Ruzbeh N. Bharucha
Guru Arjan Dev is close to my heart. Baba Sai of Shirdi, has often told numerous Sikh families who come for Baba’s Guidance to Pray The Sukhmani Path or Sukhmani Sahib. According to Baba Sai, this Prayer is a must for all those who follow the Faith of Baba Nanak and The Guru’s of Sikhism.
From bringing peace into their lives, to praying for the wellbeing of the ancestors, to protecting oneself from negativity, lower energies, jealously and dark forces, Baba Sai has recommended the praying of the Sukhmani Path
The Sukhmani Sahib was penned down by the fifth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Arjan Dev. The Sukhmani Sahib is the Prayer for Peace and Guru Arjan Dev who wrote this prayer and song of peace was mercilessly tortured to death. Dear God please Love us a little less.
Once a Sikh family had come for channeling and when told to pray the Sukhmani Sahib, they said it took over an hour and they weren’t well versed with the Prayer. Baba had asked them to buy a cd or a tape and play the Path and sit silently while the Prayer went on and then distribute the offered water or food as Holy Water or Bhog (food offered first to The Big Boss) amongst the family members.
Meditate, meditate, meditate peace is obtained, Worry and anguish is expelled from the body.
Remembering God, you’re not reborn. Remembering God, the fear of death is dispelled.
Remembering God, death is eliminated. Remembering God, your enemies are repelled.
Remembering God, no obstacles are met. Remembering God, night and day you’re fully awake.
Remembering God, fear cannot touch you. Remembering God, you don’t suffer with sorrow.
Remembrance of God, in the Company of Saints. All treasures, O Nanak, are by Lord’s Blessing.
Guru Arjan Dev very willingly allowed Himself to be tortured and killed but refused to pay a fine of rupees two lakh or alter a word in The Guru Granth Sahib (The Holy Book of Sikhs). He was clear that by paying the cash fine, which was a normal form of punishment for criminals, by force He would have to admit that He had wronged and thus to escape death agree to be called a criminal, which He wasn’t, thus there was no question of Him agreeing to pay any fine. His followers were willing to pay the money or make the opposition pay with their lives but He made sure not one Sikh removed a sword to protect Him.
“Such is the will of My God; accept it,” and He added, “Move not; stand calm in your injury.” He refused to use His influence or His spiritual powers to protect Himself. Thus, He willingly, just like The Son of God, allowed Himself to be tortured by maggots in the form of human beings, and brutally murdered.
As for altering a word in The Guru Granth Sahib, He made it clear that only The Almighty God, was truly worthy of praise and that He would alter not a word.
So, He was mercilessly tortured for three days and nights.
Thus, He is the first Guru who allowed Himself to be Martyred in The Name of God and His principles.
He was a fascinating human being and a phenomenal Guru. The Sikh community has a lot to be grateful to Guru Arjan Dev who is considered to be One of the most loveable Gurus, due to His simple, loving and calm temperament.
He was not only a poet, but The Holy Guru Granth Sahib came about due to His need to make sure that the true words of The Guru’s before Him and the Sages and Sufis in praise of The One, reached scores of believers. He toiled hard to prepare The Holy Book. But the best part is that out of nearly six thousand hymns in The Holy Book, nearly two thousand two hundred and more came from the heart and Soul of Guru Arjan Dev. Like His illustrious Predecessors, He made sure that the Holy Book had writings and philosophies of other spiritual Giants, irrespective of which religion They belonged to, for the simple fact is that we do not belong to any religion, we belong to The One, who has no religion, and if S(H)e had a religion it would be the religion of Oneness.
Thus, the Guru Granth Sahib has the Words of the Guru’s of Sikhism, starting from Guru Nanak, to the Words of Sages and Sufis. Five Holy Ones whose words are in the Holy book, namely Farid, Mardana, Bhikan, Satta and Balwand professed the faith of Islam. Saint Kabir, belonged to no religion and was a weaver by profession. Saint Dhanna was a farmer and Saint Namdev was a tailor, while Saint Sadhana was a butcher and Saint Ravidas, a shoemaker, while Saint Sain was a barber. Then you had Saints like Ramanand, Trilochan and Surdas who were Brahmins and Saint Pipa belonged to the royal class.
Thus Guru Arjan included in the Holy Book not only words of His Predecessors but also of other spiritual Giants irrespective of caste, creed, religion and profession. This itself should illustrate His spiritual wisdom, the depth of His heart, the Oneness of His Soul and the humility of His very Being.
The Golden Temple which houses The Guru Granth Sahib which is venerated and worshipped by scores of devotees, was first designed and built by Him. After His Father, who was The Fourth Guru, Guru Ram Das, it was Guru Arjan Dev who took forward the work of the construction of The Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib which in reality means, The Temple of God. It was He who made the lake, Amritsar, which means, Immortal Waters.
