Today in the morning when i was passing by Kalina Military Camp, Mumbai I saw some soldiers of the 25th Air Defense Regiment arranging for distribution of cold and sweetened water for all the passersby which is traditionally called 'Chabeel' . It was a rather nostalgic sight for me as I hail from Chandigarh where 'Chabeel' of this kind throughout the year is quite common and I have also many a time quenched my thirst by drinking from such 'Chabeel'.
As being a Punjabi myself, the next thing that came into my mind was to write about the relevance of these 'Chabeels' and the 'Langars'(community kitchens) and importantly to write about why these 'Chabeels' are arranged?
Throughout the year, the Sikh community arrange such 'chabeels' throughout the world as a gesture to pay homage to the teachings of the 10 gurus and to pay respect for the gurus who sacrificed their lives for the betterment of the society and the protection of faith.
One such historic event is today i.e. Guru Arjan Dev Ji Shaheedi Diwas(Guru Arjan Dev ji Martyrdom Day)
In this post we will tell you all about the significance of the 5th Sikh Guru Shree Arjan Dev Ji.
Guru Arjan Dev: A symbol of secularism.
Guru Arjan ; (15 April 1563 – 30 May 1606) was the first martyr of the Sikh faith and the fifth of the ten Sikh Gurus, who compiled the first official edition of the Sikh scripture called the Adi Granth, which later expanded into the Guru Granth Sahib (commentaries of all the sikh gurus compiled) . He was born in Goindval, Punjab the youngest son of Guru Ram Das and Mata Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das. He was the first Guru in Sikhism who was born in a Sikh family.
Guru Arjan led Sikhism for a quarter of a century. He completed the construction of Darbar Sahib at Amritsar.
Guru Arjan was arrested under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and asked to convert to Islam.He refused, was tortured and executed in 1606 A.D.
According to the Sikh tradition, before his execution, Guru Arjan instructed his son and successor Hargobind to take up arms, and resist tyranny. His execution led the Sikh Panth to become armed and pursue resistance to persecution under the Islamic rule.
Accordingly, as a gesture of this non-sectarian universalness of Sikhism, Guru Arjan had specially invited Muslim Sufi saint, Hazrat Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of the Harmandir Sahib(the Golden Temple). The four entrances (representing the four directions) to get into the Harmandir Sahib also symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions.
The Completion of The Golden Temple and the expansion of new Cities
The foundation of The Golden Temple i.e. The Harmandir Sahib was laid down by Guru Ram Das ji (father of Guru Arjan Dev) along with the city of Amritsar (literally, the tank of nectar of immortality). After the death of Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan Dev continued the infrastructure building effort of his father. The town expanded during the time of Guru Arjan, financed by donations and constructed by voluntary work. The pool area grew into a temple complex with the gurdwara Harmandir Sahib near the pool. Guru Arjan installed the scripture of Sikhism inside the new temple in 1604. The city that emerged is now known as Amritsar, and is the holiest pilgrimage site in Sikhism.
Continuing the efforts of Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan established Amritsar as a primary Sikh pilgrimage destination. He wrote a voluminous amount of Sikh scripture including the popular Sukhmani Sahib. Guru Arjan is credited with completing many other infrastructure projects, such as water reservoirs called Santokhsar (lake of peace) and Gangsar (lake of Ganga), founding the towns of Tarn Taran, Kartarpur and Hargobindpur.
Over 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship, and also partake jointly in the free community kitchen and meal (Langar) regardless of any distinctions, a tradition that is a hallmark of all Sikh Gurdwaras.
(The Golden Temple is the largest free-eatery in the world)
Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev
In 1606 Jahangir Supressed the rebellion of his son Prince Khusrau and the prince was imprisoned. The fifth Guru Arjan Dev was sentenced to torture and death for his blessing to the rebel prince and not stopping the to preach the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev.
The Guru was made to sit on a burning hot sheet while boiling hot sand was poured over his body. After enduring five days of unrelenting torture, Guru Arjan Dev Ji was taken for a bath in the river. As thousands watched he entered the river, never to be seen again.
The Texts from "Tuzuk-i-Jahagiri"
"In Goindwal, which is on the river Biyah (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjan, in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captured many of the simple-hearted of the Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru, and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations (of spiritual successors) they had kept this shop warm. Many times it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam."
"At last when Khusrau passed along this road this insignificant fellow proposed to wait upon him. Khusrau happened to halt at the place where he was, and he came out and did homage to him. He behaved to Khusrau in certain special ways, and made on his forehead a finger-mark in saffron, which the Hinduwan (the people of India) call qashqa, (Tilak) and is considered propitious. When this came to my ears and I clearly understood his folly, I ordered them to produce him and handed over his houses, dwelling-places, and children to Murtaza Khan, and having confiscated his property commanded that he should be put to death."
