On 7th Vaisakh, 94 Nanakshahi (1563 AD), Bibi Bhani w/o Guru Ram Das JI gave birth to a great, pious and noble soul Arjan Dev in village Goindwal, Dist. Amritsar (now Dist. Tarn Taran). During childhood his maternal grandfather Guru Amar Das JI prophesied him as ‘ Dohta Paani Ka Bohita’ i.e. He will act as a boat to take the humanity across worldly ocean.
One day Guru Ram Das Ji asked Prithvi Chand to go to Lahore to attend the marriage of the son of His cousin brother Sahari Mal but Prithvi Chand avoided it on the pretext that he has never been away from Him before and moreover he takes care of offerings and ‘Langar’ and is also afraid of such functions. He wanted to avoid it because he controlled offerings and secondly the time for transfer of Guruship was nearing. Then The Guru asked His second son Mahadev to go and he replied that he does not want to get involved in such matters, as he was a religious person and wanted to remain aloof from worldly affairs. Guru Ram Das Ji then asked His youngest son Arjan Dev Arjan Dev to go. He replied that:’ Dear father, i only want your happiness, you are sending me for an occasion of joy and even if you send me for some task that would endanger my life, i will obey your order with pleasure’. Guru Ram Das Ji told him to stay at Lahore, till a written message to come back is sent to him, and preach GURBANI to Sikhs in the Gurdwara and serve ‘ Langar’ to the poor and the needy.
As Guru Ram Das Ji did not call Him back for a long time, he sent two letters to his father through a messenger but his elder brother Prithvi Chand did not give it to his father as he was jealous of his proximity to The Guru and himself asked the messenger to convey to Arjan Dev that his father has asked him to stay at Lahore till He sends a message to come back. Then Arjan Dev wrote a third letter, recording digit 3 particularly on it to let his father know that it is his third letter and directed the messenger to give it only to his father. The messenger this time ensured this and he gave the letter to Guru Ram Das Ji personally, when Prithvi chand was not near Him.This letter was a couplet of the ‘ SHABAD ‘ and it reads as under:
IK GHARHI N MILTE TA KALJUG HOTA II
HUNH KAD MILIYE PRIYA TUDH BHAGWANTA. II
MOHIE REIN N VIHAVAI NEID N AAVAI BIN DEKHE GUR DARBAARE JIAU II 3 II
HOU GHOLI JEEO GHOLI GHUMAEE TIS SACHE GUR DARBAARE JIAU II1II RAHAOU IISGGS96
After reading this letter, The Guru enquired about first two letters from the messenger and the messenger explained the whole story to Him. On hearing the reply,The Guru got annoyed and enquired three times for first two letters from Prithvi Chand, but he denied by swearing by his father’s feet. Guru Ram Das JI then told him that the letters were in the pocket of his coat at home. He then sent a sewadar directing him to bring the coat of Prithvi chand from his wife, which was hanging on the peg on the wall, which the sewadar brought. Both the letters were recovered from the pocket of the coat. Guru Ram Das Ji then told the ‘sangat’ that it was a
test for honesty of Prithvi Chand. Then Guru Ram Das Ji asked Baba Budha Ji to bring Guru Arjan Dev Ji from Lahore. When Guru Arjan Dev Ji came back and met his father, Guru Ram Das Ji that told him that he had sent three couplets and now he should write the fourth one to
complete the ‘ SHABAD’. Then instantaneously Guru Arjan Dev Ji orated the following couplet.
