Guru Arjan Dev: New Sikh Guru – When Prithi Chand, Guru Arjan Dev’s elder brother, came to know of it, he refused to accept him as the new Guru. When Guru Arjan Dev was presented the turban of the Guru by Guru Amardas’s son, Mohri, Prithi Chand objected vehemently. He claimed that at the eldest son of Guru Ram Das, he was the occupant of the seat and that the turban should have been offered to him instead of Arjan Dev ji. When the new Guru heard of it, he immediately went up to his elder brother and presented him the turban. Not only that, he even left Goindwal for his new township to avoid any further confrontation with his brother. For him, the seat was not important at all, it was the continuation of his father and Guru’s work that really mattered to him.
But Prithi Chand was not reconciled at all. He knew that even if Guru Arjan Dev ji resigned the seat to him, the whole Sikh sangat would never accept him. They would still consider Arjan Dev ji as their Guru. So he started thinking of ways and means to get Arjan Dev ji out of his way. Guru Arjan Dev, however, did not give even a single thought to Prithi Chand. He was very engrossed in his own work as a Guru.
In 1579, Guru Arjan Dev got married to Gangadevi, daughter of Shri Krishna Chandra who was the inhabitant of village Man in Jalandhar district. After this, Guru Arjan devoted himself wholeheartedly to religious and altruistic deeds. Under Guru Arjan, the Sikhs became a distinct community and the secular nature of the community was revealed. Soon it began to take shape as a sect, different from others. The teachings of the first four Gurus began to show results. The community developed a new religious outlook, customs, habits and ways of worshiping God. Guru Arjan Dev taught them to worship only one God – the Immortal One, all powerful and all pervading. One of the most progressive changes was that the rigid caste system showed signs of extinction. The distinction between high and low was fast disappearing and a new society was taking shape. Guru Arjan told everyone that Guru Nanak had himself rejected the caste system of the Hindus by saying that there is no higher caste or lower caste. It’s one’s deeds that determine whether one is good or bad, high or low. Guru Arjan did everything he could do to abolish this difference. He preached that one must work and earn, and share one’s earnings with others.
Guru Arjan’s own humility was unparalleled, and he tried to cultivate this virtue even in his disciples. There was no trace of self in him. He emphasized with actions that more important than the Guru were the Guru’s Sikhs. In him, was the culmination of all that Guru Nanak stood for. He combined in his teachings the best of Hinduism and Islam. Rather than alienating anyone, he preferred a mutual understanding. He was venerated equally by the Muslims and the Hindus since they knew that he was peace-loving, devoted to meditation and prayers, and to the service of men. Sikhism under Guru Arjan dispensed with all rites and rituals and worship of idols. It comprised solely of love of God and service of humanity.
Under the Guru’s preaching and guidance, people from various castes, professionals and religions came into the fold of the Sikhism. The gospel of Guru Nanak and the spirit of Sikh religion was now evident in all walks of life.
Many affluent and influential people entered Sikhism. They placed their wealth at the Guru’s feet and with its help the Sikh movement, under Guru Arjan Dev, became widespread and popular. The Guru utilized the generously donated wealth for the welfare and uplift of his people. At Amritsar he busied himself with completing the holy tanks of Santokhsar and Amritsar. Though Guru Arjan was a man of letters and a poet of eminence, he was highly organized and practical. Since he undertook various massive construction works, he set up brick kilns to bake bricks. With a view to making Amritsar a self-sufficient town, he invited skilled workers of all crafts to settle there. Traders from Kashmir and Kabul were encouraged so that Amritsar became an important commercial center in Punjab. He also finished all the work that was left incomplete by his father, Guru Ram Das.
When the Guru was working at the Santokhsar tank an amazing incident took place. When the excavations were being done there, the digger happened to come upon a tiny hut in which they saw a yogi squatting in deep meditation. He was immediately taken out of there and given a massage. When he regained consciousness and saw Guru Arjan Dev, he was ecstatic. Finally at his feet, he revealed that ages ago he had been blessed by his Guru who had said that he would meet Guru Arjan Dev in kaliyug and attain deliverance at his hands. Ever since then, he had been in meditation waiting for the day when he would behold Guru Arjan Dev.
In 1858, Santokhsar was completed. After this, Guru Arjan Dev devoted his attention to the completion of Amritsar – the tank of nectar. He got the foundation stone of Hari Mandir (the Golden Temple) laid by the famous and revered Muslim, Saint Mian Mir. Guru Arjan Dev ordained that this temple was to be open to everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, sex and religion, and that people could go in and worship as they pleased. When his followers entreated that the temple be the largest building in town, Guru Arjan Dev told them that their temple was to be the symbol of the virtue and of humility, and so it would be constructed on as low an elevation as possible. With the resources and single-minded dedication of the Sikhs, the construction of the holy tank and temple made rapid progress. With its completion Guru Arjan Dev gave the credit for it to Guru Ram Das and said that whoever took a dip in this holy tank of Ram Das would be cleansed of all sins.