Listen to this story from SikhNet:
Nothing in this world lasts forever. Everything is temporary… well there is something that actually does last forever, do you know what that is?
Truth lasts forever. And the teachings of the True Guru are perfectly true. And do you know what happens when the world is confronted with Truth? The world freaks out. So you can imagine how much the world freaked out with Guru Arjan Dev, who wrote banis like Sukhmani Sahib, and who compiled the whole Aad Granth! Because he delivered the Ultimate Truth to the world, the worst ugliness and violence of the world came for him. But he knew these forces would come and accepted it as part of God’s Will. The world used two main people to create the drama of ugliness and violence. One was the emperor and one was a person in the emperor’s court. His name was Chandu,
“I am a royal courtier!!! I made it to the top! Aren’t I so powerful!? I have more power than almost anyone in the country! I now have the power of the emperor!”
Chandu had a daughter, who he considered like a possession, and he wanted to marry her to some young man who he thought would be good enough, “Hmmm now who can I give my daughter to… which young man comes from a good enough family. A high status family…?” A long time passed and Chandu couldn’t find anyone he thought was good enough,
“Curses! There are no high level families who have boys… Though someone did say that there is a guy named Arjan who has a son. Some people think he’s a Guru or something. He’s not really high status enough… but… people do give him donations so his house is kinda rich. I guess I’ll stoop down and offer my daughter to his house… hmphhhhhhh… it really is my only option… what a gift to him! He’d be so lucky to even have a chance to marry into MY family heh!”
Of course Guru Ji had no concern for worldly status and, knowing that Chandu was full of ego and anger, turned down the marriage proposal. Chandu was outraged, “How dare he! He should be begging me, not turning me down! I’ll teach him a lesson.
He became infatuated with proving to the Guru that he was greater. He started working with others who had also made themselves enemies of the Guru’s house, people who even tried to kill the Guru. But no one ever could even come close, God always protects the saints. “Nothing is working! ….But I will make this Arjan submit some how…
Now, the other person the world used in this drama was the emperor of India. He wasn’t sure about the house of Nanak, was the Guru a rebel against the empire or was he a sincere holy man?
Meanwhile, the emperor really hated his own son who didn’t think he was a good ruler. He made an order to all people, “My son, the prince, is a rebel against the throne. He is banished from the kingdom. No one is allowed to host him or help him in any way! That’s the law now!”
The worldly drama rolled on… and the prince visited Guru ji… He used to be the heir to the throne… but now was just a poor exile….
Guru ji gave the guest mercy, “You are welcome to stay here, eat and rejuvenate.”
After a few days the prince left on his travels. Out of compassion Guru ji handed him 5,000 rupees, “Take this money to help you on your way.”
The prince was very grateful and praised the Guru.
When Chandu heard about this he was really happy, “Perfect! Finally I will win! The emperor will be furious when I tell him how the Guru helped his son. This is going to be easy!!
Chandu told the emperor an exaggerated story about how the Guru had defied his orders, “Sire! The Guru is conspiring with your enemy, he must be defying your throne! He gave a ton of money to your exiled son. Like hundreds of thousands of rupees! He directly disobeyed your orders great king! How will you punish this rebel?
So the emperor summoned the Guru to appear in his court. With all this drama building like a storm… Guru Sahib stayed at peace, always meditating. He accepted this drama and made plans for the future. He passed the Guruship to his son, “Train him in languages and martial arts, my son will become a great warrior one day!”
After saying goodbye to his wife and giving a final message to the Sikhs, Guru ji traveled to the capital city to meet the emperor. When he arrived the people loved him. A huge crowd surrounded Guru ji wherever he went. Chandu saw that everyone treated Guru Sahib like royalty… and he didn’t like it. He hurried to tell the emperor, “The Guru is in your city and he is having everyone worship himself. He is so arrogant, he doesn’t care about your authority, he must be punished.
The emperor sent his assistant named Vazir Khan to fetch the Guru. Vazir Khan served the emperor but he was also a devotee of Guru Arjan.
Vazir Khan went to where the people were gathered and when he saw the Guru he humbly bowed, “Dhan Dhan Guru! You are great, and your teachings are great, hearing your words my pain has been destroyed and my life has been lifted to the clouds!”
Vazir Khan then told his own story:
“I had a terrible sickness, there were no doctors or medicine that could help me. I couldn’t sleep at night. I was in constant pain. Then one day I heard a Sikh of yours sang something. I felt better for the first time. It was the Sukhmani Sahib that you wrote! The Sikh was kind enough to come and recite Sukhmani for me every day, it was the only thing that made me feel better. But when the Sikh left I would start to get worse again. Eventually I learned to recite Sukhmani Sahib myself. Now I sing it every day and I am cured!”
Everyone was humbled to hear about the miracle of Guru’s Bani and the power of Sukhmani Sahib. Vazir Khan felt burdened that he was sent to have the Guru face some kind of punishment but Guru Sahib assured him that this was the purpose for his visit.
