Rulership vis-á-vis the relationship between political power and authority, and social order, is a complex and nuanced subject at the best of times, especially when it involves the connection between the state and its many socio-religious institutions. The state has to deal with a variety of factors that make up a diverse society in order to maintain social order. The rulers of the Mughal Empire, which comprised of a myriad of socio-cultural and -religious norms, had their hands full in maintaining social order and the status quo. And since it is the purview of the official system of power and authority to regulate the variety of social processes contributing to order in a given society, the rulers of the Mughal Empire were perfectly entitled to uphold the laws of the land, which would include managing dissent, by taking whatever necessary actions they deemed appropriate to repress a movement perceived to be a challenge or threat to state authority or to the disruption of societal harmony. Although it is agreed that the state has the dual role of ensuring the preservation of society and protecting its citizens, differences do exist over the manner in which this is to be done.
In this context, we will be examining the relationship between the Mughal rulers and the 10 Gurus, i.e. what type of reaction these rulers had towards the Gurus’ mission and why.
Sikh apologists throughout the ages have been consistent in their condemnation of certain rulers from the Mughal dynasty for their perpetration of injustice, persecution and harassment against their 10 Gurus. The relationship portrayed between the Gurus and those who lorded over them has, almost without exception, been one of good versus evil, oppression versus freedom, and the persecuted versus the persecutors. It is extremely rare to find a Sikh apologist even alluding to the possibility of blame or fault lying even partially with any of their Gurus. It cannot be discounted that prejudice and bias will invariably play a large part in not willing to acknowledge a plausible reason or justification for any heavy handedness used by the rulers against the Gurus.
What this paper seeks to determine is whether these Mughal leaders, in spite of their political and ethico-religious shortcomings, had any cause for concern vis-á-vis the Gurus and their community. Did these Sikhs pose a significant threat? If so, was the use of force against them justified? Or is it the case, as is almost universally presented ad nauseam by Sikh intellectuals and lay alike, that these Gurus were entirely the innocent victim of unprovoked aggression by the Muslim state?
An Historical Prologue
In the system of the Gurus, so long as the end is spiritual and not self centred, the use of necessary force is justified.
As with all new religious movements, Sikhism arose within a context of socio-economic fluctuation and conflict. And as an ideological movement it strove for change by protesting against and challenging the status quo so as to pave the way towards achieving its aims and expounding its values. But any such attempts at change will always be deemed by the authorities as voices of dissent and a challenge to social order. And this clash with the authorities was no different for the Gurus, except that their overt social protest was not unique to themselves, but rather a continuation of what K. W. Jones called “a tradition of dissent”:
A similar message was proclaimed by Guru Nanak (1469-1539) …. Guru Nanak created a quietist movement that rejected priestly Hinduism, its rituals, idols, and basic authority. He also taught equality. Nanak was followed by a succession of nine gurus… Beginning as a quietist sect, the Sikhs evolved into a structured socio-religious movement and finally a separate religion. 
Ishwar Gaur describes the first Guru, Nanak, as “the non-conformist ‘elder’ of the people of Punjab”. 
But to Surjit Singh Gandhi, Guru Nanak’s modus operandi was much more far-reaching and threatening than mere protest and non-conformism:
Nanakism was not a protest but a revolutionary retort against the enormity of spiritual obscurantism, superstition-ridden, caste-riven society debased by meaningless rituals, totems and esoteric practices.  (bold ours)
Daljeet Singh echoes similar observations when he remarks that Nanak’s “mystic system almost completely reversed the trends, principles and practices of the then prevailing religions, he criticised and rejected virtually all the old beliefs, rituals and harmful practices existing in the country”.  (bold ours) Thus, Nanak’s stance specifically towards Islaam and its scripture was damning:
Though Nanakism “gave birth to Punjabi nationalism”, it was not restricted to this:
Daljeet points to “twenty-five years of his [Nanak’s] extensive preparatory tours and preachings across the length and breadth of the country” as proof of “his deep conviction”  towards the fulfilment of this aim, which he sees as having a three-fold objective:
Daljeet adds that Nanak “calculatedly tried to wean away his people” from the “traditional religions and concepts” simply because they were “of no use for his purposes”, which was ultimately to “enrich the moral, social and political life of man”.  (bold, underline ours)[/padding]
This revolutionary drive continued to gain momentum with each successive Guru until it culminated in a physical confrontation with the state.
But this inevitable clash would certainly not have been unforeseeable to one as calculating and as seemingly prudent as Nanak was. Such radical and far sweeping changes would necessarily require a radical overhaul of the socio-politico-religious institutions.
