Guru Arjan Dev - Life, Martyrdom And Legacy - Book By Prof. Prithipal Singh Kapur

Publisher: Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee
Authors: Prithipal Singh Kapoor (Editor)
Page: 181
Format: Hardbound
Language: English/Punjabi
Product Code: CFT106
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Introduction to the Book 'Guru Arjan Dev Life, Martyrdom And Legacy' By Prof. Prithipal Singh Kapur

One of the greatest spiritual masters of the world and a prince among the martyrs, Guru Arjan Dev, placed the Sikh ideal of martyrdom at a very high pedestal. The twenty-five year period of the pontificate of Guru Arjan Dev, coming half way between Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh, saw multi-dimensional growth and development of Sikhism. By compiling the Adi Granth and installing it in the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple in 1604, Guru Arjan Dev laid the foundation of the interfaith movement, which is becoming increasingly popular these days.

The Sikh faith acquired a strong scriptural, doctrinal and organizational base under the Guruship of Guru Arjan Dev and became a potential force for a cultural renaissance in Panjab. Increasing popularity of the Sikh movement under Guru Arjan Dev attracted religious fanaticism of the contemporary Mughal Emperor Jahangir who claimed himself as protector of Islam. This is evident from the Emperor's memoirs called Tuzk-i-Jahangiri.

With a view to check the growing popularity of the Guru and Sikh movement the Emperor ordered the execution of the Guru through tortures under the Mongol laws of Yasa which were generally applied in the case of spiritual leaders. Guru Arjan Dev's martyrdom proved to be a turning point in Sikh history. It was not surprising therefore to find his son and the successor, Guru Hargobind, donning the swords of Miri and Piri providing leadership to the community both in temporal and spiritual affairs. 

Based on scholarly writings and works of art taken from different sources at home and abroad, this book tries to construct the life and times of Guru Arjan Dev and the unique role he played in the Sikh history.

Preface

Son of Guru Ramdas and Bibi Bhani, Guru Arjan Dev was one of the greatest spiritual masters of the world. He was favourite of maternal grandfather, Guru Amardas who blessed him saying, - Eh mera Dohta, Bani ka Bohita - (this grandson of mine will cruise people across the ocean of life). On assuming the Guruship, he fulfilled the prophesy. He not only compiled a unique scripture, the Adi Granth but also provided leadership to the growing Sikh community. It was under his fostering care that the Sikh faith acquired strong scriptural, doctrinal and organizational base and became a potential force heralding a new religious, cultural and social renaissance in Panjab. 

Guru Arjan Dev was a great organizer and builder of cities and baolis. In addition to the completion of the sacred tank and construction of the Harimandir at Amritsar, the spiritual capital of the Sikh faith, the Guru also built the towns of Tarn Taran, Kartarpur and Sri Hargobindpur. To provide facilities of drinking water the Guru also built a number of baolis. Increasing popularity of the Sikh movement under the Guru and machination of Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi and Chandu, main instigators, attracted religious fanaticism of the contemporary Mughal Emperor, Jahangir who claimed himself as protector of Islam. To curb the growing popularity of the Guru and the Sikh movement, the Emperor ordered the execution of the Guru through tortures under the Mongol laws of Yasa.

Guru Arjan Dev's martyrdom proved to be the turning point in Sikh history. It was not surprising, therefore, to find his son and the successor, Guru Hargobind, donning the swords of Miri and Piri and providing leadership to the community both in temporal and spiritual affairs.

The Sikh community is blessed that it is observing 400th year of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the prince among the martyrs, by organizing various functions in different parts of India and a major function in Dera Sahib, Lahore, where the Guru was martyred. It is a matter of great satisfaction that we are paying homage to the Guru by bringing out a new edition of the book containing scholarly essays and works of art, constructing life and times of the Guru. I offer my thanks to Prof. Prithipal Singh Kapur and Dr. Mohinder Singh, who have ably edited the volume and to Mr. Bhupinder Chowdhri of the Himalayan Books who has agreed to publish this book.

(HARVINDER SINGH SARNA)
President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara
Management Committee

EDITORIAL NOTE

An exclusive but interesting features of the Sikhs faith is the spiritual lineage of ten Gurus from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Gobind Singh. Their unison in spirit and thought is much emphasized. The process of transformation of Lehna to Angad, the second Guru, is to be noted and understood in this context. Var Ramkali also known as Tikke di Var (coronation ode) by Satta-Balwand, included in the Adi Granth graphically explains this phenomenon. Guru Arjan was the fifth in the spiritual lineage, quadcentenary of whose martyrdom is being observed this year by the Sikh Panth with solemnity and gratitude. The American perception of this event is recorded in a poem found in The History of Sikh Dharma in the Wetern Hemisphere, which brings out full-well the importance of martyrdom of the great Guru:

Guru Arjan Dev gave his life to stand for what was right.

He was burnt and tortured, for five long days and nights.

            He could have stopped it, any time;

               just by giving in.

            He strength a solid wall,

           he never gave an inch at all.

