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Continues

   
Guru Ram Das and Harimandir Sahib


Golden Temple Panoramic

On receiving the complaint, the Emperor sent a special messenger to Goindwal asking Guru Amar Das to see him. The Guru* did not agree to go personally on account of his old age but commissioned Bhai Jetha to wait upon the Emperor and to answer the allegations made against him at the court.

Before Jetha set out for Lahore, the Guru is said to have spoken to him thus: "Thou art in mine image; Guru Nanak will be with thee, and none shall prevail against thee. The Khatris and Brahmans who have complained are ignorant and false. Answer truly all the questions put to you. Be not abashed and fear nobody. If any difficult questions are put and you art at a loss for an answer, then think of the Guru, and thou shall be able to give a suitable reply. Vindicate before the court the true teaching of Guru Nanak. Falsehood cannot contend with truth."

Jetha appearing at the Mughal court answered all the charges contained in the complaint to the entire satisfaction of the Emperor. Greatly pleased with the skill and confidence with which he had answered the adversaries, the Emperor dismissed the complaint outright and requested Jetha to convey his deep respects to the Guru.

Jetha was a paragon of love, devotion, service and resignation. He looked upon Guru Amar Das not merely as his father-in-law but also as his most revered ideal, i.e., the Guru. He served him in a spirit of complete self-surrender. He along with his wife Bibi Bhani used to shampoo him, draw water, cook, serve meals from the kitchen and then wash the dishes. The more he served the Guru the more his love for him and for all mankind increased. Gradually his disposition became divine just as they say iron is turned into gold by the contact of the philosopher's stone. Later on, when the construction of the Baoli, a well with stairs, was undertaken, Ram Das became conspicuous for his tireless and unremitting labor. He carried baskets of earth on his head like everybody else and paid no heed to the banter or reproaches of his companions or his relatives.

Once when his relatives were returning from a pilgrimage to the river Ganga, they halted briefly at Goindwal on their way to Lahore. When they saw Jetha working like a common laborer, they were furious and said to him. "You have shamed the family by performing menial service like Shudra in thy father-in-law's house. Couldn't you obtain suitable maintenance to draw water, scrub daily vessels, and shampoo the Guru?"

Jetha was much displeased at this language and replied, "In your estimation the Guru is my father-in-law, but in mine he is God in person."

On hearing this they went to the Guru and complained to him about what he had made of his son-in-law. To this Guru's replied, "I have not made him carry filth on his head, but I have put filth on the heads of his slanderers, and I have caused the umbrella of true sovereignty to wave over him. If he had not been born in your family, you would all have been damned. It is he who has saved the whole of your tribe."

The final and supreme test of Jetha's spirit of service and sacrifice came when Guru Amar Das wanted to select his successor, just like the first two Gurus (all the Sikh Gurus starting from Guru Nanak Dev). The Guru asked both of his sons-in-law, Rama and Jetha to make him two platforms beside the Baoli at Goindwal. He held out the promise without telling them about the Guruship that he who did the better work in his eyes should receive the greater honor. When they completed their platforms, the Guru went to inspect them. Both the platforms were declared to be defective and they were asked to throw them down and rebuild them. In obedience to his command, new platforms were erected. These were also disapproved and ordered dismantled. On this Rama, the elder son-in-law, refused to build it a third time.

He demurred, "The Guru has grown old and his reason fails him."

Jetha's work was subjected to the same rigorous standard. He continued to build platforms, which were then dismantled each time pronouncing it faulty by the Guru. This process was repeated seven times. Ultimately, Jetha clasped the Guru's feet and humbly addressed him.

"I am a fool; please have regard for your slave as your son. I am erring and have mean understanding, while you possess all knowledge."

On hearing this the Guru smiled and embraced him affectionately saying, "Jetha is a perfect being who has become incarnate and the world following him shall be saved"

The Sikhs were astonished on witnessing Jetha's marvelous devotion and obedience, and henceforth began to recognize him as the image of the Guru.

In 1574 A.D. Bhai Jetha succeeded Guru Amar Das as the fourth Sikh Guru under the name Ram Das. His pontification lasted until 1581.

