Sikh Gurus > Guru Harrai Ji

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 .

One 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 frequently:

"All men's hearts are jewels; to distress them is not at all good;
If thou desire the Beloved, distress no one's heart."

Guru 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.

The 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:

"Your 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 me."

A 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.

One 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 to Him."