The foundation stone for Sikhism, based upon equality and “seva”, was laid down by Guru Nanak but later solidified by his three successors. To put it on a firm foundation, Guru Arjan Dev set out to build Harminder Sahib (Golden Temple) in the exact location where his father had built the clay tank of “Amrit” and also established the town Amritsar around it, Khalsa Vox reported.
Tolerance and equality are at the heart of the Sikh religion. It was in the same spirit of “I am neither Hindu nor Muslim” that Guru Arjan Dev invited Mian Mir, a Muslim saint from Lahore, to formally lay the foundation stone of the Harminder Sahib. It was intended to be the tallest structure at the time by the Sikh Sangats, according to Khalsa Vox, a new-age online digest that brings to you the latest in Punjab politics, history, culture, heritage and more.
The temple was built at the lowest level feasible in remembrance of Guru Arjan Dev’s advice to his disciples that humility was the highest virtue. The Harminder Sahib has entrances on all four corners to disregard the Muslim idea that God is in the West and the Hindu concept that it is in the East, where the sun rises. “My faith is for the people of all castes and of all creeds from whichever direction they come and to whichever direction they bow.”
The Golden Temple’s completion and the creation of the “Adi Granth” are two of Guru Arjan Dev’s most significant contributions to the spiritual and material components of Sikhism, according to Khalsa Vox.
Guru Arjan Dev was born in Goindwal Sahib on April 15, 1563. He was the youngest of three children; his older brothers were Prithi Chand and Mahadev. Even as Mahadev was never interested in worldly vices, his oldest brother, Prithi Chand, considered himself a strong contender for the ‘Guru Gaddi’ and rebelled after their father nominated Guru Arjan as the fifth Guru on September 16, 1581, when he was only 18 years old.
Prithi Chand, his elder brother, always tried to take upon the Guruship himself, and in one such instance, it is said that he composed his own hymns and passed them to others branding them as compositions of Guru Nanak and other Gurus.
Guru Arjan Dev realised that having created a central place of worship for the Sikhs, they also required an authentic compilation of their Gurus’ hymns. Therefore, he set out to collect all original verses of the preceding Gurus.
He visited Goindwal, Khadur, and Kartarpur to collect original manuscripts from Mohan (son of Guru Ram Das), Datu (son of Guru Angad), and Sri Chand (son of Guru Nanak). The Guru then setup a tent near Ramsar tank and started the difficult task of compiling the first edition of Guru Granth Sahib.
Unlike other religious literature in history, he decided to include compositions of Hindu and Muslim saints like Kabir, Jaidev, Namdev, Ravidas, Farid, Mardana, Satta, and Balwand. It also contained 2218 ‘Shabads’ written by Guru Arjan himself.
The original manuscript of the ‘Adi Granth’ was installed at Sri Harminder Sahib in August 1604.
Guru Arjan Dev directed all Sikhs to bow before the holy scripture, which was set up on a high pedestal but he himself sat down at a lower level, not as an idol but as a book that teaches living life Truths despite difficulties in daily life. It strengthens and directs a person to a greater level of consciousness and living, which connects one to the Divine. As the first “Granthi” (custodian) of the book, Baba Budha was chosen.
In addition to the ‘Adi Granth’Guru Arjan Dev is highly regarded for writing the well-known Sikh prayer, “Sukhmani Sahab Bani,” which is also known as the Prayer of Peace.
Guru Arjan Dev is also remembered for his commitment and unselfish service. He provided aid to the needy, cared for the ill, and constructed hospital for lepers.
On October 17, 1605, Emperor Akbar passed away, and Jahangir, a less moral and more pampered ruler, took his place. Jahangir believed that Guru Arjan Dev was propagating deception and that the Guru was also opposing him by aiding his rebel son Khusro. So, in order to deal with Guru Arjan Dev in line with the political and common law of the kingdom, he ordered that he be brought before him in court.
Guru Arjan Dev realised his predicament when he received the summons, so he anointed his son, Hargobind, as the sixth Nanak.
Jahangir requested that the Guru modify a few verses from the “Adi Granth,” but the Guru refused because the verses were not offensive to any other religion.
The Guru was executed by the emperor after he had been coaxed into making incorrect assumptions and had his judgement tainted by religious insecurity due to Sikhism’s rising popularity, as reported by Khalsa Vox.
He was imprisoned in the Lahore Fort and subjected to cruel torture for five days. Guru Arjan Dev didn’t receive any food or water the first day. He got burned in a pot of boiling water on the second day. On the third day, nothing changed, but he received a hot sand bath. On the fourth day, scorching sand was poured over Guru while he was forced to sit on a red-hot iron plate.
Guru Arjan Dev remained unperturbed all the while, saying, “tera kiya meetha lage, naam padarth Nanak mange” (your will is nectar to me, I desire only the gift of your name).
Guru Arjan Dev requested permission to take a dip in the Ravi River on the fifth day. His torturers concurred, reasoning that it would only make his blisters worse. But as he dove into the water and took a dip, his body vanished. never to surface once more. Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru, was the first Guru to be martyred. This was a turning point in Sikh history that altered the trajectory of the faith forever.
Hargobind had been directed by his father, Guru Arjan Dev, to “sit fully armed on his throne, and maintain an army to the best of his ability.” The Sikhs made the decision to never accept injustice, hostility, or oppression again, Khalsa Vox reported.
(with inputs from ANI)