Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
There is something exceedingly kindhearted about Har Rai, the seventh Guru, worshipped by all Sikhs as the Guru who was compassion personified to mankind, wildlife and the environment.
First and foremost there are similarities between Him and Tajuddin Baba and as well as with Avatar Meher Baba.
The fact is that both These Masters, Har Rai and Tajuddin Baba, believed in two philosophies, and though separated by centuries, these two philosophies would in reality shape the way They functioned and governed and guided Their lot.
The first being ‘sleep less, eat less, talk less’. Where Har Rai is concerned His grand-father, the sixth Guru, was His Master and His most beloved. Grand-father and Grand-child, the sixth and the seventh Gurus of Sikhism, were so intimate and protective about each other, that often They did not have to even speak to communicate. All the teachings got by the Grand-son, Hari Om Rai, were from His Grand-father, and amongst the teachings ‘sleep less, eat less, talk less’, created a pillar of foundation, where spiritual routine and conduct was concerned. Tajuddin Baba’s spiritual journey too had begun with this statement spoken by Saint Hazrat Abdullah Shah who too told young Tajuddin to eat, speak and sleep less.
There must be something about these three rules that has moulded the lives of countless but for sure of Har Rai and Tajuddin Baba.
Eat, sleep, talk, less.
The second philosophy that was so akin to Both The Masters is that the human heart was more important than all places of worship. “A Mandir or a Mosque can be rebuilt and repaired, but not a broken heart.” So said Har Rai, while our Tajuddin Baba said, the best Haj or Pilgrimage for a devotee is to win a heart of a person by selflessly serving the individual, ‘Because a man’s heart is a thousand times better than Kaaba (holy place at Mecca ).’
There must be something in this philosophy to be taken seriously by each one of us.
That also means, I am roggered, as Lord love a defrosted duck, how many hearts have I broken, with harsh words, wrong deeds, silent withdrawing, false pride, infidelity, ignorance……chalo, there might be no place in the palatial suites of Heaven, but then under the feet of the Master, for me Baba Sai of Shirdi, there will always be a place for my sanctuary and salvation, but it is so important, not to break the heart of another.
So basically, eat less (chew slowly or in my case I turned vegetarian thus don’t feel like eating at all), talk less (not hard if one is married and I rest my case), sleep less (have a six and a half year old daughter and a six and a half week pup….good bye sleep). Don’t break a heart……that doesn’t mean give in to stupidity or melodrama or manipulation. Don’t break a heart by talking rudely, don’t indulge in slander and gossip….as Baba Sai of Shirdi during channeling often says, the greatest mantra ever created, from the beginning of Creation, is the mantra, ‘shut up’, as ninety percent of our problems come about with what goes inside the mouth and what comes out of it.
And then what I found very similar with Har Rai and Avatar Meher Baba, is the need of not performing miracles or showing Their spiritual powers. Both Har Rai and Avatar Meher Baba, had a clinical disdain to perform miracles in order to build greater faith amongst Their followers. They wanted Their followers to obey and love Them, and go beyond the need for miracles.
Thus, very rarely would Both of These Giants perform any miracles and if They did, it was very grudgingly. Obviously miracles would take place, but it was all done very subtly, unlike with Sai and Tajuddin Baba, where They performed miracles left, right and center.
The other day, I was channeling, when this seven year old, pudding of a boy walked in with an extremely exhausted mother, and she looked at the boy and then at me and pleaded to do anything but make the boy less hyper active. So the boy looked at me up and down, and I very diplomatically got my legs out of his way as he was rather healthy and not beyond jumping on my feet to verify whatever went on in his over active mind.
He then said, ‘Mummy says you can perform miracles’
And I nearly passed out.
‘No, no, no, I can barely make my daughter listen to me, forget perform miracles.’
So he stared at me as though I had been deported from some seedy planet and said ‘should have continued playing on my ipad’ and walked away.
Anyway enough of my ramblings.
Guru Har Rai, lived and loved a simple life. He was Himself a simple man, who believed that He was merely a channel of Guru Nanak, the first Guru of Sikhs. He became the seventh Guru when He was only fourteen and He took Samadhi when He was barely thirty one years of age. He loved Guru Nanak and The Granth Saheb, the Holy Book of the Sikhs. He did not add any of His words to the Holy Book but made sure that all those who came to Him, realised the importance of Guru Nanak and the Holy Granth. For Him, the Holy Book was an embodiment of all the Gurus and that the right way to a perfect life was through simplicity and pure selflessness.
He loved animals and though He went hunting, He never killed an animal. He would capture animals, then take care of the animals, especially the ones who were ill, and then release them back into their natural habitat. Those who were too ill or old, He would give them shelter in a special sanctuary He had created.
He also had created one of the most exalted gardens that housed the most health enhancing herbs and medicines, which were used to treat one and all. He in fact set up many hospitals which took care of the poor and cured many illnesses which were considered life threatening and even fatal.
