Guru Arjan was the youngest son of Guru Ram Das and Mata Bhani. He was born at Goindwal on April 15, 1563. In 1579 Guru Arjan was eventually married to Ganga Devi daughter of Krishan Chand in 1579.
Eventually Arjan was invested with the Guruship by his father Guru Ram Das in 1581 as narrated previously. Guru Arjan now left Goindwal for Ramdaspur (Amritsar) to complete the work started there by his father and to get away from his jealous older brother Prithi Chand. Guru Arjan completed the two tanks of Santoksar and Amritsar and undertook the expansion of Ramdaspur.
The Guru laid the foundation of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in the middle of the tank of Amritsar. All of the Sikhs desired that it should be the tallest building in the new town. Guru Arjan however felt otherwise.
He reminded his followers that humility should be a great virtue. The temple was therefore built on as low an elevation as possible. To counter the Muslim belief that God's House is in the west and the Hindu belief that it is in the east where the sun rises, the Harmandir Sahib had entrances on all four sides. Guru Arjan exclaimed; "My faith is for the people of all castes and all creeds from whichever direction they come and to whichever direction they bow." To help raise money for these monumental public works projects, the Guru declared that all Sikhs should donate 1/10th of their earnings to charity.
Around the year 1590 Guru Arjan decided to go on an extensive tour of Punjab accompanied by such trusted Sikhs as Bhai Gurdas and Bidhi Chand. He visited Khadur, Goindwal, Sarhali, Bhaini, Khanpur, Taran Taran, Lahore, Dera Baba Nanak, as well as Barath where he met the aged ascetic son of Guru Nanak, Baba Sri Chand. Guru Arjan also purchased some land near Jullundur and laid the foundations of a new township called Kartarpur as well as digging a well called Ganga Sagar.
The Guru eventually returned to Amritsar to find his eldest brother Prithi Chand jealous as ever. With the Guru having no children as yet, Prithi Chand hoped that his own son Mehrban would be able to succeed Guru Arjan as the next Guru. Guru Arjan in his humility asked his wife Ganga Devi; "If you need a boon, ask not me but a pious Sikh like Baba Buddha, the aged seer and devout disciple of Guru Nanak". She proceeded with a large entourage and much fanfare to Baba Buddha who lived in a jungle near Amritsar. There she presented him with many delicacies to eat. Baba Buddha resented this and refused to provide any blessings. Upon hearing what happened, Guru Arjan told his wife to return this time on foot, with a simple meal prepared by herself. This time Baba Buddha was delighted and partook of the simple food. He prophesied; "A son will be born to thee who will crush the enemies of Nanak's house, just as I have crushed this piece of onion with my hand."
Soon thereafter Ganga Devi became pregnant. Prithi Chand meanwhile cultivated Sulhi Khan, a revenue officer of the Mughal court to raid Amritsar on the pretext of collecting a tribute. Guru Arjan along with his family left Amritsar and settled at Wadali a few miles away. It was here that on June 14, 1595 that the Guru was blessed with a son, Hargobind. The love of a father for his son can be seen in the following lines:
"My True Guru is my Savior and Protector. Showering us with His Mercy and Grace, God extended His Hand, and saved Hargobind, who is now safe and secure. The fever is gone - God Himself eradicated it, and preserved the honor of His servant. I have obtained all blessings from the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy; I am a sacrifice to the True Guru."
Meanwhile Sulhi Khan upon hearing that both Guru Arjan and his treasure were no longer in Amritsar put off his attack on the city. In Amritsar Prithi Chand tried to convince the Sikhs that he was the real Guru and not Arjan Dev. He only met with disappointment though, as the Sikhs continued to flock to see Guru Arjan Dev. Prithi Chand therefore concocted a plan to assassinate the Guru's only child Hargobind. He sent a wet-nurse with poison, got a snake charmer to release a snake near Hargobind, and on another attempt sent a servant with poison milk. All of these attempts failed with the perpetrators all publicly confessing that Prithi Chand had sent them.
"The poison had absolutely no harmful effect. But the wicked Brahmin died in pain. || 1 || The Supreme Lord God Himself has saved His humble servant. The sinner died through the Power of the Guru."
Eventually a large delegation of Sikhs were able to convince the Guru to return to Amritsar.
Guru Arjan now started the training for his son Hargobind for the responsibilities which he would one day have to face. He had the young Hargobind not only trained in languages and religious philosophy, but also in riding, the use of weapons, astronomy, medicine, agriculture, public administration and the sciences. Baba Buddha was put in charge of the religious education of the young Hargobind, while a team of experts were employed for instruction in their areas of expertise. Guru Arjan meanwhile kept quite busy attending to the spiritual needs of the large masses of Sikhs who came to see him daily. He would daily perform devotional music from the Harmandir Sahib, being a great instrumentalist and vocal singer.