ਬੈਠਾ ਸੋਢੀ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੁ ਰਾਮਦਾਸੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੂ ਕਹਾਵੈ। ਪੂਰਨੁ ਤਾਲੁ ਖਟਾਇਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਸਰਿ ਵਿਚਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜਗਾਵੈ।
Bhai Ram Das Ji, who later became Guru Ram Das Ji, had a heartbreaking and difficult childhood. Born to Baba Hari Das Ji and Mata Daya Kaur Ji at Chuna Mandi, Lahore on Thursday, Katak Vedi 2, 1591 BK (2nd November 1534 AD), he was orphaned at the age of 7.
His maternal grandmother took him back to her village Basarke, near Amritsar, where they struggled to make ends meet. Bhai Ram Das Ji made his living selling roasted chickpeas. Similar to Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Sacha Sauda (True Bargain), once, when Bhai Ram Das Ji came across some starving saints, he offered them his chickpeas for free and went home without any earnings.
Basarke is also the village where Bhai Amar Das Ji (who would later become Guru Amar Das Ji) lived. Bhai Amar Das Ji instantly took a liking to Bhai Ram Das Ji and told his grandmother that he would be available to help the family with anything they needed. Bhai Ram Das Ji followed Guru Amar Das Ji to Goindwal Sahib, where he became a dedicated Sevadar (one who selflessly serves). Over the years, Bhai Ram Das Ji grew very close with Guru Sahib and Their family.
When Guru Amar Das Ji and wife Mata Mansha Devi were discussing the type of husband that they wanted for their daughter Bibi Bhani Ji, Mata Ji said she wanted someone who was like Bhai Ram Das Ji. Guru Amar Das Ji decided to fix Bibi Bhani Ji’s marriage with Bhai Ram Das Ji himself because Guru Ji believed that there was nobody else like Bhai Ram Das Ji.
Bhai Ram Das Ji, at the age of 18, married Bibi Bhani Ji. They had three sons: Prithi Chand Ji, Mahadev Ji, and Arjan Dev Ji (who later became the fifth Guru). After their marriage, Bhai Ram Das Ji continued living in Goindwal with Guru Amar Das Ji and involved himself in seva and Parchaar (spreading the message of Sikhi). Bhai Ram Das Ji and Bibi Bhani played a big role in building Baoli Sahib, the first Sarovar (sacred pool).
The Brahmins were unhappy with the rise in Sikhi’s popularity because a society which prioritized equality would not be advantageous for them and their high status. When Akbar stayed in Lahore, Brahmins decided to draft a complaint against Guru Amar Das Ji.
Guru Amar Das Ji sent Bhai Ram Das Ji to Akbar’s court to respond to the four complaints:
- Sikhs do not recite the Gayatri Mantra thrice-daily as directed by the Vedas - Shudras (the lowest caste) are banned from reciting the Gayatri Mantra. Bhai Ram Das Ji explained that Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings says that everyone should have equal access to Vaheguru.
- Sikhs do not visit the Hindu pilgrimage sites - Bhai Ram Das Ji replied that no place is considered more holy than another. The pilgrimage sites used to be sacred because of the saints that once shared their spiritual knowledge. Now, Brahmins use it to make a profit from pilgrims
- Sikhs do not support the caste system - Bhai Ram Das Ji discussed how the caste system was designed to oppress the poor, not to benefit humanity
- Sikhs do not do idol worship - Bhai Ram Das Ji revealed that Vaheguru is everywhere. Stones cannot provide any sort of spiritual guidance.
Akbar supported Bhai Ram Das Ji’s answers and offered him a robe of honor. Bhai Ram Das Ji returned to Guru Amar Das Ji where he continued to immerse himself in Seva.
Foundation of Amritsar
In June of 1570, before Bhai Ram Das Ji had received the Gurgaddi, Guru Amar Das Ji and Bhai Ram Das Ji went to speak with local leaders about establishing a new town. The leaders supported the proposal and Bhai Ram Das Ji laid the foundation for Chak Ramdas, which is now called Amritsar.
