Guru Arjan Dev was an obedient son, a great saint, and the embodiment of love and modesty. He was also the first Sikh Guru to be martyred. The Guru grew up in Goindwal, Punjab, his humble upbringing deeply influenced by a pious atmosphere. Possessing a sharp and keen sense of words, the Guru expressed his feelings and thoughts through poetry. His divine compositions touched Guru Ram Das’s heart and at the age of eighteen he was made the fifth Sikh Guru.
He completed the construction of the holy tank and built the sacred temple, Harmandir Sahib. The first holy book, Pothi Sahib, was compiled under his supervision. It contained the hymns of the Sikh Gurus and other Hindu and Muslim saints. It was installed in Harmandir Sahib in 1604. Even Emperor Akbar bowed before it, finding its hymns to be soothing and sublime.
In May 1606, Guru Arjan Dev was summoned to the Mughal court by Emperor Jehangir. The Guru was falsely accused of treachery and told to embrace Islam. He refused. In an act of sheer vengeance, Guru Arjan Dev was sentenced to be tortured till death. He was seated in boiling water and placed upon a scorching pan while hot sand was poured over his blistered body.
But the Guru exhibited no pain and accepted his fate as God’s will. After five torturous days, he was thrown into the cold waters of the Ravi River. Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom was the beginning of a new era in Sikh history, the uprising of the Sikhs against the Mughal empire.
In the words of Bhai Gurdas – I am a sacrifice unto Guru Arjan, the perfect one.