Q80. What do you know of Guru Ramdas?
Guru Ramdas(1534-1581) was installed as Guru at the age of forty. He put missionary work on sound basis and sent massands to different parts of north India to propagate the message of Sikhism. He himself was fond of serving his disciples. Sometimes, he would distribute water or pull the fan for the Sangat.
Guru Ramdas was keen on giving a suitable centre of worship to the Sikhs. He developed the land purchased from local land owners and established a new township called Ramdaspur. Many Sikhs settled in the new town because it was situated on the trade routes. The city was subsequently called Amritsar. Guru Ramdas was a perfect example of humility and piety. Once Sri Chand – the son of Guru Nanak – visited him. He asked the Guru in a humorous way as to why he maintained a long and flowing beard. The Guru gave him an apt reply: “To wipe the dust of your holy feet.” Sri Chand was deeply moved by this answer and expressed regret for his impertinence.
The Guru’s mission spread quickly among the poor and the rich classes. Some aristocrats visited Amritsar and became his followers. The Guru turned his friendship with Emperor Akbar to good account by persuading him to relieve distress and to remove the oppressive taxes on non-Muslims.
Guru Ramdas laid down a Sikh code of conduct and worship. He prescribed the routine of a Sikh as in his hymn to be found on page 305 of Guru Granth Sahib. He composed the Lavan for Sikh marriage cermony and other hymns appropriate to certain other functions and festivities. Being a talented musician he composed hymns in eleven new ragas.
Arjan, the youngest son of Guru Ramdas was devoted to his father. At the bidding of his father, he went to Lahore to attend a marriage. He was feeling terribly depressed without his father. He wrote two urgent poetic letters, full of longing and love for the Guru.
“My soul yearns for the sight of the Guru.
“It bewails like the Chatrik crying for the rain.” (A.G. p.96)
These letters were intercepted by his elder brother Prithi Chand. When the third letter reached Guru Ramdas, he immediately called him. Prithi Chand was keen on the succession, but the Guru tested his sons and finally his choice fell on Arjan who was installed as the Fifth Guru in 1581.