Sikhism | Ten Guru | Sri Guru Ram Das Ji
Shri Guru Ramdas Ji
Guru Ramdas Sahib (Jetha ji) was born at Chuna Mandi, Lahore (in Pakistan), on Kartik Vadi 2nd, (25th Assu) Samvat 1591 (September 24, 1534). Son of Mata Daya Kaur ji (Anup Kaur ji) and Baba Hari Das ji Sodhi Khatri was very handsome and promising child. His parents were too poor to meet even the daily needs and he had to earn his bread by selling boiled grams. His parents died when he was just 7 year old. His grandmother (mother's, mother) took him to her native village Basarke. He spent five years at village Basarke earning his bread by selling boiled grams. According to some chronicles, once Guru Amardas Sahib came village Basarke to condole with the grandmother of (Guru) Ramdas Sahib at the death of her son-in-law and developed deep affection for (Guru) Ramdas Sahib. Along with grandmother he left for Goidwal Sahib to settle there. There he resumed his profession of selling boiled grams and also began to take part in the religious congregation held by Guru Amardas Sahib. He also made active participation in the development of Goindwal Sahib.
Guru Ramdas Sahib was married to Bibi Bhani Ji (daughter of Guru Amardas Sahib). She bore him three sons: Prithi Chand Ji, Mahadev Ji and Arjan Sahib (Guru) Ji. After the marriage he stayed with his father-in-law and deeply associated himself with the Guru Ghar activities (Sikhism). He commanded full confidence of Guru Amardas Sahib and often accompanied him when the latter went on long missionary tours to different parts of India.
Guru Ramdas Sahib was a man of considerable merit. He became famous for his piety, devotion, energy and eloquence. Guru Amardas Sahib found him capable in every respect and worthy of the office of Guruship and installed him as Fourth Nanak on september 1, 1574. Guru Ramdas Sahib laid the foundation stone of Chak Ramdas or Ramdas Pur, which is now called Amritsar. For this purpose he purchased land from the zamindars of the villages: Tung, Gilwali and Gumtala, and began digging of Santokhsar Sarover. Later on he suspended the work on Santokhsar and concentrated his attention on digging Amritsar Sarovar. Bhai Sahlo Ji and Baba Budha Ji, the two devoted Sikhs were assigned the supervising work.
The new city (Chak Ramdas Pur) flourished soon as it was situated at the centre of international trade routes. It grew into an important center of trade in Punjab after Lahore. Guru Ramdas Sahib himself invited many merchants and artisans from the different walks of life and trades. Later on, it proved to be step of far-reaching importance. It provided a common place of worship to the Sikhs and paved the way for the future guidelines for the Sikhism as a different religion. Guru Ramdas Sahib introduced Masand system in place of Manji system and this step played a great role in the consolidation of Sikhism.
Guru Ramdas Sahib strengthened the Sikhism a step further by composing Four Lawans and advised the Sikhs to recite them in order to solemnize the marriages of their children. Thus he introduced a new matrimonial system based upon Sikhism instead of Hindu's Vedi system. Thus this distinct marriage code for the Sikhs separated them from the orthodox and traditional Hindu system. also made rapprochement with different sects of Udasis through Baba Shri Chand Ji. He, like his predecessors carried forward the tradition of Guru ka Langer. Superstitions, caste system and pilgrimages were strongly decried.
The final and supreme test of Jetha's spirit of service and sacrifice when Guru Amar Das wanted to select his successor just like the first two Gurus (and all the Sikh Gurus starting from the Guru Nanak Dev). The Guru asked both of his sons-in-law, Rama and Jetha to make him two platforms beside the Baoli at Goindwal. He held out the promise without telling them about the Guruship that he who did the better work in his eyes should receive the greater honour. When they completed their platforms, the Guru went to inspect them. Both the platforms were declared to be defective and they were asked to throw them down and rebuild them. In obedience to his command, new platforms were erected. These were also disapproved and ordered to be dismantled. On this Rama the elder son-in-law refused to build it a third time. He demurred, "The Guru hath grown old and his reason faileth him". Jetha's work was subjected to the same rigorous standard. He continued to build platforms which were then dismantled each time pronouncing it faulty by the Guru. This process was repeated seven times. Ultimately, Jetha clasped the Guru's feet and humbly addressed him :" I am a fool; pray have regard for thy duty (bird) to me as thy son. I am erring and of mean understanding, while thou possessest all knowledge." On hearing this Guru smiled and embraced him affectionately saying, "Jetha is a perfect being who hath become incarnate and the world following him shall be saved" The Sikhs were astonished on witnessing Jetha's marvellous devotion and obedience, and henceforth began to recognize him as the image of the Guru.
Guru Amar Das had devoted much of his time to the problems of definition and organization confronting the young emerging Sikh panth (called nirmal panth by sarup das bhalla). Lest the Brahmanical influence should reassert themselves over his followers, he had all along endeavoured to make the Sikh position in the matter of religious beliefs and practices as well as in social behaviour as definetive as possible. Simaltaneous he had made efforts to improve the organizational setup of the Sikh Society. The introduction of the annual Baisakhi day, the construction of the Baoli, and the distinction drawn between sachi (authentic) and kachi (unauthentic) Bani (sacred compositions) were a few of the measures taken by the Guru in this connection. Guru Ram Das went ahead with the work thus begun by his master. Through his words as well as deeds he underscored the essential features of the Sikh teachings and repeatedly warned his followers against the pitfalls involved in the Brahman's emphasis on pilgrimage, ritualism or formal reading of Vedas and Shastars. He also left no opportunity to caution them against the futile practices of the Udasis, Yogis, Naths, Tapas and Sidhs (all ascetis of one kind or another. A good number of these ascetics fell under his spell and adopted his creed.
He wrote 638 hymns in 30 ragas, these include 246 Padei 138 Saloks, 31 Ashtpadis and 8 Vars and are a part of Guru Granth Sahib. He nominated his youngest son (Guru) Arjan Sahib as Fifth Nanak. After this he left Amritsar and retired to Goindwal Sahib. There, after a few days he passed away for heaven on Bhadon Sudi 3rd (2nd Assu) Samvat 1638 (September 1, 1581).
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