀ ਪਾਇਆ ॥੪॥

                                                                                                                                       (ਪੰਨਾ 923-924)

 

Mere sikẖ suṇhu puṯ bẖā▫īho merai har bẖāṇā ā▫o mai pās jī▫o.

Har bẖāṇā gur bẖā▫i▫ā merā har parabẖ kare sābās jī▫o.

Bẖagaṯ saṯgur purakẖ so▫ī jis har parabẖ bẖāṇā bẖāv▫e.

Ānanḏ anhaḏ vajėh vāje har āp gal melāva▫e.

Ŧusī puṯ bẖā▫ī parvār merā man vekẖhu kar nirjās jī▫o.

Ḏẖur likẖi▫ā parvāṇā firai nāhī gur jā▫e har parabẖ pās jī▫o.

Saṯgur bẖāṇai āpṇai bahi parvār saḏā▫i▫ā.

Maṯ mai picẖẖai ko▫ī rovsī so mai mūl na bẖā▫i▫ā.

Miṯ paijẖai miṯ bigsai jis miṯ kī paij bẖāv▫e.

Ŧusī vīcẖār ḏekẖhu puṯ bẖā▫ī har saṯgurū paināva▫e.

Saṯgurū parṯakẖ hoḏai bahi rāj āp tikā▫i▫ā.

Sabẖ sikẖ banḏẖap puṯ bẖā▫ī Rāmḏās pairī pā▫i▫ā. ||4||

                                                                                                                        (SGGS, p. 923-924)

               This means that he called all member of his family, all relatives and Sikh sangat and declared that his son-in-law (Guru) Ram Das Ji would be his successor and that all of them should consider him their next Guru and should bow before him. As stated in Sadd Ramkali  his younger son (Baba) Mohri Ji came forward and bowed before (Guru) Ram Das Ji. However, one person showed resistance but finally he also agreed to obey the orders of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji. It is believed that the person who showed resistance was Sri Guru Amar Das Ji's elder son (Baba) Mohan Ji.

               On September 1, 1574 Sri Guru Amar Das Ji installed Sri Guru Ram Das Ji as his successor and thus he became the fourth prophet-teacher of the Sikhs. Before (Guru) Ram Das Ji became Guru, Sri Guru Amar Das Ji had instructed him to establish a new town and to construct a pool as the central point. Thus it had been decided to establish a town north-west of Goindval Sahib close to the villages Gumtala and Sultanvind which is the present site of Amritsar and which is 40kms north-west of Goindval Sahib.

               Sri Guru Amar Das Ji had bought land (the present site of Amritsar) and the work of digging the pool and construction of some residential houses had been initiated which was being supervised by (Guru) Ram Das Ji. There is some difference of opinion regarding how this land was acquired. As recorded in the Amritsar District Gazetteer, 500 bighas (one bigha is approximately 1/2 or 5/8 acres of land) of land was purchased from the landowners village Tung for 700 Akbari rupees. Another opinion is that Emperor Akbar offered this land to Sri Guru Amar Das Ji but he refused the offer. Then this gift was made to Bibi Bhani Ji who donated it to the Sikh community. 

               As stated earlier during the Guruship of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji the sarovar (holy tank) was dug under the supervision of (Guru) Ram Das Ji and the habitation was called Guru Ka Chakk (Guru's Village) and Chakk Ram Das (the city of Ramdas) or Ramdaspur. The sarovar was named 'Amritsar' i.e. the pool of nector, but later on the city also came to be named as 'Amritsar'. Upto the time of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji the name of the city was Ramdaspur and the sarovar was named 'Amritsar'. After assuming Guruship Sri Guru Ram Das Ji moved to this site. He stayed here and devoted his main attention to the development of this town. The construction of the sarovar was completed by Sri Guru Ram Das Ji. As Bhai Gurdas Ji has stated Sri Guru Ram Das Ji completed the digging of the sarovar and had made Amritsar his headquarter:

ਬੈਠਾ ਸੋਢੀ ਪਾਤਿਸ਼ਾਹ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਕਹਾਵੈ॥

ਪੂਰਨ ਤਾਲ ਖਟਾਇਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰ ਵਿਚ ਜੋਤ ਜਗਾਵੈ॥

                                                            (ਵਾਰਾਂ ਭਾਈ ਗੁਰਦਾਸ ਜੀ, ਵਾਰ 1, ਪਉੜੀ 47)

 

Baitha Sodhi Patshah Ramdas Guru Kahave

Pooran Tall Khataiya Amritsar which Jot Jagave

                                                                                                                        (Var 1, Pauri 47)

               Early historical records reveal that Sri Guru Ram Das Ji undertook strenuous efforts to habitate here persons belonging to 22 occupations. He invited merchants and artisans from far off places and thus this town grew into a centre of commerce and also a place of attraction for the pilgrims.

               Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji has praised the city of Amritsar by saying that It is a densly populated beautiful city, which is a praiseworthy bliss and that it is a true model of halemi (peaceful) raj.

ਵਸਦੀ ਸਘਨ ਅਪਾਰ ਅਨੂਪ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ ਪੁਰ ॥

             ਹਰਿਹਾਂ ਨਾਨਕ ਕਸਮਲ ਜਾਹਿ ਨਾਇਐ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ ਸਰ ॥੧੦॥  (ਪੰਨਾ 1362)

               Sri Guru Amar Das Ji has stated O Lord! bathing in the sacred pool of Raam Daas, the sins are washed away.

               For propagating the Sikh religion and collecting funds for the construction work he established the institution of masands who would travel to places far and near. As part of this programmes Bhai Gurdas Ji was sent to Agra, U.P. who brought people into the fold of Sikhism. The institution of the system of masands further helped in consolidating the Sikh religion. Bhai Gurdas Ji has described this in his composition Varan Bhai Gurdas. Bhai Gurdas Ji has also put on record several incidents relating to the struggles that Sri Guru Amar Das Ji had with his opponents.

               Sri Guru Ram Das Ji has also written about the incidents relating to Sri Guru Amar Das Ji wherein he has described the visits of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji to holy places. This description is included in his hymns which Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Sri Guru Ram Das Ji has also described the incident about a hermit Tapa. Tapa had incited kisans that the main cause of the drought in the area of Khadur Sahib was the presence of Sri Guru Angad Dev Ji who should be turned out from the area. Sri Guru Anged Dev Ji left Khadur Sahib and went to a nearby village named Khanpur now named Khan Chhapri. The rain still did not fall. (Guru) Amar Das Ji intercepted and Tapa himself was forced to leave Khadur Sahib and the ouster of Tapa lead to heavy rain fall.

               In 1580 Sahari Mall Ji the first cousin of Sri Guru Ram Das Ji came from Lahore to invite him to attend his son's wedding. Sri Guru Ram Das Ji's elder sons Prithi Chand and Mahadev refused but (Guru) Arjan Dev Ji agreed and attended this wedding.

               Once a devotee Gangu Shah Ji, a Khatri of Bassi tribe born in Garhshankar, District Hoshiarpur came to Sri Guru Ram Das Ji and asked, 'Lord! what shall I do to save myself?' He replied that, 'Open a bank at Delhi'. In the sacred memory of Gangu Shah Ji there exists a shrine in village Daon, Tehsil and District Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Punjab. Sri Guru Ram Das Ji considered money not as 'maya' but a necessary helpful thing in human affairs 'For a religious man, it is not unholy to get wealth, provided he spends it in God's way, and gives it to the needy persons and lives in comfort'.

               Sri Guru Ram Das Ji instructed the Sikhs that when a Sikh has an important business in hand, join him and pray for him. If you see that it cannot be carried out without funds, collect subscriptions for him from every quarter, and at the same time contribute something yourselves Henceforth, the Sikhs started banking, horse-dealing, carpentry and embroidery.

               In Sri Guru Granth Sahib 638 hymns composed by Sri Guru Ram Das Ji in 30 ragas have been included. Earlier the bani had been composed in 19 ragas. Thus, he added 11 new ragas - Dev Gandhari, Bihagra, Jaitsari, Todi, Bairari, Gond, Nat-Narayan, Mali Gaura, Kedara, Kanra and Kaliyana.

               His hymns centre around social and spiritual themes. His most commonly quoted hymn is the one in which he has given instruction as to what should be the daily practice of a Sikh.