So Guru ji went to meet the emperor who welcomed him with respect, “Please sit. You were summoned so we can ask why you helped my son and so you can pay the fine of the same amount you gave to him. But while you’re here I’m so curious to hear what you have to say about God. You are a great holy man. Answer me this: Which is the true religion? Hinduism or Islam?”
Even though the emperor could do anything to the Guru and Chandu certainly wanted to do the worst things, Guru ji treated them like anyone… and taught them:
“Hindus call God ‘Ram’ and Muslims call God ‘Allah’. Only those who tune into the Divine Will understand the secret of God. I promise you the God of both religions is One! Thinking of the differences just creates conflict.”
Guru ji continued speaking the Ultimate Truth to the emperor, that’s what the True Guru does, teaches all souls.
Finally Guru ji concluded by offering 3 keys to freeing the soul:
“Whether you are Hindu or Muslim you can cross the fearful world ocean if you do these 3 things. One, accept God’s will and don’t see any difference between pain and pleasure. Two, practice renouncing your body, see that you are a soul and not just a body. And three, meditate on Sat Nam. Do these things and you will meet God. You will clean the dirt of lifetimes and you will become enlightened.”
The emperor was interested in what the Guru said but it was getting late so he said they would continue the discussion the next day. Once Guru ji was gone Chandu took the opportunity, “Sire… if I may, don’t be fooled by his nice words. He doesn’t respect you! Just give me permission to punish him and you won’t have to worry about him anymore.” Chandu continued to persuade the emperor:
“I’ll take care of it sire! You have more important things to do than worry about this one person! But in your wisdom you don’t want everyone to disobey you like he did, that would ruin the whole empire!”
Finally he succeeded and he was given permission to deal with the Guru. Chandu immediately got several soldiers, “Take out your swords, grab the Guru and bring him to my house NOW!”
As Guru Sahib was brought to Chandu’s house he was in the same mood as always. He was always meditating no matter what was happening.
“Close the doors and don’t let anyone in or out! So Mr. big shot who people worship. What do you think now huh!? The emperor has given the order that either you pay 2 lakh rupees or you will be killed.”
“I did not help the prince to defy the emperor, I helped him because he was in need. I will not agree to pay any fine for simply helping others, I did what God willed me to do.”
“I don’t care about the emperor’s reasons to punish you! You turned down MY marriage proposal! What, you think you’re better than me!? Well you’re not! I’m going to prove who’s more powerful. And now that the emperor has put your life in my hands I can do anything I want to!!!”
“I also do not accept your marriage proposal, I stand by my original decision. My son is already engaged to marry-”
“-Oh you will accept my proposal. Or I will kill you! You’ll see. Tomorrow…”
Chandu stormed off in a rage. Guru ji was calm as ever. The next day Chandu gave the same ultimatum, accept the proposal or die, Guru ji gave the same answers. When the whole day passed and Guru Sahib continued to be peaceful and content, Chandu got more and more angry, “Guards! Don’t allow him to eat a bite of food. Or drink a drop of water. And don’t let him lay down, he can’t sleep for a second until he breaks!
Guru Arjan Dev announced that from now on he would not eat, sleep or drink.
Chandu’s rage went to a new level. The next day he determined, “I will make him submit to me if it’s the last thing I do! Either he will agree or he’ll die! Guards fill a huge pot with water and boil him in it!”
Chandu left in a rage. The guards lit the fire under the pot and before they could try to force him Guru ji got in the pot himself… but the fire didn’t boil the water, it didn’t want to hurt the Guru. A long time went by and no one knew that the water wasn’t even warm! Chandu went to bed that night wondering…, “Why didn’t he scream in pain…”
When he woke up in the morning he had a new idea, “I will get sand and heat it blazing hot, then have the sand poured on top of him!”
That day they brought Guru ji outside where they could heat the sand. The burning sand was poured on top of Guru ji… who continued to meditate and didn’t complain at all. Was Guru in pain and just didn’t show it, or was he above such experiences? When the blisters from the heat appeared in Guru ji’s skin was it because Guru made them appear so it wouldn’t look like he’s doing a miracle? No one can understand what was happening inside Guru ji’s heart and mind, all people could do was see that his skin was burning and he didn’t move an inch.
Some Sikhs saw this and couldn’t stand seeing the torture, “Oh sweet Guru, we can’t bare to watch anymore! If only we could take your place and we could be tortured instead!”
The Guru said, “You have not understood one thing: I am the cause of causes. This is my game. It is my time to leave this world. It is for me to suffer this and it is for you to stay calm and not freak out.”
The horrible torture continued throughout the day. What was happening to Guru Arjan was so brutal it sent shockwaves through the realms. The king of the gods and an entourage of angelic beings came to see the Guru’s state. Even they were shocked and after they left they couldn’t stop talking about it.
The torture continued until the night came, “We will continue this tomorrow! You shall submit!!!”
Different miraculous beings felt it and became aware that this was happening to the powerful Guru. A master named Gorakh showed up and brought along 84 yogis, with all their miracle powers. When they appeared to where the Guru was they caused the guards to faint and go unconscious. Master Gorakh spoke to Guru Sahib:
“I salute you your worshipfulness. You have the power to end this drama, you could eliminate these evil people in the snap of a finger, but you don’t. I believe they should be eliminated. If evil in this world is allowed to treat a perfect saint like you in this way, then all evil will be empowered and all saints will be at risk. Better I destroy this evil now.”
