Guru Har Rai
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|Guru Har Rai
|Born||January 16, 1630
Kiratpur Sahib, Rupnagar, Punjab, India
|Died||October 6, 1661 (aged 31)
Kiratpur Sahib, India
|Other names||The Seventh Master|
|Successor||Guru Har Krishan|
|Spouse(s)||Mata Krishen Kaur|
|Children||Baba Ram Rai and Guru Har Krishan|
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Guru Har Rai ([ɡʊru həɾ ɾɑɪ]; 16 January 1630 – 6 October 1661) was the seventh of the Sikh Gurus. He became Guru on 8 March 1644 following the footsteps of his grandfather. Just before his death at age 31, Guru Har Rai Sahib passed the Guru Gaddi to his younger son, the five year old Guru Har Krishan.
Rai was the son of Baba Gurdita and Mata Nihal Kaur (also known as Mata Ananti). Baba Gurdita was son of the sixth Guru Hargobind. Rai married Mata Kishan Kaur (sometimes also referred to as Sulakhni) the daughter of Daya Ram. He had two sons named Ram Rai and Guru Harkrishan.
Armed legion of Sikh soldiers
Although, Guru Har Rai was a man of peace, he never disbanded the armed Sikh warriors, who earlier were maintained by his grandfather, Guru Hargobind. He always boosted the military spirit of the Sikhs, but never indulged in any direct political or armed war with the Mughal Empire.
Helped Dara Sikoh escape death
Once, Dara Shikoh, came to Rai asking for help in the war of succession launched by his half-brother Aurangzeb. Rai had promised his grandfather to use the Sikh cavalry only in defense. Therefore, he used it to help Shikoh escape safely from the hands of Aurangzeb's armed forces by having his Sikh warriors hide all the ferry boats at the river crossing after they had been used by Shikoh during his escape. No weapons were fired.
War with Muslims
Once, while Rai was returning from a tour of the Malwa and Doaba regions, Mohammad Yarbeg Khan (son of Mukhlis Khan, who had been killed by Guru Hargobind when he had led his forces against the Sikhs), attacked Rai's kafila (entourage) with one thousand armed men. The attack was repulsed by a few hundred Sikh. Khan's forces suffered a heavy loss of life and fled the scene. Rai often bestowed Sikh warriors with robes of honor in reward. Due to Rai's help in Shikoh's escape, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb framed charges against Rai and questioned the verses of Guru Granth Sahib as anti-Muslim blasphemy.
Establishment of Ayurvedic hospital
Rai also established an Ayurvedic hospital and a research center at Kiratpur Sahib where he also maintained a Zoo. Once Shikoh fell seriously ill by some unknown disease. The court Hakims (physicians), both Indian and European attempted cures, but there was no improvement. At last the emperor made a request to Rai for the treatment of his son. Rai, sent some medicinal herbs, then available only in his Ayurvedic Medical Center, back with the emperor's messenger. Shikoh was cured of his near fatal illness. The emperor thanked Rai and offered a Jagir (title to land and villages and a portion of the revenue tax called lagaan derived from it), which Rai declined.
Guru Har Rai visited the Doaba and Malva regions of Punjab where he preached to the Sikhs in huge numbers. Guru Har Rai also visited Lahore, Sialkot, Pathankot, Samba, Ramgarh and many places in the Jammu and Kashmir region.
Reform of Masand system and expansion of Manji missions
Rai faced some serious difficulties during the period of his guruship. The corrupt Masands, Dhir Mal and Minas always tried to preclude the advancement of the Sikh religion. Third Sikh Guru Amar Das started the Manji and Piri system by appointing 94 men as Manji and 52 women as Piris for the spread of Sikhism. 
To reform the Masand system, Rai expanded the Manji system by establishing additional 360 Sikh 'missionary' seats called Manjis. He also tried to improve the old corrupt Masand system and appointed pious and committed personalities, such as Suthre Shah, Sahiba, Sangtia, Mian Sahib, Bhagat Bhagwan, Bhagat Mal and Jeet Mal Bhagat (also known as Bairagi), as the heads of Manji's.
Recitation of Gurbani
One day the Sikhs asked Rai whether those who read the Gurus' hymns without understanding them, derived any spiritual advantage from it. He gave no reply at the time, and next morning went hunting. En route, he came across a broken pot which had held butter. The rays of the sun were melting the butter on the broken pot fragments. He took one of these fragments in his hand and said, "Look my Sikhs, broken pot shreds—when heated, the butter that had adhered to them readily melts. As the grease adheres to the potshreds, so do the Gurus' hymns to the hearts of his Sikhs. At the time of death the Gurus' instruction shall assuredly bear fruit. Whether understood or not, it has within it the seed of salvation. Perfume still clings to a broken vase." The meaning of the parable is that whosoever daily reads the Gurus' shabads shall assuredly obtain peace. And even though he may not fully understand them, God will undoubtedly assist him. Guru Ram Das has said: "The shabad is the Guru, and the Guru in the shabad, and in the Word is the essence of ambrosia."
Death and Succession
- Macauliffe, M.A. (1909). The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus Sacred Writings and Authors. Low Price Publications. ISBN 81-7536-132-8.
- Singh, Khushwant (1963). A History of the Sikhs: 1469-1839 Vol.1 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-567308-5.
(19 June 1595 – 3 March 1644)
|Guru Har Rai||Followed by:
Guru Har Krishan
(7 July 1656 – 30 March 1664)