Guru Arjan Biography

Guru Arjan Dev was the fifth of the ten Sikh Gurus. He became the first martyr of Sikh faith. This biography of Guru Arjan Dev provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: April 15, 1563

Nationality: Indian

Famous: Spiritual & Religious Leaders Indian Men

Died At Age: 43

Sun Sign: Aries

Also Known As: Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Guru Arjan Ji

Born in: Goindval

Famous as: Fifth Sikh Guru

Subscribe to Riddle Puddle


father: Guru Ram Das

mother: Mata Bhani

siblings: Baba Mahan Dev, Baba Prithi Chand

children: Guru Hargobind

Died on: May 30, 1606

place of death: Lahore

Cause of Death: Execution

Continue Reading Below

Subscribe to Riddle Puddle

Guru Arjan Dev was the fifth of the ten Sikh Gurus. He became the first martyr of Sikh faith when he was arrested under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and tortured to death when he refused to convert to Islam. His martyrdom was a significant turning point in the history of Sikhism. The hitherto peace loving community took up arms for self-defense and for protecting the rights of the weaker sections against the atrocities perpetuated by the Mughals. Guru Arjan Dev was the son of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Guru in Sikhism. He succeeded his father as the leader of Sikhs upon his death and went on to significantly influence the development of Sikhism. His tenure as the guru lasted for 25 years over which he greatly enriched the Sikh tradition with his many important contributions. He completed the construction of Amritsar which was further developed into one of the most important centers of Sikhism. He compiled the hymns of the previous Sikh Gurus along with selected writings of other saints from different backgrounds which he considered consistent with the teachings of Sikhism. A peaceful and saintly person, he was much revered by people belonging to all religions which made the Mughals insecure and jealous. Thus Jahangir had him arrested and executed.

Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

Childhood & Early Life
Later Years
  • Guru Ram Das died in 1581 and Guru Arjan Dev became the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. Upon assuming the Guru Gaddi he took forward the legacy of his father, and by continuing the efforts of the late Guru Ram Das, established Amritsar as a primary Sikh pilgrimage destination. He also designed the Harmandir Sahib at Amritsar.
  • Guru Arjan Dev strengthened the institution of Masands which his predecessor had introduced, and emphasized on the principle of Dasvand according to which a tenth of an individual's income was payable for the Guru’s Langar (Common Kitchen) and for other charitable acts for the betterment of the poor.
  • He wanted to give Sikhism its own holy text, and for this purpose he compiled the writings of all the past Gurus and also the writings of saints from different backgrounds whose teachings were consistent with the tenets of Sikhism. This compilation of teachings and hymns formed the foundation for the holy book of the Sikhs, Sri Guru Granth Sahib. He also contributed more than 2,000 hymns himself and wrote the Sukhmani Sahib Bani.
  • Guru Arjan Dev became a very popular spiritual figure, and hordes of people hailing from different faiths flocked to meet him and seek his blessings. During his tenure Sikhism developed steadily with more and more Hindus and Muslims becoming the followers of the guru. Soon Sikhism became the prominent popular religion of medieval Punjab.
  • The growing popularity of the guru and Sikhism perturbed the Mughals greatly. They became jealous of the guru’s fame and were angry as several Muslims had now become the guru’s Sikhs. Emperor Jahangir who had newly ascended to the throne was an Orthodox Muslim who felt threatened by the spreading of Sikhism in his empire.
  • Jahangir ordered that Guru Arjan Dev be arrested and brought to him. He then ordered the guru to convert to Islam or undergo torture and execution. The guru remained loyal to his faith till the very end.
  • The Guru was imprisoned in Lahore Fort in 1606. Since he had refused to convert, he was subjected to severe torture. He was immersed in boiling water which scalded his flesh and then was made to sit on a burning hot plate. More torture followed and hot sand was poured over his body.
  • The brutal torture continued for days yet the guru remained true to his faith and endured all the atrocities with the God’s name on his lips. The onlookers were shocked at the brutality meted out to this saintly and peaceful person.
  • Following many days of torture, the guru was allowed to take a bath in the river Ravi. On 30 May 1606 Guru Arjan Dev entered the river never to be seen again.
Major Works
  • The guru conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and designed the Harmandir Sahib (also known as Golden Temple today). The doors on all four sides of the building signified its acceptance of people regardless of their religion, color, creed, or sex. The Golden Temple is one of India’s most visited tourist attractions.
  • Guru Arjan Dev formed the first rendition of the Sikh’s holy text, the Adi Granth, by compiling the hymns of the first five Sikh gurus and 15 other great saints, or bhagats, including thirteen Hindu and two Muslim saints. He himself contributed 2218 hymns to the sacred text. The first manuscript was completed and installed at the Harmandir Sahib with Baba Buddha as the first granthi in 1604.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Guru Arjan Dev was married to Mata Ganga. The couple had one son, Hargobind.
  • While awaiting execution, Guru Arjan Dev appointed his son Hargobind as the next guru and instructed him to take up arms and resist Islamic persecution under the Mughal rule.

See the events in life of Guru Arjan in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Guru Arjan Biography
- Editors,
Last Updated
- November 03, 2017
Guru Arjan

People Also Viewed

Guru Ram Das
Guru Hargobind
Jaggi Vasudev

Gaur Gopal Das