THURSDAY, JUNE 16: Sikh history changed 405 years ago today, when Guru Arjan Dev—the fifth Guru—became the first Sikh martyr. The first four Sikh gurus had experienced peace and nonviolence, but when Mughal leaders of India grew fearful of the increasing popularity of the Sikh leaders, Arjan Dev was the guru faced with arrest and torture.
Guru Arjan Dev was arrested in May of 1606. Although his enemies had hoped to wipe out Sikhism by destroying its current leader, Guru Arjan Dev remained at peace and serene while being boiled, covered in burning sand and more. (Get details at SearchSikhism.com.) It was only at the guru’s suggestion of taking a bath in the cool Ravi River—in which his enemies thought his blisters would be even more painful—that Guru Arjan Dev disappeared into the river, never to be seen again. After this series of events, Sikhs changed into a defensive, courageous people that would always be ready to fight for injustice. (Sikhiwiki has more.)
Sikhs worldwide recognize today’s anniversary in a variety of ways, and some even commemorated it last week: In Malaysia, 20,000-30,000 devotees visited the Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya for a five-day celebration that began Wednesday. (Check out the article here.) More than 50 volunteers made food for the visitors, who were given three meals per day plus tea.
Devotees honor Guru Arjan Dev especially for his initial compilation of the Sikh holy books—along with his role in giving Sikhs their holiest shrine—the Golden Temple at Amritsar, in India.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.