In the rich canvas of Sikh history, I am profoundly immersed in the radiant presence of Guru Harikrishan Sahib, the eighth Sikh Guru. His luminous figure shines as a beacon of hope and wisdom, casting a divine glow upon us. On the 7th of July 1656, in the village of Kiratpur, Ropar, East Panjab, he graced this world with his presence, born into the illustrious lineage of the seventh Sikh Guru, Harrai Sahib, and the devout Mata Sulkhani. Guru Harikrishan Sahib, emerging as the youngest Guru in the tapestry of Sikhi, leaves an indelible mark that resonates through the ages.
As I embark on this journey through his life, I'm drawn into the intricate threads of family dynamics and spiritual succession, like a profound mosaic unfurling before me. The story unfolds as a deeply moving saga, touching the depths of my being. Guru Harikrishan Sahib's father, Guru Harrai Sahib, had been blessed with two sons. However, the elder, Ramrai, strayed from the core tenets of Sikhi, leading to his rightful expulsion from the Sikh fold.
As Guru Harrai Sahib's earthly journey neared its culmination, he faced the solemn responsibility of anointing the next torchbearer for Sikhi. In this pivotal moment, Guru Harikrishan Sahib stepped into the divine role of Guru, carrying the immense weight of succession upon his young shoulders.
In the sacred embrace of Kiratpur, the names Ramrai and young Baba Harikrishan whispered through the village like leaves rustling in the wind. Ramrai, celebrated for his profound explanations of Bani and Sikh history, cast a captivating shadow over Kiratpur. Many believed he would be the chosen one, the next Guru. Meanwhile, the young Baba Harikrishan, often found immersed in seva, dwelled in the gentle corners of devotion, far from the glaring spotlight. These early days revealed the seeds of humility and selfless service that would later blossom into the essence of his being.
However, Guru Harikrishan Sahib's Guruship was not a path devoid of challenges and trials. His elder brother, Ramrai, driven by ambitions intertwined with Emperor Aurangzeb, vehemently opposed Guru Harikrishan Sahib's authority. Ramrai asserted that his father had unjustly denied him his rightful share of the family's spiritual legacy.
Intriguingly, beneath the veneer of familial discord, Emperor Aurangzeb summoned Guru Harikrishan Sahib to Delhi under the guise of resolving this internal family matter. Yet, concealed within this pretext lay the Emperor's true intention—to replace Guru Harikrishan Sahib with Ramrai as the leader of the Sikhs.
To ensure Guru Harikrishan Sahib's safe passage to Delhi, Emperor Aurangzeb entrusted the devout Raja Jai Singh, a high-ranking court official, with the solemn responsibility of escorting the Guru. Accompanied by his mother and a devoted retinue, the Guru embarked on this arduous journey, destined to shape Sikh history.
As they traversed the vast landscapes, Guru Harikrishan Sahib encountered multitudes of devotees, each seeking solace and profound wisdom from their beloved Guru. A significant pause occurred at Panjokhra, near Ambala, where the Guru exchanged profoundly with a learned man named Lal Chand. This scholar, seeking to test the depths of the Guru's spiritual wisdom, questioned him about verses from the Bhagavad Gita.
In a display of remarkable humility and profound spiritual insight, Guru Harikrishan Sahib humbled Lal Chand, leading him to embrace the path of a devoted disciple. This poignant encounter exemplified the Guru's extraordinary ability to impart wisdom and inspire profound transformation.
Another remarkable chapter unfurled when Raja Jai Singh's wife, driven by a curiosity about Guru Harikrishan Sahib's powers, concealed her identity among the attendants by dressing as a maid. However, the Guru, perceiving her true essence, identified her and even sat on her lap, recognizing her as the Rani.
As some historical accounts narrate, Guru Harikrishan Sahib chose not to meet Aurangzeb upon his arrival in Delhi. For the Guru, bowing before an earthly king would diminish the sovereignty of Guru Nanak Sahib's royal house. In this stance, one glimpses not just courage but the spirit of an unwavering sovereign warrior. Despite his tender age, Guru Harikrishan Sahib refused to be awed by the worldly displays of power, in stark contrast to his brother. He stood resolute, guarding the sanctity of Sikhi.
Today, the iconic Gurduara Bangla Sahib in Delhi stands as a living testament to this significant chapter of history. It was once the residence of Raja Jai Singh, who graciously hosted Guru Harikrishan Sahib upon his arrival in Delhi.
During Guru Harkrishan Sahib’s stay in Delhi, a devastating smallpox epidemic gripped the city, casting a dark shadow over its inhabitants. Amidst the ravages of this deadly disease, the Guru's presence became a source of solace and miraculous healing for the afflicted. Thousands sought his blessings, and through his divine guidance, they were miraculously cured. The Guru advised those suffering to bathe in the water from the well within the bungalow and recite Sabads (Infinite-Wisdom), resulting in their complete recovery.
Yet, amidst the countless lives the Guru touched and the guidance he bestowed, a poignant turn of events unfolded. As he continued to tend to those afflicted by various illnesses, Guru Harikrishan Sahib contracted the dreaded smallpox disease himself, leading to his severe illness.
On the 30th of March 1664, with profound awareness of the gravity of his condition, Guru Harikrishan Sahib appointed his successor. Holding five coins and a coconut in hand, he uttered the prophetic words, "Baba Bakale."
The resonance of those words, "Baba Bakale," would guide the Sikh community to the village of Bakala, where they would ultimately discover Guru Teghbahadar Sahib, Guru Harikrishan Sahib's granduncle, who would become the ninth Guru of the Sikhs.
Guru Harikrishan Sahib's legacy is a testament to his divine wisdom, boundless compassion, and profound insight. Though a young luminary, the Guru bore the weight of succession and illuminated the path for his disciples. The Guru’s brief yet impactful life reminds us that wisdom knows no age, and spiritual leadership transcends the constraints of earthly existence.