Dinesh and Bawa

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Amritsar and The Golden Temple


Shavina was teaching a course in Amritsar and so we decided, that instead of going to Delhi from Jalandhar, we would goto Amritsar and spend a few hours there and come back to Delhi with her by train.
We left Jalandhar at noon and went through the very beautiful Punjab country side. There are fields full of wheat, swaying in the wind, getting ready for the harvest... It was the first day of the month of Baisakh, called Baisakhi... the herald of the coming of Spring, of Harvest time, and throughout the road, there were many, many people celebrating, dressed in vivid colours, cooking on the roadside and giving out food in gratitude to whoever stopped to eat.
Dinesh and Vishu wanted to goto the Wagah border. Thats the border between India and Pakistan. Did you know that Amritsar in India and Lahore in Pakistan are almost twin cities? There is hardly a distance of about 50-60 kms between them... I was not keen on going there at all :) and only wanted to visit the Golden temple, the seat of the Sikhs in Amritsar... and so, events arranged themselves so we could only go there :)
We reached early afternoon to Anish’s home in Nanak University, where we had a bit of a lunch. Neetu, his wife had made very interesting nibbles: a generous chunk of very mildly spiced paneer, with a small chunk of pineapple and half a juicy strawberry, on toothpicks. Looked very festive and tasted delicious!
Then we had a Knowledge session with the volunteers and some of shavina’s brand new YES+ graduates... It was very nice... Dinesh has taken notes and i am sure he intends to post about that very soon! But i will tell two things here:
Give a motivational speech to the volunteers.
I said,”Next...”, and everyone laughed... Then i said that’s what volunteers should keep saying... Next, Next... ok this is done, now what?!
and another question was define Devinity (spelt wrongly) in one sentence. So i promptly replied,” Devinity is a spelling mistake!”
Rest of it i will leave for dinesh (his email is dineshg@artofliving.org please do write to him and post on the blog also asking him to start posting! i think a few pressure tactics are needed now:))
Then after that session, there was just enough time, either to goto the border, or goto the Golden Temple... it was obvious where we chose to go! The Golden Temple...
On the way we passed the Khalsa College. The building is magnificent and graceful. Bansal commented anyone studying here would really not like to graduate! Its supposed to be more than 300 years old and its a huge red brick palace with lovely domes and minarets, straight out of a fantasy novel set in ancient India... There were some Temple officials waiting for us, so we didnt have time to explore this really pretty place, and just took a round of it and drove on to the Temple itself...
We reached the very imposing white structure in just a few minutes drive from the University. There were loads and loads of people... in colourful turbans, and vivid Salwaars, almost everyone was in a great mood, smiling, laughing and super disciplined!
We were met my the Temple Officials and were taken inside by them through a short cut to be able to avoid some of the rush. You have to cover you head in the Temple, i donot know the significance of this, and forgot to ask... even Parsis cover their head in the Fire Temple. As you enter you wash your feet in a trough of water... and pass through massive gates, and there on the lake you see it. It looks awesome! And as soon as you enter, you can feel the energy of the place, pulsating and vibrant!
The Akal Takt, the political seat of the Sikhs is also here and its built at an angle to the Temple, to show that though its in the hallowed grounds of the Temple, politics and religion dont mix.
The Lake is supposed to have healing properties, especially for the skin, and its very very deep, and really really clean. big fat goldfish and catfish swim in it. There is a place where you can take a dip which is cordoned off by rails. The water is sweet and cold and inviting. We didn’t take a dip, but went in all the way to the Knees and listened to the Chanting from the Guru Granth Shahib, The holy book of the Sikhs, which is also considered their (last) Guru. The entire walkways around the lake and the walkway to the temple itself is made of white and black granite and marble. With beautiful designs. And amazingly, even with the thousands of people who had come to visit on this very holy Baisakhi day, it was spotlessly clean! We went on to the Temple and as we got closer, i could feel the intense devotion of people in the air. When you enter the temple (its quite small), there was a group of people sitting on either side of the Guru Granth Sahib, some listening with rapt attention, others lost in devotion and meditation... and One Sardarji, who may be the equivalent of the High Priest there reading it, chanting it, with a beatific smile on his lips. He had deep, soulful eyes and the whitest, fluffiest beard i had ever seen. He embodied devotion... There was a kind of hush around him, as well as an air of celebration...
