|Name||Sri Guru Ram Das Sahib Ji |
(4th Sikh Guru)
|Born||24th September 1534, Chuni Mandi, Lahore, Punjab (present day Pakistan)|
|Joti Jot||(Rejoining with God) 1st September 1581 (aged 46) at Gobindval, Punjab|
|Guruship||30th August 1574 from age 39 for 7 years: 1574 to 1581|
|Father||Bhai Hari Das|
|Mother||Mata Daya Kaur|
|Children||Prithi Chand, Mahan Dev and Guru Arjan|
|Predecessor||Sri Guru Amar Das Sahib Ji|
|Successor||Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji|
|Gurbani||638 Hymns in 30 Ragas, ie. Asa, Basantu, Gauri, Majh, Ramakali and Suhi.|
|Known For||Founded Amritsar, Anand Karaj (Four Laavan) in Raag Siihi|
Guru Ram Das (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਰਾਮ ਦਾਸ) (Friday October 9 1534 – Saturday 16 September 1581) was the fourth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism and became Guru on Monday 16 September 1574 following in the footsteps of Guru Amar Das Ji. The Guru’s original name was Bhai Jetha.
The following is a summary of the main highlights of Guru Ji’s life:
• Author of Lavan, the hymns of the Marriage Rites.
• Designed the Golden Temple, Sri Harmandir Sahib.
• Planned and created the township of Ramdaspur (later Amritsar) .
• Organization Structure of Sikh Society.
Very little is known about the early years of Bhai Jetha who later became the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das. Jetha Ji was born at Chuna Mandi Bazaar, Lahore at the site of the present shrine on 24 September 1534 where he spent the first seven years of his life. Soon after birth, he was given the name Jetha, meaning the first born.
Jetha’s simple and God-fearing parents, Hari Das and Anup Devi of Lahore were delighted at this precious gift from Waheguru. As he was growing up and in his teens, he could always be found in the company of religious men. Some accounts mention that Jetha’s parents died when he was approx. aged 7. Jetha continued to become a handsome young man.
Company Of Guru Amar Das
One day Jetha came across a party of Sikhs who were on their way to Goindwal to pay homage to Guru Amar Das. Jetha decided to join them and also travel to Goindwal. Upon their arrival and meeting, Guru Amar Das at once noticed the young Jetha with his pleasant manner and sense of devotion. While his fellow travelers returned to Lahore, Jetha decided to stay and become a disciple of Guru Amar Das.
Bhai Jehta worked hard in Goindwal in the various construction projects that were taking place. Guru Amar Das was very impressed with the Sewa performed by Bhai Jetha and susequently a marriage was arranged between Bibi Bhani, his daughter Bibi Bhani and his dedicated devotee, Bhai Jehta.
The marriage took place on 18 February 1554. After their marriage, the couple remained in Goindval which was an upcoming Sikh town and carried out voluntary service (Sewa) in the construction of the Baoli Sahib (sacred well), serving the Guru and the congregation (Sangat).
Sewa Of Guru Amar Das
Jetha became a trusted disciple of Guru Amar Das Ji. He undertook many sewas and also successfully represented Guru Amar Das Ji before the Mughal royal court to defend charges by some jealous hindus who had taken exception to some of the wording of the Sikh teachings, saying that Sikhism maligned both the hindu and the muslim religions. The following is a translation of what Jetha said in the Court of Akbar:
“Birth and caste are of no avail before God. It is ones deeds which make or unmake a man. To exploit ignorant people with superstitions and to call it religion is a sacrilege against God and man. To worship the infinite, formless and absolute God in the form of a totem, an image or an insignificant time-bound object of nature; to lead people to beleive that they can wash away their sins, not through compassion and self-surrender, but through ablutions; to insist upon special diets-what to eat and what not to eat; to say that a certain language and dress allows accesss to God and to condemn masses of human beings, men, women and children, to the status of sub-humans, who are not even allowed to learn to read the scriptures that they are told rule their lives; never allowed to enter a house of worship; who are allowed to do only the lowest degrading work, is to tear man apart from man. This is not religion nor is it religion to deny the world by becoming an ascetic, for it is in the world alone that man can find his spiritual possibilities.”
Impressed by the tenets of Sikhism as explained by Bhai Jetha Emperor Akbar dismissed all of the charges.
Construction Of Ramdaspur
Eventually Bhai Jetha was ordained as Guru Amar Das’s successor and named Guru Ram Das Ji. (Ram Das means servant of God). Guru Ram Das Ji now eagerly continued the building of the city of Ramdaspur (the abode of Ram Das) by the digging of the second sacred pool as he had been instructed by Guru Amar Das Ji. Pilgrims came in ever growing numbers to hear the Guru and to help in the excavation work of the tank. The holy tank would be called Amritsar meaning pool of nectar. Today the city of Ramdaspur, which now is the holiest center of Sikhism has come to be know as Amritsar. Guru Ram Das Ji urged his Sikhs that one could fulfill one’s life not merely by quiet meditation, but by actively participating in the joys and sorrows of others. This is how one could also rid oneself of the prime malady – Ego, and end their spiritual loneliness.
One of the new entries into the Sikh fold at this time was Bhai Gurdas Bhalla, the son of the younger brother of Guru Amar Das Ji. Bhai Gurdas Ji was a superb poet and scholar of comparative religion who would later go on to become the scribe of the first edition of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Guru Amar Das Ji was impressed with Bhai Gurdas’s existing knowledge of Hindi and Sanskrit and the hindu scriptures. Following the tradition of sending out Masands across the country Guru Amar Das Ji deputed Bhai Gurdas to Agra to spread the gospel of Sikhism