He made certain that the foundation stone of The Golden Temple was laid by His close friend, Saint Hazrat Mian Mir Ji of Lahore, a Sufi Saint, of a very high spiritual order. A friend who stood by Guru Arjan Singh till the last day of the Guru’s physical life. A Sufi so high in the spiritual order that He had the power to destroy Jehangir’s dynasty, if it would take that to save His friend Guru Arjan Dev, but the Latter prevented His friend to use His spiritual power to help Him and ease the torture meted out to The Guru due to Jehangir’s orders.
So, in August 1694, the construction of The Golden Temple was completed and Guru Arjan put The First Guru Granth Sahib, also then called The Pothi Sahib on a high pedestal within The Golden Temple. He seated Himself at a much lower level and told all Sikhs that hence forth every Sikh would bow to The Holy Book, not as a form of a Holy Idol, but as a book of Divine Words and Inspiration and a pathway to reach The One and follow the path of Oneness.
Guru Arjan Dev made sure The Golden Temple had four entrances instead of the usual one entrance facing the East (a direction worshipped by the Hindus) or the West (which Muslims face), as He was of the belief that God existed in all directions and no direction existed without The Lord. Also it was a way of telling one and all that The Golden Temple, The Guru Granth Sahib and Sikhism, welcomed one and all, irrespective of caste, creed, colour, gender, profession or religion
The best part is that He was such a wise man, that He made it clear that by just bathing in the Tank which contained the holy waters in The Golden Temple, one did not get pure nor were one’s sins washed away. According to Him, one needed to bathe twice. The first bath or wash from the first tank, cleaned the physical body.
But the second bath was most important. The second tank contained spiritual water which cleansed the spiritual body off all dirt and that spiritual bath, the second bath, was achieved if one bathed in the holy spiritual waters of The Holy Name. The spiritual bath that one took by Chanting the Naam or The Holy Name, was mandatory. ‘If mind is sinful, everything is sinful, By washing the body, mind will not become pure.’
The real bath, the inner bath, was contained in the inner tank called ‘Gurbani’- which The Guru Granth Sahib contained, which is brimmed with Praise and Prayer of The One. What Guru Nanak has so beautifully said, in fact one of the most beautiful words ever uttered in any language, “Pilgrimage is Nam” and without this Pilgrimage there is no spiritual growth, no liberation and no salvation. Thus Guru Nanak had made it clear that bathing in Amritsar (the inner bath) liberation is obtained. ‘All sins are washed away by bathing in Amritsar and by Guru’s Grace, contentment is obtained.’ The chanting of The Name is the only way one can progress up the ladder, a rather precarious ladder, to reach The One. Thus Guru Arjan made it clear, one can go and bathe in any River, but the real cleansing is achieved with prayer and chanting, simple living and high thinking.
Guru Arjan Dev was a social worker who worked tirelessly for the poor and the down trodden and in particular for the leper community, and did all that which was possible to serve them, nurture them and make their lives as respectable as was possible. He set up various dispensaries for the sick and was clear that nobody should go hungry irrespective of a person’s religion or any category that divided people.
He was so humble that while serving people He would even clean the footwear of those who flocked to meet Him and Pray and work together.
In fact He emphasized that all work that was done with a true heart and with honest labour was dignified labour and everybody was equal in the eyes of The One. He would often advise one and all to keep Chanting The Name, have full faith in The One and to keep the hands busy by working for the right cause. His belief in dignity of labour thus made His devotees take up various professions like carpentry, banking, cattle and horse trading, embroidery, farming.
He was a musician and a singer, and people flocked from far and wide just to hear Him. By hearing Him sing, play the musical instrument and sing the glory of the Lord, Sages, Yogis, Sufis and Pirs converted themselves to Sikhism.
The Guru’s Father, The Fourth Guru, Guru Ram Das had introduced the institution of Masands, those who represented the Guru’s all over the country to spread Sikhism and take care of the worldly and spiritual needs of Sikhs and also had introduced a system where every Sikh should on his or her own Free Will, keep aside ten percent of one’s earning or income which was then sent to The Guru and the money was used for various activities like community feeding, taking care of the poor and the underprivileged of the community, setting up new Gurudwars or Spiritual Centers and maintaining the existing Spiritual Centers. This was to be done out of one’s own Free Will. Guru Arjan Dev made sure the right people represented The Guru and that the importance of keeping aside ten percent and the manner in which the money kept aside was used. Having appointed the right people, Sikhism spread, money poured in and the needs of the community were taken care of.
He toiled for the poor and the salt of the Earth but had King Akbar as a friend and follower as well as Saints, Sages, Pirs, Sufis as companions, who eventually to set an example, that a true child of God, never takes the easy road and even if He has to suffer, be tortured or die, does so with peace in the heart, a Prayer on the lips and God’s Love in the Soul.
