Guru Har Rai was born in 1630 in Kiratpur Sahib. From a young age, the Guru developed a special bond with nature and worked towards its preservation. He felt compassion for animals, birds, and plants. His grandfather, Guru Hargobind, recognized the boy’s divinity and potential, and made him the seventh Sikh Guru in 1644.
Inclined towards God’s Creation, the young Guru began his work by establishing 52 gardens in the city of Kiratpur itself. Much effort went into the planting and care of exotic plants and trees. A sanctuary for birds and animals allowed wildlife to coexist and roam freely.
A medicinal farm was set up by Guru Har Rai. Rare plants and herbs were cultivated, and effective medicines were extracted for the cure of deadly ailments. Even Emperor Shah Jahan’s son Prince Dara Shikoh’s life was saved by a medicine from the Guru’s herbal garden. This made the prince a staunch supporter of the Guru.
The new emperor, Aurangzeb, did not take kindly to Guru Har Rai’s divine influence and considered it a potential threat. He planned several murderous attempts upon the Guru, but none were successful. Guru Hargobind’s words rung true, and all those who proceeded with ill intent towards Guru Har Rai, perished.
Emperor Aurangzeb was desperate for the Guru to visit him in Delhi. His intentions were far from noble. But the Guru refused and sent his son Ram Rai instead. The young boy altered Gurbani to please the emperor and was forever banished from the Guru’s home.
In 1661, Guru Har Rai announced his young son Har Krishan as his successor before departing for his heavenly abode. He was truly an environmentalist, a noble soul who offered solace to the tormented.