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Friday, January 27, 2012

Golden Temple: What is it really?

Harmandir Sahib (Photo by J. Budissin)
In the wake of Jay Leno’s controversial remarks about Mitt Romney and the Golden Temple, some have been wondering just what the Golden Temple actually is.

The real name of this central Sikh gurdwara (“place of worship” – literally, “Gateway to the Guru”) is the Harmandir Sahib (“Temple of God” - aka Darbar Sahib in Punjabi).  Early in its history, it was also called Amritsar (“Pool of the Nectar of Immortality”), a name which was later passed on to the surrounding city.

The Temple site was a wedding gift from Mughal Emperor Akbar to Third Guru Amar Das’ daughter when she married future Fourth Guru Ram Das.  The emperor did this because he was so impressed with the Sikh way of life.  Wikipedia reports that this gift was the equivalent of “the land and the revenue of several villages” in 1574 CE. 

In 1577, Guru Ram Das began the on-site excavation and construction.  Sukhmandir Khalsa reports that Fifth Guru Arjan Dev, son of Guru Ram Das, finished the construction in 1604.  Meanwhile, Guru Arjan Dev
had also been compiling the scriptural wisdom of his predecessors into a Holy Volume that would come to
be known as the Adi Granth (or Aad Granth, literally meaning “the half scripture”).  When Guru Arjan Dev
first began compiling these scriptures, he is said to have given this explanation for doing so:  “As the Panth
(‘Community’) has been revealed unto the world, so there must be the Granth (‘Book’), too.”   The Adi
Granth was installed in the Harmandir Sahib almost immediately after the Temple’s completion.

The true “Gold” in the “Golden Temple” is therefore this sacred Granth (which was expanded in 1704, then
declared to be the  Guru Granth Sahib - or “the final and eternal guru of the Sikhs”) by Tenth Guru Gobind Singh.

The Temple’s gold plating, marble, fresco work, and gemstones are beautiful and costly – but simply pale in
comparison to its faith treasures.  


Copyright January 27, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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