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The Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev ji

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The martyrdom of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, in 1606 was a significant event in Sikh history. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was executed during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. There were several reasons that led to Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s martyrdom:

Religious Differences: Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s teachings and the growing influence of Sikhism posed a challenge to the orthodox Islamic clergy of the time. Some Muslim clerics saw Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s teachings as a threat to their authority and the spread of Islam.

Political Reasons: There were also political motivations behind Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s martyrdom. The Guru had established the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, which became a central place of worship for Sikhs. This led to the Guru’s increasing influence and following, which some political figures, including Jahangir, may have seen as a threat to their authority.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Guru Ram Das Ji, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, who was born in 1563, became the fifth Sikh Guru in the year 1581. Guru Arjan Dev Ji, while serving as a Guru, was responsible for compiling the Adi Granth, which is the core book of Sikhism. This scripture contains the songs of the Sikh Gurus who came before him as well as hymns from other spiritual luminaries. In addition, he was instrumental in the building of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, which is considered to be the most important site of devotion for Sikhs.
In the year 1604, the 5th Sikh Guru, Arjan Dev Ji, arrived in Amritsar and composed the first edition of the sacred text known as the Adi Granth. In addition to his own songs, this collection also includes the hymns of his ancestors, Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, his father, Guru Ram Das, and thirty-two other saints from the Hindu and Muslim faiths. In addition to the writings of Sheikh Farid, Bhagat Kabir, Bhagat Ravi Das, Dhanna Namdev, Ramanand, Jai Dev, Trilochan, Beni, Pipa, and Surdas, the ‘Adi Granth’ also contains the works of many more authors.
A total of 2218 hymns were donated by Guru Arjan Dev Ji to the “Adi Granth,” which was subsequently renamed “Sri Guru Granth Sahib” by the tenth Guru Sri Gobind Singh Ji following a compilation of all the poems written by all of the Gurus and bhagats.
In order to ensure that the ‘Adi Granth’ adhered to the teachings of the Sikh Gurus and the Sikh religion, he included the hymns and poetry of both Hindu and Muslim saints in it. In addition to that, he is the creator of the “Sukhmani Sahib,” which is a bani focused on prayer and peace.
Both the expanding influence of Guru Arjan Dev Ji and the rising popularity of Sikhism attracted the attention of the authorities operating under the Mughal dynasty. His purported support for Prince Khusrau, who revolted against his father, Emperor Jahangir, is the direct cause of his execution, according to the conclusions of certain historians. There is, however, a difference of opinion among historians on the veracity of this assertion. Some historians believe that the accusations are the result of political intrigue and rivalry among Jahangir’s bureaucrats.

The treachery committed by Guru Arjan Dev
In light of the fact that he was not given the opportunity to succeed Guru Arjan as the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan’s own older brother, Prithi Mal, was one of his adversaries. – – As the true Gurus, Prithi Mal and his son Meharban saw themselves as the rightful leaders. Each of them was responsible for the composition of hymns and shabads, and they proclaimed them to be the works of Guru Nanak.
Shaikh Ahmad Sarhandi was another adversary. He found it troubling that a sizable number of Muslims were joining the Sikh Panth and saw this as a challenge to the legitimacy of Islamic supremacy.
On the other side, Chandu Shah, a Khatri from Lahore, maintained strong ties to the Mughal Empire. He was looking for a suitable partner for his daughter to marry. The most eligible groom was ‘Hargobind,’ son of Guru Arjan, according to the recommendations of the messengers.
Chandu Shah personally attended the meeting with Guru Arjan and presented him with a gift of one lakh rupees. The followers of Guru Arjan had before cautioned Guru Arjan about the hidden agendas that Chandu Shah was pursuing. – – Chandu Shah’s daughter had proposed marriage to Guru Arjan’s son, but Guru Arjan declined the proposed marriage. This was the beginning of Chandu Shah’s vehement enmity and loathing for Guru Arjan, which continued forward from that point forth.
Jahangir sends Guru Arjan Dev to Lahore with a summons.
Guru Arjan was a Hindu who resided in Govindwal on the banks of the Beas river while dressed as a Pir and Sheikh. Emperor Jahangir regarded Guru Arjan as a member of the Hindu religion. The number of Muslims and Hindus who had converted to Sikhism was a source of ire for Jahangir.
In order to inquire about the reason for his assistance to Khusrau, who had revolted against the Mughal Empire, Jahangir called Guru Arjan Dev to Lahore and questioned him about it. According to the Guru’s response, he did not take responsibility for the uprising against the Mughal Empire and instead provided him with some money to cover the cost of his voyage. As a result of his respect for the late Emperor Akbar, he felt obligated to show some degree of attention to Khusrau.
In order to incite Jahangir to take action against the Guru, his adversaries took advantage of the meeting that took place between Khusrau and Guru Arjan. In spite of the fact that Khusrau was Jahangir’s son, there was a prolonged conflict between the two of them about who would succeed Jahangir as Mughal emperor. In Jahangir’s opinion, the Guru had deceived him.
The Emperor Jahangir was dissatisfied with the response that Guru Arjan had provided, and he intended to execute him as a form of punishment. However, on the advice of Mian Mir, he reduced the Guru’s punishment to a fine of two lakh rupees, which was a significant change from the death penalty. In addition to this, he gave Guru Arjan the instruction to remove certain lines from the Adi Granth.
Under no circumstances was Guru Arjan willing to accept the payment of a fine or the modification of any words (bani) contained within the Adi Granth. In the face of Jahangir’s humiliation, Guru Arjan would have chosen to face death. The refusal of Guru Arjan to erase the allusions to Hinduism and Islam that were found in the Adi Granth led Emperor Jahangir to issue an order that Guru Arjan be tortured and ultimately put to death.
In the year 1606, Jahangir issued an order that resulted in the arrest of Guru Arjan Dev Ji and his subsequent transportation to Lahore. It is documented in historical documents that he was subjected to several forms of torture, one of which was sitting on a hot iron plate while boiling sand was continuously poured over him. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was able to keep his sense of serenity and stay unwavering in his faith in spite of the enormous hardship he endured.
At the time of his martyrdom, Guru Arjan Dev Ji passed away on May 30th, 1606. His death highlighted the sacrifice he made for the ideas of Sikhism, religious freedom, and justice. The circumstances surrounding his death showed the sacrifice he made.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s death as a martyr made an everlasting effect on the history of the Sikh religion. It reaffirmed the Sikh community’s dedication to values such as religious tolerance, fairness, and equality on a fundamental level.
On Shahidi Gurpurab, the day that commemorates the death of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Sikhs take time to reflect on the sacrifice that he made and the principles that have remained consistent throughout their religion. The martyrdom serves as a powerful reminder of the difficulties that the Sikh Gurus had to overcome and their unyielding dedication to defending their ideals in spite of the difficulties they encountered.

(The writer is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Brampton).

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