Guru Arjan Dev was the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. Guru Arjan Dev became the first martyr of the Sikh faith, and every year on 16 June, Guru Arjan Dev’s Martyrdom is commemorated. The day was commemorated in his honor since 1606 and has been observed ever since.
On 16 June 1606, the Mughal Emperor Jahangir ordered the fifth Sikh Guru Arjan Dev to be tortured and killed. Therefore, every year on 16 June, the Sikhs commemorate Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom.
On Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom day, people often organize religious events that include reading Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In Gurudwaras, Langars are distributed as well.
A group of Sikh pilgrims, known as Jatha, travels to Pakistan every year to commemorate Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom at the Gurdwara Dehra Sahib in Lahore.
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Some Facts About Guru Arjan Dev
- Guru Arjan Dev was born in Goindval Sahib, Tarn Taaran, India on 15 April, 1563. Guru Ramdas was his father and Mata Bhani was his mother. “Guru Amardas” and “Guru Ramdas” were respectively the third and fourth Guru of the Sikhs in Arjan Dev’s maternal lineage.
- In 1581 A.D, the fourth Guru Ramdas appointed Arjan Dev to take over as the fifth Guru of the Sikhs in his place.
- In 1588 A.D., Arjan Dev laid the foundation for Harmandar Sahib which was built by Guru Ramdas and is now known as the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Guru Arjan Dev invited Mian Mir, a Muslim saint from Lahore, to lay the cornerstone of the Harmandar, the present Golden Temple, for this purpose. A door on each side of the building signified the building’s acceptance of all four castes and all religions. The temple map is around 400 years old and was drawn by Guru Arjan Dev.
- The Guru Granth Sahib, the present holy book, was compiled by him. Guru Arjan dev accomplished this with the help of brother Gurdas and it is the most valuable achievement of his life. Additionally, he wrote more than 2,000 hymns himself and the Sukhmani Sahib Bani. Guru Granth Sahib contains 5894 hymns, out of which more than 2000 are by Guru Arjan Dev. The rest of the hymns are from the celestial utterances of Sheikh Farid and Bhagat Kabir, Bhagat Ravi Das, Dhanna Namdev, Ramanand, Jai Dev, Trilochan, Beni, Pipa, and Surdas.
- Emperor Jahangir felt threatened by the growth of Sikhism in his empire. It was ordered that Guru Arjan Dev be arrested and either convert to Islam or be tortured and executed. The Guru remained loyal to his faith till the end. In 1606, the Guru Arjan dev was imprisoned in Lahore Fort. As, he has refused to convert, he was subjected to severe torture. In hot boiling water, he was immersed which scaled his flesh, and then was made to sit on a hot burning plate. Further, more tortured and hot sand was poured over his body. With God’s name on his lips, the tortured remained for several days. After this, the Guru was allowed to take bath in the river Ravi. On, 30 May 1606, Guru Arjan Dev entered the river and was never seen again.
- Guru Arjun Dev was the first Sikhism martyr. Gurudwara Dera Sahib (now in Pakistan) was built on the site where Guru Arjun Dev Ji’s body was extinct in the river Ravi. Shri Guru Arjun Dev Ji was known for his humility.