The best part about Him was that He allowed one and all to express their views, even if it meant the views didn’t compliment His way of thinking. He was open to discussion and through His wisdom and simple explanations; He brought about a change in the mind set of His followers, who loved His openness and His humility.
He made sure that the langar, community feeding centers, were open through the day, and His philosophy was that even if one person went back hungry then He had personally failed in His work. Also the community feeding center or langar was open for all communities. He believed that feeding the poor and the hungry was one of the highest noble deeds any human could indulge in and was above and beyond religion, caste and creed.
Thus, taking care of animals, treating those who were ill and feeding one and all, was akin to worship and if one did this with humility and absence of pomp and show, one pleased The Gurus and The Lord Himself.
During His tenure, from the age of fourteen to thirty one, it was the most peaceful reign, as He was of the opinion that a true Sikh, spent His or Her life focusing on serving The Lord, rather than going about fighting one and all. Yes, He had a personal army of two thousand two hundred Sikhs, who were always ready to protect the honour and dignity of their clan, but to raise one’s sword, there had to be truly a worthy reason and justifiable provocation.
During His short life span, He unified Sikhs, made more and more respect and learn The Holy Granth, spent time in decoding the Book and making one and all understand Its true essence. He wanted His people through their own Free Will to become better human beings and live life that would make Him and The Gurus happy and proud.
He went about His life quietly, with a sense of humble leadership. His people loved Him, as He was always accessible, always open to hearing whatever bothered them or their interpretation of any and everything. He would then with simple answers remove their doubts or what bothered them, and thus built faith in His people and also selfless love. He was big on serving humanity, taking care of animals and preserving the environment.
His people would have happily given their lives for Him, but as Baba Sai of Shirdi in channeling so often says, dying is easy, living with dignity shows true love.
There are a few miracles that Har Rai allowed to be out in the open during His life time. One of them was, when a Brahmin man wanted an offspring and He was blessed by Har Rai. A few years later, while passing through the area, the Brahmin came over holding the body of his dead son. He wanted Har Rai to bring the boy back to life. Har Rai informed the father that everybody who came to Mother Earth had to pass over one day. That was the Law of Nature. But the father insisted and The Guru refused. But His followers pleaded that if The Guru would not bring the boy back to life, others would think that the reason was because the boy was not a Sikh. So Har Rai agreed but on one condition. If He was to bring one who was dead back to life, then somebody would have to sacrifice his life for the child. The gathering turned pale. I mean compassion flies out of the window when one has to take on the destiny of the other. Only fools take on Karmic ramifications of others. Eventually one man, called Jivan stepped forward and took the blessing of Har Rai. The Guru touched him and the man slumped on the ground. A bright light left his body and in seconds the lifeless Brahmin boy came back to life. The Guru only said one thing. Jivan, the martyr was with The Gurus.
So who is Har Rai?
To avoid ongoing battles, Har Rai’s Grand-father, Guru Hargobind Sahib, the sixth Guru, had created a township in Kiratpur, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Har Rai’s elder brother had gone nuts for some reason and sort of revolted against his own Grand-father and also against the teachings of The Gurus.
The Grand-father was very close to His youngest grand-son, taught Him all that He possessed, not only spiritual insight, but also warfare, and before passing over in 1644, He appointed the fourteen year old Har Rai, as the seventh Guru of Sikhism. Har Rai was born on January 16th, 1630. (January 16, 1630 A.D. and is observed on January 31st of the Nanashahi Calendar.)
He had two children and He lived a life of simplicity, getting Sikhs together, and sending His close confidants all over the country to spread Sikhism and also to make His people have love and respect not only for the Holy Granth, but also for each other.
It was a strange incident, completely unrelated with Har Rai, but which would get Har Rai into the scheme of things, which changed the fortunes of Sikhism.
Shah Jahan, the King of those days, had an issue with Har Rai. For whatever reason, the King, either knowing how valiant the Sikhs were or apprehensive that the Sikh army would join the rebel Hindu army, Shah Jahan, made his displeasure about Har Rai and Sikhs vocal.
What good old Shah Jahan didn’t realise is that Sikhs and Hindus, were the least of his problems. His greatest pain in the rectal opening would be his own son Aurangzeb. So the legend goes that Aurangzeb, who had the mother of all hard-on’s for the throne, one day, somehow made his eldest brother, Dara Shikoh, consume in some dish, a tiger’s whiskers.
Dara, who was his father’s favourite and also the most liberal amongst all the four brothers, was very close to getting astral wings. Holy men, doctors from all over, tried in vain to get the whiskers of the unsuspecting tiger, out of Dara’s body. The verdict was out, get the whiskers out, or Dara would procure tenancy rights to a fancy coffin.
The king did all he could but to no avail. It was then that someone informed the King that you know that Chap Har Rai, who you have created a nuisance with, The Man is sort of obsessed in gardening and He has the herb that can act as a laxative to get the whiskers out of Dara’s system and only with that herb can your son be saved.
So the King muttered under his royal breath and wrote Har Rai a 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.”
