Guru Arjan Dev belonged directly to the lineage of the Third Sikh Guru, Guru Amardas. He was in fact, the grandson of the Third Guru – and the youngest son of the Guru’s daughter Bibi Bani, whose husband Jetha Ji was eventually chosen to become the Fourth Guru, Guru Ramdas.
In due course, he was married to Ganga Devi. The marriage took place in 1589, when he was about 26 years old.
Guru Arjan Dev included in the Adi Granth, the compositions of both Hindu and Muslim saints which he considered consistent with the teachings of Sikhism and the Gurus. The Pothi Sahib as it was called was installed on a high pedestal within the sacred precincts of the Harmandir in August 1604.
The sacred scripture which was very dear to the heart of Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani, the Sukhmani Sahib, is the Fifth Guru’s personal composition.
Emperor Akbar’s grandson, Khusro visited Amritsar to take Guru Arjan Dev’s blessings, as he fled through Punjab in fear of losing his life at the hands of fanatics.
Guru Arjan Dev was summoned to the court at Lahore and accused of sedition, on the grounds of having received Prince Khusro. When he received the summons the Guru knew that he would have to face the worst. He told his followers that his son Hargobind should be installed as the next Guru.
It was Jehangir’s wish to impose the death penalty on him. The Guru was ordered to pay a fine of two lakhs, and told to erase certain hymns from the Adi Granth. He replied to the Emperor, “Whatever money I have is for the poor, the friendless and the stranger. If thou ask for money thou mayest take what I have; but if thou ask for it by way of fine, I shall not give thee even a Kaurz (penny).”
Guru Arjan Dev was thrown in prison where he was subjected to severe torture. In the spirit of acceptance, the Guru put up with the horrendous torture inflicted on him, with unflinching faith in the “Will of the Almighty”.
After some days, Guru Arjan Dev was allowed to take a bath in the nearby river Ravi. As thousands watched the Guru, he entered the river, and was never seen again. Thus, the Fifth Guru embraced martyrdom on May 30, 1606.
(Dada J.P. Vaswani is humanitarian, philosopher, educator, acclaimed writer, powerful orator, messiah of ahimsa, and non-sectarian spiritual leader.)