In this regard, Daljeet correctly construes that for the “gurus [to] contemplate and suggest the reconstruction and creation of alternative moral institutions. Naturally, new human institutions can come up only by the substitution, remoulding or destruction of the old and oppressive organisations. The lives of the Gurus are a clear pointer that, in their system, change of environment to improve the moral climate in all fields is clearly envisaged and sanctioned“. (bold, underline ours) Why? Because: “It is logically impossible to construct anything without… destroying and remoulding the existing environment.” 
It goes without saying that for Guru Nanak and the Sikhs, this radical change was, in the end, for the better.
One does not need to go very far in researching the position adopted by Sikh scholars and historians towards the behaviour of the Mughal leaders and the political state of affairs that existed during the period of the 10 Gurus before coming across a generally accepted party line. We have already seen the Nanakian take on things: the need for a complete radical overhaul so as to replace the existing socio-politico-religious “evils” of the time:
And in keeping with their Gurus censure and condemnation, Sikh scholars and historiographers have, since then and almost without exception, portrayed these Mughal leaders as tyrannical and oppressive.
The question of right and wrong, good and evil, etc., was, as Daljeet naturally points out, “judged by the standard of Sikh ethics”:
And force it was that was eventually used by the Gurus against those they deemed as the aggressors in order to achieve their goals.
Naturally, new human institutions can come up only by the substitution, remoulding or destruction of the old and oppressive organisations. The lives of the Gurus are a clear pointer that, in their system, change of environment to improve the moral climate in all fields is clearly envisaged and sanctioned.
All such action, which eventually leads to the use of force, necessarily requires some preparatory groundwork; and so it was true for this early fledgling community. But, before this point is explored, it is necessary to provide a brief, yet sufficient, study of those involved during the stage of violent conflict.
The first such confrontation to arise between the state and the Sikh community was during the respective reigns of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir (1569-1627 C.E.), and the fifth Guru, Arjan Dev (1563-1606 C.E.). We, therefore, begin by investigating the general character of Jahangir, the circumstances that surrounded this incident and the prevalent socio-political milieu of the time.
Nur-ud-din Salim Jahangir, the third and eldest surviving son of Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar (famously known as: Akbar the Great), was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1605 C.E. until his death.
Politically speaking, the general perception of Jahangir has been that, like his father before him, he was a leader said to be “tolerant” of non-Muslims and their respective religious practices:
This attitude was similarly witnessed first hand by a disinterested historical source and a contemporary of Jahangir: Edward Terry. On his voyage to East India between 1616-1619, the English chaplain – who referred to Jahangir as The Mogul – said of his administration:
Terry then recounts a story that he witnessed of a man who was summoned in the presence of Jahangir after converting to Christianity. The King attempted to convince him “to renounce that his new profession” firstly by way of threats, and then with promises of riches. When Jahangir “perceived that his resolution indeed was to be a Christian… he [Jahangir] bid him to continue, and with a reward discharged him”. 
Concerning Terry, Prof. Alison Games of Georgetown University observes that “he [Terry] applauded the freedom of religion that all enjoyed”. 
We also know, thanks to Prof. Pashaura Singh’s discovery of a copy  found in Vaid Mohan Singh’s library of an imperial order given by Jahangir, that before relations turned sour, the Emperor had generously granted Guru Arjan 1400 bighas of land (approximately 280 acres) for Taran Taran. 
Another contemporary of Jahangir, Sir Thomas Roe, not only believed the King to be an “atheist”, but like Terry, affirmed:
Although Jahangir’s Islamic practices and theological stance are not the topic of discussion, it is important to note in the context of his lenience towards the religions, including polytheism, that “like Akbar, Jahangir sought out eminent holy men like the widely venerated Vaishnava ascetic, Gosain Jadrup of Ujain, whom Akbar had also visited”. J. F. Richards states:
On Monday, the 12th, my desire to see Gosain Jadrup again increased and hastening to his hut, without ceremony, I enjoyed his society. Sublime words were spoken to between us. God Almighty has granted him an unusual grace, a lofty understanding, and excellent nature, and sharp intellectual powers, with a God-given knowledge and a heart free from the attachments of the world, so that putting behind his back the world and all that is in it, he sits content in the corner of solitude and without wants. 
These discussions, however, seem to have thoroughly confused Jahangir:
Gladwin and Aiyangar comment:
While H. Beveridge said:
This is not to say that he was tolerant of all religious practices. According to Jahangir’s famous autobiography, Tuzuk-e-Jahangiri or Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri (also referred to as Jahangirnama), there was an incident (though this appears to be an isolated case) where he ordered the demolition of a statue he saw in a Hindu temple that was of a man with a pig’s head said to represent God!
However, in spite of Jahangir’s seemingly amenable disposition towards non-Muslims, as well as his initial displays of tolerance through the granting of land to Arjan, somewhere down the line relations started to deteriorate and hostility began to foment between Jahangir and Guru Arjan Dev.