Like his father-in-law, he too had to deal with the hostile and perverse attitudes of Brahmans, Tapas and Yogis. Both Mehma Prakash and Suraj Prakash are replete with descriptions of such categories of people coming and holding long discussions with him on such subjects as observance of caste discipline, performance of rites and ceremonies, pilgrimage, reading of old religious texts, etc. One illustration will suffice to make it clear. Once a company of Yogis called upon him and questioned him as to why he attached no importance to the practice of Yog (celibacy) among his Sikhs. The Guru's reply to this was that a man may wear a Yogi's garb and keep chanting God's name and test himself variously, but without devotion in his heart, God will not enter it."

Guru Amar Das had devoted much of his time to the problems of definition and organization confronting the young emerging Sikh panth (called nirmal panth by Sarup Das Bhalla). Lest the Brahmanical influence should reassert themselves over his followers, he had all along endeavored to make the Sikh position in the matter of religious beliefs and practices as well as in social behavior as definitive as possible.

Simultaneously, he made efforts to improve the organizational setup of the Sikh Society. The introduction of the annual Baisakhi day, the construction of the Baoli, and the distinction drawn between sachi (authentic) and kachi (unauthentic) Bani (sacred compositions), were a few of the measures taken by the Guru in this connection.

Guru Ram Das went ahead with the work thus begun by his master. Through his words as well as deeds he underscored the essential features of the Sikh teachings and repeatedly warned his followers against the pitfalls involved in the Brahman's emphasis on pilgrimage, ritualism or formal reading of Vedas and Shastras. He also took every opportunity to caution them against the futile practices of the Udasis, Yogis, Naths, Tapas and Sidhs, all ascetics of one kind or another. A good number of these ascetics fell under his spell and adopted his creed.

Before he was appointed as Fourth Guru, just after completing the Boali at Goindwal, Guru Amar Das ji, sent him to a magical place in the vicinity of the villages of Sultanwind, Tung, Gumtala, and Gilwali, all at the pargana of Jhabal in the Taaluqa of Patti, which formed a part of the Suba of Lahore, ruled by the Mughals.

Guru Amar Das ji wanted him to create and establish another Sikh center apart from Goindwal. Guru Ram Das was so impressed with this place that he started visiting it every Sagrand (the first day of the Punjabi month) and Amavasaya (the dark moonless night of the month). Bhai Jetha purchased this area with wild shrubs (Ber trees) and jungles on the payment of Rs. 700 to the Zamindar of village Tung.

Later, villagers of Sultanwind presented more land to the Guru out of regard and reverence for him. Earlier, Emperor Akbar also had gifted a tract of land in the vicinity to the daughter of Guru Amar Das ji, Bibi Bhani, Guru Ram Das's wife. After obtaining land for the purpose of creating the Sikh center, he was told by Guru Amar Das ji to excavate a tank, now called Santokhsar at Baba Atal. That he did. He also built a small house for himself. Thus he founded the town of Ram Das Pur, later Amar Das, which continues to be the center of Sikhism to this day.

 Guru Ram Das builds Golden Temple


Guru Ram Das


The Golden Temple






Experience the Golden Temple

 

Just then, Guru Amar Das ji was nearing his end and thus the project had to be put on hold for some time. Guru Ram Das ji decided to start it again in 1577 and thus the year 1577 has gone down in the history as the foundation year of Amritsar Sarovar. Guru Amar Das ji had again told him to excavate another tank about 1 km down from the old one. This is the current Sarovar of the Golden Temple. See The Golden Temple in 360.


