Martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji
Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the fifth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism, who moved toward becoming Guru on 16 September 1581 following in the strides of Guru Ram Das Ji. He was very humble and soft-spoken. He was a perfect blend of devotion and sacrifice.
He constructed the most important Gurdwara for the Sikhs in Harmander Sahib, also commonly referred to as the Golden Temple of Amritsar. He authored many hymns and made the first collection of Sikh scripture in the Sri Aadh Granth Sahib. He was the first martyr of the Sikhs, he was tortured to death in the most inhumane manner, as he would not heed to the tyranny of the Mughal Empire. He was humble, poetic, peaceful, and inspirational.
In 2022 Guru Arjan Dev Ji Shaheedi Purab will be observed on 3rd June, Friday. The day falls on the 25th of Jeth (the third month in the Sikh calendar). This means it takes place in May or June in the western calendar.
The muslins had their Mecca, the Hindus had their Haridwar and the Sikhs now had the Harmindir Sahib or Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Muslims looked for an answer for all their problems in the Koran, the Hindus had their own Holy books. For Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji now had all the teachings they needed to learn.
He was the youngest son of Shri Guru Ramdas Sahib Ji Maharaj. Since his childhood, he was different from his elder brothers, Prithi Chand and Mahadev. He was very obedient and he learned everything very quickly. When he was only 18 years old, Shri Guru Ramdas Sahib Ji Maharaj installed him as the Fifth Nanak, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was married to Mata Ganga Ji. They had a son, who came to be known as Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji.
The Guru’s Arrest and Martyrdom
The personal relations between the Mughal Emperor Akbar (1542-1605 AD) and Guru Arjan Dev were quite cordial. Akbar was a gentle and virtuous king. For him every faith was equal. As such he abolished Jazia’ the tax on Hindus for being Hindus.
His son Jahangir succeeded him as a king who started to listen to the bigoted Muslims who, instead of following the true tenets of faith, believed rituals to be the real faith. The rituals about which they heard from their elders and friends. Jahangir had great faith in Murtaza Khan, who had suppressed the rebellion of his son Khusro.
He always consulted him for everything before taking any decision. Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi had put it firmly in Murtaza Khan’s mind that Islam could be propagated in India by the power of the sword.
As Jahangir’s consultants advised him to wield the sword in the name of religion, there was no one to stop him from tyranny. Jahangir writes in Tuzak-e-Jahangiri’ about the Sikh Gurus as ‘He had got himself proclaimed a holy man and saint by converting many simpleminded Hindus and foolish and mean Muslims to his way of thinking. This shop was running for three or four generations.
I had in my mind since long either close this shop of untruth or bring it under Islam’. From the writing of Jahangir, it can be understood as to what extent he was agaìnst the Guru’s institutions. He was looking for an excuse by which he might halt the advancement of the Sikh faith.
Jahangir’s younger son Khusro rebelled against him on 6th March 1606. He advanced towards Punjab from Agra. On reaching Tarn Taran, on his way he partook food from the community kitchen as he had done many times previously when he met Guru Arjan Dev. He used to say that Guru Arjan Dev was his spiritual guide as, by meeting him, the doors of spiritualism were opened to him. After that, he advanced towards Lahore.
The garrison commander of Lahore, Murtaza Khan, did not join him. Getting news of Jahangir following him, he ran towards Kabul. Murtaza Khan chased him and defeated him badly at Fatehabad. He and his companions were taken as prisoners and were produced before Jahangir at Lahore on 29th April 1606. Khusro’s companions, who had taken part in the rebellion with him, were hanged near Kamran Bagh. Khusro was handed over to his elder brother, Shahjehan who put him in jail and later on killed him.
The visit of Khusro to Tarn Taran came in handy as an excuse for Jahangir to do as he wished with Guru Arjan Dev. He passed an order to Murtaza Khan on 20th May 1606, “The hearth and home of Guru Arjan Dev be confiscated and he should be killed after torture in keeping with the royal law.”
Guru Arjan Dev understood the situation at that time very well. He knew, what was in Jahangir’s mind. He entrusted the leadership of Sikhs to his son Hargobind on the 15th of May, 1606 A.D. and said, “All of you should move to village Dalla and I shall stay at Amritsar.” With Jahangir’s order of 20th May 1606, Murtaza Khan reached Amritsar. He arrested Guru Arjan Dev on 22nd May and brought him to Lahore. Jahangir had proceeded towards Sindh before the return of Murtaza Khan.
Chandu had accompanied Jahangir to Lahore. He thought it was a good opportunity to persuade Guru Arjan Dev once again for·the marriage of his daughter. He took Guru Arjan Dev in his own custody from Murtaza Khan. Chandu asked Guru Arjan Dev to accept the relationship. The Guru refused. Chandu threatened the Guru with torture, which had no effect on him.
The Guru’s answer remained to be in the negative. The purpose, for which Chandu had taken Guru Arjan Dev from Murtaza Khan was not achieved. Chandu, then, put before Guru Arjan Dev, Jahangir’s conditions by agreeing to which his life could be spared. The Guru agreed neither to embrace Islam nor to write words in praise of Prophet Mohammad in the holy Granth.
When Guru Arjan Dev did not accept any of the conditions laid down by Chandu, he ordered, the Guru to be tortured in accordance with the Islamic law as ordered by Jahangir. On the first day, he was tortured by seating him on the hot summer sand.
On the second day, he was put inside a pot of boiling water. On the third day, he was seated on a hot metal plate and hot sand was poured over his head with big ladles. On that day saint Mian Mir went to see him. He saw that while the executioner was pouring hot sand, Guru Arjan Dev sat in a calm meditative mood as he used to sit during the recital of Guru’s Word in the congregation.
Chandu’s anger was not satisfied even by seating the Guru on a hot metal plate and pouring hot sand on his head. On the fifth day, he made Guru Arjan Dev sit in the cold water of the river Ravi to inflict more torture. In this way, the soul of Guru Arjan Dev became one with the Infinite on 30th May 1606. This martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev is a witness to the truth. He did not concede to that which was in conflict with his principles, although the king and his minister of that time threatened, coerced, and tortured him. He remained firm in his faith.
Sukhmani Sahib is known in English as “The Jewel of Peace” This prayer was compiled by the Fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji. This prayer eradicates worries, fear, anxiety, and all negativity while bringing peace and joy to the one who reads, understands, and practices it. It is divided into 24 Hymns with 8 Stanzas each, with each Hymn describing the ways to attain God and peace. Besides enjoying this composition, it is also a perfect gift to give anyone you know, for what greater gift than the gift of peace.