Tribute to the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev

Wednesday 07th June 2023 10:19 EDT

Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar hosted an exclusive Zoom event to honour the memory of Guru Arjan Devji on May 23, 2023 (Tuesday) as part of the golden jubilee celebrations. Many prominent Sikh individuals and organisations participated in the event. The moderator of the event was Saheli Enfield CEO, Krishna Pujara. Mayaben Deepak enthralled the participants with a melodious musical programme. Narinder S. Mudhar conducted Ardas during the event.

Krishna Pujara said, “Guru Arjan Dev is one of the greatest Sikh gurus who took over the leadership from his father Guru Ram Das. He was born on 15 April 1563 in Goindval, Punjab, India. He was the youngest son of Bhai Jetha, who later became Guru Ram Das, and Mata Bhani. He was the fifth of the tenth Sikh Gurus in total and the first of the two Gurus who were martyred for their faith. He built Sri Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara, at Amritsar so that all Sikhs can practice their religion freely. He expanded the holy places commercially and became the first Guru to serve as both temporal and spiritual head of Sikhs.”

Lord Rami Ranger,CBE, Chairman of the British-Sikh Association, said, "Guru Arjan Dev was the first martyr to uphold religious freedom in India. As the fifth guru and one of the most accomplished and brilliant religious leaders, he gave so much for the development of Sikhism in its formative years. He gave us the Guru Granth Sahib, which every Sikh cherishes and reads every day. It contained the teachings of Hindu and Sikh religions and taught us how to co-exist with the believers of other faith without any animosity. He also gave us the Golden Temple in Amritsar, where 100,000 people feed every day, regardless of race, religion or culture; anybody can come and have a free meal. You can all see that the history of Sikhs and Hindus intertwine; you cannot talk about one history without the other because with all the other things Sikhs and Hindus suffered together at the hands of the Mughal emperor and Jahangir who tortured Guru Arjan Dev.”

He added, “Guruji's popularity was causing a lot of concern among mullahs because he was rejecting certain things in their religion. For example, the Sikh religion, like most other religions, has equality for women, which is not the case among Muslims. So mullahs complained that this guy was challenging those principles. So Guruji was called by Muslim leaders and told that his best solution is to convert to Islam. He was tortured and made to sit on a hot plate. After the fifth day, his body was in pain and full of blisters and they threw him in a river. After that, he never came out of the river and they could never find him.”

“There, our tradition started with Miri Piri (temporal and spiritual authority). Guru Gobind Singh said diversity must be accepted, respected and defended. And because diversity is strength, today in the United Kingdom people from different countries live harmoniously here. People from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Caribbean, etc make this country so strong,” he said.

Dr Onkar Sahota, Labour Party politician, said, "The martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev was on June 16, 1606. But it is celebrated every year in the lunar month. All the ten gurus can be considered as 10 flowers in a bunch with the same fragrance. Or they can be considered as a necklace with 10 beads on the same thread.”

“Guru Nanak was born in 1469. And it was the time when the Mughals have invaded India for the first time. Guru Nanak himself was the second most travelled person by foot in the history of mankind. He undertook journeys to every nook and corner of the world in search of knowledge. He went to north, east, south, and west. When he was on these trips, he interacted with learned people and gained knowledge from them. And in the last 17 years of his life, he lived in a town called Katarpur which is now in Pakistan. I’m making this point because the thought process and writings will become important for Guru Arjan. He did not become a guru just by chance. He was chosen by his father Guru Ramdas. Guru Arjan Dev was the third and youngest son of Guru Ramdev. He became guru because the fourth guru decided that he had the qualities to be the guru and can carry the message of good knowledge,” he added.

Onkar Sahota said, “if you look at the Indian tradition, the first part in the growth of any individual is to select a good guru and grow spiritually. And if you look at the Mahabharata, you'll see that the king's children went to a guru who brought them up spiritually and they learned the art of warfare, the art of fighting, and a soldier who is not constrained by religious beliefs and is not bound by ethics while fighting for a good cause,” he said.

Trustee of a Brent Sikh Centre, Narinder S. Mudhar said, "The main thing about Gurupurub, guru means teacher, and our supreme Guru is God. And our gurus were on par with God, and that is how we recount them. So our Guru Arjan in line with the whole group of 10 gurus had a special contribution that has already been described and mentioned, and explained in an excellent way. Guru Arjan Dev Ji, was at such a high moral ground with the Waheguru (god), that those who follow him escape reincarnation, or, in that word, the whole purpose of our lives, according to the Guru Granth Sahib.”

“The message is this: when we are going through our life and we come across difficulties, rather than saying, Oh God, what the hell have I done wrong? Why am I being subjected to such tortures? Why am I so poor, why am I not rich? Why did I fail the exam? Instead of cursing faith, accept what God has given, he added. Mudhar said, “To understand how great our Guru Arjan Dev despite suffering the torture, he was able to write Guru Granth Sahib. While compiling Guru Granth Sahib, he came across a lot of contributions that could be included. The Guru Granth Sahib has contributions from Hindu and Islamic scholars and many other names were mentioned. And when selecting those, one really needs to be a high-calibre scholar to know what can work or what not.”

Kokila Patel, Managing Editor of Gujarat Samachar, said, “The Martyrdom Day of Arjan Devji holds great historical and cultural significance for Sikhism. He faced unbearable persecution for opposing the conversion and also endured severe torture for his faith. He was born on 15 April 1563 in Goindwal, Punjab; Guru Arjan Devji was the son of Ramdasji, the fourth Guru of Sikhism, and Mata Bhaniji. He became the fifth Guru in 1581 after the death of his father. The foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib, commonly known as Golden Temple of Amritsar, was laid by Guru Arjan Devji in 1588. On 24 May 1606, Guru Arjan Devji was imprisoned and taken to Lahore on the orders of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. He was also subjected to excruciating torture to convert but Guruji refused and was ordered to be executed and Guruji's family was handed over to Murtuza Khan. Gurudevji's martyrdom is celebrated by drinking cold rose milk, sharbat and lassi everywhere in Punjab. Let us remember Arjan Devji's martyrdom and pay our respects.”

Group editor of Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar, Mahesh Liloriya said, “Guru Arjan Dev’s martyrdom holds immense significance for all of us. His sacrifice symbolises the resilience and unwavering commitment to Sikh principles which includes equality, social justice and religious freedom. Like all gurus before him, Shri Guru Arjan Dev Ji taught the message of compassion, love, dedication, hard work and the worship of one God, the commitment of peace and harmony for all the peoples around world. On the behalf of Asian communities leading newspapers Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar, I pay tribute to Shri Guru Arjun Dev Ji, a visionary scholar, poet and philosopher. Inspired from Guru Arjun Dev Ji, our media organisation has completed its 50 years. I implore Sanatana Dharma followers, especially the esteemed Sikh community, to join the Seva yagna and Gyan yagna missions begun by Mr. CB Patel.

Jyotsanaben Shah, Consulting editor of Gujarat Samachar, said “As as a part of the golden Jubilee celebration of Gujarat Samachar has arranged different type of inspiring and empowering events. As Guru Arjan Dev Ji stated that for all castes and creeds from whichever direction they go, same footstep is followed by ABPL group and celebrated all the great personalities who has contributed to build our society.”

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