Guru Arjan Dev Ji is the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. He was born on April 15, 1563 at Goindwal Sahib Ji. He was the youngest son of Guru Ram Das Ji. He received Gurgaddi on August 31st, 1581. He was the first Guru to have been born a son of the Guru.
The fifth Guru started the construction of the Golden Temple. To emphasise the equality of Sikhism, a Muslim saint, named Mian Mir laid the foundation stone of the shrine. The temple featured four entrances to represent access to all communities. Guru Arjan Dev Ji compiled the Adi Granth Ji, the Sikh scripture containing the writings of all the Gurus up until that time.
As another sign of equality in Sikh philosophy, the Guru Ji added the writings of several Muslim and Hindu saints, whose ideas corresponded to Sikh beliefs. With the passage of time, the Guru attracted a substantial following, therefore the Sikh community undertook a social-political character. In 1606, Emperor Jehangir, the Muslim ruler of India, summoned the Guru Ji to his court on the charge of blessing a rebellious relative of the Emperor’s. Upon the Guru’s refusal to embrace Islam to escape death, the fifth prophet of the Sikh religion was subject to inhumane torture. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was arrested, tortured and made to sit on hot iron plates at Lahore. He was martyred on May 30th, 1606 at Lahore by Emperor Jahangir. Thus, the martyrdom tradition of Sikhism began with the martyrdom of the Guru Ji himself. From this point forward, Sikhism began to form itself into a community of saint-soldiers.
He completed the Sarovar of Nectar at Amritsar and built Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji, the centre of worship and religious assembly. He compiled Sri Adi Granth Ji, later called Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and installed it at Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji in 1604. Nothing else but Shabad Kirtan is recited in the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji
Guru Arjan Dev Ji constructed the holy (Sarovar) tank at Tarn Taran and founded the city of Kartarpur near Jalandhar. The city of Sri Hargobindpur on the banks of river Beas was founded by him to celebrate the birth of his son Hargobind Sahib Ji.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji encouraged the Sikhs to contribute Daswandh (one tenth of the earnings) for community purposes. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was a great thinker, illustrious poet, a practical philosopher and a celebrated saint. He was the first martyr in the Sikh history. He practiced humility and forgiveness. He preached truth, contentment and contemplation. He organised the Sikhs into a community. After the brutal martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, his son Hargobind Sahib Ji was appointed the Sixth Guru of the Sikhs in line.