Arjan Dev, Gurū

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Arjan Dev, Gurū (1563–1606). Fifth Sikh Gurū, poet and first Sikh martyr. Arjan Mal, the youngest son of Gurū Rām Dās and Bībī Bhānī, was born in Goindvāl, Pañjāb. He married Gaṅgā who bore one son, Hargobind. In preference to his elder brother, Prithī Chand, Arjan was invested as Gurū in 1581 by Bhāī Buḍhā at the request of Gurū Rām Dās. Prithī Chand's jealousy proved a continuing source of harassment to Arjan.

Gurū Arjan Dev completed the excavation of sacred pools at Rāmdāspur, later renamed Amritsar, extended the town and superintended the construction of the Harimandir. He also built Kartārpur and Srī Hargobindpur on the Beās River, both in Pañjāb.

In 1594 he returned to Amritsar and, finding that Prithī Chand was composing hymns to further his ambition, Arjan decided to make an authentic collection of hymns. This volume, the Ādi Granth, was completed in 1604 and installed at Amritsar but is now at Kartārpur in the possession of the Sodhī family.

Jealousy and conflict led to Arjan Dev, now known as the ‘True Emperor’, being charged with sedition as well as with creating communal dissension. He was subjected to prolonged torture. According to Sikh tradition he had to sit in a red hot cauldron and was bathed in boiling water. Before his death he appointed Hargobind to succeed him.

Gurū Arjan Dev's 2,216 hymns are the largest contribution to the Ādi Granth. In the spirit of his predecessors his verses proclaim the saving power of God's name (nām), the blindness of sinful man, the greatness of God, and the need for constant devotion to God. Of his compositions, the greatest is the Sukhmanī.