Giants have gone. Psychotic midgets pander about as Gurus now.
So who is Guru Arjan Dev.
If you remember Guru Nanak is The First Guru. He appointed Guru Angad who lived for Nanak Baba. Then Guru Angad appointed Guru Amar Das (Amar Das who was seventy years old when He became The Guru, who used to carry water for Guru Angad and at night would walk backwards so as not to show His back to His beloved Guru).
Guru Amar Das was the Grand-Father of Guru Arjan Dev. Arjan Dev’s Father was The Fourth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das.
So the linage was rather spectacular.
Guru Arjan Dev was born on April 15, 1563, son of The Fourth Guru, Guru Ram Das. He had two elder brothers, the oldest being Prithi Chand, the latter who would all his life trouble Guru Arjan and even conspire to kill Him. In fact Prithi was very largely responsible in instigating his Brother’s death. Many believe the brother killed The Guru by torturing Him but historians are clear that Prithi died a few months if not weeks before Guru Arjan Dev left His physical body.
Prithi wanted to be appointed as the Fifth Guru. He was very intelligent and worldly wise and a very efficient administrator. In fact since a young age Prithi managed his Father, Guru Ram Das’s household and also the community kitchen, but to be A Guru, one needs to breathe and live from the heart and the Heart Chakra. Prithi operated from the head and thus hate, jealousy and ambition ruled his life.
Guru Arjan’s other brother, Mahadev was a recluse and when he interacted with others, he I have a feeling could not tolerate fools easily. He wasn’t interested in carrying the Cross of being a Guru. Wise chap.
When Guru Arjan was just a baby, He crawled into the room where His Grand-Father, The Third Guru, slept. Guru Amar Das saw His Grand-Son and predicted as well as blessed Him by putting His hand on The Child’s head and saying, “My maternal Grandson will ship The Name across.”
When He was barely thirteen or so, Guru Arjan was sent to attend a wedding in Lahore and His brother, made certain that He didn’t return for a long time. Some say for three years or so. It is said that Guru Arjan wrote The Sukhman Sahib during this absence from His family.
Prithi made sure that his younger Brother’s letters to Their Father were intercepted and The Father was kept away from the correspondence till truth came out in the open and Guru Arjan was called and made The Fifth Guru at the age of seventeen. This may seem a very young age to be given the fancy Cross to carry, but the letters were so spiritual, so insightful, filled with compassion and wisdom, that Guru Arjan’s Father saw it no reason to wait to appoint His successor.
At the age of nineteen The Guru was married. The Guru travelled and brought about a lot of change as well as established the spread of Sikhism far and wide. Have mentioned above, all that He did and His spiritual achievements and the friendship with King Akbar and Guru, an extremely spiritual man who donned the robes of royalty but had the soul of a Saint, came to be. In fact King Akbar visited Guru Arjan, sat down to eat in the community hall, as a simple devotee, spent time with Guru Arjan.
When instigators, especially His brother, tried to create an issue, by spreading the rumour that the Guru Granth Sahib spoke derogatorily of Islam, King Akbar was exceedingly saddened but then Guru Arjan’s friend, the great Saint Hazrat Mian Mir of Lahore, requested Akbar to first hear what was contained in The Great Book.
The moment King Akbar heard the first few paragraphs, He was overwhelmed. He wanted to give largess to Guru Arjan, but The Guru only requested that taxes for that year, in His surrounding area be done away with as the monsoons had failed and the poor farmers and their familieswould starve if they had to bear the additional burden of the taxes. King Akbar readily agreed, falling further in love with Guru Arjan.
Sikhism was spreading. Prithi then complained along with others who were envious that The Guru had wrongly grabbed all the family land and wealth. When the matter reached The Guru, He gave all the family wealth to both His brothers but refused to let anybody touch the ten percent that was collected from Sikh brethrens, making it clear, He had nothing to do with wealth, but the ten percent was for the welfare of the community. In fact the Muslim chief, appointed to sort this matter, was healed by The Guru, when The Guru chanted the Sukhmani Sahib.
Now King Akbar was a spiritual man who believed in one God with many Names. His son, Jehangir was a good man too but something obviously happened as he went nuts and became fanatical for power. King Akbar wanted to hand the reigns of His power to His grandson, Khusro. He was a pious man and liberal like King Akbar. Scholars have made it clear that Jehangir’s mother was a Hindu. King Akbar had another wife who was a Zoroastrian.
So history says that Jehangir poisoned his father and succeeded the second time. King Akbar died and then all hell broke loose.
King Akbar believed in the Oneness philosophy which the fanatics wanted to put an end to. Those worried about the rise of Sikhism, which included fanatics from other religions, conspired to put an end to Guru Arjan.
