The fourth of the ten Gurus of Sikh religion
Guru Ram Das (1534–1581) was actually the fourth of the ten Gurus of Sikh religion. Guruji was born on 24 September 1534 in a poor Hindu family based in Lahore which is now in Pakistan.durings his childhood days he was called Jetha but he was orphaned at age 7, and afterwards he was taken care of by his maternal grandmother in a village.
At the age of 12, Bhai Jetha along with s grandmother moved to Goindval, where they met Guru Amar Das ji. The boy thereafter accepted Guru Amar Das ji as his mentor and served him for his life. Later, bhai Jetha got married to the daughter of Guru Amar Das ji and he thus became an integral part of Guru Amar Das’s family. As the first two Gurus of Sikhism Guru Amar Das instead of choosing his very own sons, he chose Bhai Jetha as his successor and renamed him as Ram Das which means servant or slave of god.
Later, Ram Das ji became the Guru of Sikhism in 1574 and for his entire life served as the Sikh leader until his death in 1581.He faced major hostilities from the sons of Amar Das and afterwards he shifted his official base to lands identified by Amar Das as Guru-ka-Chak. This newly founded town was given a name Ramdaspur but later to evolve and get renamed as Amritsar which is the holiest city of Sikhism. He is also greatly remembered in the Sikh tradition for expanding the manji organization for clerical appointments and donation collections too theologically and economically majorly to support the Sikh movement.He then appointed his own son as his successor, and unlike the first four Gurus who were not in any way related through descent, the fifth through tenth Sikh Gurus were the direct descendants of Guru Ram Das ji.
If we talk about his family background Guru Ram Das ji was born in a Sodhi Khatri family in Chuna Mandi, Lahore (which is now part of Pakistan). His father was Hari Das and mother Daya Kaur and both died when he was aged seven. He was brought up by his grandmother. He married Bibi Bhani was the younger daughter of Amar Das. They had three sons namely Prithi Chand, Mahadev and Guru Arjan
Death and succession:
Guru Ram Das ji died on September 1, 1581, in Goindval town of Punjab Out of his three sons, Ram Das chose Arjan, the youngest one, to succeed him as the fifth Guru of Sikhism. His choice of successor, as throughout the history of most of the Sikh Guru successions, led to disputes and internal divisions among the Sikhs community. The elder son of Ram Das called Prithi Chand is remembered in the Sikh tradition as he vehemently opposed Arjan, creating a Sikh community which the Sikhs who were following Arjan called as Minas (literally, meant “scoundrels”), and is actually alleged to have attempted to assassinate young Hargobind. , alternately competing texts written by Prithi Chand led to Sikh faction offer a different story, contradicting this explanation on Hargobind’s life, and presented the elder son of Ram Das as devoted to his younger brother Arjan. The competing texts do acknowledge utter disagreement and described Prithi Chand as having become the Sahib Guru after the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev ji and disputing the succession of Guru Hargobind who was the grandson of Ram Das.
Credited to found the holy city Amritsar
Ram Das ji is credited with founding the holy and the most pious city of Amritsar in the Sikh tradition. Two versions of stories that exist regarding the land where Ram Das ji settled. The one based on a Gazetteer record, the land that was purchased with Sikh donations for an amount of 700 rupees from the owners of the village of Tung.
It is believed according to the Sikh historical record that the site was chosen by Guru Amar Das and was called Guru Da Chakk, after he had asked Ram Das ji to find land to start a new town with a man-made pool as its central point. After his coronation in 1574 and with the hostile opposition he faced from the sons of Amar Das and Ram Das, he founded the town named after him as Ramdaspur. He actually started by completing the pool, and building his new official Guru centre and home next to it. He invited the merchants and the artisans from other parts of India to settle into the new town with him. The town that was expanded during the time of Arjan was financed by donations and constructed of voluntary work. The town later grew into Amritsar, and the pool area converted into a temple complex after his son built the gurdwara Harmandir Sahib, and thus installed the scripture of Sikhism inside the new temple in 1604. The construction activity stood between 1574 and 1604 is described in Mahima Prakash Vartak, a semi-historical Sikh hagiography text was likely composed in 1741, and the earliest known document that dealt with the lives of all the ten Gurus.
Ram Das Ji composed 638 hymns, or about ten percent of hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib. He was the most celebrated poet and composed his work in 30 ancient ragas of the Indian Classical Music.
The laavan verses of Ram Das Ji are recited with clockwise circumambulation in all the Sikh wedding. Ram Das here along with Amar Das are credited with various parts of Anand and Laavan composition in the Suhi mode. It is a part of the ritual of four clockwise circumambulation of the Sikh scriptures by the bride and groom to solemnize the marriage in Sikh traditions. This was intermittently used and its use was lapsed in the late 18th century. However, sometimes in 19th or 20th century through conflicting accounts, the composition of Ram Das Ji came back in use along with Anand Karaj ceremony, replacing the Hindu rituals of circumambulation around the fire in marriage. The composition of Ram Das Ji emerged to be one of the basis of British colonial era of Anand Marriage Act of 1909.
Where Amar Das Ji introduced the manji system of religious organization, Ram DasJi extended it with adding the masand institution. The masand were the Sikh community leaders who lived far from the Guru, but in reality acted to lead the distant congregations, their mutual interactions, collected revenue for Sikh activities and temple building. This institutional organization famously helped to grow Sikhism in the decades that followed, but actually became infamous in the era of later Gurus, for its corruption and its misuse in financing rival Sikh movements in the times of succession disputes.
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