BHAGH HOA GURI SANTU MILAEIYA II PRABH ABINASEE GHAR MEIH PAEIYA II
SEV KARI PALU CHASA N VICHURHA JAN NANAK DAS TUMARE JEO II 4 II
HOU GHOLI JEEO GHOLI GHUMAEE JAN NANAK DAS TUMAARE JEOU II RAHAOU II1II4IISGGS97
After hearing this couplet, Guru Ram Das Ji was very pleased and took Arjan Dev in His arms and said that, Guru Amar Das Ji had said that Guruship is attained with qualities of humbleness and politeness, We give Guruship to you. Then Guru Ram Das Ji got down from His throne and made Guru Arjan Dev Ji to sit on His throne and Himself bowed before Guru Arjan Dev Ji and thus transferred His light into Him. Prithvi Chand got very annoyed and spoke unparliamentary language to Guru Ram Das Ji and declared that he will remove Guru Arjan Dev Ji from the throne of Guruship and himself sit on the throne of Guruship, to which even the king will agree that as per law it is his right. As he continued his misbehaviour and refused to accept Guru Arjan Dev Ji as Guru, Guru Ram Das Ji declared him ‘MEENA’ and said sikhs will neither follow him nor will have any relation with him. After this Guru Ram Das Ji along with Guru Arjan Dev Ji went to Goindwal. He performed ‘Yag’ on the next day and on the second day He carried out His Simran and prayers early in the morning and after telling Sikhs to follow Guru Arjan Dev Ji, left this world on 3rd, bhadon, 112 Nanakshahi ( 1581 AD ).
Subsequently when Prithvi chand approached the local heads of Amritsar for help, on their request Guru Arjan Dev Ji gave some revenue and rental property to him and His second brother Mahadev for their living. Fifth Nanak, Guru Arjan Dev ji, then set to start the construction of ‘sarovars’ and Ramdaspur city. After completing Santokhsar sarovar, he started the work of construction of sarovar of Harmandir sahib as the excavation was already completed by Guru Ram Das Ji. Guru Arjan Dev Ji also completed the planning of Harmandir Sahib and got the foundation of Sri Harmandir Sahib laid in the midst of the tank in Amritsar in 1589 AD, from a Muslim saint Saeen Mian Meer. The doors of Sri Harmandir Sahib are open on all four sides signifying that It was open to all humanity, irrespective of caste, creed, rich or poor. He then founded Tarn Taran in 1590 AD and Kartarpur in Jalandhar District in 1594 AD, which became centres of trade. He also started the practice of setting aside “Dasvandh” I.e. one tenth of Income among the sikhs for the welfare of the society. He also encouraged Sikhs to take trade adventures to Kabul and Turkestan.
He gave the gift of the compilation of ‘Gurbani’ of four gurus, to which He added His own ‘baani’ and that of 15 saints,11 bhats and 4 gursikhs of different religions and castes and accomplished the task of compiling The book called “POTHI” ( later called SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB) and installed it in Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar on 1st September 1604 AD ( 1, bhadron, 135 Nanakshahi ) and appointed Baba Budha ji as first Granthi or custodian. His aim was that ‘Baani’ to be added should be as per Sikh principles laid by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and other Gurus, to spread message of love, tolerance, peaceful existence, diversity and human equality, and should bring contentment and peace to the individual soul who recites it. He gave it the status of “POTHI PARMESHAR KA THAAN” i.e. the ‘Gurbani’ in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ( SGGS) connects one with The God. Guru Says that:
Pothi parmeshar ka thaan ||
i.e. This Holy Book is the home of the Transcendent Lord God.
Saadhhasa(n)g gawahi gun gobi(n)dh pooran breham giaan ||1|| rehaao
i.e. Whoever sings the Glorious Praises of the Lord of the Universe in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, has the perfect knowledge of God. ||1||Pause||
When Guru Arjan Dev Ji brought the ‘POTHI’ ( SGGS) from Gurudwara Ramsar, He brought it in a very respectable way in a procession and Shri Guru Granth Sahib was carried by Baba Budha Ji on his head and Guru Arjan Dev Ji Himself was doing “Chaur” over it throughout the journey. At night, He asked the Sikhs to keep Shri Guru Granth Sahib in His room on His bed and He himself slept on the floor under that bed. Thus Guru Arjan Dev Ji gave the priceless gift of SGGS to the Sikhs and the humanity, which emphatically says that it is a communication from the God and it communicates with the God. Guru says that:
Hou aapahu bol n jaanadhaa mai kehiaa sabh hukamaao jeeo || SGGS763
I.e. By Myself, I do not even know how to speak; I speak all that the Lord commands. Sathigur kee banee sat sat kar jaanahu gursikhu har karataa aap muhahu kadhaaeae || SGGS – 308
i.e. O Gursikhs, know that the ‘bani,’, the Word of the True Guru, is true, absolutely True. The Creator Lord Himself causes the Guru to chant it.
