14. Reasons for the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Ji


In about a century after Guru Nanak, Sikhism turned from a small irrelevant sect into a mass movement. Many thousands of followers followed the teachings of the Sikh Gurus; even some prominent Muslims who enjoyed a privileged position in the Mughal state during this period embraced Sikhism. The rulers found it difficult to tolerate the growth of Sikhism and its ever-increasing popularity. The reaction of the orthodox Muslims is found in the memoirs of Emperor Jahangir, the Tuzuk-i- Jahangiri. With the advent of the Guruship of Guru Arjan many hundreds of thousands of the native people had began to follow the teachings of Sikhism and both Hindus and Muslims were crowding into Govindwal and Amritsar (the centres of the Sikhs during the late 1500s and early 1600s) where they were soon becoming Sikhs.

Mughal clergy becomes concerned

The Mughal clergy, who had long chaffed at the tolerance of Akbar, grew ever more angry of the popularity and the growing following of the Sikh Gurus, but after the death of Akbar in 1605, in his son Jahangir they saw their best chance to destroy the Sikh institution. Jahangir, unlike his father was a fundamentalist Muslim who soon was influenced with the idea of turning the whole of Hindustan (as the Mughals called their kingdom in Northwest India) into an Islamic State. The powerful Hindus associated with the Mughal Court, having seen their own power base rapidly disappearing under the influence of Guru Arjan, joined the Muslim Ulema in their attempt to influence Jahangir into arresting Guru Arjan, hoping to plunge a dagger into the heart of the rapidly rising Sikhi faith.

Reason for the change in the Mughal regime (Some of the contributing reasons) :

Creation of the Adi Granth: Was this the basic and main reason of the Guru's martyrdom. Guru Arjan had collected the Bani's of many of God's devotees (Hindu, Muslims, Upper Caste, Lower Caste etc.) and put them into the Guru Granth Sahib, which makes one proper institution of Gurmat, which has a totally new philosophy and was against many old philosophies of Hinduism and Islam. Many people started following this faith and the underlying philosophy. Even Muslim saints such as Mian Mir had become friends and Mureed of Gurmat. This had stunned the Muslim Ulema, which had long chaffed under the liberal and tolerant policies of Akbar. The Hindu priests (pandits) were also against the philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib, which threatened the caste system that kept them at the top of Hindu society. Jahangir, doubtless after endless complaints and demands, recorded his thoughts on the matter in his autobiography, the 'Tuzak-e-jahangiri' [1], in which he wrote: "At Goindwal on the banks of the river Beas, lived a Hindu, Arjan by name, in the garb of a Pir or Sheikh. Thus, many innocent Hindus and even foolish and ignorant Muslims were brought into his fold, who beat the drum noisily of his self-appointed prophet-hood. He is called Guru. From all sides, worshippers came to offer their homage to him and put full trust in his word. For three or four generations, they have warmed up this shop. For a long time I have harboured the wish that I should set aside this shop of falsehood or I that should bring him into the fold of Islam." Jahangir further wrote; "In these days, Khusro (his rebellious son) passed through this way. This foolish person (Guru Arjan) resolved to call on him. Khusro halted for a time at this place and this man came to see him and discoursed with him on many matters and also applied with saffron on his forehead what the Hindus call kashkeh (tilak) that the Hindus consider a good omen. When I heard this account personally, I knew about his false pretenses. So I ordered that he be brought into my presence, that his property be confiscated and his sons and other possessions be made over to Murtaza Khan and that he be dealt with in accordance with the political and common law of the land."

Minas: Minas were against Guru Arjun from starting Prithi Chand and High Hindu priests started playing tactics against Guru Arjun Dev. Prithi Chand wanted to take possesion of the granth compiled by the guru, in hopes that by doing this he would be able to clam the Guruship for himself. He and many others played an important role in misguiding Jahangir. After the death of GUru Arjun Dev, he took possesion over Guru Granth Sahib. His desendents keep on protecting granth and claim themselves guru and followers of them are called Minas. Governor Chandu Shah: He also became hostile of Guru Arjun Dev as Guru Arjun Dev ji rejected his proposal of marriage, for his daughter. Sikh Sangat at that time forced Guru Arjun Dev ji to not accept this proposal as they were against tactics of Chandu, whose aim was to misuse Guru Ghar after marriage. Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi: It is also Said that Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi was very much revered by Muslims. He presented himself to be Islam's Prophet of the second millennium; the first millennium belonging to Prophet Muhammad. He asserted that his status was higher than the Sikh Gurus. This was emphatically rejected by Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Sheikh Ahmad had great influence on Jehangir. Citing the Guruís blessings bestowed upon Prince Khusro he instigated the Emperor against Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Jehangir wrote in his biography: A Hindu named Arjan lived at Goindwal...simple minded Hindus and ignorant and foolish Muslims have been persuaded to adopt his ways... this business has been flourishing for three generations. For a long time it had been in my mind to put a stop to this affair or to bring him into the fold of Islam... Jahangir : many Muslim Rulers worked to increase the Muslim fold, by just changing their way of life they thought one becomes muslim. Did they understand the tenants of their own religion? They thought that by doing the Hajj, keeping a beard and being circumcised and by proclaiming Muhammad as the last messenger of the One Sole God of all creation, called by them Allah, one became a Muslim. When Jahangir came to know the truth of Sikhi, he became a friend of Guru Hargobind ji, Guru Arjun Dev's son.