HAR KRISHAN, GURU (1656-1664), the eighth Guru or prophet teacher of the Sikh faith, was the younger son of Guru Har Rai (1630-61) and Mata Sulakkham. He was born on 7 July 1656 at Kiratpur, in the Sivalik hills, in present day Ropar district of the Punjab. As his time came, Guru Har Rai chose Har Krishan, then barely five years old, his successor and gave him his own seat, asking the Sikhs to look upon him as his very image. Guru Har Krishan assumed the spiritual office upon the death of his father on 6 October 1661. He sat on the throne a small Figure very young in years.

To quote Bhal Santokh Singli, .S`n GurPraidp Suraj Granth, “The early morning sun looks small in size, but its light is everywhere. So was young Guru Har Krishan`s fame without limit.” Those who came to sec him were instructed in true knowledge. Guru Har Krishan had a rare ability in explaining passages from the Holy Granth, and lie delighted the hearts of his disciples by his commentaries. Ram Rai, his elder brother, who had been passed over in favour of his younger brother, complained to the Mughal Emperor, Aurarigzib, and sought redress for the injustice done to him by his father.

The Emperor summoned the young Guru to Delhi through Raja Jai Singh of Amber. Accompanied by his grandmother, Mata Bassi, and his mother, Mala Sulakkhani, Guru Har Krishan left for Delhi. He travelled through Ropar, Banur, Rajpura and Ambala. Along the way, he instructed the disciples who came to call on him. As he neared Panjokhra, a village 10 km northeast of Ambala, a Sikh spoke with humility, “Sarigats arc coming from Peshawar, Kabul and Kashmir. Stay here a day so that they may have the chance of seeing you. Master.” The Guru made a halt in the village of Panjokhra. In that village lived a learned Pandit, Lal Chand by name, who came to see the Guru and spoke with derision: “It is said that you sit on the gaddt of Guru Nanak.

But what do you know of the old religious texts?” Chhajju Ram, the illiterate, darkskinned village water supplier, happened to pass by at that moment. Guru Har Krishan asked Dargah Mall to call him. As Chhay`u Ram came, the Guru enquired if he would explain to the Pandit the gist of the Bhagavad gita. The illiterate villager, says Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Praia? Suraj Granlh, astonished everyone by his lucid commentary on the sacred book. Lal Chand`s pride was overcome. Both he and Chhajju Ram became the Guru`s disciples and travelled with him up to Kurukshctra.

The former entered the fold of the Khalsa in Guru Gobind Singh`s time, and took the name of Lal Singh. Lal Singh met with a hero`s death fighting in the battle of Chamkaur which took place on 7 December 1705. According to Guru kidn Sdkhidn, Guru Har Krishan visited the Emperor`s court on Chef sudi NaumI 1721 Rk/25 March 1664. The Emperor had planned a trial. He had two large trays laid out for the Guru. One of these displayed ornaments, clothes and toys. The other had in it a holy man`s cloak and cowl. Both were presented to Guru Har Krishan. He rejected the tray containing ornaments and clothes and accepted the one containing the cloak.

The Emperor was convinced of his eminence and thought he would invite him again and see him perform a miracle. Guru Har Krishan guessed what the Emperor had in his mind. He told himself that he would not see his face again. He believed that no one should attempt a miracle and try to disturb the law of God. Guru Har Krishan knew how his father had punished Ram Rai, his elder brother, for misreading a scriptural verse and for showing feats in Emperor Aurarigzlb`s court. Smallpox was then raging in Delhi as an epidemic. Guru Har Krishan came out to tend the sick. Soon he was himself afflicted with the disease which ravaged his tender body.

The Sikhs were overcome by grief. The Guru`s mother Mata Sulakkhani, became very sad. She said, in the words of Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Pratdp Suraj Granlh, “Son, you occupy the gaddt of Guru Nanak. You are the dispeller of the world`s sorrow and suffering. Your very sight removes the ailments of others. Why do you lie sick now?” Guru Har Krishan replied, “He who has taken this mortal frame must go through sickness and disease. Both happiness and suffering are part of life. What is ordained must happen. This is what Guru Nanak taught. Whatever one docs is His order. One must walk in the light of His command.” Guru Har Krishan had himself taken out of Raja Jai Singh`s bungalow to a camp put up on the bank of the River Yamuna.

The Sikhs were in despair and wondered who would take the gaddi after him. Guru Har Krishan, to quote Bhai Santokh Singh again, instructed them in this manner: “Guru Nanak`s throne is eternal. It is everlasting and will command increasing honour. The Granth is the Lord of all. He who wants to see me, let him with faith and love see the Granth. So will he shed all his sins. He who would wish to speak with the Guru, let him read the Granth with devotion. He who practises its teachings will obtain all the four paddrthas. He who has faith gains all. He who is without faith acquires but little. None in this world lives forever. The body is mortal. In the Granth abides the Guru`s spirit.

Daily bow your head to it. So will you conquer your passions and attain liberation.” Guru Har Krishan was in a critical state. Yet he did not fail to carry out his important responsibility before he left the mortal world. In his last moments, he was able to nominate his successor. He asked for the ceremonial marks of succession to be fetched. But all he could say was: “Baba Bakalc.” He meant that the next Guru would be found in the town of Bakala. Guru Har Krishan passed away on 30 March 1664. According to Guru kidn Sdkhidn, Mata Bassi, the grandmother, asked Bhai Gurdas of the family of Bhai Bahilo, to start a reading of the Holy Granth in his memory.

References :

1. Santokb Singh, Bhai, Sri Gur Pratap Surnj Cmrilli. Amritsar, 1927-33
2. Padarn, Piara Singh, and Giani Gai-ja Singh, cds., Guru kian Sakhian. Paliala, 1986
3. Satibir Singh, Ashtam Bulbira. Jalandhar, 1982
4. Macauliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Religion. Oxford, 1909
5. Gnpta, Hari Ram, History of Sikh Gurus. Delhi, 1973