The Threat of Arjan Dev
The Mughal military state considered the early Sikh Gurus to be heading a separate community.
According to J. F. Richards:
It is safe to say that Guru Arjan and his community involved themselves in such activities as to be deemed a threat to the state and be seen as a nonconformist, dissident movement which had the potential to rebel.
I.D. Gaur correctly observes:
But, in what sense was this threat perceived by Jahangir and how was it manifested?
We have already mentioned the grand revolutionary vision of Nanak: to see the people of the world united under his philosophy. This would only be achieved through condemnation of the old ways followed by a complete overhaul of the prevalent socio-politico-religious structure.
By the time of Arjan Dev, “the organisation of the community, according to Gupta, became a state within a state”: 
For Jagjit Singh:
S.M. Latif delineates the extent of this organisational structure as follows:
He organized a system of taxation and appointed delegates, or deputies, for the purposes of collecting it from his followers throughout the country. These contributions, or nazranas, from the faithful were collected in all districts by means of the deputies abovementioned, and presented by them to the Guru in au annual assembly. Thus were the Sikhs accustomed to a regular system of government, and, having been formed into a community, gradually developed into a real power. To increase the commonwealth, Arjun also sent his disciples to foreign countries for the purposes of trade, dealing principally in Turkistan horses. 
It should be mentioned that such organisation was an accumulative effort on the part of the Gurus. Sir G. C. Narang suggests that the “strong friendship” that developed between Arjan’s predecessor Guru Amar Das and Jahangir’s father, Akbar, “considerably contributed to the increasing prestige and influence of the Gurus”:
Akbar sent a trusted official, one Bhagwau Das Khatri of Sirhind, to beseech the Guru to pray for his success …. Akbar afterwards paid a visit to Guru Amar Das, and a strong friendship grew up between the two great men.
After the death of Amar Das, Akbar held his successor in the same respect, and, as time went on, the relations between Ram Das and Akbar grew more and more friendly.
Akbar’s friendship with the Gurus operated in two ways for the benefit of the Church. In the first place, it increased the prestige of the Gurus and made their mission more popular with the higher classes of the society. …
The Sikhs had now asserted their own individuality, a definite secular turn had been given to their ambition, some slight foundation of organisation had been laid by the establishment of the twenty-two bishoprics under Amar Das, and the public institutions founded by that Guru and his successor, together with the prestige derived from the friendship of the Emperor, had considerably strengthened the foundations of the Sikh Church. 
As “the capital and metropolis of the infant commonwealth”, Amritsar’s conversion “into a base of operations by Guru Arjan had considerably contributed to the propagation of Sikhism among the Jats of Manjha”. Narang continues:
The division of the area permeated by Sikhism into 22 provinces by Amar Das, the law of hereditary succession introduced by Ram Das, the foundation of Amritsar which became the chief centre of Sikh activity and became a sort of Sikh Capital, and the compilation of the Granth, which served as a code of sacred as well as secular law, had introduced into the constitution of the Sikh community some preliminary elements of an infant theocratical state with the Guru as the true King. 
It did not stop there:
Horse trade, being a lucrative trade in those days, enriched the Sikh traders and brought large contributions to the coffers of the Church.
It laid the foundation of the future armies of the Khalsa, by developing a taste for riding among the Sikhs, who gradually became the finest horsemen in Northern India. 
Horse-riding was an imperative part in bringing to fruition a standing army:
We have already detailed in our article Guru Game Hunters how, in conjunction with the militarisation of the Sikh community, hunting had become a popular past-time.
Baldev Singh echoes:
His growing popularity was perceived as threat [sic] by Emperor Jahangir, the proponents of caste ideology and the schismatic opponents. 
How far the Sikhs had actually become “a state within a state” is not the question before us. What is relevant to our purpose is whether or not they took to that path? Jahangir’s own autobiography points to an affirmative answer.
There seems to be an apparent discrepancy, however, with the aforementioned allusions of a “state within a state” being peaceful and just. The question that arises is how a community, enjoying sufficient freedom to achieve all that it had, could continue to increase its power establishment, move towards relative self-autonomy whilst impudently converting the Muslims from the truth of Islam to the falsehood and disbelief of Sikhism, without being perceived as a real and apparent threat to the state and social order? How could the leader of a religious community, who accepts the derogative epithet Sacha Padshah – True Emperor, who attempts to stir up trouble and rebellion against a Muslim led-state by encouraging its co-religionists to renege from their faith, who holds the government as tyrannical oppressors, and who prepares a standing army by increasing its military arsenal, be seen by the powers that be as peaceful and just? The answer is obvious, at least for J. Singh:
The straw that ultimately broke the camel’s back is Guru Arjan’s decision to side with the rebel Khusraw, who was attempting a coup d’etat against his own father: Jahangir. Up till then, Arjan’s threat was perhaps perceived as non-threatening. But his treasonous move to ally himself with Khusraw meant that it was not Jahangir who initiated the conflict, but the “peaceful and unobtrusive” Sacha Padshah: Guru Arjan Dev ji:
Guru Arjan Allies with Khusraw
Khusrau visited the Guru as a rebel and was blessed by him. This blessing could have been sought only for his success in his rebellion and NOT for a religious purpose.
