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a-punjab.peperonity.net

ੴ PLACE OF PEACE N POWER: GOLDEN TEMPLE, AMRITSAR

The Golden Temple, located in the
cityof Amritsar in the state of
Punjab,is a place of great 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 (Ram
Dass, 1574-1581), and during
the leadership of the fifth Guru
(Arjan, 1581-1606), 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.
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 Adi Grantha, the
sacred scripture of the Sikhs. This
scriptureis 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.
Amritsar, the original name of
first the ancient lake, then the
temple complex, and still later the
surrounding city, means "pool of
ambrosial nectar." Looking
deeply into the origins of this
word amrit, we find that it
indicates a drink of the gods, a
rare and magical substance that
catalyzes euphoric states of
consciousness and spiritual
enlightenment. With this word
we have a very clear example of
the spirit, power, or energetic
character of a particular place
becoming encoded as an ancient
geographical place name. The
myth is not just a fairy tale. It
reveals itself as a coded
metaphor if we have the
knowledge to read the code: The
waters of Amritsar flowing into
the lake of the Hari Mandir were
long ago - and remain today - a
bringer of peacefulness.


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