419.The Man in Blue – Guru Arjan

While the debate on Khalsa, Khalas, Khalis and Khalisa is hotting up on the Sikh News Discussion and Man in Blue group, I am writing the second of the articles based on my reading of ‘The Mughal Empire’ by John F Richards.

On page 96 Richards writes ‘During Khusrau’s [Jahangir’s Son] ill fated coup in 1605, the rebel prince had a brief encounter with Arjun, the fifth Sikh Guru. At Goindwal … Arjun made the mistake of offering his blessing to Khusrau. Jahangir seems to have been consistently hostile to popularly venerated religious figures. In the emperor’s memoir he comments :

In Goindwal, which is on the river Biyah (Beas), there was a Hindu named Arjun, in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, so much so that he had captivated many of the simple-hearted Hindus, and even of the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his ways and manners, and they had loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship and manifest complete faith in him. For three or four generations they had kept this shop warm. Many times it had occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of the people of Islam.
Jahangir, Tuzuk, 1, 72     

The writer then refers to the saffron mark made on Khusrau’s forehead by Guru Arjan. From previous pages in which Khusrau’s revolt is described it is clear that Jahangir treated very severely with anybody who had in any way supported Khusrau, and on page 97 Richards writes ‘Simply by making a finger-mark of saffron on Khusrau’s brow as an auspicious sign, Arjan suffered a fate similar to most of Khusrau’s followers’.

The quote from Jahangir’s diary is very interesting. I do not know if the diary also refers to Khusrau’s ‘tilak’. Mostly the tilak story and Hindu in Goindwal story are presented as two different or rival explanations of Guru Arjan’s martyrdom, but according to one website both stories are part of Jahangir’s ‘Tuzuk’.

Richards throws new light on this part of our history where he points to Jahangir’s hostility to popularly venerated religious figures, and the fact that even minor supporters of Khusrau were treated very severely.

On page 98 Richards tells us of Jahangir’s relationship with the widely venerated Vaishnava ascetic Gosain Jadrup. It proves the point that the Emperor was not against ‘Hindus’ as such, but was very weary of people like Guru Arjan, who did not live in a hut or a grotto somewhere far away, but  lived a full life in society.

From our point of view Jahangir would have done much better to follow Guru Arjan instead of the ascetic Gosain Jadrup !

Stop use of violence !

All Sikhs, Sikh organisations and Gurdwaré should undertake never again to use violence as a means to settle differences of opinion. There is no precedent from Guru’s days for this bad practice, the Guru taught us to stand up against injustice, not against opinions that we do not agree with.