Guru Arjan Dev: First martyr of Sikh Faith
During his time, there had sprung a kind of civic administration under him which collected the offerings of the people at large for the upkeep of the Sikh cities, temples and tanks. The Guru-ka-langar also flourished a lot in his time. He had said distinctly and specifically that he who finds the way to peace or liberation, earns his own living, and gives something out of that in charity. He had always made it known to his disciples and even to others that he was always there for their protection and support, and that their sincere prayers to him would never be in vain. One of Guru Arjan’s maxims in life was to embrace him who sought his protection. He considered it the duty of all religious teachers. The Guru also emphasized over and over again to never worship a man. According to him, there was no difference between Guru and God, because a Guru is created by God – by His own divine light. He warned people that if they took to personality-worship for their own selfish reasons, their whole life would be spoiled and wasted. He asked his disciples to always chant God’s name, since it was the medicine for all diseases.
Guru Arjan’s contribution towards the development and strengthening of the Sikh sect was that he made it into a theocratic community by giving it a code, a capital, a treasury and a chief in the person of the Guru.
The Guru gave his life for the values he cherished. He was the embodiment of all that Guru Nanak and the three successive Gurus stood for. The Sikhs combined in themselves the best of Islam and Hinduism and dispensed with all rites, rituals and distinctions among men. Sikhism under him comprised only love of God and of humanity. The completion of the Holy tank called Amritsar, and the Hari Mandir known as the Golden Temple gave the Sikh community a sense of solidarity. The town of Amritsar (Holy city in Punjab) grew into a metropolis for the Sikhs all over the world. The Holy Granth compiled by Guru Arjan Dev served as the guiding light for people.
The work that Guru Arjan Dev accomplished in his forty-three years was monumental. He also left a massive volume of 2,218 hymns which are not only melodious but also rich with beautiful imageries. His long poem, the Sukhmani, the Psalm of Peace, ranks next to the Japji in its popularity.
Guru Arjan was a practical saint. Though he asked his son to sit on the throne of the Guru, fully armed and prepared for the struggle ahead, he willingly gave up his life, accepting God’s will completely.