Vaahu vaahu baanee nira(n)kaar hai tis jevad avar n koe ||SGGS 515
I.e. Waaho ! Waaho ! is the ‘Bani’, the Word, is the Formless Lord. There is no other as great as He is.
Æhu visu saṇsaaru ṭum ḍekɦaḍe æhu hari kaa roopu hai hari roopu naḍaree ȧaïȧ ||
I.e. The whole world which we see is the manifestation of the Lord; the Lord be seen in it.
The ‘Gurbani’ in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, compiled by Guru Arjan Dev Ji says that it is the word of The Lord as it has come from Him and it gives complete knowledge of God and He is telling what God commanded Him to say and He himself does not know anything. It gives a
message of love, tolerance, equality and universal brotherhood. It says the world is the manifestation of God and as such God be seen in it. Therefore Hindus and Muslims being attracted by Guru’s message in SGGS started converting to Sikhism.The enemies of the Guru had complained to Emperor Akbar that a book was being compiled by the Guru containing hymns against Hindu and Muslim prophets but when Akbar visited The Guru in Goindwal in 1589 AD, he was satisfied to hear some passages from SGGS by getting it opened at random. But after Akbar died in 1605 AD, his son Jahangir succeeded him and he declared not to tolerate conversions of Muslims to Sikhism and started to suppress The Guru and the Sikhs as he considered Sikhism a challenge to Islam.The governor of Lahore even permitted two armed attacks on Amritsar city to kill or dislodge the Guru but both attempts failed.
Prithvi Chand having rivalry with The Guru due to Guruship and Chandu Brahmin due to refusal of matrimonial of his daughter by The Guru for His son, also instigated the emperor. Jahangir made an excuse that The Guru blessed his son Prince Khusro in their succession battle and gave him financial help, at the time of his visit to The Guru at Tarn Taran, ordered The Guru to be arrested. Jahangir ordered that the Guru be brought into his presence and that His children be handed over to Murtaza Khan, that his property be confiscated and that He should be tortured to death. It was recorded in the diary of Jahangir that “For a long time I wanted to close this shop of falsehood (the Sikh preaching centre) because not only Hindus but also unwary Muslims were becoming disciples of Guru Arjan Dev ji, I therefore ordered the killing of Guru.” As a consequence to it, Guru Arjan Dev ji was called to Lahore. The Guru visualized that His end was near, so before proceeding to Lahore He made His son sit on the throne and gave him all instructions. He also explained to His wife that the body is perishable and as such after His death, she should not feel sad and weep and make no effort to separate her soul from the body.
The Guru went to Lahore along with five sikhs and as he went to the king, jahangir advanced towards The Guru for paying regards, but Chandu reminded Jahangir about the help given by The Guru to his son prince Khusro. On enquiry by Jahangir, The Guru replied that as per message of Guru Nanak, he was supposed to help the needy and as such could not deny him financial help.Then Jahangir demanded rupees two lakhs as fine and also asked to remove writings against Islam from SGGS. The Guru refused to oblige, telling him that only men with bad deeds are fined and not the saints, and as regards to removing writings against Islam from SGGS, He replied that from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Ram Das and He Himself have recorded in SGGS what the God ordered them to do and there is nothing against Islam or any other religion. Our main aim is to preach truth and destroy falsehood, and if while doing this duty He has to die, it will be His good fortune. On hearing Guru’s reply Jahangir went away.
The local sikhs of Lahore decided that they would collect the fine and pay to the king but The Guru so sternly refused to allow them payment of the fine that he said that whosoever pays fine, he will not be His sikh.
