by Bhai Sahiba Dr. Bibi Inderjit Kaur Khalsa
Guru Har Rai Ji gave us the great gift of showing us how to understand through compassion (ahimsa). It is easy to react emotionally to life’s challenges, rather than with self-mastery and compassion for peace and the greater good. Guru Har Rai Ji was unwavering in his commitment to bestowing peace.
He embodied an aura of profound tranquility. He became our seventh Guru at the age of only 14, representing the seventh body or the auric shield.
Guru Har Rai held his sangats in that great protective umbrella of unlimited compassion and peace and dedicated his life endeavors to pursuits of non-violence, consolidating the organization of Sikhs on peaceful lines.
He started an Ayurvedic research center and a dispensary of herbal medicine for the sick and poor. In Kiratpur Sahib he opened a zoological refuge. He was so kind-hearted, with a wellspring of love and tenderness. He believed that the greatest sin was to hurt others and yet he proved that the path of peace is also a great power.
Compassion for All
Guru Har Rai walked with his robes held near to his body, so as to ensure that he would not disturb anything by accident. A beautiful story tells of a lesson he learned about self mastery from his grandfather, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, at a very young age.
While running with great exuberance to meet his grandfather and Guru, his kurta became caught in a bush, causing a few flowers to fall. This incident pained his heart so much that he began to weep profusely.
At that time, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji taught him that we are living in this world, yet this is not our true home. Therefore we must be ever vigilant and navigate this realm with perfect self mastery. We are beholden to no one in this world; reliance must be on the immortal Divine Master alone.
Guru Har Rai Ji exhibited that great mastery during his reign by bringing harmonious and peaceful resolution to potential outbreaks, so that none would be harmed. With his infinite compassion, he always strived to avoid unnecessary conflict. Though he was a man of peace, he never disbanded the armed Sikh warriors who were maintained by Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. However, he had promised his grandfather he would only use the warriors for defense.
On one occasion, the eldest son of Emperor Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh, came to Guru Har Rai Ji to ask for help in the war of succession launched by his half-brother, Aurangzeb. He was running to escape from Aurangzeb’s brutal armed forces.
The Guru deployed his warriors to aid Dara Shikoh, escorting him to safety in ferry boats across a river. The Guru then ordered his Sikh warriors to hide all of the ferry boats, and thus, this incident passed with no weapons ever fired.
A Royal Summons
Guru Har Rai Ji did not back down in his resolve to protect the purity and sanctity of the Guru’s word, as embodied in the Adi Granth. When a royal summons was presented to Guru Har Rai to appear before Emperor Aurangzeb, he sent his elder son, Ram Rai.
Blessing his son as he seated him in the carriage, he exhorted him to answer squarely and without fear any questions the Emperor may ask and to exhibit no hesitation, and he would be protected. However, in order to please the Emperor, Ram Rai deliberately misread one of the lines in the Adi Granth to which Emperor Aurangzeb objected.
When the Guru learned of this betrayal, Ram Rai was excluded from that time forth from the Guru’s presence. It was of the highest importance to Guru Har Rai Ji that the Guru’s word be protected, that it should not be harmed or altered, changed or dishonored in any way. The strength to remain committed to this standard, even though it required separation from his son, required a rare courage known to very few.
Remembering to understand with compassion means living in that self-mastery to always look beyond ourselves, to our sangats, our children, and our children’s children and beyond. Illustrating these qualities, Guru Har Rai Ji often quoted the following verse from Bhai Gurdas,Varan (XXVIII. 15):
A True Sikh
A true Sikh rises before the night ends
And turns his thoughts to God’s Name,
To charity and to holy bathing.
He speaks humbly and humbly he walks.
He wishes everyone well and he is happy to
give away gifts from his hand.
He sleeps but little,
And little does he eat or talk.
Thus he receives the Guru’s true instruction.
He lives by the labor of his hands and he does good deeds.
However eminent he might become,
He demonstrates not himself.
He sings God’s praises in the company of the holy.
Such company he seeks night and day.
Upon the Word his mind is fixed,
And he delights in the Guru’s will.
Unenticed he lives in this world of enticement.
About the Author
Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, PhD, serves as Bhai Sahiba or Chief Religious Minister of Sikh Dharma. She is the wife of the Siri Singh Sahib Bhai Sahib Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji. As Bhai Sahiba she is responsible to advise Sikh Dharma on religious matters and promote good relations with the global community. Bibiji has authored books on Sikh educational principals, including Living Reality, and the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Blessing, an intricate and esoteric description of the rags (musical scales), poetry, and architectural design of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred body of Sikh scripture, hymns, and holy verse.