At last when Khusrau passed along this road this insignificant fellow proposed to wait upon him. Khusrau happened to halt at the place where he was, and he came out and did homage to him. He behaved to Khusrau in certain special ways, and made on his forehead a finger-mark in saffron, which the Indians (Hinduwan) call qashqa, and is considered propitious. When this came to my ears and I clearly understood his folly, I ordered them to produce him and handed over his houses, dwelling places, and children to Murtaza Khan, and having confiscated his property commanded that he be put to death.
There were two men named Raju  and Amba, who, under the shadow of the protection of the eunuch Daulat Khan, made their livelihood by oppression and tyranny, and had done many acts of oppression in the few days that Khusrau was before Lahore. I ordered Raju to the gallows and a fine to be taken from Amba, who was reputed to be wealthy. 
The above is an excerpt from Jahangir’s famous memoir Tuzuk-i-Jahanghiri concerning Arjan Dev and Jahangir’s son Khusraw.
The Sikhs became good horsemen and formed later the nucleas of military power. All these features were important developments because they were clear preparation for the military organisation.
From this primary source, it is immediately noticeable that one thing Jahangir was especially displeased with was how “the ignorant and foolish followers of Islam” had been beguiled by Arjan’s “ways and manners”. Although he does not act upon these intentions, what is of crucial note is his disclosure in wanting to put a stop to Arjan’s divisive exploits.
Despite the Gurus’ efforts in developing their stronghold, something that had not gone unnoticed by Jahangir, it was Arjan’s unforgiveable decision to align himself with Khusraw’s rebellion that unsurprisingly exhausted Jahangir’s patience and brought about retaliation.
Daljeet Singh is one of the few Sikh apologists not to mince words in this regard, and here he accurately and bluntly, despite its bitter truth, tells it in a way that many of his fellows would not admit to for fear of incriminating themselves:
That this incident rankled in the mind of Emperor Jehangir, is evident from his own statement recorded in his autobiography. He wrote that he had ordered the execution by torture of Guru Arjun, unless he embraced Islam, because the Guru had raised aloft the standard of holiness and many Hindus and Muslims had foolishly become his followers.  (bold, underline ours)
And neither should Arjan’s support be trivialised, especially given the violent pillage and plunder that followed in the wake of Khusraw’s rebellion:
When Khusru arrived at Mehtra, he met with Hassan Beg Bedakhshee, on his way to Agra from Cabul from which Government he had lately been dismissed, Khusru easily persuaded him to join his party with about three hundred men, and return with him to Penjab. They attacked and plundered every one who fell in their way, and seized some horses, upon which they mounted their infantry; even women and children did not escape their fury; and they burnt all the villages through which they passed. Khusru was much affected at beholding these scenes of violence and distress, but was obliged to comply with what he had not the power to prevent. 
What worried Jahangir was the potential threat this sedition could have had in serving as a rallying cry for a group that he described as “fractious or rebellious”:
The Gurus certainly fit the description of holding general contempt towards the Mughal government.
It was only a matter of time before a Sikh Guru decided to transform his actions into force. Arjan’s allying with Khusraw against what he saw as the greater evil was the opportunity he was awaiting to kick start his move towards achieving the end goal for his community: to become an independent and autonomously self-governed state.
It can, therefore, be deduced that the trouble which eventually befell Guru Arjan was wholly self-wrought. His decision to side with the enemy of the state was an insidious and calculated one; the consequences of which he was fully aware of and prepared for.
The chief reason that upset the Emperor was that the Guru had blessed Khusro and helped him monetarily while the latter had rebelled against Jehangir.
In effect, Guru Arjan Dev sided with a man whose decision to unjustifiably rebel against his father had led to widespread unrest, the innocent bloodshed of young and old, and large scale wanton destruction. For Guru Arjan Dev, this, it seems, did not matter; if it did, why side with Khusraw?
As a side note, it is for this reason that according to the most correct opinion among Muslim scholars, as adduced from the clear and apparent textual proofs of the two Islamic revelatory sources – the Qur’an and the Sunnah (authentic preserved tradition of Prophet Muhammad) as per the understanding of the beau ideal generation of Muslims: the pious predecessors (Salaf as-Saalih) – it is not only forbidden for Muslims to physically revolt or rebel against the ruler, be he righteous or tyrannical, but to also denounce and criticise him publically in his absence. The reason being is that such a choice of action invariably leads to greater harm. It is from the fundamental principles of the Shari’ah (Divine Legislation) that if the preponderance of evidence for a given action points to the resultant harm being equal to or greater than the benefit, then it is impermissible to actualise. This wise ruling stems from the objectives (maqaasid) of the Shari’ah, which includes the preservation of five necessities (daruriyyah) that need to be sustained in order to ensure individual and social welfare and to stave off both unbearable hardship in this life and potential punishment in the hereafter. These five basic human rights are:
- Religion (deen)
- Life (nafs)
- Intellect (‘aql)
- Property (maal)
- Lineage (nasl)
These two Islamic concepts: the certainty of procuring religiously sanctioned benefit from a chosen action, and the preservation of the basic necessities from the objectives (maqaasid) of the Shari’ah, will be returned to when giving an overall evaluation of the actions chosen by the Gurus, insha’Allaah (God-Willing).
An Embarrassing Allegiance
Despite the direct and primary evidence from Jahangir of the collusion that took place between Arjan and Khusraw, there have been a number of Sikh apologists determined to falsify the encounter altogether by casting doubt over its authenticity. This attempt is perhaps motivated by a sense of embarrassment: a righteous Guru in cahoots with and blessing a rebel leader whose actions led to such murderous atrocities?! Obviously, this had to have been a fabrication; and so the ad hoc efforts to prove otherwise.
Pouring over the apologetics, one fallacy that is often repeated in this regard is the argument from silence. Sangat Singh states:
Similarly, Surjit Singh Gandhi fallaciously reasons:
But, of course, Jahangir is not completely silent because for him, the affixing of the teeka from Arjan is sufficient proof of where the Guru’s allegiance lay. Instead, both S. S. Gandhi and S. Singh move to flippantly dismiss the veracity of the account without proving it. S. S. Gandhi feebly asserts that the story was “a creation of the fancy of some cunning conspirator” while S. Singh calls it “a pure concoction” and speculates that it was “probably the work of Shaikh Farid Bukhari who might have used Chandu as a tool”. S. Singh then appeals to the authority of Ganda Singh and quotes him thusly:
Notice, however, that Ganda also resorts to the argument from silence, i.e. the absence of documentary evidence for a Guru not having done something in the past being evidence that it could not occur in the future. The problem with this argument is two-fold: firstly, Ganda himself affirms that the teeka ceremony was practiced, albeit by a respected member of the community; and secondly, there does not seem to be any theological prohibition against a Guru blessing a non-Sikh in this manner. Even if such a prohibition existed, it would only serve as proof against the historical validity of the teeka incident and not the actual meeting itself.
Jaswant Lal Mehta, however, fully affirms these accounts:
Moreover, if, for arguments sake, the teeka account was an historical fabrication, it does not solve the problem of the Guru having given, according to Mehta, Macauliffe and others, monetary help to the prince in the amount of five thousand rupees. According to Macauliffe:
S.S. Gandhi does not dispute this account; instead he interprets it not as a “conspiracy” or proof of Arjan’s participation in the rebellion, but as proof of “the high values for which the Guru was striving to take roots [sic]”.  To confirm this, the author cites Mehma Parkash: “The Guru took pity upon the Prince in misery and provided him with food, obviously from the Guru’s Langar, or free kitchen open to all way-farers.” At least he does not dismissively falsify the actual encounter between the two men altogether as some of his fellow apologists, such as Ganda Singh, have outlandishly done.
In Pashaura Singh’s critique of Arjan’s “martyrdom”, Ganda Singh’s reason for such a dismissal is on the basis that “the Guru was at Taran Taran at that time, not at Goindval…”  But Kapur Singh “takes issue with modern Sikh writers, including Ganda Singh, who have endeavoured to show that in reality Guru Arjan was in no way involved with the rebellion of Prince Khusrau directly or indirectly”. Although Kapur accepts said encounter, he also “accepts the possibility that the emperor himself may have been misled regarding the true facts of the case”. 
Pashaura then points to another contemporary source which also records said encounter: a letter written from Lahore on 25 September 1606 by Father Jerome Xavier. According to Pashaura, “Xavier’s letter was based upon what was popularly known to the people about this event at that time”:
Pashaura, however, does not falsify the teeka blessing. Instead, he points to C. H. Payne’s reconciliatory explanation:
And yet, after all this, Pashaura tenuously concludes that describing Guru Arjan as a “rebel… reflects an agenda in scholarship, exaggerating fragmentary traces of documentary evidences in historical analysis”.  But Pashaura had already conceded that Jahangir “did not like the conversion of ‘some ignorant, stupid Muslims’ to the Sikh faith”. He also states:
Guru Arjan received the prince [Khusrau] …. He applied a tilak … which was ‘considered propitious’; and the Sikh followers of the Guru gave a sum of five thousand rupees to the prince by way of help.
