Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Happy Gurpurb!

In addition to the Jor Mela Baba Buddha Ji, this weekend is also the Gurpurb of Guru Ram Das Ji. Guru Ram Das Ji was born Oct 9, 1534 to parents Haridas and Mata Anup Devi. His original name was Bhai Jetha (meaning first born). Since his father died when he was 7 and he was taken to his maternal grandmother in Basarke. When he was older, he came across some Sikhs who were headed to Goindwal and Bhai Jetha Ji joined them to meet Guru Amar Das Ji.  He stayed there and became a devoted Sikh of the Guru. Guru Amar Das Ji married his daughter, Bibi Bhai, to Bhai Jetha Ji in 1554. They went on to have 3 children Prithi Chand, Mahan Dev, and (Guru) Arjan Dev Ji. Together they did sewa of construction of Baoli Sahib and served the sangat, preparing langar, washing dishes, getting water, and serving the Guru Ji personally.

Bhai Jetha Ji even went to the emperor Akbar’s court to defend Sikh teachings. Some Hindus had lodged a complaint against Guru Amar Das that he abolished the caste system and didn’t practice Hindu rituals like idol worship, and that sangat ate together. Because of his old age, Guru Ji sent Bhai Jetha Ji in his place with the instructions to be honest and fear no one. Bhai Jetha Ji said to Akbar: "Birth and caste are of no avail before God. It is ones deeds which make or unmake a man. To exploit ignorant people with superstitions and to call it religion is a sacrilege against God and man. To worship the infinite, formless and absolute God in the form of a totem, an image or an insignificant time-bound object of nature; to lead people to believe that they can wash away their sins, not through compassion and self-surrender, but through ablutions; to insist upon special diets-what to eat and what not to eat; to say that a certain language and dress allows access to God and to condemn masses of human beings, men, women and children, to the status of sub-humans, who are not even allowed to learn to read the scriptures that they are told rule their lives; never allowed to enter a house of worship; who are allowed to do only the lowest degrading work, is to tear man apart from man. This is not religion nor is it religion to deny the world by becoming an ascetic, for it is in the world alone that man can find his spiritual possibilities." (from ). At this the Emperor dismissed the complaint.

When it was time to pass on the Guruship, Guru Amar Das Ji asked his son-in-laws Rama and Jetha to build platforms. He said they were both wrong and asked them to rebuild. Again, Guru Ji asked to tear them down and rebuild them a second time and a third. Rama refused to rebuild, but Jetha kept rebuilding 7 times, finally the Guru said that just as 7 platforms had been built, so would 7 generations of Bhai Jetha sit on Guru’s throne. Guru Amar Das Ji then passed on the Guruship to Bhai Jetha and named him Guru Ram Das (servant of God). He started building Ramdaspur (now Amritsar). 

Guru Ram Das Ji wrote 688 hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Guru Amar Das Ji wrote these famous lines “They are not said to be husband and wife who merely sit together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies." Guru Ram Das Ji then went on to write the laavan we read at the Anand Karaj.

Guru Ram Das’ cousin Shari Mal’s son was going to be married, and Guru Ji was busy in sewa but promised to send one of his sons. Prithi Chand and Mahan Dev refused. Arjan Dev accepted, and went to Lahore. He stayed to educate and serve the Sikhs there, but two years had passed and he wrote two poems to his father, which jealous Prithi Chand took before Guru Ji received them. The last poem was the shabad “Mera Man Loche Gur Darshan Taee” 
My mind longs for the Blessed Vision of the Guru's Darshan.
It cries out like the thirsty song-bird.
My thirst is not quenched, and I can find no peace, without the
Blessed Vision of the Beloved Saint. ||1||
I am a sacrifice, my soul is a sacrifice,
To the Blessed Vision of the Beloved Saint Guru.
(SGGS, Raag Maajh, Pannaa 96)

This one was delivered to the Guru personally, and since it said it was the third, he became aware that two others had been written. Prithi Chand initially denied it, but them confessed and the other two poems were also given. He was moved by the letters. Guru Ram Das Ji passed on the Guruship to Guru Arjan Dev and merged with Waheguru on Sep 16, 1581.

Guru Ram Das Ji and Bibi Bhani Ji have a truly inspiring marriage. They did sewa together and can teach us to do the same. They prayed together and raised their children while singing the praises of Waheguru. They teach us about putting Guru first in marriage, and working as a family towards the goal of being one with Waheguru. If there’s any sort of conflict we can be sure ego is at the center of it. When we look at Guru Ram Das Ji’s life we can learn a lot about letting go of ego in order to live a life of harmony and love. I read in Maskeen Ji’s laavan book that the more we get of “I” and “me” the more God will emerge within us, and will be more apparent. 

Happy Gurpurb! 

References: (picture)

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