Biography of Guru Arjan Dev (1563 – 1606 A.D.)

Biography of Guru Arjan Dev (1563 – 1606 A.D.)

Guru Arjan Dev (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਰਾਮ ਦਾਸ) was the fifth Sikh Guru, who Laid The Foundation of the Golden Temple of Amritsar. He was the embodiment of Godly devotion, Selfless Service, and Universal Love.

Guru Arjan Dev compiled writings to create the eleventh, the living Guru, Guru Granth Sahib. He is also called Shahido ka Sartaj or the crown of martyrs. He was the first martyr of the Sikhs.

Fast Facts

  • Name: Arjan Dev
  • Birth: April 15, 1563
  • Place of Birth: Goindwal
  • Father: Guru Ram Das
  • Mother: Mata Bhani
  • Wife: Mata Ganga
  • Children: Guru Hargobind
  • Guruship: 1st September 1581 at age of 18 (1581-1606)
  • Death: 30 May 1606
  • Death Place: Lahore, Pakistan
  • Famous composition: Sukhmani Sahib path, or the Peace Hymns
  • Spiritual Predecessor: Guru Ram Das
  • Spiritual successor: Guru Hargobind

Early Life

Guru Arjan Dev was the youngest son of Guru Ram Das and was born on 15th April 1563 A.D. (19th Vaisakh, Samat 1620) at Goindwal. He had two elder brothers Prithvi Chand and Mahadev. Prithvi Chand the eldest brother was ambitious and of a blemish nature, Mahadev, the second brother was like a hermit and had no interest in worldly pursuits. Arjan Dev was obedient, sensitive, devoted in his prayers to God, a scholarly poet, and youth with serene and pious nature.

Guru Ram Das decided to make Arjan Dev his successor for Guruship. Mahadev remained unmindful and accepted his Guru-father decision. but Prithvi Chand protested against his suppression and his wife also provoked him and remain a cause of trouble throughout the young Guru’s life. Arjan Dev was married to Ganga in 1579 and it was his second marriage as his first wife Ram Kaur died soon after the wedding.

Arjan Dev was anointed as the fifth Guru at Goundwal on 1st September 1581 at the age of 18. Guru Arjan Dev Ji brought about many changes in the spiritual and temporal aspects of the Sikh community. Arjun Dev Ji had laid the foundation of a Gurudwara named Harmandir Sahib in the middle of the Amritsar pond built by Guru Ramdas in 1570 AD, which is currently known as the Golden Temple.

He compiled the Bani (religious literature) of Sikh masters and other prominent saints, into a single holy scripture – the Adi Granth. Guru Arjan Dev placed a copy of the Adi Granth in the completed Harimandir Sahib temple on August 16, 1604, and appointed Baba Buddha as the first Granthi. He also contributed more than 2,000 hymns himself, which was more than a third and the largest collection of hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib. He was also the author of the well-known Sukhmani Sahib Bani.

Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev

These noble contributions of the Guru led to a rapid evolution of the Sikh community and became the main reason for his imprisonment, torture, and martyrdom. Not to ignore, of course, the other reasons, personal and political, that led to the terrible tragedy.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji was martyred in 1606 because Emperor Jahangir suspected him of supporting a rival to the throne of Emperor after the death of Emperor Akbar. After the death of Akbar, his son Salim took the name of Jahangir, or ruler of the world, and ascended the throne. He was very unhappy at the rising influence of Guru Arjan Dev. His son Khusrau at the time revolted against him and he took the opportunity and ordered the arrest of Guru on a false charge of providing assistance to Khusrau.

Previously his great grandfather Babar had imprisoned Shri Guru Nanak Dev on the charge of traveling all around the Country to arouse the Hindus who at the time had lost hope of a revival. Emperor Jehangir imprisoned Guru Arjan Dev Ji and later handed him over to Murtaza Khan (an official of Jehangir) to torture Guru Arjan Dev Ji to death. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was made to sit on a scorching iron plate and had boiling sand poured over his body.

The inhuman torture and finally death of Shri Guru Arjan Dev was planned by Jahangir but he failed in all his missions of getting the Guru converted to Islam, instead the Guru choose a courageous martyrdom for himself. His martyrdom is considered a watershed event in the history of Sikhism.

According to the Sikh tradition, before his execution, Guru Arjan instructed his son and successor Hargobind to take up arms, and resist tyranny. His execution led the Sikh Panth to become armed and pursue resistance to persecution under Islamic rule.

Like all Sikh Guru’s before him, Guru Arjan Dev Ji taught the message of compassion, love dedication, hard work, the worship of one God the commitment to peace and harmony for all the peoples of the world, but, in his death, he created the strongest influence on the Sikh religion.

Guru Hargobind adhered to the direction and initiated the concept of Miri and Piri, which gave to the Guru both spiritual and temporal powers, he wore two swords to indicate his dual powers and raised an Army from among his followers. The Sikhs decided that they would never again tolerate injustice, insult, or oppression.

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.