Ram Rai and Aurangzeb
Like his grandfather, Guru Har Gobind Sahib ji, Guru Har Rai ji was a saint-soldier. He kept a strong army of 2,200 horsemen ready to be used when the need arose. The Guru was otherwise very peace-loving and kind-hearted.
Shah Jahan, the Emperor of Delhi, had four sons. Prince Dara Shikoh, being the eldest, was the heir to the throne. His younger brother, Aurangzeb, was very clever. When Shah Jahan fell ill, a war broke out among his four sons for the throne of Delhi. Aurangzeb arrested his old sick father and imprisoned him at Agra. He defeated prince Dara who fled for his life and was hotly pursued by Aurangzeb’s forces. Dara escaped to the Punjab and sought shelter in the Guru’s Camp. When some Sikhs asked Guruji if it was wise to protect the prince against Aurangzeb’s orders, and thus inviting trouble, Guru Har Rai told them that as per the spiritual scriptures the Guru forgives and embraces whoever comes to him for protection. The Guru’s forces put up a brave fight with the pursuing army and thus saved Dara’s life.
Aurangzeb never forgot that the Guru had helped Dara. So, when he became Emperor, he called the Guru to Delhi. The Guru could not find time to go so he sent his son, Ram Rai, on his behalf.
When Ram Rai appeared before Aurangzeb, he was asked many questions about Sikhism. Ram Rai tried to answer them all as best as he could. Aurangzeb then wanted to satisfy himself that there was nothing against Islam written in the Holy Granth (The Sikh Bible). He asked Ram Rai to explain why Guru Nanak had said,
“Mitti Musalman ki, pere pai ghumiar,
Ghar bhande itan kian, jahdi kale pukar.”
“The ashes of Moslems find their way into the potter’s clod,
Pots and bricks are made out of them, they cry out as they’re fired.”
Ram Rai thought for a time and then, forgetting altogether what his father had instructed, he said, “Your Majesty, Guru Nanak wrote ‘Mitti Beiman Ki’ that is ‘The ashes of the faithless,’ not ‘of the Moslems’ fall into the potter’s clod. Some ignorant person seems to have copied wrongly from the original text. The scribe seems to have inserted ‘Musalman’ in place of ‘Beiman.’ This mischief has given a bad name not only to your religion but also to mine.” The Emperor was very pleased at Ram Rai’s answer and was fully satisfied with his explanation. He sent Ram Rai away very respectfully.
The Sikhs of Delhi reported the whole incident to the Guru and told him that Ram Rai had changed the text of the Granth and thought himself superior to Guru Nanak Dev ji whose writings no-one had the right to change. When Guru Har Rai ji heard that from fear of death his son Ram Rai had changed the Holy Text and shown weakness, he was extremely angry. The Guru thought that Ram Rai was unable to withstand pressure and understand the true meaning of the text. He had shown no strength of character. So Guru Har Rai ji judged that he was unfit to be Guru. He therefore disowned him and said that he would never see him for the rest of his life.
“The word of the Guru is inner music;
The word of the Guru is the highest scripture;
The word of the Guru is all pervading”
(Guru Granth Sahib)
“The Guru gives the word, and the word is the Guru;
All the sweetness of nectar is in the word.
The Guru’s word instructs, and the Sikh follows it:
This is how the word leads to light.”