12. Martyrdom of Guru Arjan (Part-1)

During the rein of Guru Arjan, crowds were converted to Sikhism in Punjab and in various other parts of India and even in the neighboring countries. It is said that the hilly Rajas of Kulu, Suket, Haripur and Chamba visited the Guru and became his followers as did the Raja of Mandi. Guru's fame and influence became widely spread. At that time Chandu Lal was Emperor Akbar's Diwan or financial advisor. He was a Khatri by caste and was originally an inhabitant of Rohela village in Gurdaspur district of Punjab. His official duties necessitated him to reside in Delhi. He had a young daughter of extreme beauty. Her mother, one day, said to her father,"Our daughter is growing to maturity. We should search for a husband for her." Chandu Lal, therefore, sent his family priest and barber in search for a suitable match for his daughter. The priest and the barber searched every city in the Punjab but could not find a satisfactory match. One day again Chandu's wife insisted that they should continue their efforts. So the priest and the barber were again despatched for the purpose. They searched and searched and when they reached Lahore, they heard about the Guru's young son, Har Gobind. They went to Amritsar and found Har Gobind as the most descent match for the young girl. They came back and reported to Chandu accordingly. They gave their analysis on the excellence of Har Gobind and the enormous respect that his father was commanding in the city of Amritsar. Chandu was not pleased hearing praises of the Guru, so he asked the priest and the barber,"Do you think him equal to me ? Guru's caste is inferior to me. You desire to put the ornamental tile of top storey into a gutter! Where am I, the imperial finance minister; and where is the Guru, though he may be an object of veneration to his followers?" After the husband and wife had argued the whole night over the matter, it was decided that Sada Kaur (their daughter) should be given in marriage to Har Gobind. The marriage presents were, therefore, dispatched to Amritsar. It came to the ears of the Sikhs of Delhi that Chandu had used derogatory expressions for the Guru. They sent a messenger with a letter explaining Chandu's utterances and prayed to the Guru to reject his alliance. The Sikhs of Delhi as well as of Amritsar prayed that the alliance of a haughty head like Chandu should not be accepted. The Guru was obliged to accept the advice of his Sikhs and so with utmost humility he told the matchmakers,"I am contented with my humble lot and desire not an alliance with the great. An ornamental tile should not be put in a gutter." While the matchmakers were still remonstrating, a Sikh, Narain Das, a grandson of Bhai Paro (a famous Sikh of Guru Amar Das) stood in the congregation and beseeched the Guru,"O king, I am the dust of thy lotus feet. I have a daughter whom my wife and I have vowed to offer to thy son. If you make her the slave of thy feet, I shall be fortunate. I am a poor unhonored Sikh and thou art the honor of the unhonored." The guru replied,"If you have love in your heart, then your proposal is acceptable to me." Narain Das at once went and purchased the marriage presents and betrothal ceremony was performed. Upon this another Sikh, Hari Chand stood up and appealed,"O true king, I have vowed to give my daughter to thy son. If my petition please thee, I will give my daughter as a servant to Har Gobind." The Guru though unwilling at first to accept a second wife for his son, felt that he could not reject the offer of a faithful Sikh. All this happened in the presence of Chandu's matchmakers who went back to Delhi and disappointed their master with sad news. Chandu was very much incensed and he wrote a letter to the Guru apologizing for his thoughtless expressions. He pleaded with the Guru that if he accepted his alliance, he would give large dowry to his daughter and he would have many favors conferred on him (Guru) by the Emperor. In the end he wrote that he was already on bad terms with his brother Prithi Chand and if he fell out with him too, it might ignite a blazing fire which would be difficult to extinguish. He despatched the letter with the priest. The Guru having read it, stated,"It is the pride that ruins men. Man suffers for his acts. They whom the Creator joineth, are united and they whom men joineth, are not. It is the Guru's rule to comply with the wishes of his Sikhs. Their words are immutable. As for his threats, I have no fear because God is the guardian of all." The priest returned with this message. This set the stage for Chandu's evil designs against the Guru. The Emperor Akbar died soon after and was succeeded by his son Jahangir. Akbar had nominated his grandson Khusro in supersession of his son. Khusro claimed Punjab and Afghanistan which his father, Jahangir, was unwilling to concede to him. Jahangir ordered Khusro's arrest but the latter escaped and went towards Afghanistan. On his way he visited the Guru at Tarn Taran and told him that he was unfriended, needy, poor and had no travelling expenses. So he begged the Guru for pecuniary assistance. Khusro had previously visited the Guru accompanying his grandfather Akbar and was, therefore, very well known to him. Secondly in Guru's house everybody- friend or foe, king or pauper, is treated equally. The Guru knew what was coming, but seeing the plight of the prince, he gave Khusro financial help. Khusro was, however, seized while crossing Jehlum, by the imperial forces and was brought in chains to his father. Prithia continued to retain the assistance and co-operation of Sulhi Khan against the Guru. On the pretext of collecting revenue in the Punjab, Sulhi Khan obtained leave from the Emperor. On his way he visited Prithia at his village Kotha where they concocted plans for the Guru's destruction. In the meantime, however, Prithia took Sulhi Khan to show his brick-kilns, where Sulhi Khan met with his accidental death by his sudden fall in the live brick-kiln.

Prithia was very much saddened at the death of his ally in evil. In those circumstances Chandu came to his rescue and filled the gap. Chandu wrote to Prithia to use his influence to bring his daughter's alliance with Har Gobind. Prithia was ready to assist Chandu in his nefarious designs against the Guru. He wrote back that the Guru who had deprived him of his right over Guruship, was already his enemy; and he would only be too happy to assist in meting him with adequate punishment. In his letter he begged Chandu to use his influence with the Emperor to bring the Guru to justice. So they both concocted a plan to induce the Emperor by some means to visit Punjab where they would have an opportunity to enter into some conspiracy against the Guru. Chandu's scheme was successful and in a short period of time the Emperor came to Punjab. He told the Emperor that Guru Arjan was acting as his rival in Punjab by entertaining thieves and exercising independent authority. Upon this the Emperor sent an order to the Guru through Sulabi Khan, the nephew of late Sulhi Khan, to abstain from such practices. On his journey to Amritsar, Sulabi Khan confronted with some Pathans and was killed. When Chandu heard the death of Sulabi Khan, he convinced the Emperor that ithad been done through the machinations of the Guru. He added that he had done many such misdeeds. For example the Guru had deprived his elder brother Prithi Chand of his rights over Guruship and had also endeavored to deprive Hindus and Muslims of their religions. The Emperor immediately sent for Prithia who was overjoyed with the invitation. He made preparations to go to the Emperor but after the dinner he got a cramp in his stomach and died the same night. Meharban, son of Prithia, wasted no time after the death of his father in informing Chandu who in turn informed the Emperor that the Guru had blessed Khusro and had promised that he would become the Emperor. The Emperor was also notified that the Pundits and the Qazis were enraged at the compilation of Adi Granth which blasphemed the worship rules of the Hindus and the prayer and fasting of the Muslims. By such accusations, Chandu induced the Emperor to summon Guru Arjan.