Monday, August 23, 2010

The Golden Temple - the abode of God!

I am often asked what places I would like to vist in my lifetime. That would be tough for me to answer because the list is endless, but included in the top ten would certainly be the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Amritsar, the original name of first the ancient lake, then the temple complex, and still later the surrounding city, means "pool of ambrosial nectar." The Harmandir Sahib (meaning The Abode of God) or simply the Golden Temple, is the most sacred shrine of Sikhism. For the Sikhs, the Golden Temple symbolizes infinite freedom and spiritual independence.

It is a place of both stupendous beauty and sublime peacefulness. Originally a small lake in the midst of a quiet forest, the site has been a meditation retreat for wandering mendicants and sages since deep antiquity. The Buddha is known to have spent time at this place in contemplation.Two thousand years after Buddha's time, another philosopher-saint came to live and meditate by the peaceful lake. This was Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of the Sikh religion. After the passing away of Guru Nanak, his disciples continued to frequent the site; over the centuries it became the primary sacred shrine of the Sikhs. The lake was enlarged and structurally contained during the leadership of the fourth Sikh Guru, and during the leadership of the fifth Guru, the Hari Mandir, or Temple of God was built. From the early 1600s to the mid 1700s the sixth through tenth Sikh Gurus were constantly involved in defending both their religion and their temple against Moslem armies. On numerous occasions the temple was destroyed by the Moslems, and each time was rebuilt more beautifully by the Sikhs. From 1767 onwards, the Sikhs became strong enough militarily to repulse invaders. Peace returned to the Hari Mandir.

The temple's architecture draws on both Hindu and Moslem artistic styles yet represents a unique coevolution of the two. Within the sanctuary, lies the Adi Grantha, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. This scripture is a collection of devotional poems, prayers, and hymns composed by the ten Sikh gurus and various Moslem and Hindu saints. Beginning early in the morning and lasting until long past sunset, these hymns are chanted to the exquisite accompaniment of flutes, drums, and stringed instruments. Echoing across the serene lake, this enchantingly beautiful music induces a delicate yet powerful state of trance in the pilgrims strolling leisurely around the marble concourse encircling the pool and temple. An underground spring feeds the sacred lake, and throughout the day and night pilgrims immerse themselves in the water, a symbolic cleansing of the soul rather than an actual bathing of the body. Next to the temple complex are enormous pilgrims' dormitories and dining halls where all persons, irrespective of race, religion, or gender, are lodged and fed for free.

Here are some pics of the temple...you can see why its on my list of "places I have to visit in my lifetime" list!







 And here is a video from youtube where you can listen to a kirtan, or a chant, at the Golden Temple! Close your eyes and get lost in the music......!


Images via flickr and the Internet.

6 comments:

Designwali said...

my parents are there now...i haven't been for a while, but it certainly a place i must go back too....

Anpu said...

Beautiful pictures Kamini,..in fact, I am planning to visit Amritsar and the Wagha border next year March'11...

Patricia Torres said...

Oh the images are gorgeous.. I've always dreamt of going to the Golden temple as well.. On my top ten list.. somehow.. I havent gone to any place on my top ten list.. *sigh* some day!! :-)
Maybe we should plan a trip together..

Bedazzled said...

beautiful,glossy pictures !! have never visited Amritsar ...

purplehomes said...

Golden Temple is beautiful..i went there about years back & the experience was awesome. The langar was to die for and the being a part of the seva there was humbling. Not to forget the yummy kada-prasad!

eve's lungs said...

The Golden Temple is one of the most beautiful, soul satisfying and spiritual houses of worship I have been to. I wold love to go back again.