The letter reached the young Har Rai. As mentioned above, Har Rai was peace personified and saving a life even that of a man, whose father had created an irritant for His Grand-father and now to Him, a life was a life. Har Rai was advised by His people to let the chap with the tiger whiskers do the last tango, but Har Rai refused. His logic was that though the axe cuts the sandal-tree, yet the sandal tree releases its fragrance even to the axe. “The Guru is, therefore, to return good for evil.”
Har Rai sent the necessary herbs, along with His prayers, blessings and a pearl that was to be crushed and consumed by good old Dara. So the medicines were sent and Dara consumed it and then spent a considerable time in the loo and the laws of gravity did the rest and the darn whiskers, eventually were flushed away.
The King was so happy that He offered Har Rai land and stuff, but Har Rai, politely declined. His philosophy was simple, life was to be nurtured and saved, and it wasn’t business. But the King promised Har Rai that he would no longer create a nuisance of Him and that He, The Guru, was now a friend. Also He announced that an order which was proclaimed against Hindu Temples, was not to be implemented on Sikh Temples. This period made a number of Hindus, who were being prosecuted by the Moguls/Mughals, convert to Sikhism. Just goes to show what a tiger’s whiskers can do in the larger scheme of things.
Of course Aurangzeb managed to kill all his brothers including Dara later on. Dara became close to Har Rai, and Har Rai, even made sure that Aurangzeb’s army couldn’t catch up with the fleeing Dara, but a year later, Aurangzeb caught Dara and proclaimed that Dara was not a true follower of the Muslim faith, and had his brother killed. Talk about sibling rivalry.
In fact it was made clear that Dara’s liberal views on religion and spirituality was his proximity with Har Rai and thus he summoned Har Rai to come and explain certain portions of The Holy Granth, that spoke about Islam.
Har Rai was dissuaded from going but sent His eldest son Ram Rai. The Guru made it clear to His son that no matter what took place, The Holy Granth was above everything and the dignity and respect to The Holy Granth was of foremost priority. Ram Rai was himself just fourteen. He went and then realised that if He answered truly what was in The Holy Granth, the King would be displeased, so the boy did not hold true to The Holy Book. Har Rai, who heard regarding how His son had behaved, softly said that His oldest son would no longer be considered for continuing the legacy of Gurus.
But ironically before Ram Rai’s incident where he interpreted The Holy Granth in a wrong manner to win the favour of Aurangzeb, all were convinced that Ram Rai would be the eight Guru. He was known to have powers. He could read the minds of people and their past. He could predict the future. It seems He even had supernatural powers. It seems he could make jewels appear from thin air and he could even become invisible. Thus it was assumed that he would be the eight Guru of the Sikhs.
The younger son Har Krishan, had only one quality, which according to Har Rai, was all that was necessary for occupying the responsible throne of thorns of Guruhood.
That was his pure love. His love was so innocent and yet powerful that all who came in front of Him, had to bow to His selfless love.
It seems that when Har Rai had an option to decide who was to become the eight Guru, He made both the lads say a prayer. He told one of His disciples that when each lad was saying a prayer the disciple should take a needle and try to put it into the wooden table where the lad was praying. When Har Kishen who was His younger son, began His prayers, His love was so clear that the needle went into the wood like a knife goes through melted butter. This made Har Rai realise that true love can melt the hardest of all materials and only true love is the real miracle, the real seat of power.
Avatar Meher Baba and Sai Baba of Shirdi would often say, that a true disciple goes beyond miracles and Karma and even the very Heavens. A true disciple only loves the Master. No ifs and buts. Thus, Har Rai realised that His youngest son may not have had psychic powers, which can be got about by various methods, but true love can only come from a pure, selfless heart and that is the sign of a true Guru.
Har Rai suddenly took ill. No medicine worked. It was as though the time had come to leave the physical body. He put a tika on His five year old younger Son’s head, offered the Child a coconut with a coin, did the necessary simple ceremony and appointed Har Krishan as the eight Guru. He guided the newly appointed Guru, to live a simple and humble life. To treat one and all with compassion and love and that He, Har Krishan, would take on a lot of illness and Karmic exchange of those who put their faith in Him, thus a selfless heart and true love would be most important for the transference of illness and the fate of His disciples, onto Himself. He warned His son that He should not meet His brother or Aurangzeb. That if one lived in spreading joy and serving those in need, it was a life that pleased one’s Guru. That one should only pick up arms for a noble cause, which was to protect one’s loved ones and one’s God and Master. That to serve and serve and serve selflessly was the only way to live and the only way to die.
Har Rai’s youngest Son touched His father’s feet. The five year old boy knew His father would be dropping His thirty one year old body.
Har Rai called His disciples close to Him. He blessed them all reminding them that their duty was to serve the needy, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, fight for justice and do all this with humility and selfless love.
Thus, the seventh Guru of Sikhs, the noble, kind, generous, selfless Har Rai, One who was guided by His Grand-father, to keep the flame of Guru Nanak always burning bright, shut His eyes and with a soft Prayer on His lips and left the body.
Satnam Wahe Guru.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha