Harmandir Sahib

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The Harmandir Sahib
ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ
The Golden Temple
Golden-Temple-Jan-07.jpg
The Harmandir Sahib (The abode of God),
known as the Golden Temple[1][2]
General information
Architectural style Sikh architecture
Town or city Amritsar
Country India
Coordinates 31°37′12″N 74°52′37″E / 31.62000°N 74.87694°E / 31.62000; 74.87694Coordinates: 31°37′12″N 74°52′37″E / 31.62000°N 74.87694°E / 31.62000; 74.87694
Construction started December 1585 AD
Completed August 1604

The Harmandir Sahib (Punjabi: ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ), also Darbar Sahib (Punjabi: ਦਰਬਾਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ, Punjabi pronunciation: [dəɾbɑɾ sɑhɪb])[1] [3] and informally referred to as the "Golden Temple",[1] is the holiest Sikh gurdwara located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. The city was founded in 1574 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das.[4] The Harmandir Sahib was designed by the fifth guru, Guru Arjan, who had the cornerstone laid by the Muslim Sufi saint Sai Hazrat Mian Mir on 28 December 1588. Guru Arjan completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, in 1604 and installed it in the gurdwara.[1]

There are four doors to get into the Harmandir Sahib, which symbolize the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions.[5] The present-day gurdwara was rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with the help of other Sikh Misls. In the early nineteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the Punjab region from outside attack and covered the upper floors of the gurdwara with gold, which gives it its distinctive appearance and its English name.[6]

The Harimandir Sahib is considered holy by Sikhs.[7] The holiest text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib,[8] is present inside the gurdwara during daytime and the holy book goes for Sukhasan during the night time. Its construction was mainly intended to build a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life and all religions to come and worship God equally.[1][8][8] Over 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship.[9]

History[edit]

Entrance to The Golden Temple in 1907
The Harmandir, londa 1867

The Harmandir Sahib literally means the Temple of God. In 1578 CE Guru Ram Das excavated a tank, which subsequently became known as Amritsar (Pool of the Nectar of Immortality),[10] giving its name to the city that grew around it. In due course, the Harmandir Sahib,[11] was built in the middle of this tank and became the supreme centre of Sikhism. Its sanctum came to house the Adi Granth comprising compositions of Sikh Gurus and other saints considered to have Sikh values and philosophies, e.g., Baba Farid, and Kabir. The compilation of the Adi Granth was started by the fifth guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan.

Construction[edit]

The Harmandir Sahib at night
Guide map of the Golden Temple complex

Guru Arjan conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and designed the architecture of Harmandir Sahib. Earlier the planning to excavate the holy tank (Amritsar or Amrit Sarovar ) was chalked out by Guru Amar Das, the Third Sikh Guru, but it was executed by Guru Ram Das under the supervision of Baba Budha. The land for the site was acquired by the earlier Guru Sahibs on payment or free of cost from the Zamindars (landlords) of native villages. The plan to establish a town settlement was also made and the construction work on the Sarovar (the tank) and the town started simultaneously in 1570. The work on both projects was completed in 1577. In December 1588, Guru Arjan initiated the construction of the gurdwara and the foundation stone was laid by Hazrat Mian Mir on 28 December 1588.[12][13][14][15][16][17]

The gurdwara was completed in 1604. Guru Arjan installed the Guru Granth Sahib in it and appointed Baba Buddha as the first Granthi (reader) of it on August 1604. In the mid-18th century it was attacked by the Afghans, by one of Ahmed Shah Abdali's generals, Jahan Khan, and had to be substantially rebuilt in the 1760s. However, in response a Sikh Army was sent to hunt down the Afghan force. The forces met five miles outside Amritsar and Jahan Khan's army was destroyed.[18]

Operation Blue Star[edit]

Main article: Operation Blue Star

Blue Star was a military operation undertaken on 3 June 1984 and ended on 6 June 1984. The Indian Army, led by General Kuldip Singh Brar, brought infantry, artillery, and tanks into the Harmandir Sahib to put a stop to Dharam Yudh Morcha led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. During these "Morcha" thousands of Sikhs courted arrest. The then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi ordered the army to launch the operation. Within six months, Indira Gandhi's Sikh bodyguards killed her (31 October 1984) for the perceived sacrilege.

Fierce fighting ensued between Sikhs and the soldiers, in which many of the Sikhs were killed along with many soldiers. The Harmandir Sahib complex also suffered much damage due to the attack, especially the holy Akal Takhat Sahib.

This attack is regarded by Sikhs as a desecration of Sikhism's holiest shrine and discrimination against a minority in India. In 1986, the repairs performed on the Akal Takhat Sahib after the attack, which the Rajiv Gandhi government had undertaken without consultation, were removed. A new Akal Takhat Sahib was completed in 1999 by Kar Sevaks (volunteer labor and funding).

Architectural features[edit]

Some of the architectural features of the Harmandir Sahib were intended to be symbolic of the Sikh world view.[19] Instead of the normal custom of building a gurdwara on high land, it was built at a lower level than the surrounding land so that devotees would have to go down steps to enter it.[19] In addition, instead of one entrance, Sri Harmandir Sahib has four entrances.[19]

The gurdwara is surrounded by the Sarovar, a large lake or holy tank, which consists of Amrit ("holy water" or "immortal nectar") and is fed by the Ravi River. There are four entrances to the gurdwara, signifying the importance of acceptance and openness. Inside the gurdwara complex there are many shrines to past Sikh Gurus, saints and martyrs (see map). There are three holy trees (bers), each signifying a historical event or Sikh saint. Inside the gurdwara there are many memorial plaques that commemorate past Sikh historical events, saints, martyrs and includes commemorative inscriptions of all the Sikh soldiers who died fighting in World Wars I and II.

The ceiling of Harminder Sahib is made with gold and precious stones.
Dukh Bhanjani Beri & Ath Sath Tirath

Much of the present decorative gilding and marblework dates from the early 19th century. All the gold and exquisite marble work were conducted under the patronage of Hukam Singh Chimni and Emperor Ranjit Singh, Maharaja of the Sikh Empire of the Punjab. The Darshani Deorhi Arch stands at the beginning of the causeway to the Harmandir Sahib; it is 62 metres (203 ft) high and 6 metres (20 ft) in width. The gold plating on the Harmandir Sahib was begun by Ranjit Singh and was finished in 1830. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a major donor of wealth and materials for the shrine.

Visiting[edit]

In keeping with the rule observed at all Sikh gurdwaras worldwide, the Harmandir Sahib is open to all persons regardless of their religion, colour, creed, or sex. The only restrictions on the Harmandir Sahib's visitors concern their behavior when entering and while visiting:

  • Maintaining the purity of the sacred space and of one's body while in it:
    • Upon entering the premises, removing one's shoes (leaving them off for the duration of one's visit) and washing one's feet in the small pool of water provided;
    • Not drinking alcohol, eating meat, or smoking cigarettes or other drugs while in the shrine
  • Dressing appropriately:
    • Wearing a head covering (a sign of respect) (the gurdwara provides head scarves for visitors who have not brought a suitable covering);[20]
    • Not wearing shoes (see above).
  • How to act:
    • When listening to Gurbani, one must also sit on the ground while in the Darbar Sahib as a sign of deference to both the Guru Granth Sahib and God.

First-time visitors are advised to begin their visit at the information office and then proceed to the Central Sikh Museum near the main entrance and clock tower.[tone]

The Harimandir Sahib runs one of the largest free kitchens in the world, serving 100,000 people on average daily. The meal consists of flat bread and lentil soup.[21]

Celebrations[edit]

Ramgarhia bunga at Shri Harmandir Sahib (Point 17 on map)

One of the most important festivals is Vaisakhi, which is celebrated in the second week of April (usually the 13th). Sikhs celebrate the founding of the Khalsa on this day and it is celebrated with fervour in the Harmandir Sahib. Other important Sikh religious days such as the birth of Guru Raamdas ji, martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur, the birthday of the Sikh founder Guru Nanak, etc., are also celebrated with religious piety. Similarly Diwali is one of the festivals which sees the Harmandir Sahib beautifully illuminated with Divas (lamps); lights and fireworks are discharged. Most Sikhs visit Amritsar and the Harmandir Sahib at least once during their lifetime, particularly and mostly during special occasions in their life such as birthdays, marriages, childbirth, etc.

The Government of India has repeatedly tried for inclusion of Harmandir Sahib in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2005 and April 2014.[22][23][24] Previously, Punjab government has asked for its inclusion in the list in 2003.[25]

Photo gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Kerr, Ian J. "Harimandar". Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. Punjabi University Patiala. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Sikhism Religion of the Sikh People". sikhs.org. 
  3. ^ Golden Temple, Punjabi University, Parm Barkshish Singh, Devinder Kumar Verma, ISBN 978-81-7380-569-1
  4. ^ "History, Harmandir Sahib, the Golden Temple, Amritsar". Amritsar Portal. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Fahlbusch, Erwin; Geoffrey William Bromiley (1999). The encyclopedia of Christianity (Reprint ed.). Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-14596-2. 
  6. ^ Hew McLeod (1997). Sikhism. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 154–161. ISBN 0-14-025260-6. 
  7. ^ "PHOTOS: How Baisakhi 2015 Was Celebrated In India". 
  8. ^ a b c "Sikhism Religion of the Sikh People". sikhs.org. 
  9. ^ "Soon, Golden Temple to use phone jammers. Over Two lakh people visit the holy shrine per day for worship. In festivals over six lakh to eight lakh visit the holy shrine.". The Times Of India. 19 July 2012. 
  10. ^ Golden Temple, Punjabi University, Parm Barkshish Singh, Devinder Kumar Verma ISBN 978-81-7380-569-1
  11. ^ Golden Temple, Punjabi University, Parm Barkshish Singh, Devinder Kumar Verma, ISBN 978-81-7380-569-1.
  12. ^ Dr. Madanjit Kaur “The Golden Temple: Past and Present" Dept. of Guru Nanak Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University Press, 1983, p. 11
  13. ^ Kavi Santokh Singh : "Gurprataap Sooraj Granth" Ras 2, Ansu 53: ਇਮਿ ਅਰਦਾਸ ਕਰੀ ਬ੍ਰਿਧ ਜਬੈ। ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਅਰਜਨ ਕਰ ਪੰਕਜ ਤਬੈ ॥੧੩॥ ਗਹੀ ਈਂਟ ਤਹਿਂ ਕਰੀ ਟਿਕਾਵਨ। ਮੰਦਰ ਅਵਿਚਲ ਨੀਵ ਰਖਾਵਨ।, p. 428 in PDF ebook
  14. ^ "Gurdwara Sahib, Tapoban". tapoban.org. 
  15. ^ Teja Singh & Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs, vol. 1, p. 28.
  16. ^ Max Arthur Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, vol. 3, p. 10
  17. ^ "Gurdwara Sahib, Tapoban". tapoban.org. 
  18. ^ Volume 2: Evolution of Sikh Confederacies (1708–1769), By Ram Gupta.
  19. ^ a b c Singh, Khushwant (1991). A history of the Sikhs: Vol. 1. 1469–1839. Oxford University Press. p. 53. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  20. ^ "Postcards from Amritsar -". elenastravelgram.com. 
  21. ^ Shafi, Showkat (17 November 2013). "Kitchen that feeds 100,000 daily". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "‘Unesco confirms Golden Temple not to be considered for world heritage list’". The Times of India. 
  23. ^ "SGPC non-committal on heritage status for Golden Temple". 
  24. ^ "Hurdles in declaring Golden Temple world heritage site". 
  25. ^ "Punjab Appeals To UNESCO For World Heritage Status To Golden Temple". 

External links[edit]