HOMAGE TO AMRITSAR - PAGE 1
Shining in the morning light, the gilded splendor of its paneling and big dome and small minarets, this temple is a fairy world palace to the devotees of the Sikh faith. Certainly, the first look brings onto the innocent eye the image of a transcendent fact The 'loving sight' peering into heaven from the legends of the miraculous cures by the touch of the water in the pool of nectar, in which the shrine stands makes for ecstatic awareness. The vision has been received by millions of pilgrims who have come here for centuries from near and far.
( PICTURE 1: This engraving of the Golden Temple by a European artist shows the shrine as it was in the mid nineteenth century, reproduced in the shimmer of light and water against the shadows of fleecy clouds.)
The actual construction had modest beginnings: A mud-house was constructed by Guru Amar Das, who is said to have found on the edge of the pool the magical herb which cured a skin ailment of his master Guru Angad. The Amrit Sarovar remained a village tank, until the fourth Guru Ram Das began to carry out the plans of his mentor for a more permanent structure in brick.
Chak, Chak-Guru, Guru-ka-chak, Chak-Guru-Ram-Das, Ram-Das-Pura, were the names of Amritsar in those times. The temple on the banks of the pool of nectar was surrounded by the houses of the craftsmen from the towns of Patti, Kasur and Kalanur, who came to build the holy place. The only market was then called Guru-ka-bazar, still known by that name, though more populous.
( PICTURE 2: An silver engraving of the Golden Temple on the door of a Gurdwara in Punjab.)
Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth. master, who came to the spiritual throne in 1581, felt from the growing popularity of the shrine as a pilgrim center the need to have the tank paved on the four sides and the steps of Hari Mandir bricked. The devotees joined to construct the temple, which would be lived in during the everyday life, where the infinite mystery would be revealed to those who may want to see. Already, however, the demand to create a paradise on earth became urgent, from the vision of Arjan Dev, of many simple hearts coming, with dipped eyes over joined hands, to pray and touch the holy water on their foreheads. So this Guru had the structure of the Hari Mandir planned in such a way that the outsight, might afford the insight. The present causeway leading to the Hari Mandir was then designed, with the rectangular shape of the circumambulatory walk ending at the gateway, from which the path to Reality began. And to combine, symbolically, the noblest truth of Islam about One God with the faith in the Hindu God Hari and his many incarnations, the Muslim divine, Mian Mir of Lahore, is said to have been invited by Guru Arjan Dev to lay the foundation stone of the temple in A.D. 1588. The structure of the shrine also mixed the rectangular form of the Hindu temple with the dome and minarets of the Muslims
All Photographs Copyright © 1999 Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa - http://www.sikhphotos.com - (Unless specified explicitly)
All Text Copyright © 1977 Marg Publications, Army & Navy Building, Fort, Bombay. Published by J.J. Bhabha for Marg Publications - Vol XXX , Number 3, June 1977