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Guru Arjun Dev being pronounced fifth guru.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji or Guru Arjun Dev Ji ( ) (born in Amritsarmarker, Punjabmarker, Indiamarker on 15 April 1563 – 30 May 1606 Lahoremarker, Punjabmarker, Pakistanmarker) was the fifth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism and became a Guru on 1 September 1581 following in the footsteps of Guru Ram Das. He was born at Goindval, and was the youngest of the sons of Guru Ram Das and Bibi Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das. Before his death, he nominated his son Har Gobind as the next Guru of the Sikhs.

Guru Arjan was head of Sikhism for a quarter of a century and accomplished a lot during his regime. He completed the construction of Amritsarmarker and founded other cities such as Taran Taran and Kartarpur. He constructed a Baoli at Lahoremarker. The most important work of Arjan Dev was the compilation of Adi Granth. He collected all the work of the first four Gurus and dictated it in the form of verses in 1604. It is, perhaps, the only book of a scriptural nature which still exists in the form first published (a hand-written manuscript) by the Guru. It and the Guru Granth Sahib which includes the writing of the later Gurus have managed to avoid the embellishments, additions and alterations that have plagued the original writing of other more ancient religious texts.

Guru Arjan organised the Masand system, a group of representatives who taught and spread the teachings of the Gurus and also collected the Dasvand, one-tenth of a Sikh's income (in money, goods or service) that Sikhs paid to support the building of Gurdwaras, the all important Guru ka Langars (free communal kitchens) originally intended to share with sense of love, respect and equality, still an important element today in any Gurdwara. The Langars were open to any visitors and were designed from the start to stress the idea of equality and a casteless society. The land that Amritsar is built upon is believed to be a jagir (estates gifted to individuals under the Mughal system which included one or more villages and often a portion of the crops produced on the land) given as a gift by the Emperor Akbar, who was impressed by the practice, after sharing a meal in the Guru's communal kitchen, seated on the floor among commoners.


Guru Arjan Dev ji clearly understood the wide import of the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev ji and perceived how applicable they were to every state of life and to every condition of society. He made Amritsar the proper seat of his followers and a centre which would attract the worldly longings for a material bond of union. The city became populous and a great place of pilgrimage of the Sikh people.

Composing the Adi Granth, he gave to his followers a fixed rule of religious and moral conduct. His starting of collection of offerings by way of Masand system, in a systematic way, accustomed them to a regular government. He traded in horses, though not extensively, and encouraged his followers to follow his example, to be as zealous in trade as they were in their faith. Guru Arjan Dev ji became famous among his pious devotees and his biographers dwell on the number of Saints and Holy men who were edified by his instructions. He was equally headed by men in high positions. During his time, the teaching and philosophy of Nanak took a firm hold on the minds of his followers.

The economic well-being of the country is closely linked with the monsoon. With a view to alleviating the sufferings of the peasents, Guru Arjan Dev ji helped the villagers in digging six-channel Persian wheel (Chhehrta) wells, which irrigated their fields. Chheharta is a living monument of his efforts in this direction.Guru Arjan was caring and loving, he was also willing to give to the poor.


Beside compiling the works of the previous Gurus and other works by both Hindu and Muslim Sants, religious reformers in their own right, Guru Arjan composed many hymns of his own which he included in the Adi Granth as well. He appointed Baba Budha Ji, who was a companion of Guru Nanak, and an associate of each of the subsequent Guru as the chief priest of the Golden Templemarker. He placed the Adi Granth on the Gaddi (throne) reserved for him, preferring to sit among his disciples.

Translated below is the Sukhmani, one the most recited banis (sacred hymns) revered by the by Sikhs. It was composed by Guru Arjan.
Meditate, meditate, meditate peace is obtained, Worry and anguish is expelled from the body.
Remembering God, you’re not reborn. Remembering God, the fear of death is dispelled.
Remembering God, death is eliminated. Remembering God, your enemies are repelled.
Remembering God, no obstacles are met. Remembering God, night and day you’re fully awake.
Remembering God, fear cannot touch you. Remembering God, you don’t suffer with sorrow.
Remembrance of God, in the Company of Saints. All treasures, O Nanak, are by Lord’s Blessing. ||2||
::::::::::::::::Guru Granth Sahib page 262)

Martyrdom of Shri Guru Arjan Dev Ji

Relations between Akbar and Guru Arjan Dev ji were cordial but things changed after the accession of Jahangir. Ultimately the Guru was tortured in 1606. Sikhs believe that, having obtained leave to bathe in the Ravi rivermarker, he vanished, to the fear and wonder of those guarding him.

Many reasons have been given for this tragedy. It is stated that Jahangir was annoyed because Guru Arjan Dev ji gave his blessings to his rebel son, Prince Khusrau Mirza. Jahangir also did not like the growing popularity of Sikhism and took strong objection to conversion of Muslims to Sikhism.

There are also some Mughal accounts which state that Guru Arjan Dev ji blessed the rebel son of emperor Jahangir which prompted the emperor to take action against him. But the memoirs of Jahangir make it clear that he in fact was looking for an excuse to, in his own words to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.

It is also stated in some sources that one of the courtiers of Jahangir who had first laughed at the suggested marriage between his daughter and the Gurus son, which was later rebuffed, could not put up with the insult and poisoned the ears of the Emperor. Consequently Jahangir imposed a fine of Rupees two Lac (two hundred thousand) on Guru Arjan Dev ji and also ordered him to remove certain passages from the Adi Granth, which were objectionable to Muslims. On the Guru's refusal to do so, he was tortured.

This is what Emperor Jahangir wrote in his diary called the Tuzk-e-Jahangiri, which translates to "Memoirs of Jahangir"

The manner in which Guru Arjan Dev ji was martyred "convinced the sikhs that they must arm themselves and fight, if they wanted to live". It proved a turning point in the history of Sikhism.

External links


  1. part2_14


  1. Tuzuk-i-Jahagiri or Memoirs of Jahagir, Translated by Alexander Rogers. Edited by Henry Beveridge Published by Low Price Publication. ISBN 978-81-7536-148-5
  2. History of the Panjab, Syad Muhammad Latif, Published by: Kalyani Publishers, Ludhiana, Punjab, India. ISBN 978-81-7096-245-8

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