Guru Arjan Dev Ji, our fifth Guru, is known for starting the construction of Harmandir Sahib, starting the compilation of scriptures into one book (now Guru Granth Sahib Ji), and being the first Sikh martyr (1). In memory of Guru Ji’s shaheedi (June 16, 1606), I have written about his martyrdom (2).
Prince Khusrau had been captured fighting Emperor Jahangir to the throne, however he managed to escape and received aid from Guru Ji (3). This enraged emperor Jahangir who won the throne and was intimidated by the political threat from the growing numbers of Sikhs (3). There were many individuals who were against the Guru and added to Jahangir’s hatred, fueling him to order Guru Ji to accept Islam or face execution by torture (3). Guru Ji was arrested and tortured for 6 days (2). He was made to sit in a cauldron of boiling water with hot sand pouring on his head, and then later, made to sit on a hot plate with hot sand being poured over him (2). Despite the blistering of his skin and physical torture, Guru Ji remained calm and recited gurbani (2). Guru Ji spoke the words “Whatever you ordain appears sweet. I supplicate for the gift of name” (3). Mian Mir, the muslim sufi saint that laid the foundational stone of Harimandir Sahib, tried to intervene, however Guru Ji told him that this is the will of God (2). Sikhiwiki.org describes this exchange
“Guru Sahib said, ‘All is happening in accordance with the will of Waheguru. Men who stand for Truth have to suffer often. Their sufferings give strength to the cause of Truth. Go, brother. Pray for me. Pray for the success of my cause. Pray for victory to truth.’
Mian Mir asked, ‘Why are you enduring suffering at the hands of these vile sinners when I possess superpowers?’
The Guru replied, ‘I bear all this torture to set an example to the Teachers of the True Name, that they may not lose patience or rail against God in affliction. The true test of faith is in the hour of misery. Without examples to guide them, ordinary people's minds would tremble in the midst of suffering’” (2)
Guru Ji was taken to the cold River Ravi as it was thought this would bring further torture, however he never emerged from the river (2). Although Jahangir believed that this would put an end to the political threat that the Sikhs posed, he could not have been more wrong because it solidified the resolve of the Sikhs to be saint soldiers under the guidance of Guru Hargobind Sahib, son of Guru Arjan Dev Ji (2,3)