Harmandir Sahib

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Harmandir Sahib
ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ
The Golden Temple
Nishan Sahib.svg
Hamandir Sahib (Golden Temple).jpg
The Harmandir Sahib (The abode of God),
known as the Golden Temple[1][2]
Alternative names 'darbar sahib
Golden Temple of Amritsar
General information
Architectural style Sikh
Address Golden Temple Rd, Atta Mandi, Katra Ahluwalia, Amritsar, Panjab
Town or city Amritsar
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

Sri Harmandir Sahib (The abode of God) (Punjabi: ਹਰਿਮੰਦਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ), also Sri Darbar Sahib (Punjabi: ਦਰਬਾਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ, Punjabi pronunciation: [dəɾbɑɾ sɑhɪb])[1] [3] and informally referred to as the "Golden Temple",[1] is the holiest Gurdwara of Sikhism, located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India. Amritsar (literally, the tank of nectar of immortality) was founded in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das.[4] The fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan, designed the Harmandir Sahib to be built in the centre of this holy tank, and upon its construction, installed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, inside the Harmandir Sahib.[1] The Harmandir Sahib complex is also home to the Akal Takht (the throne of the timeless one, constituted by the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind). While the Harmandir Sahib is regarded as the abode of God's spiritual attribute, the Akal Takht is the seat of God's temporal authority.[5]

The construction of Harmandir Sahib was 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][6] Accordingly, as a gesture of this non-sectarian universalness of Sikhism, Guru Arjan had specially invited Muslim Sufi saint, Hazrat Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of the Harmandir Sahib.[7] The four entrances (representing the four directions) to get into the Harmandir Sahib also symbolise the openness of the Sikhs towards all people and religions.[8] Over 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship, and also partake jointly in the free community kitchen and meal (Langar) regardless of any distinctions, a tradition that is a hallmark of all Sikh Gurdwaras.[9]

The present-day gurdwara was renovated 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.[10]

History[edit]

Entrance to The Golden Temple in 1947

The Harmandir Sahib literally means the Temple of God. Guru Amar Das had ordered Guru Ram Das to create a nectarous tank as a place for worship for the Sikh religion. Guru Ram Das instructed all his Sikhs to join in the work, under Bhai Budha's superintendence, and engaged labourers to assist them. He said that the tank of nectar should be God's home, and whoever bathed in it shall obtain all spiritual and temporal advantages. During the progress of the work, the hut in which the Guru first sheltered himself was expanded for his residence; it is now known as the Guru's Mahal, or palace.[11]

In 1578 CE Guru Ram Das excavated a tank, which subsequently became known as Amritsar (Pool of the Nectar of Immortality),[12] giving its name to the city that grew around it. In due course, the Harmandir Sahib,[13] 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.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh listening to Guru Granth Sahib near Harmindir Sahib

Construction[edit]

The Harmandir Sahib at night

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.[14][15][16][16][17][18]

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 in 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.[19]

Operation Blue Star[edit]

Main article: Operation Blue Star

Blue Star was a military operation undertaken between 3 and 6 June 1984. The Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army to launch the operation. The army, led by General Kuldip Singh Brar, brought infantry, artillery and tanks into the Harmandir Sahib to put a stop to the Dharam Yudh Morcha led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. During the Dharam Yudh Morcha thousands of Sikhs courted arrest.[citation needed] Fierce fighting ensued between Sikhs and the army, with heavy casualties on both sides. The Harmandir Sahib complex also suffered much damage during the attack, especially the holy Akal Takht. Within six months, on 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi's Sikh bodyguards killed her as revenge for the operation.

This attack is regarded by Sikhs, and the international human rights community[citation needed], as a desecration of Sikhism's holiest shrine and discrimination against a minority in India. In 1986, the repairs performed on the Akal Takht Sahib after the attack, which the Rajiv Gandhi government had undertaken without consultation,[20] were removed. A new Akal Takht Sahib was completed in 1999 by Kar Sevaks (volunteers).

