Martyrdom of Guru Arjan

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Guru Arjan Dev's subject to torture by the Mughals.

On 16 June of every year since 1606, the Sikhs have commemorated the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru and the first Sikh Martyr. 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.

Background

During the Guruship of Guru Arjan many thousands of the native people had began to follow the teachings of Sikhism and both the Hindus and those who had converted to or been born as Muslims were crowding into Govindwal (the centre of the Sikhs during the late 1500s) where they were soon becoming Sikhs.

The Mughal clergy, who had long chaffed at the tolerance of Akbar, grew ever more angry of the popularity and the growing following of the Sikh Gurus, but after the death of Akbar in 1605, in his son Jahangir they saw their best chance to destroy the Sikh institution. Jahangir, unlike his father was a fundamentalist Muslim who soon was influenced with the idea of turning the whole of Hindustan (as the Mughals called their kingdom in Northwest India) into an Islamic State. The powerful Hindus associated with the Mughal Court, having seen their own power base rapidly disappearing under the influence of Guru Arjan, joined the Muslim Ulema in their attempt to influence Jahangir into arresting Guru Arjan, hoping to plunge a dagger into the heart of Sikhi.

Jahangir, with his own jealousies, promptly obliged the enemies of Guru Sahib. Many baseless allegations were soon levelled against the Guru; the old claim that the Sikh Granth defamed the Hindu and Muslim religions was leveled again; it was also claimed that the rebellious Khusrau, Jahangir's son who Akbar and many nobles of his Darbar (court) saw as a more fitting Emperor, worthy of ruling India, more than the wine loving, opium taking Jahangir, had been aided by Guru Arjan.

But in the war of succession Jahangir had won and Khusrau had managed to hold onto Punjab alone. Diwan Chandu Shah (who had finally warmed to a marriage of his daughter with Guru Arjan's son Hargobind, had lost no anger when his proposal had been refused by Guru Arun Dev ji) went to Jahangir and "filled his ear with poison against the Guru".

Jahangir, the tyrant

This is what Emperor Jahangir had written in his diary the "Tuzuk-i-Jahagiri" ( "Memoirs of Jahangir"):

"In Govindwal, which is on the river Biyah (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjun, in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru, and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm. Many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.
At last when Khusrau passed along this road this insignificant fellow proposed to wait upon him. Khusrau happened to halt at the place where he was, and he came out and did homage to him. He behaved to Khusrau in certain special ways, and made on his forehead a finger-mark in saffron, which the Hinduwan (the people of India) call qashqa, (Tilak) and is considered propitious. When this came to my ears and I clearly understood his folly, I ordered them to produce him and handed over his houses, dwelling-places, and children to Murtaza Khan, and having confiscated his property commanded that he should be put to death."

(Was this only Jahangir's bragging over the death of Guru Arjan Dev, trying to 'steal' some of the Guru's power, by claiming to have killed him? There is no mention (in all of Sikh History) of the Guru's houses, dwelling-places, and children ever being seized by Murtaza Khan. In fact, written history and oral tradition seems to back up the fact that Murtaza Khan (influenced heavily by Chandu Shah) was left to decide Guru Arjan's punishment and it is even believed that Jahangir turned Chandu Shah over to Guru Hargobind for his role in the torture and death of his father Guru Arjan Dev. Murtaza Khan was never heard of again and Jahangir's diary never even mentions Guru Hargobind.)

Arrest of the Guru

Accordingly in late May 1606, Guru Arjan Dev was arrested and brought to Lahore where He was subjected to severe torture. He was made to sit on a burning hot plate after which red hot sand was poured over his head and body. It is said that Mian Mir (a Muslim Sufi Saint and friend of Guru Sahib) tried to intercede on behalf of Guru Sahib, but Guru ji forbade him to interfere, as he is said, in the "Will of the Almighty". Guru Ji's body was blistered and burnt, as he was subjected to unrelenting torture. After several days, Guru Arjan Dev was allowed to take a cooling bath in the nearby river, Ravi.

As thousands watched the Guru, he entered the river never to be seen again. Thus Guru Sahib embraced martyrdom on Jeth Sudi 4th (1st Harh) Samvat 1663, (May 16, 1606).

The martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib radically changed the entire character of Sikhism from a passive people to courageous saint soldiers.

Guru Hargobind Ji was friendly with Jahangir if we read his life history. If Jahangir killed Guru Arjun Dev then why they became friends as Guru Hargobind must be knowing that. But Guru Hargobind ji knows that Jahangir was misguided by Diwan Chandu Shah, that's why Jahangir gave such orders. When Jahangir came to knew this he was shocked and he is said to have issued an order for the death of Chandu Shah, but instead he was turned over to Guru Hargobind who gave him to his Sikhs who in anger killed Chandu Shah.

Acc. to some Historical Sources it is said that Guruji's 6 days of torture took place at Chandu's place.

Day 1 of Torture

Guru Jee was not given anything to eat or drink. He was not allowed to sleep at night. He was kept awake. Guru Sahib bore all this calmly. He remained immersed in Simran and repeated from his lips, "WaaheGuroo, WaaheGuroo, WaaheGuroo..." and sang Shabads from Gurbani.

Day 2 of Torture

On the following day, Chandu made the Guru sit in a red-hot caldron. He filled the vessel with water. He ordered his men to light a fire under the copper vessel. The water began to get hot. After a time, the water began to boil. It SCALDED the Guru Sahib's body. But Guru Jee sat calmly and quietly. He felt no pain, nor did he cry out or even sigh. He felt no anger against those who were torturing him. 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 left blisters all over the body.

Day 3 of Torture

On the third day, Chandu ordered his men, "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 Guru Sahib's flesh from below. The burning red hot sand burned Guru Jee's head and body from above. The persons engaged in torturing him were wet with sweat. They felt most uncomfortable because of the heat. It was the hottest summer month. But Guru Sahib kept calm and quiet. Again, Guru Jee felt no pain, nor did he cry out, sigh or feel anger. He kept thinking of Waheguru and doing Simran. Guru Jee repeated:

Teraa kee-aa meethaa laagai.
O Waheguru! Your actions seem so sweet to me.
Har naam padaarath naanak maaNgai.
Nanak begs for the treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Lord.
The Site where Guru Arjun Dev ji sat on Hot iron plate

His friend and devotee, 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 waheguru's will. Men who stand for Truth have often to suffer. Their sufferings give stregnth 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 was he enduring the suffering at the hands of his vile sinners when he ossesseth superpowers?

The Guru replied,"I bear all this torture to set an example to the Teachers of True Name, that they may not lose patience or rail at God in affliction. The true test of faith is the hour of misery. Without examples to guide them, ordinary persons' minds quail in the midst of suffering." Upon this Mian Mir departed commending the Guru's fortitude and singing his praises.

Day 4 of Torture

On the fourth day, Guru Ji 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 Sahib sat calm and quite, without a cry or sigh, feeling no pain. He sat with his mind fixed on Waheguru, living the message of Gurbaani as he accepted the Will of Waheguru sweetly.

Day 5 of Torture

On the fifth day, GChandu thought to suffocate him in a fresh cowhide, in which he was to be sewn up. Instead the Guru asked for a bath in Ravi river which flowed embracing the walls of Lahore city. Chandu revelled at the thought that the Guru's body full of blisters, would undergo greater pain when dipped in cold water and hepermitted him to bathe in the river. The soldiers were sent to escort the Guru. The Master's disciples saw him leaving. He looked at them still forbidding any action. He said,"Such is the Will of my God, submit to the Divine Will, move not, stand calm against ll woes."

Crowds watched the Master standing in the river and having a dip. The light blended with Light and the body was found nowhere. Hail to the Master! Thou art Wonderful- Martyr, the greatest. Thou art the Greatest!

Guru Arjan sowed the seed of martyrdom, which became the heritage of the Sikhs.

Memorial

See Also

External Links

Reference

  • 1. "Tuzuk-i-Jahagiri or Memoirs of Jahagir" Translated by Alexander Rogers. Edited by Henry Beveridge Published by Low Price Publication www.lppindia.com ISBN 81-7536-148-4
  • 2. History of the Panjab, Syad Muhammad Latif, Published by: Kalyani Publishers, Ludhiana, Punjab, India ISBN 81-7096-245-5