It is, therefore, surprising that Pashaura has failed to connect the dots in reaching the following conclusion: if state law is established upon the Shari’ah, and the Shari’ah forbids conversion to another religion, and Jahangir was, in general, opposed to Muslim conversions, then this collusion could, at best, be interpreted as a criminal offence not deserving of execution, or, at worst, rebellious and, thus, guilty of a capital offence and deserving of execution. After all, Jahangir all but alludes to the rebellious and unruly nature of the Gurus, as Pashaura himself quotes:
Pashaura even goes so far as to break down the meaning of “siyasat o yasa rasadand” as follows:
How is it then, that Pashaura, after acknowledging Kapur’s conclusion that Jahangir ordered the punishment of Yasa because “the Guru’s existence was definitely considered a danger to the safety of the Mughal Empire in India”,  considers those who charge the Guru with rebellion as exaggerators who have an “agenda in scholarship”?
It is beyond reasonable doubt, as we have shown, that the accumulative efforts of the five Gurus up to and including Guru Arjan, which included the establishment and healthy growth of a “state within a state” along with the temerity of knowingly violating the law of the land, i.e. the Shari’ah, by actively converting Muslims to Sikhism, clearly point to a rebellious and unruly nature.
Hence, many Sikh apologists, such as Jagjit Singh, accept the validity of this historical event without resorting to spin and disingenuous apologetics. Jagjit gives the following summary while rhetorically ending:
G.C. Narang likewise affirms:
The Guru had made the mistake of openly espousing the cause of the rebel Prince Khusro, and as stated in the previous chapter, had helped him by placing a sum of money at his disposal.
… Through his machinations, the Guru was arraigned of treason, [The charges also included the allegations that the Guru called himself “true king,” and had a large organisation under him with the intention of making war upon the Emperor] and fined two hundred thousand rupees.  (bold ours)
However, to say that Guru Arjan made a “mistake” is to undermine the intelligence and shrewdness of this man. He was too clever to have made a mistake; it is too implausible to assume that he and his intelligentsia would have been oblivious to the ramifications of inviting Khusraw in for a meal, blessing him and assisting him financially, especially given the overt anti-Islamic nature of the Nanakian agenda and their conspicuously nonconformist past record.
Often, Sikhs play on emotions by making reference to the alleged harshness of the punishment when justice was served against Guru Arjan the upstart. It should be noted, however, that Jahangir was, in general, consistently severe against those involved in acts of rebellion. Take the example of his own flesh and blood, Khusraw. His rebellion, as is the case with almost all rebellions, led to widespread unrest, destruction, pillage and murder. As Fernao Guerreiro points out, Jahangir is often not given the credit he deserves for the manner in which he clamped down and extinguished this impending crisis:
This is, of course, also true of the threat posed by the Gurus; but, returning to the aftermath of Khusraw’s attempted coup, Donald F. Lach and Edwin J. Van Kley relate:
But that is not all; in addition S. R. Sharma records:
If this was the retribution against his very own son, any suggestion that Guru Arjan’s punishment was exclusively an act of religious persecution is highly implausible given the overall context, i.e. Jahangir’s consistency in punishing acts of high treason, something that Indologist Vincent Smith (as Sharma cites) also acknowledged:
Let us also not forget that this violent confrontation was the inevitable consequence of the Nanakian revolutionary aim, which was so far reaching that S. S. Gandhi concludes:
Thus, Arjan’s so-called “martyrdom” effectively laid down a precedent for the emergence of a long tradition of dissent which could, on the pretext of defending freedom and equality as per the ethico-religious standards of Sikhism, justify readily switching to the use of violence and rebellion to achieve end objectives.
For three or four generation they [the Gurus] had been pedalling this same stuff. For a long time I had been thinking that either this false trade should be eliminated or that he [Arjan] should be brought into the embrace of Islam. At length, when Khusraw passed by there, this inconsequential little fellow wished to pay homage to Khusraw …. When this was reported to me, I realized how perfectly false he was and ordered him brought to me. – Jahangir
What this research strongly suggests is that even before its transformation into a rebellious militant movement, the Nanakian philosophy was predisposed towards the use of a revolutionary strategy. Guru Nanak was a revolutionist whose modus operandi was to remould the old organisation through a long term ideological-political campaign and ultimately substitute it with his politico-religious system.
As cited above, since all action and activity eventually culminates in the need to utilise force when encountering physical resistance, and since the use of necessary force is justified to achieve a spiritual end in the socio-political ideology of the Gurus, what else could have materialised other than a violent clash between the state and the Sikh community as an inevitable climax?
