The martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev ji gave a new direction to the course of history of the Punjab.
It was caused because of the bigotry of Jahangir.
He came to throne in October 1605. He ordered the execution of Guru Arjan Dev through tortures in May 1606. The Guru was boiled in cauldron. He was made to sit on a red hot iron pan. Burning sand was poured over him. Thereafter, he was thrown into the river, Ravi. He bore all the ordeals treating them as the will of God. He did not blame any one. He did not utter a cry. He kept meditating.
He endured all those sufferings for his faith and for the Divine love. His only offence was that his teachings were dear to both Hindus and Muslims.
Not only the Hindus, but also the Muslims by and large were becoming his followers. In the words of Jahangir himself, they (the Muslims) blew his trumpet. In fact, they liked his teachings. The fanatic Mullhas and the bigoted Emperor, Jahangir could not tolerate it. Thus, the Holiest saint was inhumanly tortured to death.
Guru Har Gobind Ji was just a boy of eleven, when his father made the crown sacrifice. Before leaving for Lahore, Guru Arjan Dev Ji had instructed Baba Budda Ji and other Sikhs to install Har Gobind as their Guru after him.
The news of Guru ArjarVs martyrdom reached Amritsar. The Sikhs were sad, but Har Gobind kept his calm. He said, ‘There should be no mourning.
Baba Budda Ji and other Sikhs will read thfe Granth Sahib and the Ragis (musicians) will sing the Guru’s hymns.” The reading of Granth Sahib and the recitation of Shabads lasted for ten days.
Then prayers were offered and sacred food (Krah Parshad) was distributed among the assembled Sikhs. Thus ended the rites for Guru Arjan Dev’s Martyrdom.
After it, Baba Budda Ji led Guru Har Gobind to the throne. He seated him on the Guru’s throne.
He, then, placed a Seli before the Guru and requested him to wear it. A Seli was a sort of woolen cord. The holymen wore it either round their neck or tied it round their forehead. The first five Gurus had either tied it round their forehead or worn it as a necklace.
Guru HarGobind did not wear the Seli. He said to Baba Budda/’Please preserve the Seli in the Toshakhana (Treasury). I am not going to wear it.
Time has now changed. In place of it, I shall wear two swords. On my right side, I shall wear the sword of Piri and on my left side, I shall wear the sword of Miri.”
The Sikhs were in confusion. They did not understnad the motive of their Guru by wearing the swords of Miri and Piri.
Guru HarGobind Ji, though still a boy, was very wise and farsightedjFinding that the Sikhs were in confusion he explained, “We will have to change ourselves with the changing times. We are exposed to the tyrannical rule of the bigots. Our infant Church is in danger. The enemies of our faith are bent upon destroying it. They seem to have resolved to uproot the tree of our faith root and branch. Guru Arjan Dev has given the supreme sacrifice for his faith. We have to defend it against the onslaughts of the adversaries. We shall also have to maintain the saintly character enshrined by Guru Nanak and the successive Gurus. Thus, my Sikhs will now be the saint-soldiers. They will be saints as far as personal character and religious matters are concerned. They will be soldiers, ready to face the enemy of their faith in the battle-field . But their fight will be only for the right cause. It will be foV the defence of their faith.”
Some Sikhs thought that the new path of the Guru was different from the one adopted by the previous Gurus. But Bhai Gurdas and other Sikhs later on admitted that Guru Nanak and the other Gurus too, had taught them to accept the challenge of the oppressors. Oppression must be fought against. To fight against oppression should be treated as God’s decree.
The Guru said to the Sikhs, “Henceforth, I shall wear the swords of Miri and Piri. The sword of Piri denotes that I am your spiritual leader. I shall guide you in your religious matters. The sword of Miri will be the symbol of my temporal powers. I shall guide you in your worldly affairs too. Now onwards, I shall be a saint as well as a warrior.”
There were Masands all over the country.
Masands were the preachers as well as Guru’s officials. They had their specific area of operation, where they preached the teachings of the Guru.
They also collected the offerings from the Sikhs.
It was obligatory for the true Sikh to contribute 1/1 0 of his income to the Guru’s Langar and other welfare works. The Masands visited the Guru on important occasions and presented their collections to him. The Guru sent message to the Masands to ask the Sikhs to pay the tithe in the form of horses and weapons.
The Guru built the Akal Takhat facing Harmandar Sahib. A platform, identical to a king’s throne in shape, was built in the building of the Akal Takhat. Here he sat like kings during the day. It was here that the offerings were accepted. Here he settled the disputes among the Sikhs. Sitting on this throne he watched the wrestling matches, feats of swords-man-ship and other war like acts of the warriors. It was here that the musicians and singers sang war songs and ballads. All those activities were aimed at transforming the Sikhs into invincible saint- soldiers.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji had taken extraordinary care in bringing up Har Gobind. He was imparted the best training in horse riding, swords-man-ship and archery under the guidance of Baba Budda Ji.
Guru Har Gobind grew to be the finest sportsman, strong in body and towering in personality. He was the most handsome man of his times. He wanted to see his Sikhs strong in body and mind, but pious and pure at heart.
While sitting in the Harmandar Sahib during morning and evening sessions, he attended only to the spiritual matters. Nothing of the political nature was discussed there. The Kirtan of Gurbani and the reading of Granth Sahib’ were the only activities undertaken there. Here Guru Har Gobind Ji acted as the spiritual guide to his Sikhs. The Akal Takhat became the seat, where political and worldly affairs were discussed.
The wearing of two swords of Piri and Miri had made Guru Har Gobind both the religious as well as the political leader of the Sikhs. His followers began to address him as the True King (Sachcha Padshah). For them, he was the Lord of two worlds i.e. the present and the next.