The city flourished into an important center of trade for Punjab. Bhai Ram Das Ji helped create the Santokhsar Sarovar and started a Langar (community kitchen) for the workers and anyone else to take meals.
Receiving the Guruship
Guru Amar Das Ji was debating which of Their son-in-laws, Bhai Ram Das Ji or Bhai Rama Ji, to make Guru. Both were dedicated Sevadars. To ensure that there was no conflict, Guru Sahib worked to make the selection process transparent.
Guru Ji asked Bhai Ram Das Ji and Bhai Rama to construct a platform, which they did willingly. Guru Sahib inspected the platforms and said They were not satisfied. Bhai Ram Das Ji and Bhai Rama Ji were expected to try again. This went on for three days, when Bhai Rama Ji got frustrated and told Guru Amar Das Ji that They did not remember the instructions and specifications. Bhai Rama Ji refused to tear down his platform.
Bhai Ram Das Ji, on the other hand, asked for the wisdom to do it again properly. Seeing this, the Sikhs were convinced that Bhai Ram Das Ji would be the next Guru for he had a love for seva.
As Bhai Gurdas Ji writes in his Varaan:
ਗੁਰੁ ਅਮਰਹੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਰਾਮਦਾਸੁ ਗੁਰ ਸੇਵਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਹੋਇ ਸਮਾਇਆ।
At the age of 40 years 1 month 26 days, Bhai Ram Das Ji became Guru Ram Das Ji. Guru Amar Das Ji after hearing the plea of Bibi Bhani Ji, ] decided that all future Gurus would be from Guru Ram Das Ji’s family, the Sodhi clan. In his Varaan Bhai Gurdas Ji discusses:
ਜਾਣਿ ਨ ਦੇਸਾਂ ਸੋਢੀਓਂ ਹੋਰਸਿ ਅਜਰੁ ਨ ਜਰਿਆ ਜਾਵੈ। ਘਰ ਹੀ ਕੀ ਵਥੁ ਘਰੇ ਰਹਾਵੈ ॥੪੭॥
Guru Amar Das Ji told Guru Ram Das Ji to return to Amritsar. There, Guru Ram Das Ji purchased 500 bighas of land from the villagers of Tung so that They could expand the city.
Guru Ram Das Ji was destined for Jyoti Jot (leaving Their body) much earlier. However, Guru Amar Das Ji gave Them his remaining 6 years, 11 months, and 11 days so that Guru Ram Das Ji could continue sharing about Sikhi and help others attain Mukti (liberation).
Creating the Lavaan
Guru Ram Das Ji created the Lavaan, which is now used in the Sikh Anand Karaj. Guru Ram Das Ji’s son Sri Arjan Dev Ji and Mata Ganga Ji were the first to get married with the Lavaan.
The Lavaan describe the four stages of spiritual growth for a married couple:
ਹਰਿ ਪਹਿਲੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਪਰਵਿਰਤੀ ਕਰਮ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ [...]
In the first round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord sets out His Instructions for performing the daily duties of married life.
ਹਰਿ ਦੂਜੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ [...]
In the second round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord leads you to meet the True Guru, the Primal Being.
ਹਰਿ ਤੀਜੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਮਨਿ ਚਾਉ ਭਇਆ ਬੈਰਾਗੀਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ [...]
In the third round of the marriage ceremony, the mind is filled with Divine Love.
ਹਰਿ ਚਉਥੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਮਨਿ ਸਹਜੁ ਭਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥ [...]
The Lavaan helped to formalize Sikh marriage, enabling Sikhs to step away from Hindu Vedic traditions and claim their own identity.
Guru Ram Das Ji helped strengthen Sikhi. Guru Ji’s commitment to equality, seva and Vaheguru was carried forward by their son, Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
To learn more about Guru Ram Das Ji, watch