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The Guru's Way
The Guru's Way

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The Holy City of Amritsar

The Holy City of Amritsar

Guru Ram Das was the fourth Guru of the Sikhs. His First name was Jetha. He was born in Lahore (now in Pakistan). He loved the company of the saints and holy men. This made him very humble, kind and gentle. Many Sikhs used to visit Goindwal to see the third Guru, Amar Das. One day the young Jetha also joined a group of people coming to see the Guru. He liked the Guru's teachings and found the place so attractive that he stayed there. He served the Guru with love and respect and stayed for a long time. As time went on, he grew into a saintly young man. The Guru was very pleased with his work, manners, talk and behaviour. The Guru made up his mind to offer his gentle and kind daughter to Bhai Jetha in marriage. Very soon, the Guru's daughter, Bibi Bhani, and Jetha were married. They lived happily in the Guru's company and served him as much as they could.

In 1574, at the time of his death, the Guru made Bhai Jetha the fourth Guru of the Sikhs, His name had now been changed from Jetha (first born) to Ram Das (God's slave). The Guru now planned to build a city at the place where the famous city of Amritsar stands today. First he chose a suitable site and bought it from the Zamindars (landlords) of Tung for 700 rupees, which was a big sum in those days. Later, he moved his home to this place and asked the Sikhs to come and live there.

Chak Guru Ram DasFirst of all, the Guru and his Sikhs dug two pools, which can still be seen there. Then they built small huts in which the Guru and his followers lived and worked, both in the morning and evening. They remembered God all day and sang praises to His Name. A few more huts were later built for the daily visitors. Hundreds of Sikhs visited the Guru every day. They would come to see the Guru and assist in the great work. A free common kitchen (Langar) was run there. People of different castes and creeds sat together and ate the simple food from the Guru's Langar. All 'worked hard and enjoyed the Guru's company. As time went on, a small town grew up there and it began to be called "Chak Guru Ram Das." The Guru wanted the town to be famous, so he invited men of 52 different trades to come there, settle down and open business in the Guru's market, which was called the "Guru Ka Bazar." The Guru lived there with Many faithful Sikhs like Bhai Budha and Bhai Gur Das. The Guru always lived, worked and sang hymns among his Sikhs. He taught his Sikhs to keep their hands busy in work and their hearts fixed on God's Name. This made the common people gather round him from all sides. The town grew up very fast and the Guru's fame spread all over the country.

Later, the city was named Amritsar (pool of nectar) after the sacred pool which was completed in 1589. Even today, Sikhs going there on a visit, out of respect for the Guru say, "Great is the city of Guru Ram Das." Thus, in a very short time, this new city became the great central place of the Sikhs. The Sikhs living there started trade and other kinds of work. They made the city famous all over the world.

Today, Amritsar has become a great centre of trade and learning. The city is full of famous buildings, such as the Tower of Baba Attal, the Golden Temple, the Akal Takhat, the Castle of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the great Khalsa College and the famous Durgiana Mandir of the Hindus.

There is also a Sikh museum which contains paintings, pictures, old books, old weapons and the things which the Gurus used during their lifetime. On the 500th birthday of Guru Nanak (celebrated in 1969), the Sikhs started the "Guru Nanak University" in this city. These days, the people call Amritsar, "The City of All Praise."

"Hear, Hear, you brother saints; The Guru raises his arm and calls all men; Let him who desires supreme happiness fix his heart on the Name and set his hands to work, Because only by this way is man merged with God."
(Guru Ram Das)
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