Out of the five sons of Guru Har Gobind, Baba Atal, Baba Ani Rai and the eldest Baba Gurditta had predeceiased him. Teg Bahadur and Suraj Mai were the surviving sons. Teg Bahadur was too much occupied in meditation and he loved seclusiontSuraj Mai was too much absorbed into wordly affairs. So, the choice for the Guruship did not fall on them.
Guru Har Gobind was greatly loved by his Sikhs.
When he left for his heavenly abode in 1 644, many a Sikhs felt that life without their favourite Guru,would be futile for them. They were so attached to him that a few of them were even keen to burn themselves with him on his funeral pyre.
They were, however, dissuaded to do so. They were firmly told that Sikh teachings did not approve the rite of ‘Sati’. But the Rajput Raja Ram Partap and his son, Ram Singh paid little heed.
They jumped into the flames of the burning pyre of the Guru and burnt themselves alive.
Before his eternal depeature, Guru Har Gobind had chosen Har Rai to be his successor. Har Rai was the younger son of Baba Gurditta. His elder brother Dhir Mai was not considered suitable for the holy seat of Guruship by his grandfather, Guru HarGobind. He was busy conspiring against the Guru with the enemies. Guru Har Gobind seated Guru Har Rai on the holy throne. He placed five copper coins and a coconut before him. He bowed before him. Bhai Bhana Ji, who was the son of Bhai Budda Ji put the mark of Guruship on his forehead. Har Rai was, thus, installed as the Seventh Guru of the Sikhs.
Guru Har Rai was a boy of fourteen, when he occupied the Gurugaddi. He had inherited military traditions from his grand father. He had a small army of 2200 Sikh soldiers with him.. He was strong in body like a soldier. He was a skilful rider, but he was peace loving and very tender at heart.
So much so, that he could not even see the destrucion of a flower, what to speak of life.
He was the lover of nature. He liked appreciating the beauty of nature. He saw the image of God in all the beautiful things. One day, he was walking in his garden looking at the flowers and tender buds.
His cloak came in contact with the flowers of a plant. The result was that many flowers dashed to the ground. He was so much moved at the plight of the flowers that tears welled down his eyes.
Everafter it, he was careful lest his cloak should spoil the flowers. He would hold his cloak in his hands while walking in his garden.
He was tender hearted but steadfast. He was a skiful hunter. Though he was not very fond of hunting yet sometimes, he would go to the forest for pastime. There, he would never kill an animal.
He was against any kind of cruelty shown to animals. He loved God and His creation. In the forest, he would catch the deer, patted them and kept them in his zpo. He took every care to see them cheerful and in good health.
Doing good to all, serving every one who needed service and showing love and behaving politely to one and all were the guiding principles of his life. He had malice towards none, not even for those who apposed him. His elder brother Dhir Mai was inimical, but he had a soft and kind heart for him also.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji had started the institution of Langar. The practice of free kitchen continued under the successive Gurus. Guru Har Rai imporved its functioning to make it run more smoothly. Under the previous Gurus, food from the free kitchen was served to all, who visited it at fixed hours. But Guru Har Rai enjoined upon the Sikhs, who served in the kitchen, to keep the Langar open at all hours, Be it day, or night, morning, or evening, it should remain open.
He used to say, “God lives in every heart, if we injure a heart, we give pain to God. Please a heart, and you will please God. So, always be polite and humane in your dealings.” He used to sing,”Every human heart is a jewel worthy to be protected.
Hurting a heart is a sin. If one desires to meet God, one should never hurt a man’s heart.” According to him a temple or a mosque could be rebuilt, but it was hard to keep intact a broken heart.
Whenever, the Masands or a group of Sikhs, came to have the pleasure of seeing him, he used to say, “Do you share your food with others? Do you run Langar at your places?” He advised them that it was the duty of a householder to lessen the pains of a man who knocked at his door. He should never disappoint a person who sought his help.
He should never return a person empty handed from his door. He must, at least, satisfy his hunger.
The Guru advised the Sikh visitors that they should always do good to others.
For the welfare of people and to lessen their sufferings, the Guru had run a free dispensary.
There the sick, the invalid and the wounded were treated with utmost care and tenderness. His store house contained all kinds of life saving medicines..
Even very rare and most costly medicines were found in his store house. He served the people. To him the service of man was the service of God; because God resides in every heart.”
Guru Har Rai was endowed with a peace loving nature. He liked the solitude of the hills. He spent his, time in quiet meditation. The excitement of chase was limited to catching the deer and other animals for their breeding. He took every care to see them cheerful and healthy. The din of war was against his disposition. He had his army, but he was compelled by circumstances to use it mildly only once. He was following the policy of avoiding war and took special care to escape from bloodshed. He spent most of his time in the solitude of the hills.
But he also made extensjve tours of the Malwa region of the Punjab. He preached the doctrines of the Sikh religion. Many more people became his followers. Leaving Kiratpur, he visited Kartarpur, Nurmehal and then Bhai Rupa and Mehraj in the Malwa region.
At Mehraj Chaudhary Kala became his Sikh. He brought his nephews Phul and Sundri with him.
They were orphans and Chaudhary Kala was supporting them. Phul and Sundri knelt before the Guru. They, then began to beat their bellies. When the Guru inquired of such beating of bailies, Kala folded his hands and implored, “True King! They are hungry, they need something to satisfy their hunger. At that, the Guru blessed them. Chaudhary Phool became his Sikh. He was blessed with the boon that his offspring would become rulers.
They would have their sway up to the river Yamuna.
The grant of this boon proved true.The offspring of Phool became the ruters of Patiala, Nabha and Jind.
They had come beating their hungry belies, but were blessed with kingdoms. Kala’s wife was angry with him saying that he should have got a boon for his own sons. So, the next day Kala took his sons to the Guru’s presence. The Guru said, “You have brought them with rehearsed lessons.
Still God willing, their offspring would not face any thing in want.”
Many elders of some other families, who later rose to eminence, were blessed by Guru Har Rai.
The Bhai family of Kaithal and the Bhai family of Bagarian can be mentioned here. These two families preached the teachings of the Sikhs religion in the territory lying between the river Sutlaj and the River Yamuna.
Though himself very peace loving, the preaching of the Sikh doctrine received impetus during his Guruship. He sent preachers to different and far off places. Bhagat Bhagwan was a recluse. He was a saint who had since long detached himself from the world. He was leading a pious life of a sanyasi. He became his Sikh. He was so much impressed by the Sikh teachings that he became a preacher to preach the Sikh religion in the East.
Bhai Pheru another pious Sikh was made a Masand to preach the religion in the upper Bari Doab region of the Punjab. Gonda another devout Sikh was sent to Kabul to preach the Sikh Dharma.
Kabul had as it is today predominant Muslim population. But Gonda had faith in the Guru and God. He was successful in establishing a Dharamshala there. He also converted many people into the Sikh faith. Thus, during Guru Har Rai’s Guruship, Sikhism crossed the boundaries of India.