ਮਃ ੪ ॥

ਗੁਰ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਜੋ ਸਿਖੁ ਅਖਾਏ ਸੁ ਭਲਕੇ ਉਠਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥

ਉਦਮੁ ਕਰੇ ਭਲਕੇ ਪਰਭਾਤੀ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ਕਰੇ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਸਰਿ ਨਾਵੈ ॥

ਉਪਦੇਸਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਪੁ ਜਾਪੈ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਦੋਖ ਲਹਿ ਜਾਵੈ ॥

ਫਿਰਿ ਚੜੈ ਦਿਵਸੁ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਗਾਵੈ ਬਹਦਿਆ ਉਠਦਿਆ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥

ਜੋ ਸਾਸਿ ਗਿਰਾਸਿ ਧਿਆਏ ਮੇਰਾ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਸੋ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਵੈ ॥

ਜਿਸ ਨੋ ਦਇਆਲੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਤਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਗੁਰੂ ਉਪਦੇਸੁ ਸੁਣਾਵੈ ॥

ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਧੂੜਿ ਮੰਗੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਗੁਰਸਿਖ ਕੀ ਜੋ ਆਪਿ ਜਪੈ ਅਵਰਹ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਾਵੈ ॥੨॥

                                                                                                                                       (ਪੰਨਾ 305)

               One who considers himself to be a disciple of the Guru should rise before the coming of the light and contemplate the Divine name. During the early hours of the morning he should rise and bathe, cleansing his soul in a tank of nectar, while he repeats the Name the Guru has spoken to him. By this procedure he truly washes away the sins of his soul. Then with the arrival of the dawn he should sing the hymns of praise taught him by the Guru. He should hold the Name in his heart all through the busy hours of the day. The one who repeats the Name with each breath is the most dear disciple of the Guru. The disciple who has received the gift of the Lord's Name truly wins the favour of the supreme Lord. I seek the very dust under the feet of such a one who repeats the Name and inspires others to do so (SGGS, 305).

               In Sri Guru Granth Sahib the hymns of 11 Bhatts have been included under the title Savaiyyas. They composed the songs (hymns) of praise during the time of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji. The Bhatts have in general stressed the oneness of Sikh Gurus i.e. they have depicted the Gurus as one light, the same spirit passing from one body to the other. But they have also praised the Gurus individually. They have also composed Savaiyyas in praise of Sri Guru Ram Das Ji.

               Bhatt Balvand Ji and Bhatt Satta Ji have praised Sri Guru Ram Das Ji as follows:

               "You are Nanak, and Lahina (Angad), you are Amar Das too. The miracle is complete, the creator adores you. Blessed, blessed is Guru Ram Das."         

ਨਾਨਕੁ ਤੂ ਲਹਣਾ ਤੂਹੈ ਗੁਰੁ ਅਮਰੁ ਤੂ ਵੀਚਾਰਿਆ ॥

                                                                                                                                       (ਪੰਨਾ 968)

Nānak ṯū lahṇā ṯūhai gur amar ṯū vīcẖāri▫ā.

                                                                                                             (SGGS, 968)

               You are Nanak, You are Angad, and You are Amar Daas; so do I recognize You.

               Bhatt Kirat Ji has praised Sri Guru Ram Das Ji as follows:

 

ਇਕ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ਭਾਟ ਕੀਰਤਿ ਕੀ ਗੁਰ ਰਾਮਦਾਸ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਸਰਣਾਈ ॥੪॥੫੮॥

                                                                                                         (ਪੰਨਾ 1406)

               Sri Guru Ram Das Ji! I pray that you please keep me under your protection.

               All the hymns of the Bhatts about Sri Guru Ram Das Ji are not being included here due to lack of space.

               After establishing the city of Amritsar Sri Guru Ram Das Ji moved to Goindval Sahib. On September 1, 1581 after anointing his youngest son (Guru) Arjan Dev Ji as the next Sikh Guru, he left for his heavenly abode.

               For all times to come Sri Guru Ram Das Ji will be remembered (i) for his devoted service during the Guruship of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji, especially his contribution in the digging of Baoli Sahib at Goindval Sahib (ii) construction of Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar (iv) habitation of the city of Amritsar (v) institution of the system of masands to propagate the Sikh religion.

               This year i.e. in 2019 his 485th birth anniversary will be celebrated on 15 October.

Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Ram Das Ji

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