Khusro in battle with Jehangir, while passing through Punjab, met Guru Arjan. The Guru refused nobody food and shelter and blessings. Khusro was after a short time caught and blinded on Jehangir’s orders.
So the fanatics decided here was a perfect opportunity to finish Guru Arjan and strike a heavy blow to the spread of Sikhism.
Before He went to meet Jehangir Guru Arjan Dev appointed His Son, Hargobind, as the next Guru of the Sikhs. Thus The Sixth Guru of the Sikhs was Guru Hargobindji.
Two charges were levied against Guru Arjan. First was that He had given shelter to the enemy of the King and State and thus was a traitor and an instigator. The Guru was accused to have a hand in the rebellion and thus Jehangir wanted to punish him with death. Saint Hazrat Mian Mir intervened and spoke on behalf of Guru Arjan and thus instead of being put to death, a fine of two lakh rupees was imposed. Two lakh rupees in those days would mean a few crores or more now. It was an extravagant amount.
Second, far more serious charge was that The Guru Granth Sahib had a few verses that needed to be removed.
Guru Arjan refused to pay the fine and also to touch The Holy Book. He was clear that He wasn’t a criminal. If somebody came to Him, He would provide food and stay. This was the way Sikhs were meant to be. Food for all and provide shelter. And there was no question of touching The Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Arjan Dev was imprisoned. Some say it was Murtaza Khan, others name some Hindu chap, and some have given another name. Whosoever it was, he went about torturing The Guru in the most inhuman manner.
It is said that apart from not giving The Guru a drop of water, leave aside food, The Guru was forced to sit on a burning hot iron pan while burning sand was poured all over His naked body. He was bathed in boiling water and within a few days His body was covered with blisters. He was tormented and all the while countless Sikhs gathered outside with swords, ready to sacrifice their lives for their Guru, but they could not, as their Guru had given a firm warning that none would interfere. This was The Will of The One. He had done no wrong and thus He would pay no fine and not a word would change from The Holy Book but violence was not the way to prove one’s point. Also Guru Arjan wanted to send the message across to all His followers that when one believes in something and it involves your Master or your Faith, then death is a beautiful reward, a gift of divine release.
Saint Hazrat Mian Mir, who was a spiritual Giant and none dared to mess around with Him, was permitted to see His friend and companion. When He saw His friend, a mass of blood and blisters, He cried and pleaded with Guru Arjan to give Him permission to finish Jehangir’s rule and all those who obeyed the king once and for all. Saint Hazrat Mian Mir was known to have spiritual powers that were of a very High Order.
But Guru Arjan Dev it seems told His friend to look up. Saint Hazrat Mian Mir saw Angels too begging The Guru to give Them permission to finish the tyrant and his rule to safeguard The Guru. The Guru then softly told His friend, “Mian Mir, You are disturbed too soon. This is The Will of My God and Master and I happily accept and surrender to His Divine and Sweet Will.”
Saint Hazrat Mian Mir begged of The Guru to either allow Him to use His supernatural powers or The Guru Himself use the powers He possessed. And Guru Arjan Dev spoke one of the most beautiful sentences uttered. “I simply bear all this torture so that generations of Teachers of the True Name, may never lose patience or get upset with God when in time of pain and misery. The true test of faith is the hour of misery. Without examples to guide them, the minds of people tremble in the midst of suffering. The load of Karma is removed; I am freed therefrom.
From the sea I have reached the shore; The Guru hath done Me this favor.”
Saint Hazrat Mian Mir looked at His friend, knowing in the body this was the last time They would meet. Heartbroken, tears streaming down His face, He left.
The practice in those days was to stitch offenders in cowhide so that they suffocate within and die. But on second thought, I have a feeling, that the captors must have wanted to show their power and their fearlessness to the Sikhs waiting outside. To show the devotees that in front of them The Guru was just a mere mortal. So they brought Guru Arjan out, all covered in blood and blisters, to bathe in the cold waters of the River Ravi. The very thought of The Guru screaming in pain when the cold waters would touch His blistered body, appealed to the captors much more than a silent death by suffocation.
When The Guru was brought out, His disciples and devotees, all Sikhs, so you can well imagine, were about to forget even their Guru’s command to them, when Guru Arjan managed to speak these words, “Such is The Will of My God, submit to the Divine Will, move not, stand calm against all woes.”
He walked to the waterbed, looked around. There was a smile in His eyes, His lips moved chanting The Name. He entered the water. People say a bright Light descended or came forth from The Guru.
After a while all realised that The Guru’s body had disappeared too.
The body may have disappeared but the Sukhmani Sahib will remain for all eternity, spreading peace and Oneness.
Satnam Wahe Guru.
Ruzbeh N. Bharucha