In Sikh history, the influence of grandparents in shaping the lives of their grandchildren is a recurring theme. One of the most profound examples of this influence can be seen in the life of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, whose legacy of sacrifice and devotion left an indelible mark on his descendants, ultimately shaping the destiny of the Sikh faith itself.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, born on April 15, 1563, was the fifth Guru of Sikhism. His early years were profoundly influenced by the company of his maternal grandfather, Guru Amar Das, the third Sikh Guru. This close bond with his grandfather laid the foundation for Guru Arjan’s spiritual and moral development. It is said that Guru Amar Das blessed the young Arjan, foreseeing his future role as a guardian of Sikhism: “Grandson will be a great ship to carry the Word of God (Bani).”
Under the guidance of Guru Amar Das, Guru Arjan received a comprehensive education, both in Sikh teachings and worldly knowledge. He was a scholar and a builder, known for his exceptional contributions to Sikhism. He played a pivotal role in the construction of the Sarovar (lake) and the iconic Darbar Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, in the heart of the Sarovar. Guru Arjan’s most enduring contribution was the compilation of the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, in which his own 2,313 compositions make him the single largest contributor. His work, Sukhmani Sahib, continues to offer solace and spiritual enrichment to those seeking inner peace.
However, Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s legacy extends beyond his scholarly and architectural achievements. He set a powerful precedent by sacrificing his own life for his principles. His martyrdom in 1606 marked a significant chapter in Sikh history. Emperor Jahangir, alarmed by Guru Ji’s popularity, sought a pretext to arrest him. He accused Guru Ji of providing shelter to his own son Khusro, who had rebelled against the emperor. This led to Guru Ji’s arrest and subsequent torture. He endured unimaginable suffering, ultimately sacrificing his life for his faith.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s life was characterized by four outstanding contributions: the construction of Darbar Sahib, the compilation of the Adi Granth, the composition of Sukhmani Sahib, and his martyrdom. These contributions have immortalized him in history as a true guardian of Sikhism.
The impact of Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s life did not end with his martyrdom. His teachings and sacrifices resonated deeply with his descendants, particularly his grandson, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Guru Tegh Bahadur, born in 1621, was profoundly influenced by the stories and teachings of his grandfather, despite never having the chance to meet him personally. The spirit of sacrifice and unwavering commitment to one’s faith that Guru Arjan exemplified was instilled in Guru Tegh Bahadur from a young age.
Guru Tegh Bahadur’s own martyrdom in 1675, where he sacrificed his life to protect the rights of another faith, was a direct continuation of the legacy initiated by Guru Arjan Dev Ji. He stood up against religious oppression and tyranny, upholding the principles of justice and freedom of religion.
This legacy of sacrifice and devotion continued through subsequent generations of Sikh Gurus and their families. Baba Ajit Singh, inspired by his grandfather Guru Tegh Bahadur’s bravery, embraced a life of valor and became a warrior for Sikhism. He, along with his brother Baba Jujhar Singh, valiantly fought against the Mughal forces during the battle of Chamkaur.
The sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh, who were brutally martyred at a tender age, showcased unwavering faith and courage. Even in the face of adversity and certain death, they refused to renounce their faith, setting a remarkable example of resilience.
The legacy of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, characterized by his contributions, his martyrdom, and his influence on subsequent generations, continues to inspire millions of Sikhs worldwide. It serves as a testament to the enduring power of faith, sacrifice, and the profound impact that grandparents can have on the lives of their grandchildren.
As Sikhs reflect on their history, they draw strength and inspiration from the unyielding commitment of their Gurus and their families to the principles of Sikhism. The legacy of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, a scholar, builder, saint, and martyr, lives on in the hearts of those who continue to carry forward the torch of Sikhism, upholding its values of justice, equality, and devotion to the divine.