February 01, 2015 10:35 PM


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

was born on January 31*, 1630 at Kiratpur Sahib in District Ropar of Punjab. He was

the grandson of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib (1595-1644) the sixth Guru of the Sikh faith

and son of Baba Gurditta Ji (1613-1638) and Mata Nihali Ji. 

 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. 


          In 1640, he was married to 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, 1944 at Kiratpur Sahib

nominated Har Rai Sahib as his successor.                                                             .

          After assuming Guruship, Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib established the following

three important missions called bakhshishs 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, Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib 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 Phul who had been brought

* This year as per Nanakshahi Samat 546-47

   it was celebrated on January 31 by his fraternal uncle Kala because this poor 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, Mota Tanda* and Jammu 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.

Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib 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 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                                                  .


* Village of Makhan Shah Lubana Ji.       

          Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib 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 Shikoh 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 Shikoh

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

Shikoh had been cured of a serious ailment through some rare medicine sent by Sri Guru

Har Rai Sahib. Some courtiers of Aurangzeb incited him that Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib

was himself a rebel and had helped Dara Shikoh 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 (I) answer all questions of the Emperor franky without

any hesitation and (ii) read Sri Guru Granth Sahib with deep attention on the w        

Gurdas of the family of Bhai Bahilo 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 Sri Guru Har Rai

Sahib. 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.

          As mentioned earliar the elder son of Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib, Ram Rai had

misread the lines of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and had earned the displeasure of Sri Guru

Har Rai Sahib. Therefore before leaving for his heavenly abode on October 6, 1661 at

Kiratpur Sahib Sri Har Rai Sahib nominated his young 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 in Pakistan, Lahore shows

Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib giving alms to the poor. On January 31, Sri Guru Har Rai

Sahib’s birth anniversary was celebrated by the Sikhs all over the world. 

*Dr Amrit Kaur, Retd. Proffesor,Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India

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