Guru Arjan's was the first entry in the long Sikh martyrology which again remains a special feature of Sikh history. Guru Arjan's martyrdom was a challenge to one of the mightiest empires of his time and it placed the Sikh ideal of martyrdom at a very high pedestal. The poise and fortitude, with which he faced the tortures perpetrated on him as the will of the Almighty , became precept for the martyrs of Sikh faith who followed him.

The twenty-five year period of the pontificate of Guru Arjan Dev, coming half way between Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh, saw multi-dimensional growth and development of Sikhism. His hectic tours of the Bari, Rachna and Jalandhar Doabs of the Panjab brought hordes of people to the fold of Sikhism. That was alarming situation for the leaders of Hinduism and Islam. Guru Arjan's concern for the starving and ailing people made him extremely popular even with those who did not believe in Sikhism. A prominent Sufi saint of the time, Hazrat Mian Mir became one of his admirers. The compilation of the Adi Granth, the scripture and presently, Guru-manifest of the Sikh faith, came not only as a surprise but also as jolt to the orthodoxy of both Hinduism and Islam.  It included the sayings of two Muslim Sufi saints, Farid and Bhikhan and some fifteen Hindu Bhaktas. This very fact brought out the catholic character of the Sikh movement that Guru Nanak Dev had so eloquently emphasized, since the time he came forth with his gospel.

A multi-dimensional study was needed to comprehend the achievements of Guru Arjan Dev as also the impact of his martyrdom on the history of Sikh Panth. It was with this end in view that the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee responded positively to the idea of organizing an international seminar making an intensive study possible by involving a galaxy of scholars. We must say that Sardar Harvinder Singh Sarna, President, D.S.G.M.C., Sardar Paramjit Singh Sarna, President, Delhi State Akali Dal and Sardar Manjit Singh Calcutta, former Minister for Higher Education, Panjab, and now Chairman of the International Sikh Mission have put in incessant efforts to make it possible.

Bringing out a souvenir befitting the occasion was thought to be another exercise worth making. Although our hands were full with working-out details of the seminar, the encouragement and support that we received from the above named three personages at the helm of D.S.G.M.C. Martyrdom quadcentenary programmes enabled us to bring out an off-beat publication befitting the occasion wherein various facets of the life , work and martyrdom of the great Guru have been brought into focus. The Adi Granth and the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev have inevitably remained at the centre of all the studies by the eminent scholars whose contributions have been included, yet we have endeavoured to take care of other concerns of the Guru, such as seva, the sangat, compassion for the poor, hungry and the ailing that are so deeply embedded in the Sikh tradition, visually. Two articles of Dr. Ganda Singh, the doyen of Panjab historians and Sirdar Kapur Singh, formerly I.C.S., have been included as classic studies while in other the discerning readers will surely find a flavour of freshness.

Dr. Amrik Singh (eminent educationist and Acting President, Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan) and Dr. J. S. Neki (accomplished scholar on Sikh theology and Hony. General Secretary of Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan) made their constant counsel and guidance available to us which we gratefully acknowledge. We also wish to thank the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Amritsar, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Delhi and management of Gurdwara Tarn Taran, and to various artists and scholars whose works are included in this volume. Special thanks are due to Shri Bhupinder Chowdhari of the Himalayan Books for organizing the printing of this souvenir at a rather short notice.

We are also thankful to the National Institute of Panjab studies for allowing us to use some of the photographs from their collection.

Prithipal Singh Kapur Mohinder Singh
(formerly Pro-Vice-Chancellor) (Director,
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar National Institute of Panjab Studies
  Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi)

About the Author 'Professor Prithipal Singh Kapur' of the Book 'Guru Arjan Dev Life, Martyrydom and Legacy'

Professor Prithipal Singh Kapur  is an educationist-historian-columnist of repute, who has authored/edited over a dozen publications. He started his career as a Research Scholar at the National Archives of India where he worked along with Dr. S. N. Sen, an eminent historian. For a while, he also worked with the Sikh History Research Department , Khalsa College, Amritsar, to collect material on "Contribution of the Sikhs towards struggle for freedom of India". He earned eminence and admiration as Post-graduate teacher of History while at Govt. College, Hoshiarpur, Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar and Punjabi University, Patiala. Prof. Kapur entered the arena of education-administration as a Principal of degree college and subsequently held such prestigious assignments as the Director of Panjab State University Text Book Board and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

About the Author 'Dr. Mohinder Singh' of the Book 'Guru Arjan Dev Life, Martyrydom and Legacy'

Dr. Mohinder Singh before joining as the Director of the National Institute of Panjab Studies, Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi, served as the Director of Guru Nanak foundation. In 1974, Dr. Mohinder Singh was awarded fellowship by the Indian Council of Historical Research to carry his research forward in the United Kingdom on the Akali Movement, which subsequently earned him his Doctorate. Author of several standards works on Sikh history and religion, Dr. Singh sits on the Advisory Boards of several national and international organizations. He has lectured at several Indian and foreign universities including University of California, Berkeley, as a visiting Fulbright Fellow. Presently Dr. Singh is serving as a Member of the National Commission For Religious and Linguistic Minorities, Government of India.

 

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