Guru Har Rai was very close to his disciples. He was not only accessible to them, but also willing to listen and sort out their problems. He shared a very personal and intimate relationship with them. He was their friend, philosopher and guide in religious matters as well as in matters of everyday life. This ability to relate to each and every of his devotees endeared him to all of them. They never hesitated to put forward their doubts, their misunderstandings and their problems to their Guru, since he heard them all patiently and attentively.
He thought a lot about their welfare and their development not just as a community but as better Sikhs. He had schools and hospitals opened everywhere, and tanks dug at regular intervals for the convenience of his people. His free dispensary was never out of stock, and he made sure that the langar was never out of food. He also involved people in all his activities and plans, and made them an important part of all his decisions. He was always open to ideas and suggestions by his people, and often acted on it. If it is proved correct he would praise them all and express his gratitude. And if it proved wrong then he quietly took the responsibility on him self for it.
His devotees loved him a lot and never stopped thinking of him even when he was far away from them. One such incident happened when Guru Har Rai was out hunting. Though the Guru never killed animals he used to love to go hunting off and on. He would often catch the wild animals and then set them free.
One day, it so happened that the Guru was out hunting with his men. As they were passing through a village on the way to the forest, the Guru suddenly turned his horse towards a particular house and stopped. He then knocked on the door and waited. An old woman, looking tired and weary, opened the door. But when she saw that the visitor was none other than Guru Har Rai her joy knew no bounds. Her face lit up completely and she touched his feet and washed it with her tears. Then she ran inside and came out with the food she had cooked. The Guru beamed at her, and without dismounting from his horse he ate the food with great relish. All the Sikhs present were amazed at the sight since the Guru had not even washed his hands before eating, and this was something he had never done. They looked on in amazement as the Guru savoured each and every mouthful of the simple food. After finishing the meal he thanked the old woman heartly, and then went on his way. The old woman looked on after him, long after he was gone. She could not believe her good fortune.
The next day, when they were all making preparations for the hunting trip some of the Sikh devotees packed some food along, just in case the Guru felt hungry on the way. But that day, the Guru never once asked for food, nor the next day or the few days after that. Everyday the disciples would pack food for him in case he wanted to eat, but he never did. Then one day, the Sikhs in the hunting group finally, asked the Guru why he had gone to the poor womanís house to eat, uninvited, when he had never felt hungry during his hunting trips. At this the Guru smiled and told them that they were wrong to think that he had been uninvited. On the contrary, he assured them that since she was very old she could not travel all the way to the Guruís place. Hence she always prayed for the Guru to pay her a visit, and eat the food that she cooked for him. And the day he had gone was the day when she had been sure he would come. When the devotees heard this they could not believe that the old womanís faith could do such a thing.
The next time, when they passed by that village, they went to the old woman and asked her if it was indeed true. She then revealed that she longed for Guru Har Rai to eat at her place, but she never had enough money for the meal. That day, she had managed to earn five paise by spinning some cotton in the neighborhood with which she had bought flour and pulses. And after the food was cooked, she had prayed again for the Guru to come and eat her humble meal. That was when the Guru had heard her prayers and answered it immediately by landing at her doorstep. All the Sikhs were astonished at the whole incident, and their faith in their Guruís greatness became more strong.
Around that time, a Sikh devotee who had just come from Kabul in Afghanistan paid a visit to Guru Har Rai. He brought to the Guruís notice that the Sikhs in Kabul were quite neglected. He told him that there was no spiritual teacher there to guide the people, and so they were having great difficulties understanding their religion. As a result of this, they were highly confused and easily misled.
Guru Har Rai immediately decided to send someone to Kabul to cater to the spiritual needs of his devotees there. For this he wanted someone who not only respected and revered Skhism, but even understood it clearly enough to explain it to others in simple terms. Among his devotees was a very devout and scholarly Sikh, Bhai Gonda. He used to serve the Guru with great devotion and reverence. Guru Har Rai was often noted his devotion and was very pleased with him. So, he decided that Bhai Gonda would be the ideal person to go to Kabul in his place, and guide the Sikhs on the true path.
When the Guru invited Bhai Gonda to his room he explained the mission to him. Bhai Gonda was to go to Kabul and preach his religion there to the Sikhs. He told him to teach them the power and glory of godís name, and train them to follow the daily routine that devotees followed in this country. He also asked Bhai Gonda to serve the holy men and pilgrims in the same way he served his Guru, and to feed them with the offerings he receiving from his devotees. He also asked him to maintain the free kitchen there, just as it was done here. Setting down these duties he asked if Bhai Gonda was willing to go. At this, the devotee bowed to the Guru and said that he was honoured to be entrusted with such a duty. Guru Har Rai also told him of the dangers involved since Kabul was a Muslim country, and a religious leader like him could face a lot of unpleasantness and dangers. The Guru was quite familiar with the attitude and approach of the Muslims to people of otherreligion. But Bhai Gonda was unperturbed. He touched the Guruís feet for the trust and divine task he had bestowed upon him. He then took his leave and prepared for the journey. Guru Har Rai was touched by Bhai Gondaís devotion and blessed him with his heart.
On reaching Kabul, Bhai Gonda immediately began the work assigned to him by his Guru. He assembled all the Sikhs together and bought a Gurudwara built, where they had their daily prayers and recited hymns from the Holy book. He then explained the holy scripture to the Sikhs, and cleared their doubts very patiently. He even started the langar there as instructed by the Guru, and soon people from all over Kabul began gathering there. Bhai Gonda also made sure that the Sikhs followed the daily routine laid down by the Guru.
One day, while was busy preparing the Japji for their daily prayers, he had his thoughts fixed on Guru Har Rai as usual. But on that day, he concentrated so hard on became unconscious. In his mind, he was holding his beloved Guruís feet with his hands and touching his head with it. This gesture was felt by Guru Har Rai most distinctly, who was miles away from Kabul.
At that time, the Guru was holding his court, and was busy in a discussion with his men. The minute Bhai Gonda held his feet in his imagination, Guru Har Rai became intensely aware of it. He could feel the clasp and he smiled to himself, knowing very well that it was none other than his dear devotee in Kabul who was holding him captive like that. He continued sitting and listening to his men. His devotees also noted that the Guru was sitting in a very awkward and uncomfortable position with his feet close together, but they did not ask him anything. Soon it was time for lunch, but the Guru refused to budge even after the announcement was made. He asked his men to go and have their lunch, and that he would soon join them. But the Guru did not get up even after the second shift of lunch was passed. He had been sitting in the same position for hours, and had not eaten anything.
When the Sikhs could not contain their curiousity any longer, they asked him why he would not move or have his lunch. At this, the Guru smiled and told them that it was Bhai Gonda, in Kabul, who had clasped his feet and would not let him go. He was not going to withdraw his feet from his devotee and so he had to wait till Bhai Gonda leyt him go. He then told his Sikhs that he would rather go without a meal one day than disappoint a devotee so sincere and dedicated as Bhai Gonda. The Guru thus remained like that for hours, even after the sun had set in the western sky. By this time, Bhai Gonda had come out of his trance, feeling refreshed after touching his Guruís feet. He bowed to the Guru and repeated Godís name before getting back to his work. It was then that Guru Har Rai stretched his legs and finally, got up. He told his Sikhs that Bhai Gonda had finished his prayers and so, he could now have his dinner.
All the Sikhs present were amazed to hear that the Guru could see and feel whatever was happening so far away from him. Once when Bhai Gonda happened to come for a short visit to the Guru, the Sikhs asked him about the incident. When an amazed Bhai Gonda answered that he had indeed, clasped Guru Har Raiís feet in his mind, they told him everything. Although he was as amazed as the other Sikhs were he was so overcome by Guruís love for him and all his devotees, that he began to cry tears of joy. Since then his devotion became so firm that he remained the most dedicated Sikh till his last breath.
The Guru used to visit Kartarpur quite often because that was still a holy place for the Sikhs. Though Dhir Mal, his elder brother, was still residing there and would cause all kinds of disturbances whenever the Guru was there, he still visited the Sikhs and blessed them. Some of the Sikh followers would be very irked by the fact that Dhir Mal was still in possession of the Holy Granth, and they requested permission to procure it back from him. But Guru Har Rai told them to have patience since one day it would be back where it really belongs. He assured them that as long as they carried the Holy Granth in their hearts and held it in sincere reverence, they would be true and faithful Sikhs. All the people in Kartarpur would flock the street and sing his praises whenever he came to the city. The Guru would bless them all and entreat them to be better Sikhs.
On one such earlier visit, Guru Har Rai had blessed a Brahmin who had come pleading to him for a son. After a few years when the Guru visited Kartarpur again, the same Brahmin come to see him. He had the limp body of a boy in his arms, and he was crying incessantly. When the Guru went up to him and asked him what the matter was, he explained that the child had been ill for some time and despite the medication, he could not survive. He lay the childís body at the Guruís feet and begged him to revive the boy. At this, the Guru calmly tried to console him and said that every man who is born has to die someday. He told him that no one was granted an eternal life and he himself was not going to live forever. But the man wailed endlessly and said that he would sit outside the Guruís house without food or water and give up his life. The Guru again explained to him that he could not interfere with Godís ways. But the poor man would not hear of it. No matter how much the Guru dissuaded him; he sat outside the Guruís house with his dead child on his arms.
At last, a group of Sikhs went up to the Guru and pleaded him to grant the Brahmin his child. They felt that the other religious communities would feel that the Guru was not keen on saving the life of a poor Brahmin. At first the Guru did not agree at all and said that he did not want to prove anything to anyone by his miracles. But the Sikhs persisted, and finally, the Guru agreed but only one condition. He asked the gathered assembly of Sikhs if anyone amongst them was willing to give up his life for the dead boy. The Sikhs was completely caught unawares. No one was ready to pay such a price for the boyís life, and so they all stood in silence. The Guru asked again since he said he could exchange one life for another. But again, no one replied. When he asked for the third time, one of the Sikhs from the group called Jivan, came forward and volunteered to give up his life for the boyís. At this, the Guru blessed him for his generous heart and ordained that he would find a place in heaven for it. With that the man suddenly slumped on the ground, and immediately after, the little boy came to life. The whole crowd cheered, and the Brahmin touched the Guruís feet. Guru Har Rai then turned to the assembly and told his Sikhs that blessed was the man who had embraced death so that his life could be of some meaning. He said that by saving the life of the young boy by sacrificing his own, Jivan had earned sainthood, and told his people to learn from his selfless act. He also emphasized that the best life was spent in serving oneís fellowmen, and that the smallest good deed was better than the granted good intention. If oneís life gives joy to others, itís a life well spent; and if you hurt even one person in any way, then itís a shame to be alive, he asid that a good Sikh was not afraid of death, especially for a good Sikh was not afraid of death, especially for a good cause; a good Sikh valued the life of others over his own; a good Sikh feared nothing but fear itselt, and a good Sikh feels rewarded in the happiness of others by his acts. This is what he meant when he asked them to be better Sikhs, he said.
According to Guru Har Rai, Jivan had set an example of selfless service of men by his sacrifice. The next day special prayers were held for him at their darbar.