By Swami Harshananda
Harkisan, Guru (A. D. 1656-1664)
The spiritual greatness does not depend upon the physical age of a person. It has been proved time and again from the lives of many saints, whether it is Suka of the paurāṇik age or Jñāndev (13th Century) of the historic age. Guru Harkiṣan, the eighth Sikh Guru, belongs to this category.
When the seventh Guru, Har Rai (A. D. 1630-1661), chose his second son Harkiṣan for the august seat of the Sikh Gurus, he was hardly five years old. However, Guru Harkiṣan excelled due to his precocious wisdom of explaining the Ādi Granth, basic scripture of Sikhs.
When Rām Rai, his elder brother who had been superseded in favor of his younger brother, complained to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (A. D. 1618-1707) and sought his assistance to redress the ‘injustice’ done to him, emperor called the Guru Harkiṣan to his court and tried to test him. The child-Guru acquitted himself admirably.
Smallpox which was raging Delhi at that time, took the life of the young Guru at the tender age of eight. Before passing away, he nominated Teg Bahādur, of the town Bakālā, as the next Guru.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore