Guru Arjan Dev ji
Guru Arjan (15 April 1563 – 30 May 1606) was the first martyr of Sikh faith and the fifth of the ten Sikh Gurus, who compiled writings to create the eleventh, the living Guru, Guru Granth Sahib. He was born in Goindval, Punjab the youngest son of Guru Ram Das and Mata Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das.
Spouse: Mata Ganga ji
Books: Sacred Sukhmani: Gurmukhi & Roman Scripts with English Translation and Gist of the Divine Sermons, more
Guru Arjan lived as the Guru of Sikhism for a quarter of a century. He completed the construction of Amritsar and founded other cities, such as Taran Taran and Kartarpur. The greatest contribution Guru Arjan made to the Sikh faith was to compile all of the past Gurus' writings, along with selected writings of other saints from different backgrounds which he considered consistent with the teachings of Sikhism into one book, now the holy scripture: the Guru Granth Sahib. It is, perhaps, the only script which still exists in the form first published (a hand-written manuscript) by the Guru.
Guru Arjan organised the Masand system, a group of representatives who taught and spread the teachings of the Gurus and also received the Dasbend, a voluntary offering of a Sikh's income (in money, goods or service) that Sikhs paid to support the building of Gurdwara Sahib, Langar (shared communal kitchens) originally intended to share with sense of love, respect and equality, still an important element today in any Gurdwara. While Langar began with earlier Gurus of Sikhism, Guru Arjan is credited for laying the foundation of the systematic institution of Langar as a religious duty, and one that has continued ever since.
A vast number of the Punjabi tribes such as Khatri, Jatt, Rajput, Tarkhan, Chamar, Arora, Kamboja, Saini, etc converted to Sikhism, mainly from Hinduism and a few also from Islam. Due to the purity of the Guru's message and his enormous popularity, even Muslim pir's also became followers of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and even Hindu saints, yogis, sidhas became Sikhs and adherents of the Guru; for the first time the new Sikh religion, had became the prominent popular religion of medieval Punjab.
During his period Guru Sahib had founded many villages, towns and cities and constructed numerous wells in the Punjab region. Sikhism was fast becoming a popular and majority religion in Majha, Doaba, Malva, Nakka, regions of Punjab. Peace and prosperity was once gain returning to this region. Although the masses living in Punjab were happy with this development, the Mughal leaders in Delhi were perturbed.
This increase in popularity of Guru Arjan caused jealousy and grave concern among the strict and fundamentalist Muslims at the Mughal court in Delhi, who started being hostile towards the house of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. This great doubt, concern and wrong suspicion about the Guru in the minds of the Mughal leader was being flamed by the enemies of the house of Nanak.
This was further heightened by the malicious manipulations of Chandu Shah, an influential Hindu banker and revenue official at the Emperor's Darbar (Court) at Lahore. He had once been advised to arrange a marriage of his daughter with Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s only son, Hargobind, but because of his contempt for the Guru, he laughed at such a suggestion using harsh words that eventually were repeated to the Guru.
The Mughal court leaders spread wrong rumour about the Guru to the Mughal leadership; so much so that Emperor Jahangir was totally confused about who the Guru was and what his message was for this world. Read what Emperor Jahangir had written in his diary the "Tuzuk-i-Jahagiri" ( "Memoirs of Jahangir") about the Guru and realise how confused he was:
"In Govindwal, which is on the river Biyah (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjun, in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru, and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm. Many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam."
Immediately after the death of Akbar, the Muslim clergy captured the thought of Prince Saleem and helped him to regain the throne as Emperor Jahangir. He was assisted with the understanding on the agreement that he would reinstate the Shariyat (Orthodox Muslim Law) in the country when he became Emperor.
Akbar’s grandson, Khusro was a pious man who was as liberal as his grandfather. Akbar had designated him next in line to head the kingdom. But the domination of Muslim clergy made it necessary that he had to run for his life. While passing through Punjab he visitedGuru Arjan Dev Ji at Tarn Taran and sought his blessings.
Later when Chandu saw the wisdom of the match his family priest had suggested and had an offer of the union sent to Guru ji, the Guru aware of his attitude and contempt rejected the marriage.
Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi was very much revered by Muslims. He presented himself to be Islam's Prophet of the second millennium; the first millennium belonging to Prophet Muhammad.
He asserted that his status was higher than the Sikh Gurus. This was emphatically rejected by Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Sheikh Ahmad had great influence on Jehangir. Citing the Guru’s blessings bestowed upon Prince Khusro he instigated the Emperor against Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Jehangir wrote in his biography:
"A Hindu named Arjan lived at Goindwal...simple minded Hindus and ignorant and foolish Muslims have been persuaded to adopt his ways... this business has been flourishing for three generations. For a long time it had been in my mind to put a stop to this affair or to bring him into the fold of Islam...”
Khusro was later ‘captured and blinded in punishment’. Thereafter ‘Jehangir summoned Guru Arjan Dev Ji to Lahore’. With preconceived ideas, Jehangir showed dissatisfaction with the Guru’s explanation of Khusro’s shelter. He labelled the Guru as a party to rebellion and ‘wanted to punish him with death’.
But on the recommendation of Pir Mian Mir he commuted his sentence to a fine of two lakh rupees’ plus ‘an order to erase a few verses’ from the Granth Sahib. Guru Arjan Dev Ji refused to accept. The Sikhs of Lahore wanted to pay off the fine but the Guru flatly refused any attempt to pay an unjust fine.
The Guru was imprisoned and excessively tortured. His body was exposed in the scorching heat of May-June sun. He was made to sit on the red-hot sand, and boiling hot water was poured on his naked body.
Pir Mian Mir approached him and offered to intercede on his behalf. Some say that he even offered to demolish the whole city of Lahore with his ecclesiastic power in punishment, but the Guru refused his help holding that all that was happening was by God's will, “thine doings seem sweet unto me, Nanak craves for the wealth of God’s name.” (Rag Asa M.5 P.394).
MARTYRDOM OF GURU ARJAN DEV JI
Guru Arjan was arrested under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and asked to convert to Islam. He refused, was tortured and executed in 1606 CE. Historical records and the Sikh tradition are unclear whether Guru Arjan was executed by drowning or died during torture. His martyrdom is considered a watershed event in the history of Sikhism.
On 16 June 1606, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir ordered that Guru Arjan the fifth Sikh Guru be tortured and sentenced to death after he refused preach his message of God as started by Guru Nanak. He was made to sit on a burning hot sheet while boiling hot sand was poured over his body. After enduring five days of unrelenting torture Guru Arjan was taken for a bath in the river. As thousands watched he entered the river never to be seen again
Accordingly, on the 16 of June of every year since 1606, the Sikhs commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Guru and the first Sikh Martyr. Before the arrest, torture, and martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the Sikhs had nothing to do with weapons or violence, as all the Sikh Gurus had taught the message of compassion, love, dedication, hard work, worship of one God, and the commitment to peace and harmony for all the peoples of the world.
According to some historical sources, it is said that Guru Arjan Dev Ji's 6 days of torture took place at Diwan Chandu Shah's residence.
Guru Arjan Dev was not given anything to eat or drink. He was not allowed to sleep at night and was kept awake. He bore all this calmly. He remained immersed in Simran and repeated from his lips, "Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru..." and sang Shabads from the Gurbani.
On the following day, Chandu Shah made the Guru sit in a large copper cauldron. He had his men fill the vessel with water and ordered a fire to be lit underneath it. The water began to get hot and after some time, the water began to boil. It scalded the Guru's body, but Guru Arjan Dev sat calmly and quietly. He felt no pain, nor did he cry out or even sigh. He felt no anger against those who were torturing him. He remained absorbed in the sweet remembrance of Waheguru and repeated,
"All is happening, O Waheguru, according to Thy Will. Thy Will is ever sweet to me."
The boiling water made the Guru's flesh soft and his body blistered for the length of the torture.
On the third day, Chandu Shah ordered, "Make some sand red hot in iron pans. Seat the Guru in boiling water. Then pour the red hot sand on his head and body." The water boiled the Guru's flesh from below while the burning red hot sand burned the Guru's head and body from above. The persons engaged in torturing him were wet with sweat. They felt very uncomfortable because of the heat. It was the hottest summer month. But Guru Arjan Dev kept calm and quiet. Again, the Guru felt no pain, nor did he cry out, sigh, or feel anger. He kept thinking of Waheguru and doing Simran. Guru Ji repeated:
Teraa kee-aa meethaa laagai.
O Waheguru! Your actions seem so sweet to me.
Har naam padaarath naanak maaNgai.
Nanak begs for the treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Lord.
His friend and devotee, Mian Mir, a Muslim saint, rushed to see him. When Mian Mir saw the ghastly scene, he cried out and said, "O Master! I cannot bear to see these horrors inflicted on thee. If you permit me, I would demolish this tyrant rule" (Mian Mir is said to have possessed supernatural powers at that time). The Guru smiled and asked Mian Mir to look towards the skies. It is said that Mian Mir saw Angels begging the Guru's permission to destroy the wicked and the proud.
Guru Sahib said, "All is happening in accordance with the will of Waheguru. Men who stand for Truth have to suffer often. Their sufferings give strength to the cause of Truth. Go, brother. Pray for me. Pray for the success of my cause. Pray for victory to truth."
Mian Mir asked, "Why are you enduring suffering at the hands of these vile sinners when I possess superpowers?"
The Guru replied, "I bear all this torture to set an example to the Teachers of the True Name, that they may not lose patience or rail against God in affliction. The true test of faith is in the hour of misery. Without examples to guide them, ordinary people's minds would tremble in the midst of suffering." Upon hearing this, Mian Mir departed, commending the Guru's fortitude and singing his praises.
On the fourth day, the Guru was made to sit on a plate of iron that was heated from below until it became red hot. Then, scalding hot sand was poured over his body. Guru Arjan Dev sat calm and quite, without a cry or sigh, feeling no pain. He sat with his mind fixed on Waheguru, living the message of Gurbani as he accepted the Will of Waheguru sweetly.
On the fifth day, Chandu Shah thought to suffocate him in a fresh cowhide, in which he was to be sewn up. Instead the Guru asked for a bath in the Ravi River which flowed along the walls of the city of Lahore. Chandu reveled at the thought that the Guru's body, full of blisters, would undergo greater pain when dipped in cold water and so he permitted him to bathe in the river. The soldiers were sent to escort the Guru and his disciples saw him leaving. He looked at them, and still forbade any action. He said, "Such is the Will of my God, submit to the Divine Will, move not, stand calm against all woes."
Crowds watched the Guru standing in the river and having a dip. Light blended with Light and the body was nowehere to be found. His disciples cried, "Hail to the Master! Thou art Wonderful - Martyr, the greatest. Thou art the Greatest!"
Guru Arjan Dev Ji sowed the seed of martyrdom, which became the heritage of the Sikhs.