Guru Har Rai Ji

( Seventh Guru of Sikhism )

Guru Har Rai (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਇ, pronunciation: [gʊɾuː ɦəɾ ɾaːɪ]; 16 January 1630 – 6 October 1661) revered as the seventh Nanak, was the seventh of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion. He became the Sikh leader at age 14, on 3 March 1644, after the death of his grandfather and the sixth Sikh leader Guru Hargobind. He guided the Sikhs for about seventeen years, till his death at age 31.

Guru Har Rai is notable for maintaining the large army of Sikh soldiers that the sixth Sikh Guru had amassed, yet avoiding military conflict. He supported the moderate Sufi influenced Dara Shikoh instead of conservative Sunni influenced Aurangzeb as the two brothers entered into a war of succession to the Mughal Empire throne.

After Aurangzeb won the succession war in 1658, he summoned Guru Har Rai in 1660 to explain his support for the executed Dara Shikoh. Guru Har Rai sent his elder son Ram Rai to represent him. Aurangzeb kept Ram Rai as hostage, questioned Ram Rai about a verse in the Adi Granth – the holy text of Sikhs at that time. Aurangzeb claimed that it disparaged the Muslims. Ram Rai changed the verse to appease Aurangzeb instead of standing by the Sikh scripture, an act for which Guru Har Rai is remembered for excommunicating his elder son, and nominating his younger son Har Krishan to succeed him.

ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀਉ ਸਤ

Waaheguru is the Truth

ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀਉ ਹਾਜ਼ਰ ਨਾਜ਼ਰ ਹੈ

Waaheguru is Omnipresent

ਹਕ ਪਰਵਰ ਹਕ ਕੇਸ਼ਗੁਰੂ ਕਰਤਾ ਹਰਰਾਇ

Guru Kartaa Har Raaye was the nourisher and the anchor for truth

ਸੁਲਤਾਨ ਹਮ ਦਰਵੇਸ਼ ਗੁਰੂ ਕਰਤਾ ਹਰਰਾਇ ॥ ੮੭ ॥

He was royalty as well as a mendicant. (87)

Influences of

Guru Har Rai Ji

He started several public singing and scripture recital traditions in Sikhism. The katha or discourse style recitals were added by Guru Har Rai, to the sabad kirtan singing tradition of Sikhs. He also added the akhand kirtan or continuous scripture singing tradition of Sikhism, as well as the tradition of jotian da kirtan or collective folk choral singing of scriptures.

The third Sikh leader Guru Amar Das had started the tradition of appointing manji (zones of religious administration with an appointed chief called sangatias), introduced the dasvandh ("the tenth" of income) system of revenue collection in the name of Guru and as pooled community religious resource, and the famed langar tradition of Sikhism where anyone, without discrimination of any kind, could get a free meal in a communal seating.

The organizational structure that had helped Sikhs to grow and resist the Mughal persecution had created new problems for Guru Har Rai. The donation collectors, some of the Masands (local congregational leaders) led by Dhir Mal – the older brother of Guru Har Rai, all of them encouraged by the support of Shah Jahan, land grants and Mughal administration, had attempted to internally split the Sikhs into competing movements, start a parallel guruship, and thereby weaken the Sikh religion. Thus a part of the challenge for Guru Har Rai was to keep Sikhs united.

He appointed new masands such as Bhai Jodh, Bhai Gonda, Bhai Nattha, Bhagat Bhagwan (for eastern India), Bhai Pheru (for Rajathan), Bhai Bhagat (also known as Bairagi), as the heads of Manji's.