Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji was sat upon a burning hot iron plate and had boiling water poured over them.

 Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the 5th successor...

Guru Arjan Dev Ji was the 5th successor of the divine light of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji (The founder of Sikh religion). He was born on 15th April, 1563, in the house of Guru Ram Das Ji, the 4th successor of the divine light. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was an embodiment of divine devotion, selfless service and universal love. During his times the Sikh religion was gaining popularity with large number of followers throughout India. The Guru had become very popular among masses due to his simple message of love and service to humanity. He himself served free food and gave medical aid to people for 8 months when in 1597 Lahore’s streets were stinking with dead bodies due to disease and famine.

Two of the everlasting contributions of the Guru towards the Sikh religion are; the construction of Harimander Sahib, Amritsar (known to westerns as the Golden Temple) and compilation and installation of the Aad Granth (later known as Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sacred Scripture, the ‘Living Voice’ of spiritual wisdom) in 1604. The Aad Granth embodied the spirit of Truth revealed by God through the first five Gurus and the chosen Holy Saints who were born in Hindu and Muslim homes from various social backgrounds. The Holy Words provided a connection with God’s love and values, ideals, and spirituality to guide and inspire humanity.

The ever increasing popularity of the Guru and the completion and installation of the Aad Granth were taken as a danger to the established religions of Islam and Hinduism and hence their leaders conspired against the Guru and complaints were lodged to the rulers. The Guru had also become a power to be reckoned that Khusro, the prince, also sought his blessings and support. A mixture of influences from orthodox Muslim and Hindu leaders, enemies such as Chandu, Prithia (his own brother) and an intolerance towards the universal message revealed in the Aad Granth motivated Emperor Jahangir to issue a decree against the Guru as stated in his personal accounts in Tuzak-i-Jahangiri.

The Guru was tortured and executed on the orders of Mogul Emperor Jahangir on 13th May 1606. Saint Xavier a Father from Portugal was then in Lahore where the Guru was tortured. He wrote on 25th September 1606, “The Guru was kept hungry and every day tortured differently. The good Pope died, overwhelmed by the sufferings, tortures and dishonors.” Tortures like boiling in water, stoning etc. were inflicted for five days. The last torture that led to the Guru’s martyrdom was that he was made to sit on a hot plate whilst burning hot sand was poured over his head and body. The Guru did not curse his torturers or ask for God’s help, instead he was an Ocean of Peace which echoed the divine word, “I accept Your Will sweetly. I only beg for the treasure of Your Divine Name.”

One marvels at the moral steadfastness that Guru showed. The Guru endured inexpressible tortures leading to his death with utter calmness and complete submission to the Will of God. He was truly an Apostle of Peace with hatred towards none— not even for his enemies. “No one is my enemy, and no one is a stranger. I get along with everyone” (Guru Granth Sahib: 1299).

Persecution of Sikhs started with martyrdom of the 5th Guru which resulted in countless sacrifices throughout history till the present day. Just as the Guru showed, Sikhs throughout history showed courage, fearlessness and calmness when they were inflicted tortures by tyrant rulers.

The Sikh Gurus showed their follower through their own exemplary acts that a Sikh is always prepared to lay down his life for the human rights of others to live freely and without fear. “Fear none, and frighten none” (Guru Granth Sahib: 1427). For instance, the 9th Master Guru Teg Bahadar Sahib got martyred on 11th November 1675 in Delhi for the human rights of Hindus to live freely without persecution even though he was not part of that religion or shared its beliefs. The Guru showed that a Sikh is willing to defend and even die for another religion or community in the cause of righteousness. This principal was lived up to during the two World Wars when 200,000 turbaned Sikh soldiers defended the freedom of Britain and Europe; 83,005 were killed and 109,045 were wounded.

Sikhi is the most modern religion that stands boldly before modern science. It recognises that there is One Creator who is father and mother of all and that all living beings have a spark of God within them. A Sikh rises above the labels of religion, race, gender and age and recognises that all human beings deserve respect, dignity, and love. Sikhi’s three pillars: remembrance of God, honest work and sharing with others provides the foundation for a spiritually balanced life that leads to contentment, peace and happiness.

While remembering the sacrifice of the 5th Master in the hot month of June, Sikhs in Coventry offer free soft-cold drinks to all, and hope that as you feel cool and relaxed, we can also reflect on working towards bringing calmness, peace and harmony to the world