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Guru Arjun Dev?s martyrdom

Guru Arjun, the fifth Nanak, was a sensitive poet, musician, philosopher and the first martyr of the faith founded by Guru Nanak.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 16:21 IST

Guru Arjun Dev’s martyrdom occurred four hundred years ago on May 30, 1606 after imprisonment and extreme torture (today is the Indian calendar anniversary).

Guru Arjun, the fifth Nanak, was a sensitive poet, musician, philosopher, builder of cities and the first martyr of the faith founded by Guru Nanak. He embodied love, humility and service.

His most valuable achievement was the compilation of the holy book known as Adi Granth, containing nearly 6,000 hymns of 36 saint-poets from different parts of India.

Emperor Jahangir was alarmed at the growing influence of Guru Arjun. He wrote in his Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri: “So many of the simple minded Hindus, nay, many foolish Muslims too, had been fascinated by the Guru's way and teaching. For many years the thought had been presenting itself to my mind that either I should put an end to this false traffic, or that he be brought into the fold of Islam.” When Jahangir’s his son Khusrau rebelled against his father, he met Guru Arjun at Goindwal, sought his blessing and partook of langar.

After suppressing Khusrau's rebellion, Jahangir wreaked vengeance on those he suspected of having helped. Guru Arjun was heavily fined. Refusing to pay, he was arrested. Jahangir wrote: “I fully knew of his heresies and I ordered that he should be brought into my presence, that his property be confiscated and that he should be put to death with torture.” Guru Arjun was taken to Lahore and seated on red-hot iron plates. Burning sand was poured on him and he was dipped in boiling water. Sufi saint Mian Mir, who had laid the cornerstone of the Golden Temple, offered to intercede on his behalf. But the Guru forbade him. In his agony the Guru would utter: Tera kya mitha lage, Naam padarth Nanak (Whatever you ordain appears sweet. I beg for the gift of the Name).

The Guru was then taken to the River Ravi. A dip in the river's cold water was more than his blistered body could bear. Deep in meditation, the Guru serenely passed away.