What has been shown beyond reasonable doubt is that despite the Mughal Empire’s patience towards the Sikh community’s drive to strengthen its “state within a state”, which included Jahangir’s generous granting of land to Guru Arjan, the same Satguru colluded in Khusraw’s brutal rebellion by blessing him and offering financial assistance. As Shaikh Muhammad Ikram puts it:
What this proves is that any contention that the Gurus were wholly innocent bystanders and victims of injustice is certainly untrue. To the contrary, the Sikh community, led by their politically driven Gurus, had, from the very beginning, visions of grandeur in seeking independence and self-autonomy. To achieve this end, they theologically justified the use of violence. When they felt an opportune moment had presented itself, Guru Arjan led them to violate the laws of the land by joining a rebellion that ultimately led to the capture and brutal execution of said Guru.
The point that needs to be stressed in conclusion is that it was not the Mughal Empire that acted criminally (or more accurately: treasonously), but the Gurus and their Sikh community by taking up arms:
Unlike the moral premise upon which Muslims are instructed to make decisions, i.e. the certainty of procuring religiously sanctioned benefit from a chosen action so as to protect and preserve the five basic necessities that are part of the objectives (maqaasid) of the Shari’ah, Guru Arjan’s decision certainly did not take into consideration the overall harm this would not only cause his own community, but also the citizens at large.
In effect, this war of attrition initiated by “[t]he Sikhs, who ultimately were to play an important part in the weakening of the empire,”  would continue between the Gurus and each successive Mughal ruler, thus leading to the death of tens of thousands of people, until the eventual collapse of the Mughal empire.
Thanks to (jazakAllaahu khairan) Abu Ubayd (Islam-Sikhism Researcher) for his valuable efforts and for his sagacious comments and suggestions.
 K.W. Jones (1989), Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India, (Cambridge University Press), pp. 12-13.
 I.D. Gaur (2008), Martyr as Bridegroom: A Folk Representation of Bhagat Singh, (Anthem Press), p. 24.
 S.S. Gandhi (2007), History of Sikh Gurus Retold: 1469-1606 C.E. Vol.1, (Atlantic Publishers & Distributors), pp. 183, 185.
 D. Singh (2004), Sikhism: A Comparative Study of its Theology and Mysticism, (Amritsar, Singh Brothers), p. 258.
 S.S. Gandhi (2007), History of Sikh Gurus Retold: 1469-1606 C.E. Vol.1, (Atlantic Publishers & Distributors), p. 185.
 Ibid., p. 192.
 D. Singh, op. cit., p. 259.
 Ibid., p. 261.
 Ibid., p. 265.
 Ibid., pp. 239-40.
 Ibid., p. 239.
 Ibid., p. 241.
 E. Terry (1777), A Voyage to East-India, (The New York Public Library, J. Wilkie), p. 418.
 Ibid., p. 425.
 A. Games (2008), The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Expansion 1560-1660, (New York: Oxford University Press US), p. 236.
 According to P. Singh, the copy was reproduced in Gurmukhi script in two old manuscripts entitled Gur Pranavali Dasan Parishahian Ji Ki and Gur Pranali, respectively.
 P. Singh (2006), Life and work of Guru Arjan: History, Memory, and Biography in the Sikh Tradition, (Oxford University Press), p. 75.
 T. Roe (2008), The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the Great Mogul, 1615-1619, Volume 2, (BiblioBazaar, LLC), p. 314.
 J.F. Richards (1996), The Mughal Empire, Volume 1; Volume 5, (Cambridge University Press), p. 98.
 M. Alam (2004), The Languages of Political Islam: India, 1200-1800, (C. Hurst & Co. Publishers), p.95.
 F. Gladwin, K. V. R. Aiyangar (1930), The History of Jahangir, (Read Books), p.20.
 (Ed.) H. Beveridge, (Trans.) A. Rogers (1909), Tuzuk-i-Jahanghiri (Memoirs of Jahangir), (London Royal Asiatic Society), p. xii.
 J.F. Richards, op. cit., p. 98.
 I.D. Gaur, op. cit., p. 28.
 D. Singh, op. cit., p. 273.
 (Eds.) D. Singh, K. Singh (1997), Sikhism, its Philosophy and History, (Chandigarh, India; Institute of Sikh Studies), p. 306.
 J. Singh (1999), Dynamics of Sikh Philosophy, (Chandigarh, India; Institute of Sikh Studies), p. 116.
 S.M. Latif (1889), History of the Panjab from the Remotest Antiquity to the Present Time, (Calcutta, Central Press Co.), p. 253.
 Ibid., p. 254.
 G.C. Narang (1910), Transition of Sikhism into a Political Organization, (Lahore, Tribune Press), pp. 26-7, 31.
 Ibid., pp. 33-4.
 Ibid., pp. 35-6.
 Fn.14: Gur Bilas Patshahi Chhevin, p.85; Mehma Parkash, ii, p. 395.
