Harking back: The two great Sikh gurus of Chuna Mandi.

Of the ten Sikh gurus two belonged to Lahore, more specifically to Chuna Mandi. Their contribution to their religion is formative, if outstanding is not a better word. In belief systems every saint is important.

In Sikhism no guru is better than the others, but the roles they play in its final formation matter. In this piece we will be focusing on Guru Ram Das and his son Guru Arjan. On Nanak's death we see the reclusive Udasi sect raise its head, so in order to remain 'practical', Nanak appointed Angad as his successor. Guru Angad faced opposition from the Udasi heretic sect, and it was only the third guru Amar Das who expelled the Udasis from Sikhism that settled matters.

Guru Angad and Amar Das both worked on collecting Nanak's sayings and worked towards finalising the Gurmukhi script. So the split from the Persian and Gurmukhi scripts of the Punjabi language was put in place. Angad forbade the Muslim veil as well as the Hindu 'sati', giving women far greater rights than before. Guru Amar Das set in motion the building of temples, and on singing hymns composed by him.

But the real difference to Sikhism was made by the fourth and fifth gurus, the two gurus from Lahore, namely Guru Ram Das, who was born in Chuna Mandi, and his great son Guru Arjan Dev, who was imprisoned at Lal Khoo inside Mochi Gate and after being tortured in the Lahore Fort, on the pleading of Hazrat Mian Mir allowed to bathe in the River Ravi which flowed outside the fort. He dived in and never returned. That place is the 'Arjan da Khoo' inside Gurdwara Dera Sahib in the walled city of Lahore, near the Samadhi of Ranjit Singh.

By the time Guru Ram Das was spreading the message of peace and communal meals for every class, Emperor Akbar met him, and was impressed by his message of peace. He granted him a large piece of land that was to become the village of Amritsar. Here he built a very large water tank for baptising Sikhs, with land in the middle for a large temple. Thus the name Amritsar, or the 'Holy Pool of Water of Life' arose. On the land portion in the middle the Golden Temple arose much later.

Guru Ram Das was born in September 1534 and named Jetha Mal Sodhi, and was orphaned at the age of seven. At the age of 12 he and his grandmother moved to Goindval where he was to serve Guru Amar Das. Because of his exceptional behaviour the guru married him to his daughter Bibi Bhani and renamed him Ram Das, meaning the 'servant of god'.

The gurdwara 'Janam Asthan Guru Ram...

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