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Emperor Akbar Visits Guru Arjan

Akbar's Prime Minister and court historian, Abul Fazl, writes in Akbar Namah that Emperor Akbar crossed river Beas at Goindwal on an elephant while his army passed over by a bridge. The Emperor called at the residence of Guru Arjan on November 24, 1598.

Guru Arjan was 35 in the prime of life. His bewitching and handsome appearance, sweet and melodious voice and fascinating and charming manners, his princely style of living, his warm reception of the Emperor and his singing of the hymns deeply impressed Akbar. Sujan Rae Bhandari gives greater details of this meeting;

"When His Majesty left Lahore and reached the neighbourhood of Batala, he came to know that a fight had taken place in the house of Achal between mussalman faqirs and a group of hindu sanyasis. The muslim faqirs prevailed and by way of retaliation they demolished the temples of the place. His Majesty King Akbar to do justice against the excesses committed put many of the muslim faqirs into prison, and ordered that the demolished temples should be built anew. From there he crossed the river Beas and visited the dwelling place of Guru Arjan, successor of Baba Nanak, who was famous for divine love. The Emperor was highly pleased to meet him and with his recitation of the hymns of Baba Nanak in praise of God."

Sujan Rae Bhandari continues, "Guru Arjan offered him a suitable present out of regard for his visit. He represented that during the stay of the imperial army in Panjab the price; of grain had gone up. and the revenues of parganahs had been increased. Now on the departure of royal troops the price of corn would come down. It would be difficult for the subjects to pay the enhanced revenue. The Emperor acceded to his request and issued orders to his chief diwan to reduce the revenue by one-sixth. He instructed that the revenue must be charged according to the concession granted and nothing more should be demanded." (Khulasat-ut-Twarikh, page 425. Also known as Khulasatu-t-Tawarikh)

The Emperor's visit considerably raised the prestige of the Guru. The rural traders and peasants of the Majha became Sikhs in large numbers.

Trade In Horses

Guru Arjan appears to have encouraged his followers to take to trade and commerce in addition to agriculture. This made them rlch. adventurous, fearless and free from caste prejudices as they had to buy horses from Central and West Asia. He seems to have organised some trade in horses purely for himself to meet his rising personal expenses, as he would not spend money contributed by his Sikhs on himself. The contemporary author of the Dabistan writes: "Some of the Sikh Gurus take to agriculture and others to trade." (The Dabistan, page 233). The Sikhs became good horsemen and formed the nucleus of the Guru's military power.

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