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Guru Arjan's Contribution , Martyrdom and Legacy - Book By Prithipal Singh Kapur
Sikhism made multi-dimensional progress during the period of Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606), the fifth Master. The doctrine got preserved in the scripture which was subsequently designated as the Guru Eternal by the tenth Guru. The number of Sikhs increased and hordes of people were attracted towards Sikhism. This fact attracted the attention of the state and the Hindu and Muslim orthodoxy. Guru Arjan gave the Sikhs the central shrine as well as an organization to manage the affairs of the community, and above, all his martyrdom carved out a place for the Sikhs in the mainstream of history. All this enabled the Sikhs to withstand the challenge of a firmly rooted imperial power.
The quad-centenary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan provided an occasion to the Sikh community to renew their gratitude and dedication to this great Guru. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee organized an International Seminar on the occasion. This volume is an attempt to preserve the scholarly papers presented in that seminar by a galaxy of scholars.
A distinct features of the Sikh religious scheme is a line of its ten preceptors from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh as fount of all divine knowledge and activity. The doctrinal thesis of Sikhism brings out a unique theory regarding the position of ten Gurus in the Sikh dispensation wherein it is repeatedly emphasized :
The same light permeated him (Lehna, Angad),
the same paraxis -
Only the Master his visible form had changed.
Guru Gobind Singh himself has stated in crystal clear terms this very position in 'Bachittra Natak' :
Sri Nanak was accepted as Angad Guru and (Guru) Angad was identified as (Guru) Amar Das. Guru Amar Das was hailed as (Guru) Ram Das and this mystery was understood by the saints.
But the stupid ones could not follow. When (Guru) Ram Das immersed in the Supreme Light, he gave the holy seat to (Guru) Arjan.
It is clear from the above that in reality a theory of spiritual succession had been enunciated in the form of unity of the office of the Gurus wherein the founder and his nine successors represented the same spiritual light in unison. All the ten Gurus guided the destiny of Sikhism for a little less than two and a half centuries. It was during this period that the Sikhs were marked out as a new dynamic society of householders who believed in monotheism, detested rituals and caste, and aspired to attain celestial bliss through truthful living with an understanding of the word (Shabad) of the Guru.
Guru Arjan was the fifth in the line. He came to occupy the holy seat when his predecessor Gurus had been able to engrain in the minds of their followers that religion could be best practised within the secular concerns of life. By then, the number of Sikhs had increased enormously and there was hardly any town in India where the Sikhs were not to be found. During a little over a century of its existence, Sikhism had indeed come on its own. But Guru Arjan had a lot more to do. Himself a poet of supreme sensitivity, he had been called a 'ferry boat of scripture (Gurbani)' by his maternal grand-father (Guru Amar Das). Guru Arjan made the Sikhs the people of the book, gave them a central shrine called Harimandar, which floats like a lotus in the centre of the holy tank, that had been got excavated during the pontificate of his father, Guru Ram Das. Besides completing the excavation and bricking of the tanks of Santokhsar and Ramsar, he established new centres like Sri Hargobindpur (a township on the northern bank of river Beas in the centre of Riarki tract), Tarn Taran (in the heart of Majha region) and Kartarpur (in the Jalandhar Doab). During the course of time, these places became flourishing townships and led to the development and prosperity of surroundings regions where Sikhs settled in sizable numbers. Tarn Taran has often been described as capital of Majha (central region of Punjab lying between the rivers Ravi and Beas) which has also been described by an historian as cradle of Sikhism (four of the first six Gurus, were born and brought up here). Guru Arjan took special care to consolidate the Sikh position in this region and also in the neighbouring Jalandhar Doab where he was able to effectively counteract the rising influence of Sakhi Sarvar Sultan; particularly among the Jats. Bhai Bahlo and Manjh, two prominent preachers of Sakhi Sarvar cult, were attracted to Sikhism under the influence of Guru Arjan and thereafter, the Jats joined Sikhism in large numbers in the length and breadth of Punjab. Guru Arjan infused into them the fervour of religious consecration and made them the pillars of Sikhism.