The 1st Day of Torture
Guru Arjan Dev was not given anything to eat or drink. He was not allowed to sleep at night and was kept awake. He bore all this calmly. He remained immersed in Simran and repeated from his lips, "Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru..." and sang Shabads from the Gurbani.
The 2nd day of Torture
On the following day, the Guru was made to sit in a large copper cauldron. He had his men fill the vessel with water and ordered a fire to be lit underneath it. The water began to get hot and after some time, the water began to boil. It scalded the Guru's body, but Guru Arjan Dev sat calmly and quietly. He felt no pain, nor did he cry out or even sigh. He felt no anger against those who were torturing him. He remained absorbed in the sweet remembrance of Waheguru and repeated,
"All is happening, O Waheguru, according to Thy Will. Thy Will is ever sweet to me."
The boiling water made the Guru's flesh soft and his body blistered for the length of the torture.
Day 3 of Torture
On the third day, Chandu Shah(one of the hindi ministers in Jahangir's court) ordered, "Make some sand red hot in iron pans. Seat the Guru in boiling water. Then pour the red hot sand on his head and body." The water boiled the Guru's flesh from below while the burning red hot sand burned the Guru's head and body from above. The persons engaged in torturing him were wet with sweat. They felt very uncomfortable because of the heat. It was the hottest summer month. But Guru Arjan Dev kept calm and quiet. Again, the Guru felt no pain, nor did he cry out, sigh, or feel anger. He kept thinking of Waheguru and doing Simran. Guru Ji repeated:
Teraa kee-aa meethaa laagai.O Waheguru!
(Your actions seem so sweet to me)
Har naam padaarath naanak maaNgai.
(Nanak begs for the treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Lord)
His friend and devotee, Mian Mir, a Muslim saint, rushed to see him. When Mian Mir saw the ghastly scene, he cried out and said, "O Master! I cannot bear to see these horrors inflicted on thee. If you permit me, I would demolish this tyrant rule" (Mian Mir is said to have possessed supernatural powers at that time). The Guru smiled and asked Mian Mir to look towards the skies. It is said that Mian Mir saw Angels begging the Guru's permission to destroy the wicked and the proud.
Guru Sahib said, "All is happening in accordance with the will of Waheguru. Men who stand for Truth have to suffer often. Their sufferings give strength to the cause of Truth. Go, brother. Pray for me. Pray for the success of my cause. Pray for victory to truth."
Mian Mir asked, "Why are you enduring suffering at the hands of these vile sinners when I possess superpowers?"
The Guru replied, "I bear all this torture to set an example to the Teachers of the True Name, that they may not lose patience or rail against God in affliction. The true test of faith is in the hour of misery. Without examples to guide them, ordinary people's minds would tremble in the midst of suffering." Upon hearing this, Mian Mir departed, commending the Guru's fortitude and singing his praises.
Day 4 of Torture
On the fourth day, the Guru was made to sit on a plate of iron that was heated from below until it became red hot. Then, scalding hot sand was poured over his body. Guru Arjan Dev sat calm and quite, without a cry or sigh, feeling no pain. He sat with his mind fixed on Waheguru, living the message of Gurbani as he accepted the Will of Waheguru sweetly.
Day 5 of Torture
On the fifth day, Chandu Shah thought to suffocate him in a fresh cowhide, in which he was to be sewn up. Instead the Guru asked for a bath in the Ravi River which flowed along the walls of the city of Lahore. Chandu reveled at the thought that the Guru's body, full of blisters, would undergo greater pain when dipped in cold water and so he permitted him to bathe in the river. The soldiers were sent to escort the Guru and his disciples saw him leaving. He looked at them, and still forbade any action. He said, "Such is the Will of my God, submit to the Divine Will, move not, stand calm against all woes."
Crowds watched the Guru standing in the river and having a dip. Light blended with Light and the body was nowehere to be found. His disciples cried, "Hail to the Master! Thou art Wonderful - Martyr, the greatest. Thou art the Greatest!"
Guru Arjan Dev Ji sowed the seed of martyrdom, which became the heritage of the Sikhs.
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In the end i would like to say that the sikh community is a community which is known for sacrifices, be it for faith, humanity, dignity of women, nation or religion.
It has been rightly said by Legendary Singer Gurdas Maan in one his songs:
" marjaneya maana ve, guru di sikhi barhi neyari sir katt-da katt jave, sikh di keyam rahe sardari"
(Guru's teachings are very peculiar, he says that you should always abide by your faith even if your head goes off for the protection of humanity)