Today we are going to a place of both stupendous beauty and sublime peacefulness. Originally a small lake in the midst of a quiet forest, this 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.
Yes, we are visiting the Sri Harimandir Sahib of Amritsar in India today.
Sita told us not to drink alcohol, eat meat or smoke in the shrine( http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1858/) that is now on the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
We left our socks and shoes at the facility near the entrance, covered our heads with the bandanas that are provided, and then washed our feet by wading through the shallow pool before entering........
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.
During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), Hari Mandir was richly ornamented with marble sculptures, golden gilding, and large quantities of precious stones.
Within the sanctuary, on a jewel-studded platform, lies The Guru Granth Sahib or Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture and the final Guru of the Sikhs.
Some of the major messages can be summarized as follows: -
- All peoples of the world are equal
- Women are equal
- One God for all
- Speak and live truthfully
- Control the five vices
- Live in God's hukam (The Will of the One GOD)
- Practice Humility, Kindness, Compassion, Love, etc
Lines form in front of and behind the heavy palanquin and each man shoulders the burden for a few seconds before passing it along, forming a human conveyer belt that allows everyone to participate and everyone to rest.
The Guru gave the task of initiating the building to a Muslim Saint Hazrat Mian Mir ji of Lahore in December 1588.
In the circumambulation of Nectar pool, near the main entrance there is an old Beri known as Ber Baba Budhaji.
Marti wants to know what is a Beri? It is a TREE, Ziziphus mauritiana, Indian Jujube also know as Narkeli kul, Ber, Boroi, Bor, Beri, Indian plum is a tropical fruit tree species, belonging to the family Rhamnaceae)
When Baba Buddhaji supervised the tank's construction, this Ber tree extended over his head its umbrella-like leafy branches thus protecting him from parching summer and roaring clouds. Thus, though humble, the Ber Baba Buddhaji served Guru's cause in its own way.
A sight to behold.
We also learnt some Punjabi phrases:
- hello => Sat Sri Kal
- how are you (to a friend) => Kiddha
- how are you to (older person) => tusi tikh ho
- if they ask you 'how are you' you say (friends) => tikh ha
- if if they ask you 'how are you' you say (older person) => tikh takh ha