Inder Jeet S. Bhatia “Prince”
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth of ten Gurus of Sikhism, was born in 1563, in the house of Guru Ram Das Ji ,the fourth Sikh Guru. He was the youngest of the three sons of Guru Ram Dass Ji. His eldest brother, Prthichand was very astute in social and worldly affairs. He was known for the diligent management of all the affairs of the Guru’s household.
The second son, Mahadeve was captivated with reclusive tendencies. He wanted to lead the life of an ascetic. Thus, Guru Ram Dass Ji had envisioned heavenly qualities in his youngest son Arjan Dev. When time came for Guru Ram Dass Ji to retire, Guru Arjan Dev Ji was ordained as the next Guru of Sikhism by his father. Guru Arjan Dev Ji became Guru on 16th September 1581. Although Guru Arjan Dev Ji ascended the throne of Guru Nanak Dev ji, at the age of 18, he was far advanced in wisdom than normal for his age. However, Prithi Chand, Guru Ji’s elder brother did not accept him as his father’s successor. He started intriguing and conspiring against the Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
He indulged in numerous means to disrupt the life of Guru Arjan Dev ji. Guru Ji , to avoid any kind of irritation with his elder brother, left Goindwal and came to the new township of Amritsar, founded by his father Guru Ram Dass Ji and started completing the jobs left unfinished by his father.
The foundation of Amritsar was laid by Guru Ramdas Ji. He had initiated the construction of a pool in the midst of this town called AMRIT-SAR, the pool of nectar. Guru Arjan Dev Ji completed this Sarovar and also had a temple called Harmandir Sahib. (also called Golden Temple). The foundation of Golden Temple was laid by a Muslim Fakir, Hazrat Mian Mir Ji. Guru Arjan Dev Ji got four doors built, one on each side of the Golden Temple to distinguish this building from the traditional Indian temples with only one door. His objective was to invite all irrespective of differences of caste, creed or religion, to the golden temple.
The compilation of the Adi Granth : Those were the times when hymns and teachings of the first four Guru’s were being added to and even distorted by imposters. Seeing such things going on, Guru Arjan Dev Ji decided to preserve the original treasures of Hymns, and most of all he wanted to establish the credibility of the Sikh religion as a casteless and secular society. Laced among the hymns of the earlier Nanaks, Guru Arjan Dev Ji added his own compositions as well as the celestial utterances of Sheikh Farid, Bhagat Kabir, Bhagat Ravi Dass, Dhanna Namdev, Ramanand, Jai Dev, Trilochan, Beni, Pipa and Surdas. All of whom belong to different times, beliefs, sects and castes from high to low. The poetic revelations of Guru Arjan Dev Ji are of the greatest aesthetic caliber. More than half of the Guru Granth Sahib ji is constituted of Guru Ji’s own holy renderings. Guru Ji got this holy book installed at the Harmandir Sahib and nominated Bhai Budha Ji, the venerable Sikh, as the custodian of the Holy Granth Sahib Ji. Thus Baba Budha ji became the first head Priest in Harmandir sahib. Bai Budha ji was highly revered saint, who remained associated with Ist six Sikh Gurus continuously.
However, the “Guru Granth Sahib” gave Prthichand the opportunity he was waiting for and started propagating that Guru Arjan Dev Ji had made fun of teachings of the Hindu as well as the Muslim Saints. All these allegations and complaints were passed on to the Mughal emperor Akbar who decided to inspect the Holy Book. Guru Arjan Dev ji sent the Holy Book for emperor’s reference through Bhai Gurdas. Emperor Akbar listened to several hymns one after the other and finally gave his verdict, “I find neither praise nor blame of anyone in this holy book. It only speaks of love and devotion to GOD. It is a volume worthy of reverence.” Bhai Gurdas was invested with robes of honour, “Please convey my respectful salutations to the Guru J. I will personally call on him.”True to his word, Akbar later called on the Guru Ji at Amritsar.
With the passage of time Emperor Akbar died and his son Jahangir succeeded him. Prthichand started conspiring against Guru Ji once again. It so happened that Jahangir’s own son Khusro rebelled against him but failed in war against his father. He seeked help from Guru Arjan Dev Ji. At this Guru Ji said, “I canot help anyone who rebels against his father.”At this Khusro said, I am not seeking any military aid from you. All I need is some monetary help so that I could flee this country.” Khusroo, continued pleading. At this, Guru Ji helped him with some money. When this news reached Prthichand, he was overjoyed. He poisoned the ears of Jehangir, who himself was very jealous about Guru Arjan Dev’s propagation of Sikhism. He promptly obliged the enemies of Guru Ji. Many baseless allegations were leveled against Guru Ji, one of those was helping the rebellious Khusro.Emperor Jehangir asked Guru ji to appear in his court. Guru Ji appointed his son Hargobind as his successor. Then Guru Ji took leave from his wife saying, “I don’t think I will come back alive.”
In Jehangir’s court Guru Ji defended himself saying he had helped Khusro because he was tired, hungry and helpless. Jehangir, then asked Guru Ji to delete some verses from the “Holy Book” since they were offending the Hindus and Muslims alike. At this Guru Ji said, I cannot erase a single word from the Granth Sahib.
The hymns which find place in it are not disrespecting any religion. Guru Ji was then threatened of dire consequences by the henchmen of Jehangir in case he did not agree to expunge the so called objectionable portions from the “Holy Book.” Guru Arjan Dev Ji maintained his true stand.
In late May of 1606, at Lahore, Guru Ji was subjected to severe torture. Guru Ji was made to sit on a burning hot plate while hot sand was poured over his head and Body. It is said that a Muslim saint called Mian Mir tried to intercede on behalf of Guru Ji but Guru Arjan Dev Ji forbade him to interfere in the “will of Almighty” Guru Ji’s Body was blistered and burnt for several days. Guru Ji was subjected to this unrelenting torture. Yet he did not groan in pain nor did he curse his tormentors in anguish. He bore it all with equanimity.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji was only forty three years old at the time of his supreme sacrifice on 30th May 1606.On that day too, Guru Arjan Dev Ji asked for a bath for which he was taken into river Ravi. As thousands watched, Guru Ji entered the river, never to be seen again. Thus a magnificent life was brutally cut short at the hands of tyranny. Guru Arjan Dev Ji sacrificed his present for the future of humanity. He sacrificed his own life for the protection of the faith of Indian people.
Gurudwara Dera Sahib, in Lahore is the place where Guru Arjan Dev Ji attained martyrdom.
Inder Jeet S. Bhatia “Prince”