www www.sarbloh.info
Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj (1563 -1606)
Page 6 of 13


Akali Guru Ramdas passed on the Guruship, to the annoyance of his eldest son Prithi, to his youngest son Arjan Dev. Akali Guru Arjan completed his father’s work by fully excavating the holy tank and building the temple of Harimandir, which later in the times of British Raj came to be known as the ‘Golden Temple’ for its roof is guilded with gold.

Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji
The fifth Guru was responsible for compiling the Adi Granth containing works
from the previous Sikh Gurus, 15 Bhagats (saints), Bhatts (bards), an epilogue
known as 'Mundhavani' and a list of Raags (musical measures) known as the 'Raagmala'

Once more emphasizing the philosophy of oneness of Nirankar God and mankind, the foundation stone of the holiest of Sikh temples was laid down not by the Sikh Guru, but by the great holy Sufi Muslim and friend of Akali Guru Arjan Dev, Pir Sia Mia Mir of Lahore. Sikh, Hindu and Muslim artisans then constructed the temple. The temple was open to all for spiritual instruction regardless of race, religion, or caste.

Durbar Sahib, Amritsar
Known today as the 'Golden Temple', this old engraving shows
the entrance to the great Gurudwara known traditionally as being a
centre for peoples of all faiths to come and contemplate upon the Almighty

Sanatan Sikh Dharma on the spiritual plane did not discriminate on grounds of caste of man (as was the custom amongst some faiths). Whether a person was considered a so-called low-caste, or high-caste, he/she could if he/she endeavored still appreciate the highest truth, Nirankar God.

Kabir, a disciple of a great Brahmin Ramanand once questioned a haughty high-caste Brahmin thus:

‘In the womb is no clan or caste.
From the seed of Brahm [God] all are born.
Oh Pundit, when did you become a Brahmin? Do not ruin your life by calling yourself a Brahmin [out of false pride of birth].
If you are Brahmin [because of birth] and a Brahmini [Brahmin woman] has given you birth, then why did you not come [take birth] another way?
Whence art thou a Brahmin and I a low-caste?
Is it that I am made of blood and you of milk?
Says Kabir, he who contemplates Brahm, only he I call a Brahmin.’
(‘Adi Guru Durbar’, Raag Gauri, Pa.324)

By the times of Akali Guru Arjan Dev the number of Sikhs had greatly increased. Sikhs had now become a large self-sustaining community. To further bind this community, the Akali Guru, in time, alongside his own writings, gathered all the writings of the previous four Gurus and like-minded Muslim/Hindu holy men from all over India. The compilation of these writings lead to the creation of the foremost Sikh holy text, the Adi Guru Durbar Sahib.

It has to be noted that Akali Guru Nanak himself collected the writings of these like-minded Hindu and Muslim holy man as he traveled all over India. The fact that nearly all these holy men preceded Guru Nanak in the eyes of Sanatan Sikhs is the first pointer to the fact that Sanatan Sikhism precedes Guru Nanak.

Now, in time, the great egalitarian Moghal Emperor Akbar died, Hindu and Muslim religious bigots began to stir their heads. It was Akbar who had donated the land upon where the Harimandir was built, to Guru Amardas' daughter.

Akbar the Great
An old painting depicting Akbar the great and a hunting party

The Brahmins did not like the household of Nanak because they saw it as undermining their caste authority. The Mullahs (fanatic Muslim leaders) did not like the household of Akali Guru Nanak because they believed its influence checked the spread of Islamic proselytizing in northern India.

As Jahangir succeeded his father Akbar as Emperor of India, he pampered the religious fanatics in his court in order to establish a firm footing on his throne. Akbar had angered these fanatics for years because he had also sought to establish his own universally-tolerant religious philosophy of 'Din-I-Iiahi'. Jahangir, accusing Guru Arjan Dev of assisting his brother Khusro, ordered the conversion of Guru Arjan Dev to Sunni Islam. If the Guru resisted, he was to be put to death.

An old Persian painting of Jahangir and his men resting after a hunt

After great tortures Akali Guru Arjan Dev became the first Sikh martyr in 1606. His friend Sai Mia Mir, a Sufi Muslim saint, had threatened to destroy Lahore in order to save his friend. However, the Guru told him to accept God's will and stopped him.

Back to Top

Page 6