Guru ji taught them, “It is not our way to play into their anger. Also saints should not fear anything. Whatever happens we fully accept it. Leave with my message: Do not worry over the loss of the body.”
Gorakh Nath and the yogis accepted this and disappeared saying, “Great, great is the Guru.”
While the guards were still unconscious the Pirs, the Muslim saints who had miraculous powers, showed up. The Pirs gave respects to Guru ji and said,
“We can kill these enemies instantly if you only give us the permission…”
Guru ji taught them, “Why do you see others as different. Understand that there is but one soul. Seeing differences is not the real thing.”
“We accept your wisdom. But still, why are you allowing yourself to go through this great pain?”
Now can you imagine why Guru Arjan Dev would purposely let himself be tortured like this? But he did have reasons, though maybe we don’t fully understand all of them. Maybe you will realize more of his reasons no one has thought of yet! When they asked him why he allows such great pain on himself Guru ji said:
“There are many reasons why I have to leave my body in this way. As time passes you will understand more. I wish to bring everyone to the truth with these actions.”
The Pirs accepted that Guru Sahib was doing this for the sake of truth. Then he commanded them, “Go back to wherever you are from. Don’t get in the way of my game.” The Pirs left saying “Great, great are you!”
After they left and the guards woke up. The next day Chandu came up with another evil idea, “We’ll burn him on a huge skillet. Guards! Heat up this large plate and make him sit on it.”
Before they could do anything Guru Arjan himself got on top of the burning hot plate. Again, he didn’t move or flinch. Guru ji was in a state that is hard to understand, there was a great spiritual light surrounding him. When we meditate on the Guru we can touch that light. Nothing Chandu did got the response he wanted. Chandu got more and more angry as the whole day passed with Guru ji not showing that he was suffering.
“This is your last chance! If you don’t submit to the marriage proposal I will kill you. Tomorrow I will have you wrapped inside of a cow skin, then let you dry in the sun. When the skin dries it will squeeze you and slowly crush every bone in your body!”
When the morning came Guru ji said, “It has been 5 days I have gone without food, water or sleep. Let me bathe in the river.”
Chandu thought Guru ji was giving in, “HAH! Finally he’s starting to crack! Once he feels the cooling water he’ll want more comfort and he’ll finally submit. Then everyone will know I’m greater than he is!”
So Guru Arjan was escorted out. His feet were blistered from all the burns, he, slowly, slowly walked to the river with some Sikhs. After splashing himself with the cool water he sat and recited Jap ji.
The Sikhs joined in. The light present at this time is difficult to understand. Guru Sahib told them, “I have achieved what I wanted to. It’s time for me to move to the world beyond.”
Then he gave some instructions for the next Guru to not be sad for his death and to start a new tradition that from now on Sikhs should also be warriors. Then Guru ji said he would merge into the environment”
“Do not cremate my body, instead offer it to the river. My feet will be the south and my head will be the north. If you want my darshan, have the darshan of this river.”
Many beings from different heavens and realms were in the sky. Some beings started playing instruments and others sang raags, some were dancing these beats, all were praising the Great Guru. Master Gorakh and his yogis came, all the Pirs arrived again. Many mystical creatures and elemental beings were there. There were so many of them, with all their vehicles, and their people, they were impressed at the huge crowd. They were talking about how there is no one like the Guru and they invited him to leave the earth with them. Guru ji left his body and all the spiritual beings followed him. As he rose to higher and higher realms they would follow him as far as they could. Those who could go higher would follow Guru ji that far. In the end Guru went to the highest place and no one could follow.
Back on earth Chandu found out that Guru ji had passed away, “You mean… I failed to make him submit.. I really thought this would work out for me…”
When everyone else found out they all gathered together and created a raft for the body. They laid silk clothes over Guru ji’s body and sent it into the river. It floated down a little and then Guru ji’s body disappeared from the raft and he merged into the environment. Guru Arjan set the example of sacrificing his life that many warriors followed. Countless brave souls went on to give up their lives fearlessly while reciting the bani of the Guru. Many beloveds have faced the ugliness and violence of the world with only seeing God’s Will. The Guru Granth and Guru’s Banis are more important than this body.
What about the pain we feel in our lives? Well, it’s definitely hard to imagine anyone suffering more than Guru Arjan. But remember this: If you are ever in a time where you are in any kind of pain, do not think it’s a punishment from God. Just accept that it is happening. When that pain burns you it is like you are being heated on your own little hot plate. Then imagine yourself moving onto the Guru’s hot plate and sit in his lap.
How can you do that? You can listen to and recite banis like Jap Ji and Sukhmani Sahib. You can imagine that the Guru is with you going through the same pain that you are. Remember: Whatever your pain and suffering is, go through it with Guru Arjan. And you will fill with light.
Wahiguru ji ka Khalsa
Wahiguru ji ki Fateh
Storyteller: Harijot Singh Khalsa