Today is the martyrdom day of the first martyrs of Sikhism Guru Arjan Dev Ji
Kanwar Inder Singh/ royalpatiala.in/ Chandigarh
Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the fifth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism and was the first Sikh Guru to be martyred.
Guru Arjan Dev was born on 15 April, 1563 in Goindval Sahib, in Tarn Taaran district of Indian Punjab. He was the youngest son of Guru Ram Das and Bibi Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das. He was the youngest of the three sons of Guru Ram Das Ji. Guru Arjan Dev ji’s maternal grandfather “Guru Amardas” and father “Guru Ramdas” were respectively the third and fourth Guru of the Sikhs.
In the year 1606, the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev, was captured by Mughal Emperor Jahangir and imprisoned in Lahore Fort. Part of the reason was the fact that he had blessed Jahangir’s rebellious son Khusrau, and part because of his growing influence in Northern India and fast conversions to Sikhism that threatened the orthodox Muslim clergy . Guru Arjan was arrested under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and asked to convert to Islam. But the Guru flatly refused.
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.
Day 1 of Torture
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.
Day 2 of Torture
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 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.
Day 3 of 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.
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.
Day 4 of Torture
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.
Day 5 of Torture
On the fifth day, Chandu Shah thought to suffocate him in a fresh cowhide, in which he was to be sewn up. 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 Ravi. At dawn, the Guru recited Japuji Sahib at the banks of river Ravi. Crowds watched the Guru standing in the river and having a dip. Light blended with Light and the body was nowhere to be found. Then, Guru Arjan Sahib eloped in the waves of Ravi as Guru Nanak Sahib had eloped in the waters of river Vein.
It is here that Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore stands.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji sowed the seed of martyrdom, which became the heritage of the Sikhs. Before leaving this physical world, Guru Ji nominated Guru Hargobind Ji, his son as the next Guru of the Sikhs.
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. The martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji radically changed the entire character of Sikhism from a passive people to courageous saint soldiers.
A summary of the main highlights of Guru Ji’s life:
Completion of the Harmandar Sahib
Guru Arjan Dev Ji invited Mian Mir, a Muslim Saint from Lahore to lay the cornerstone of the foundation of the Harmandar, the present Golden Temple. The doors on all four sides of the building signified its acceptance of all the four castes and every Religion. Contrary to the requests of the congregation, the floor of the Harmandar Saheb was kept lower than the surrounding area; as the water flows downward so would the seekers of God’s blessings. Along with God’s House came the existence of the City of Amritsar with all its reverence, amenities, and gaiety.
The completion of the Adi Granth
The preparation of the Holy Book is the most valuable achievement of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. With three things in his mind he initiated the compilation of the Holy Book, the present Guru Granth Sahib. Laced among the Hymns of the earlier Nanaks he added his own compositions as well as, the celestial utterances of Sheikh Farid and Bhagat Kabir, Bhagat Ravi Das, Dhanna Namdev, Ramannand, Jai Dev, Trilochan, Beni, Pipa and Surdas. All of whom belong to different times, beliefs, sects, and Castes from high and low.More than half of the Guru Granth Sahib is constituted of his own holy renderings. Among his other equally important accomplishments are the creation of new cities at Kartarpur, Tarn Taran with its magnanimous Tank of Salvation and the construction of the Baoli at Lahore.
The Masand system strengthened
Guru Arjan reorganized the Masands system initiated by Guru Ram Das, by suggesting that the Sikhs donate, if possible, one-tenth of their income, goods or service to the Sikh organization (dasvand).