The Golden Temple Overview


The Golden Temple (Upper right)


The Golden Temple aka Siri Hari Mandir Sahib


A family dip in the nectar tank at the Golden Temple


The Mul (Mool) Mantra
In gold relief at main entrance of the Golden Temple

The Mul Mantra from Japji Sahib
by Guru Nanak in Gurmukhi script

Ek Ong Kaar - Sat Naam - Kartaa Purakh - Nirbhau
Nirvair - Akaal Moorat - Ajoonee Saibhang - Gur Prasaad - Jap

Aad Sach - Jugaad Sach - Hai Bhee Sach - Naanak Hosee Bhee Sach

 
The Mul Mantra

Translation of Mul Mantra
From Peace Lagoon
By Premka Kaur

The Creator of all is One; Truth is His Name; He is Doer of everything.
He is Fearless; Without anger; Undying;
Unborn; Self-illumined.
This is revealed through the True Guru's grace. Let us Meditate.
He isTrue in the beginning; Through all the ages; True even now.
O Nanak, The One Creator shall always be True! Sikh Songs


THE PHYSIOLOGY OF THE WORD

The Siri Singh Sahib taught about the unique classes of languages. He
called them phonetic languages where the sounds of the syllables impart
meaning by the way they resonate with the archetypal human psyche. He
described Gurmukhi, Sanskrit and French as three such languages. In the
16th century, the second Sikh guru, Guru Angad, created the Gurmukhi
alphabet to phonetically represent many, if not all, languages.

"Guru Angad, the second Sikh Master, invented the Gurmukhi script. Guru Nanak named Guru Angad to succeed him as the Guru for the Sikhs in 1539. Gurmukhi means "from the mouth of the Guru." The Gurmukhi script accomplished something very special. It allowed people to be able to read and pronounce the songs written by Guru Nanak. Up until that point in history, the dialect spoken by Guru Nanak and his contemporaries had no written equivalent. Written languages were reserved for the powerful, the wealthy, and the high-castes. There was no writing or reading based on the common language.

THE GURMUKHI ALPHABET

"The meaning of the Word-Sound is not what is important.
It is the effect of the Word-Sound that matters." -- Hari Singh Khalsa

Gurmukhi was developed to be a very precise phonetic language. By learning to pronounce Gurmukhi, people could not only learn to read and pronounce the songs written by Guru Nanak; they could also learn how to pronounce the songs that Guru Nanak had preserved during his life from other masters and sages, even if those songs were in a completely different language. The purpose of Gurmukhi was not to simply represent the common language of the time, but to allow people to read and sing sacred songs in other languages as well.

Why did this phonetic language develop? And what does it have to do with the Shabad Guru – the Guiding Sound of Wisdom?

Being awakened or enlightened is not simply a mental state. It is a physiological state as well. How we breathe, how the glands secrete, how the nervous system is operating—all of this changes based on what we speak, what we hear, and what we perceive. When Guru Nanak sang his songs, the words he brought forth had a two-fold effect. On the level of language, they imparted a certain philosophical meaning of how to see the world. But in the science of Naad (sound), the songs have the ability to change the physiology of a person and bring them to a more heightened state of consciousness.

IMPORTANT:
The invention of Gurmukhi was key to opening the doors of the Shabad Guru to all people. Through learning this very simple, precise method of pronunciation, and by repeating the words of the sages, you begin to induce in yourself the same state of consciousness that they were in when they sang the songs. It begins to create the same changes in the physiology. It opens the door to higher awareness. And all that is required is your breath and voice imitating and repeating those sounds.

This is the essence of the Shabad Guru. It is between you and you. There is no one else involved. It only requires your breath reciting this sacred poetry. By this practice, there is a process you undergo within your own ego and identity to transform your awareness to live at these heights. -- Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa


See Understanding Shabad Guru. See The Transformational Mantra For Planet Earth. See The Sacred Songs of the Sikhs. Also see Sat Nam Means. And to learn more about the Effects of Reciting Banis, which are recited regularly by Sikhs, click here.



More about the Golden Temple

He dug a tank, which became the principal place of pilgrimage. Traders and artisans were invited to settle at the town so that its growth could be rapid. In due course it became the largest commercial centre in northern India. A phrase came to be associated with the tank dug at Amar Das … "Ram Das Sarovar Nahate, sab uttre paap kamate." "I bathe in the tank of Ram Das, and all my sins are washed away."

It was a landmark in the life of the community because the Guru established a central place that was quite distinct from that of the Hindus and the Muslims. Since, Amar Das is for the Sikhs what Mecca is for the Muslims. All this indicates that Guru Ram Das had a distinct sense of his mission and did everything to establish it as a separate religious system and entity.

Guru Ram Das was not merely a constructive genius, who planned and founded a new city and instituted an original missionary order, but also a poet of great sensitivity and tremendous effect. He composed 679 hymns in varying musical measures, which were incorporated into Adi Granth by his son and successor, Guru Arjan Dev.


Panoramic view of the Golden Temple


Night view of the Golden Temple


A reflected view of the Golden Temple


Top view of the Golden Temple


Inside view of the Golden Temple

His whole life was the embodiment of love, devotion, dedication and service. All these noble sentiments are abundantly reflected in his writings. His straight and simple message went straight to the heart and evoked the most sensitive chords of one's consciousness. There was only a modicum of metaphysics in his compositions and almost the entire emphasis was laid on a life of selfless service rendered in a spirit of total devotion to the Guru and God.

For example:

"O my beloved, I live by meditating on thy Name; without the Name I could not live, O my Sat Guru, implant It in me. The Name is a priceless jewel; the perfect Sat Guru possesses it. By applying myself to the service of the Sat Guru, He brings forth and displays the jewel of the Name. Blessed are the very fortunate who come to the Guru and meet Him." Adi Granth, Sri Rag

The momentous career of the Guru came to its end on September 1, 1581, after a Guruship of 6 years, 11 months and 18 days. His youngest son, Arjan Dev, succeeded him. The eldest son Prithia created many obstacles and tried to influence the decision in his own favor, but the Guru was as firm in regard to the issue of succession as he had been throughout all his life. --

A Personal Narrative
From a Golden Temple pilgrim

The Golden Temple epitomizes the very spirit of Sikhism and its values. Many of us are spellbound by the sheer beauty of its grandeur at first sight. But very few are aware that the Golden Temple signifies many more things than what the eye beholds.

As you go down the marble steps to enter into the Golden Temple complex, you are mesmerized by the shining gold of the temple and the surrounding shimmering lake of water. But what you maybe did not notice is that the temple is built on a lower level as compared to the city outside.

This begets a sense of humility. We have to shed our pride and come down from our fickle heights of our worldly thrones of power and position to obtain God's blessings. Even this highest abode of Sikh religion is built on a lower level, and can only be reached through humility.

Why is this heavenly abode built on a lake? The lake signifies calm, peace and tranquility. When you visit this holiest of holy shrines, you are surrounded by the 'shanti' and 'sheetalta' of the calm and serene waters. Water also quenches your thirst - man's thirst for peace with himself as well as with mankind. It puts you into a proper frame of mind for your meeting with God.

As you walk into the sanctum sanctorum you are greeted by the lyrical strains of hymns in praise of God that are sung constantly throughout. There is no deity or picture but only the words of God - the 'shabd' - in the form of the holy Siri Guru Granth Sahib - to which you lower your head to the floor. You do not bow to any human, but you lay down your 'Man-Mat', your heart and mind, to the 'Gur-Mat', the words of the Lord almighty, and His true wisdom.

To satiate our hunger, the Sikhs have a tradition of serving 'Langar', a 24 hour kitchen serving of basic meals to all who visit the Gurdwara, the abode of God. This langar service also signifies that that there is no differentiation between the rich and the poor. See Langar At The Golden Temple.

Sangat members serving langar

   
Anybody is welcome to partake of langar

Everybody sits together on the floor and partakes of the common food that is served, irrespective of any caste, creed or color. This langar also reminds us that no religion can be practiced on an empty stomach. A person who is hungry will only concentrate on his hunger, not on achieving his oneness with God. All the fasts and days of abstaining from food do not bring us any closer to the Lord but only deviate our focus more towards food.

Before leaving, notice that there are 4 entrances to this Golden Temple complex. This signifies that everyone is welcome from all four corners of the world. The SIKH philosophy does not discriminate and welcomes all, men or women, from any country and from which ever community they may belong to. Everyone is equal in the eyes of God. My Lord is everywhere and omnipresent. We search all over, but within my Lord is right there, in me.

Let us open our inner eyes to see and accept that God is in me, and I am in thee, and we all an extension of His entity. --

Tribute to Guru Ram Das.

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