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
Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji
The fifth Guru was responsible for compiling the Adi Granth containing
from the previous Sikh Gurus, 15 Bhagats (saints), Bhatts (bards),
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
centre for peoples of all faiths to come and contemplate upon the
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
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.