Guru Arjan was the first among the Gurus who was a born Sikh. He had the benefit of having watched the Sikh institutions taking roots and hordes of people converging on Goindwal and Chak Ramdas (now Amritsar) to attend occasional congregations and have a glimpse of the Gurus who happened to be his (Guru Arjan's ) maternal-grandfather and father. This close association with the divine matters made (Guru) Arjan mature much earlier than the years of his age. As he grew to adulthood, he observed the Mughal interest in the origin and development of Sikhism and he could not remain unaware of the importance of a royal visit of emperor Akbar to Goindwal and Bhai Gurdas undertaking journey to Agra to organize Sikh Sangat there besides witnessing some polemic religious debates involving various religious dispensations (at Ibadatkhana , Fatehpur Sikri). Despite all this, the accession of Guru Arjan aroused the dissent of the collaterals of the Gurus and all those who felt apprehensive of the rise of Sikhism. The eldest brother of Guru Arjan led the dissent within the household. He got willing support from the masands who collected the offerings from the Sikhs for the on-going projects. Prithi Chand also enlisted support from the Mughal officials and such Muslim fanatics who were hostile to the emergence of Sikhism. He also got spontaneous support from those few who felt aggrieved in the matter of earlier three successions to the Gurgaddi. Guru Arjan broadly withstood all this opposition during the period of his pontificate spread over the period of a quarter of century.
Prithipal Singh Kapur, a well known historian and educationist, has been the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and Director, Punjab State University Text Book Board. He also served as Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopaedia of Sikhism at Punjabi University, Patiala. He wrote/edited more than a dozen books on Sikh history including Jassa Singh Ramgarhia (Pbi.), Punjab da Virsa (Pbi.), Master Tara Singh : Itihasak Pakh Ton (Pbi.), The Divine Master : Life & Teachings of Guru Nanak (edited).
Mohinder Singh, is currently the Director, National Institute of Panjabi Studies, Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi. Earlier he taught history at Punjabi University, Patiala and University of Delhi. He became Director of Guru Nanak Foundation in 1982. Committed to the promotion of Panjabi literature and culture, Dr. Mohinder Singh has authored The Akali Movement, The Golden Temple and Anandpur : The City of Bliss.
Table Of Contents Of The Book 'Guru Arjan's Contribution , Martyrdom and Legacy' By Prithipal Singh Kapur
|1.||Guru Arjan Dev's Life, Martyrdom and Legacy --------J. S. Grewal||19|
|2.||Guru Arjan Dev --An Overview ---------------J. S. Neki||35|
|3.||Times of Guru Arjan -------------Kirpal Singh||46|
|4.||The Concept of the Other ---------------Mubarak Ali||55|
|5.||Relations Between the Muslims and the Sikhs during the Medieval Period --------A. W. Azhar Dehlvi||61|
|6.||Guru Arjan's Aesthetic Legacy ---------Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh||67|
|7.||Sukhmani in the Indian Spiritual Tradition ------------Shashi Bala||83|
|8.||Guru Arjan and Interfaith -------------Joy Barrow||96|
|9.||Guru Granth Sahib : A Model for Inter-Faith Understanding in Today's World --------Qazi Nur-ul-Islam||105|
|10.||Conserving Guru Nanak Sahib Manuscripts ---------------Mohinder Singh||114|
|11.||Harimandar - The Epicentre of the Sikh Faith -----------------Kharak Singh||122|
|12.||Concept and Tradition of Martyrdom in Sikhism --------------Dharam Singh||138|
|13.||Guru Arjan's Martyrdom : Contemporary Perceptions -----------Prithipal Singh Kapur||149|
|14.||Recent Studies on the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan : A Critique -----------Indu Banga||162|
|15.||Some Aspects of Guru Arjan's Martyrdom and Legacy -------------Nazer Singh||180|
|16.||The Sikh Tradition of Martyrdom : A Continuum of Four Centuries ------------Chhanda Chatterjee||187|
|Author||Prithipal Singh Kapur|
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