 D. Singh, op. cit., p. 272.
 G.C. Narang, op. cit., p. 37.
 B. Singh (2009), An Analysis of Text as Sword: Sikh Religious Violence taken for Wonder, p. 47.
 J. Singh, op. cit., pp. 116-7.
 Ibid., p. 117.
 Fn.1: The fifth Guru of the Sikhs and the compiler of the Granth. He was the father of Har Govind. See Sayyid Muhammad Latif’s history of the Panjab, p. 253. Arjun’s tomb is in Lahore.
 According to A. Rogers, Raju was a Sikh, see index, p. 474.
 (Ed.) H. Beveridge, (Trans.) A. Rogers (1909), Tuzuk-i-Jahanghiri (Memoirs of Jahangir), (London Royal Asiatic Society), pp. 72-3.
 D. Singh, op. cit., p. 274.
 S.M. Latif, op. cit., pp. 150-1.
 F. Gladwin, K. V. R. Aiyangar, op. cit., p. 26.
 (Ed.) H. Beveridge, (Trans.) A. Rogers, op. cit., p. 54.
 D. Singh, op. cit., pp. 274-5.
 S. Singh (2002), The Legacy of Guru Arjun Devji, (SikhSpectrum.com Monthly, Issue No.5).
 S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 430.
 S. Singh, op. cit.: Fn.17: Ganda Singh, n. 77, p. 165.
 J.L. Mehta (1984), Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India Vol.2: Mughal Empire (1526-1707), (Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd), p. 384-5.
 M.A. Macauliffe (1909), The Sikh Religion, its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors – Vol.3, (Clarendon Press, Oxford), p. 85.
 S.S. Gandhi, op. cit., p. 431.
 P. Singh (2005), Understanding the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan, (Journal of Punjab Studies, Spring 2005, Volume 12, No. 1), p.33.
Note: Dr Kirpal Singh of the Institute of Sikh Studies also repeats Gandha Singh’s objection:
 Ibid., p. 34.
 Ibid., p. 38.
 Ibid., p. 31.
 Ibid., pp. 30-1.
 Ibid., p. 31.
 Ibid., p. 34.
 Fn.29: Tuzuk-i-Jehangiri, quoted by Hari Ram Gupta: History of the Sikh Gurus, p. 100.
 Fn.30: Ganda Singh (ed.): Early European Accounts of the Sikhs, p. 184.
 J. Singh, op. cit., pp. 129-30.
 G.C. Narang, op. cit., pp. 37-8, 40, 40-41.
 F. Guerreiro, (Trans.) C. H. Payne (1930), Jahangir and the Jesuits: with an account of the travels of Benedict Goes and the mission to Pegu, from the Relations of Father Fernao Guerreiro, S.J., (Taylor & Francis), p. 91.
 D.F. Lach, E.J. Van Kley (1971), Asia in the making of Europe Volume 3, (University of Chicago Press), p. 633.
 Fn.3: The blinding of Khusru was the result of another insurrection attempted in his favour. The plot was hatched when Jahangir had been away in Kabul, to assassinate him on one of his hunting expeditions and place Khusru on the throne. There were, however, too many conspirators and the whole plan was betrayed to Jahangir.
The ring-leaders were caught and executed. The Prince was further victimised as a result of the excessive solicitude of his well-wishers.
The Intikhab-i-Jahangir-Shahi gives the following account of the blinding:-
‘His Majesty ordered Prince Khusru to be deprived of his sight. When the wire was put in his eyes, such pain was inflicted on him that it is beyond all expression. The Prince, after being deprived of sight, was brought to Agra ; and the paternal love again revived. The most experienced physicians were ordered to take measures to heal the eyes of the Prince, that they might become as sound as they were before. One of the physicians of Persia, Hakim Sadra by name, undertook, to cure the Prince within six months. By his skill, the Prince recovered his original power of vision in one of his eyes, but the other remained a little defective in that respect, and also became smaller than its natural size. After the lapse of the assigned time, the Prince was presented to His Majesty, who showed the physician great favour, and honoured him with the title of Masihu-z Zaman.’ – E. & D., op. cit., pp. 448-49.
Beni Prasad observes, “After weighing all available evidence, my conclusion is that the version of the Intikhab-i Jahanghiri comes nearer the truth than any other. The author writes with inside knowledge.” – History of Jahangir, pp. 165-6 and n.
 S.R. Sharma (1999), Mughal Empire in India: A Systematic Study including Source Material-Volume 2, (Atlantic Publishers & Distributors), p. 322.
 Ibid.: Fn.2: Smith, op. cit., p. 376.
 S.S. Gandhi (2007), op. cit., p. 189.
 S.M. Ikram (1964), Muslim Civilization in India, (New York: Columbia University Press), p. 194.
 Ibid., p. 193.