Dates for assembly

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
The martyrdom of the fifth of the 10 Sikh gurus (or teachers) in 1606 is observed worldwide by members of the faith.

Outline script for assembly leaders

Christians versus Muslims, Hindus against Sikhs, Jews against Muslims: it is easy to think that members of the different religions are always quarrelling or fighting each other. Sometimes they do - but not always.

Just over 400 years ago, a great Muslim leader called Emperor Akbar who ruled most of what is now India and Pakistan gave some land to the Sikhs so that they could build their own city. The work was begun by one of the great Sikh teachers or rulers called Guru Ram Das. At first it was just a small town and was named after him: Ramdaspur.

When his son, Arjan, became Guru, he carried on the work. He had several large pools dug and finished the work of building a temple. That temple is now known the Golden Temple and Ramdaspur is now called Amritsar ("pool of nectar"). It is the Sikhs' most holy city. Guru Arjan also wrote more than 2,000 hymns. He had these and other hymns (some of them Hindu and Muslim) made into the holy book Sikhs now call the Guru Granth Sahib. Emperor Akbar so liked it he said the Sikhs could pay less tax.

After Akbar died, the new emperor, Jahangir, became jealous of Guru Arjan and accused him of helping his brother and rival. Arjan was brought before Jahangir and ordered to pay a huge fine and to alter the words of the holy book. Arjan refused - even though he knew this would result in death. It did. He was forced to sit in a red-hot cauldron over a fire and boiling water was poured on him until he died.

In his memory, Sikhs hold processions and give out drinks of fruit juice or sherbet, inviting passers-by to be refreshed "in the Guru's name".

Follow-up

Discuss and research martyrdom. Is it admirable or a foolish waste of life? Do students consider any ideals or beliefs are worth dying for?

Can different faiths learn live peacefully together? How?

Two comprehensive websites give more details and resources.

* http:allaboutsikhs.com * www.sikhs.org

At the first site, follow links to "Sikh Gurus" and then to "Guru Arjan".

Both sites offer audio.

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