The Harmandir Sahib (Gurdwara) :
Sri Harmandir Sahib (lit. “the abode of God”), also known as Golden Temple and the Darbar Sahib, is the holiest Gurdwara and the most important pilgrimage site of Sikhism. It is located in the city of Amritsar, Punjab, India.
The temple is built around a man-made pool (sarovar) that was completed by Guru Ram Das in 1577. Guru Arjan – the fifth Guru of Sikhism, requested Sai Mian Mir – a Muslim Pir of Lahore to lay its foundation stone in 1589. In 1604, Guru Arjan placed a copy of the Adi Granth in Harmandir Sahib, calling the site Ath Sath Tirath (lit. “shrine of 68 pilgrimages”). The gurdwara was repeatedly rebuilt by the Sikhs after it became a target of persecution and was destroyed several times by the Muslim armies from Afghanistan and the Mughal Empire. The army led by Ahmad Shah Abdali, for example, demolished it in 1757 and again in 1762, then filled the pool with garbage. Maharaja Ranjit Singh after founding the Sikh Empire, rebuilt it in marble and copper in 1809, overlaid the sanctum with gold foil in 1830. This has led to the name the Golden Temple.
The Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple or Darbar Sahib) is spiritually the most significant shrine in Sikhism. It became a center of the Singh Sabha Movement between 1883 and 1920’s. In the early 1980’s, the gurdwara became a center of conflict between the Indian government led by Indira Gandhi, some Sikh groups and a militant movement led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale seeking to create a new nation named Khalistan. In 1984, Gandhi sent in the Indian Army as part of Operation Blue Star, leading to deaths of over 1,000 militants, soldiers and civilians, as well as causing much damage to the temple and the destruction of Akal Takht. The temple complex was rebuilt again after the 1984 damage.
The Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple or Darbar Sahib) is an open house of worship for all men and women, from all walks of life and faith. It has a square plan with four entrances, has a circumambulation path around the pool. The temple is a collection of buildings around the sanctum and the pool. One of these is Akal Takht, the chief center of religious authority of Sikhism. Additional buildings include a clock tower, the offices of Gurdwara Committee, a Museum and a langar which is a free Sikh community run kitchen that serves a simple vegetarian meal to all visitors without discrimination. Over 100,000 people visit the holy shrine daily for worship. The temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Religion Of Sikhism :
Sikhism is a religion that originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent about the end of the 15th century. It’s also known as Sikhi which means a “disciple”, or a “learner”. It is one of the youngest of the major world religions. The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include constant spiritual meditation of God’s name, being guided by the Guru instead of yielding to capriciousness of mind or psyche, living a householder’s life instead of monasticism, truthful action to dharam (righteousness, moral duty), being of selfless service to others, equality of all human beings, and believing in God’s grace. In the early 21st century there were nearly 25 million Sikhs worldwide, the great majority of them living in the Indian state of Punjab.
Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru (1469 – 1539), and the nine Sikh gurus that succeeded him. The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, named the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus and making the scripture the eternal, religious spiritual guide for Sikhs. Sikhism rejects claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on Absolute Truth.
The Sikh scripture opens with Ik Onkar (ੴ), its Mul Mantar and fundamental prayer about One Supreme Being (God). Sikhism emphasizes simran (meditation on the words of the Guru Granth Sahib), that can be expressed musically through kirtan or internally through Nam Japo (repeat God’s name) as a means to feel God’s presence. It teaches followers to transform the “Five Thieves” (lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego). Hand in hand, secular life is considered to be intertwined with the spiritual life. Guru Nanak taught that living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” is above the metaphysical truth, and that the ideal man is one who “establishes union with God, knows His Will, and carries out that Will”. Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, established the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms to be mutually coexistent. Sikhism evolved in times of religious persecution. Two of the Sikh gurus – Guru Arjan (14. April 1563 – 25 May 1605) and Guru Tegh Bahadur (12. April 1621 – 19. December 1675 ), after they refused to convert to Islam, were tortured and executed by the Mughal rulers. The persecution of Sikhs triggered the founding of the Khalsa, as an order to protect the freedom of conscience and religion, with qualities of a “Sant-Sipāhī” – a saint-soldier.
More photos of Gurdwara Harmandir Sahib here.
Our group trip photos in Instagram.