Then Qazis and Brahmins asked Him to remove writings against Islam and Hinduism from SGGS and add to it writings in admiration of Hindu Demigods and Hazrat Muhammad or accept death. The Guru replied that SGGS has been compiled to give peace to the humanity and remove pain and as such no changes can be made in it as desired by you. After hearing The Guru’s reply, the enemies of The guru concluded that He will not be deterred with threats, as such they put Him in chains and started torturing by making Him sit on Hot Iron Plate, pouring scorching sand over his head and making Him take bath with boiling water. The Guru remained unmoved and undeterred and told them that,’O, foolish people, everything is in the will of God and your tortures give me peace ‘. Then The Guru sermonized the couplet as below:
Pɦooto ȧadaa bɦaram kaa manahi bɦaïõ paragaasu ||
i.e. The egg of doubt has burst; my mind has been enlightened.
Kaatee beree pagah ṭe guri keenee baṇḍi kɦalaasu ||1||SGGS1002
I.e. The Guru has shattered the shackles on my feet, and has set me free. ||1||
During this time a Muslim faqir Saeen Mian Meer came to meet Guru Arjan Dev Ji. He found Guru Arjan calm and serene, having completely resigned himself to the will of God. Saeen Mian Mir asked The Guru that: ‘ when you have spiritual powers then why are you bearing tortures and why don’t you use these to get rid of your sufferings?’. The Guru replied, “I bear all these tortures to set an example for the Preachers of the Truth so that they may not lose patience or vail against God in affliction, when such time comes. The true test of faith is in the hour of pain, without examples to guide them, ordinary people’s minds would tremble in the midst of suffering. Secondly, if a person having will power does not protect the religion, he will be considered an enemy of the religion by God, this would weaken the ones with no will power and give them an excuse to give up on their religion for the smallest pain they may be faced with.Thirdly, the body’s comfort and pain are as per the laws of nature and the body is destroyable but spirit is immortal. As such it is foolish to reverse the laws of nature under which everything is destroyable.
After hearing these words, Saeen Mian Meer went away, singing the praises and admiring the will of The Guru.
After this, the enemies of The Guru made Him sit in boiling water for three hours, under which fire was burning but The Guru remained undeterred although He was nearing His end. After five days of torture, Guru ji asked Chandu for taking bath in river Ravi. The Guru draped himself in a bedsheet and proceeded to river Ravi along with five Sikhs, taking help of the shoulder of Bhai Purana. After reaching the river Ravi, he washed his hands and feet and then took bath in river Ravi and recited ‘JAPJI’ and after completing it, bowed his head and gave message to the Sikhs that His mission is complete and that they should convey to His son, Hargobind and the Sikhs that they should not feel sad and weep after His death and rather sing praises of God.Tell Hargobind to respect Baba budha ji, sit on the throne, love and respect sikhs,do all things as practised by earlier Gurus and in addition wear arms and keep a strong army of sikhs. He instructed Sikhs not to burn His body, but to place It in river
Ravi after His death. After giving these instructions, The Guru saw a rababi coming and asked him to sing ‘Gurbani’ and after listening ‘Gurbani’ left this world on 7th jeth, 137 Nanakshahi,( May 30, 1606 A D ).
Despite extreme torture, The Guru remained calm, unruffled and unperturbed.There is no parallel to the peaceful bearing of extreme torture with equanimity as per WILL OF GOD , fighting for TRUTH, destroying the FALSEHOOD and protection of the religion, in the WORLD.
But Guru Arjan Dev ji had realized earlier that violent intervention in His mission would not subside, as Sikhism despite it’s emphasis on peace and tolerance was perceived by the Muslim rulers as a threat to their religion and supremacy.Therefore, to ensure that Sikhism could withstand such onslaughts, Guru Arjan Dev ji trained His son Hargobind in martial arts and instructed him to keep a strong army, who subsequently wore two swords of ‘ Miri’ and ‘Piri’ symbolising Power and Saintliness. Guru Hargobind Ji proved the foresight of Guru Arjan Dev Ji to be true, as He had to fight four battles with Mughals and He won all, despite having only about 4000 sikhs warriors.