ਗੁਰੂ ਰਾਮ ਦਾਸ
Sri Guru Ram Das Ji (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਰਾਮ ਦਾਸ) (Friday 9 October, 1534 – Saturday 16 September, 1581) was the fourth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism. Guru Ji was born in the year of 1534 in the city of Lahore to parents Bhai Hari Das ji and Mata Anup Devi Ji, with the birth name Jetha. After being orphaned at the age of 7, Bhai Jetha grew up living with his maternal grandmother. At the age of 12, Bhai Jetha met the third Guru of Sikhs, Sri Guru Amar Das Ji. From then on, Bhai Jetha served Guru Amar Das Ji and the Sikh populace with supreme devotion and humility. He was married to Bibi Bhani Ji, the younger daughter of Guru Amar Das Ji. After having subjected Bhai Jetha’s spirit of service and sacrifice to several tests over the years, in the year of 1574, Guru Amar Das Ji renamed Bhai Jetha Ji as Ram Das (“servant of God”), and appointed him as Sri Guru Ram Das Ji, the fourth Guru of the Sikhs.
Guru Ram Das ji’s bani (spiritual revelations and writings) consists of 638 holy hymns, that Guru ji had composed to 30 different ragas of Indian classical music. These hymns are registered in the sacred scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Through his writings, Guru Ram Das ji shared a common message for the entire humankind, to live a disciplined life full of humility, and to be forever and ever thankful to the True Guru (God). A hymn from page 305 of the Guru Granth Sahib, spoken by Guru Ram Das ji, decries the morning activity of one who calls himself a Sikh of the True Guru:
One who calls himself a Sikh of the True Guru shall get up early morning and meditate on the God’s Name. Bathe daily in the ambrosial pool and following the Guru’s instructions, chant Har, Har. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased.
Guru Ram Das Ji remained the Guru of Sikhs for seven years, until he passed away in the year 1581. During his Guruship, Guru Sahib focused especially on organizing the structure of the Sikh society. He created and planned the township of Ramdaspur, which subsequently became the holy city of Sri Amritsar Sahib, the spiritual and political center of the Sikh faith till today. After founding the township, Guru ji invited and helped settle traders and craftsmen from fifty two different professions, leading to its rapid growth, and in due course the town had become the largest commercial center in the northern Indian sub-continent. This was a landmark development in the life of the Sikh community, as Guru Sahib established a central place of the Sikh faith, distinct from the centers of existing faith traditions. In addition, Guru Ram Das Ji also introduced a new and distinct marriage code for the Sikhs, via composition of the four hymns known as Laava, and advised the Sikhs to solemnize the marriages of their children by reciting these hymns. Guru Ram Das ji also instituted the system of Masands, meant to support and spread the message of the Sikh faith throughout the world.
Before Guru Ji passed away, he had nominated his youngest son as the next Guru of the Sikhs – Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji.