Shri Guru Arjan Dev Ji

Shri Guru Anjan Dev Ji ( 15 April 1563 to 30 May 1606)

Early life

Guru Arjan Dev was the fifth of the ten Sikh Gurus. He became the first martyr of Sikh faith when he was arrested under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and tortured to death when he refused to convert to Islam. His martyrdom was a significant turning point in the history of Sikhism. The hitherto peace loving community took up arms for self-defense and for protecting the rights of the weaker sections against the atrocities perpetuated by the Mughals. Guru Arjan Dev was the son of Guru Ram Das, the truth Guru in Sikhism. He succeeded his father as the leader of Sikhs upon his death and went on to significantly influence the development of Sikhism. His tenure as the guru lasted for 25 years over which he greatly enriched the Sikh tradition with his many important contributions. He completed the construction of Amritsar which was further developed into one of the most important centers of Sikhism. He completed the hymns of the previous Sikh Gurus along with selected writings of other saints from different backgrounds which he considered consistent with the teachings of Sikhism. A peaceful and saintly person, he was much revered by people belonging to all religions which made the Mughals insecure and jealous. Thus Jahangir had him arrested and executed.

Major Works

The guru conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and designed the Harmandir Sahib. The doors on all four sides of the building signified its acceptance of people regardless of their religion, color, creed or sex. The Golden Temple is one of India’s most visited tourist attractions.

Guru Arjan Dev formed the first rendition of the Sikh’s holy text, the Adi Granth, by compiling the hymns of the first five Sikh gurus and 15 other great saints, or bhagats, including thirteen Hindu and two Muslim saints. He himself contributed 2218 hymns to the sacred text. The first manuscript was completed and installed at the Harmandir Sahib with Baba Budda as the first granthi in 1604.


The Gurus was imprisoned in Lahore Fort in 1606. Since he had refused to convert, he was subjected to severe torture. He was immersed in boiling water which scalded his flesh and then was made to sit on a burning hot plate. More torture followed and hot sand was poured over his body.