The Birth Place of TANIA QURESHI
Guru Ram Das,
The Fourth Master
Masti Gate is one of the thirteen gates of the Walled City of Lahore which were built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The structure of the gate does not exist now, but the grandeur of the monuments and culture still lives inside the deceased structure.
As we enter the Masti Gate, a few yards from the Chunna Mandi Girls College, also known as the Haveli of Khushal Singh, we see the Janam Asthan (Birth Place) of the Fourth Sikh Master, Guru Ram Das.
Guru Ram Das had spent the first seven years of his life at this very place. In the history books it is mentioned that the ancestral house of the Guru was small in size.
When Maharaja Kharak Singh was born here in the same city several centuries later, during the birth celebration, Maharani Nakain requested Maharaja Ranjit Singh to rebuild the Guru’s birth place. Agreeing to the humble request, the Maharaja purchased the surrounding land and had a gurdwara constructed which was somewhat similar to the Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar.
It is said recorded in history that at the time of the Partition of Punjab in 1947, 18 Sikhs faced martyrdom there.
By all accounts, Guru Ram Das’s date of birth was 24 September 1534. His parents Har Das and Daya Vati were known for their honest and pious living. Ram Das was popularly addressed as Jetha, being the first-born of his parents (Sanskrit word Jayeshth means the first).
History tells us that he was of fair complexion, handsome figure, pleasing and smiling face and not disposed to weeping or crying in the manner of ordinary children. From the beginning his attitude was worldly, but he felt happiest to be in the company of holy and pious people.
The city of Amritsar was established by this Guru Sahib.
He was not only a city planner but was also a poet. He composed 679 hymns in varying musical measures, which were incorporated into the Adi Granth (later to become the Guru Granth Sahib) by his son and successor, Guru Arjan. His entire life was the embodiment of love, devotion and dedication, which is reflected in his writings.
Let me take you to the Gurdwara now.
From a narrow gateway you will have to climb several steps to reach the historical gurdwara. It is slightly raised from the ground level. It is built in white marble and decorated with pietra dura work which was a tradition of beautifying the places in old times. It was one of the expensive mediums of structure décor.
On the west of the building is an open yard and a Nishan Sahib is stands tall on the south-west corner. The place is wonderfully decorated and embellishments on the ceilings and walls are amazing. You will find a lot of pigeons there.
Before you enter the main hall, you would have to go for the usual ablutions - washing your hands and feet. The place for this exercise is constructed in one corner of the building.
Like all other Sikh religious places in Pakistan, this gurdwara too is overseen by the Evacuee Trust Department of Government of Punjab. Every year thousands of Sikh yatrees come and visit this place, and may be this is one reason that it is still preserved and in safe hands.
The Guru Granth Sahib (the Scripture of Sikhs) is also placed in the main hall and recitation is carried out daily. There are prayer timings during which the Guru Granth is read.
The good news is that the guided tours of this gurdwara have also been started by the Walled City of Lahore Authority. Local and foreign tourists can also visit the place anytime, but with prior booking.
The Walled City of Lahore is full of such places, the other gurdwaras can be found in places like Chohatta Mufti Bakir, Mochi Gate, Bhatti Gate and Rang Mehal Chowk.
Some of these are not functional but the three main ones are the Janam Asthan of Guru Ram Das, Dera Sahib (marking the martyrdom of Guru Arjan, the Fifth Master), and the Samadhi of Ranjit Singh. These three gurdwaras are well kept and up to the mark.
The Guru Ram Das Janam Asthan falls on the second part of the Royal Trail that starts from Delhi Gate and ends at Masti Gate. If you want to avoid a long walk then you must access it from the Masti Gate near Mariam Zamani Mosque. This patch is also being restored by the Walled City of Lahore Authority and I am hopeful that in near future there will be proper signages and entrance to this gurrdwara as well.
There are many encroachments around it which will surely be removed during the restoration project.
If you wish to visit the site you can always avail a guided tour as it is now opened for the local tourists. This is a good step taken by the Evacuee Property Trust Board.
[Courtesy: Pakistan Today. Edited for sikhchic.com]
July 18, 2016
Conversation about this article
1: Hardev Sngh (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada), July 18, 2016, 9:44 AM.
Thank you, Tania Qureshi, for the wonderful article.
2: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), July 22, 2016, 1:09 PM.
I am glad to learn that the gurdwara at the birthplace of Guru Ram Das Sahib is being kept in good shape in Pakistan and several Sikh pilgrims annually visit it every September. However, I am reminded of a shabad [GGS:1200], referring to when Guru Sahib declared that his son, Arjan, would be the next Guru after him. Prithi Chand, who was the eldest son, started quareling with Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib wrote: "kaahe poot jhagrat ho sang baap ..." - "O son, why are you quarreling with your father who gave you birth and growth. Wealth belongs to none. You will repent when it leaves you. Recite the name of God who belongs to you. Your troubles will end". This advice applies to each individual.