Architectural features[edit]

The ceiling of Harminder Sahib is made with gold and precious stones.
The Darshani Deorhi Arch, entrance to the Harmandir Sahib complex

Some of the architectural features of the Harmandir Sahib were intended to be symbolic of the Sikh world view.[21] 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.[21] In addition, instead of one entrance, Sri Harmandir Sahib has four entrances.[21]

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. 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 and martyrs, including commemorative inscriptions of all the Sikh soldiers who died fighting in World War I and World War II.

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 6.2 metres (20.3 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.

The Harmandir Sahib complex also houses the Akal Takht (the throne of the timeless one), built by the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind as an authority for administering justice and consideration of temporal issues. Within the complex, the Akal Takht constitutes a counterpoint with the holy shrine, in that the Harmandir Sahib is the abode of God's spiritual attribute, and the Akal Takht is the seat of God's temporal authority.[5]

World's largest soup kitchen[edit]

Main article: Soup kitchen

Harmandir Sahib is house of the world's largest soup kitchen. According to Croatian Times can serve free food for up to 100,000 - 300,000 people every day.[22] At the Langar (Kitchen), food is served to all visitors regardless of faith, religion, or background. Vegetarian food is often served to ensure that all people, even those with dietary restrictions, can eat together as equals. The institution of the Sikh langar, or free kitchen, was started by the first Sikh Guru (Prophet), Guru Nanak. It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender, or social status, a revolutionary concept in the caste-ordered society of 16th century India where Sikhism began. In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness, and oneness of all humankind. Every Sikh Gurdwara (shrine) serve Langar for everyone.

Visiting guidelines[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 gender. The only restrictions on the Harmandir Sahib's visitors concern their behaviour 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:
    • Full body must be covered, no shorts
    • Wearing a head covering (a sign of respect) (the gurdwara provides head scarves for visitors who have not brought a suitable covering);[23]
    • 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.[24]

Celebrations[edit]

Ramgarhia bunga at Shri Harmandir Sahib

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 Ram Das, 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 Diyas (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.

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. ^ a b S. S. Bhatti (2013). Golden Temple: Marvel of Sikh Architecture. Dorrance Publishing. pp. 24–. ISBN 978-1-4349-8964-2. 
  6. ^ "Sikhism Religion of the Sikh People". sikhs.org. 
  7. ^ S. S. Bhatti (2013). Golden Temple: Marvel of Sikh Architecture. Dorrance Publishing. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-1-4349-8964-2. 
  8. ^ Fahlbusch, Erwin; Geoffrey William Bromiley (1999). The encyclopedia of Christianity (Reprint ed.). Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-14596-2. 
  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. ^ Hew McLeod (1997). Sikhism. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 154–161. ISBN 0-14-025260-6. 
  11. ^ Max Arthur Macauliffe. 1909. The Sikh Religion.. Vol. II
  12. ^ Golden Temple, Punjabi University, Parm Barkshish Singh, Devinder Kumar Verma ISBN 978-81-7380-569-1
  13. ^ Golden Temple, Punjabi University, Parm Barkshish Singh, Devinder Kumar Verma, ISBN 978-81-7380-569-1.
  14. ^ Dr. Madanjit Kaur “The Golden Temple: Past and Present" Dept. of Guru Nanak Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University Press, 1983, p. 11
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ a b "Gurdwara Sahib, Tapoban". tapoban.org. 
  17. ^ Teja Singh & Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs, vol. 1, p. 28.
  18. ^ Max Arthur Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion, vol. 3, p. 10
  19. ^ Volume 2: Evolution of Sikh Confederacies (1708–1769), By Ram Gupta.
  20. ^ Tatla, Darshan Singh (1993). The politics of homeland : a study of the ethnic linkages and political mobilisation amongst Sikhs in Britain and North America (Thesis). University of Warwick. p. 133. 
  21. ^ a b c Singh, Khushwant (1991). A history of the Sikhs: Vol. 1. 1469–1839. Oxford University Press. p. 53. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  22. ^ "SCOFF THAT - Free Food Daily For 300,000 at Worlds largest Soup Kitchen". croationtimes.com. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  23. ^ "Postcards from Amritsar -". elenastravelgram.com. 
  24. ^ Shafi, Showkat (17 November 2013). "Kitchen that feeds 100,000 daily". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 

External links[edit]