We did our pranams there and moved out of the sanctum to goto the first floor of the temple where a huge Granth Sahib was being read by another person. This one though was hand written, and had quite an aura about it. Then we went to the terrace and had a lovely view of the entire campus. The white imposing welcoming structure of the gates to the Temple, the walkway, the gently rippling lake, all lit up festively for the Baisakhi Celebrations.
They have huge kitchens in the temple where a Langar (communal getting together and eating) happens everyday... very tasty food. Our guide informed us that today more than 10,000 Kgs of rice had been consumed!
We left the main temple premises via the walkway on the water and then did a parikrama (walking around) of it. On the way, we passed the Samadhi of Deepji Sahib. He was a fierce soldier, and he had only one wish, that he would like to die at the feet of his Guru. He was fighting 27 Kms away from the Temple, the place where we were standing, and he was beheaded. Legend or History says that his devotion to his Guru and his wish was so strong that he rode the 27 Kms, holding his head in his hand, and came to where his Guru was, and died at his feet!!
The sikhs have been a very brave people, and repeatedly they have protected India and Indian interests. In fact when the muslim kings went on rampant conversion drives, the Hindu priests had gone to the then Guru of the sikhs to help them. He did. He was killed by auranzeb (a monster to rival the most notorious dictators of history, its quite strange how we in India have actually named a road after him, he was responsible for killing more hindus and sikhs and others (in millions) who refused to convert to islam, than a few European dictators put together) gruesomely, and his young son was entombed while still alive. A huge Salute to the Sikh community, to have such open hearts, such humour and such commitment to India!
We posed for a few photos, one is attached :)
And then, too soon it was time to leave... We were given gifts, a beautiful photo of the Temple and some books about Sikhism, which i still have to read up. Will post about that once i do... Btw, if i got a few details wrong, please forgive me, but i was so caught up in the waves of devotion and gratitude that permeated the Temple premises, that maybe i didn’t remember everything and the above is only what my impressions were... may not be totally accurate :)
My quest for the shoes finally ended in Amritsar. I must tell you, there is a Reebok shop opposite Khalsa College and we went there to see if they had the shoes i wanted. They didn’t. I asked the owner if he could find out if some of the other Reebok branches in Amritsar had the shoes i wanted. He called and said no they didn’t. I had a feeling he was lying... turned out he was! I was pretty amazed at his behaviour. All over the rest of the country, the people in the shops have always obliged by calling other branches and giving accurate information... in any case, we went to the shop on Lawrence road, and finally found a pair of shoes that i liked and that fit! :)
If you are ever in Amritsar, do visit the Golden Temple. Give yourself at least 2-3 hours over there... We didn’t have time to meditate or do Kriya... There was too much rush, but shavina says when you go there on other days, its not so crowded and you can easily get a corner to meditate...
As we left the Temple, there was a superb display of fireworks, bringing a perfectly beautiful evening to a grand close...
The train we took to Delhi was coincidentally called “The Golden Temple Mail”...

Jai Gurudeva!  

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8 comments:

JM said...

Bawa,its fun reading your blog. Wonderful posts. Finally, your "Shoe Search" ended. Pheww!!! ;)
Waiting for Dinesh bhaiyaa's posts.. :P and the snap which you have uploaded here is just very sweet along with the Golden temple in background.Thanks alot :)

Jai gurudev :)

Rookie said...

Yawn :)
u look cool in t pix :)
JGD

Anupam Gupta said...

hey bau...jai gurudev

awesome experience bau...i have always been fascinated by the golden temple...feels great to read a first hand experience fo it...and tht too from u...too good...

to DINESHDA..plz plz plz start posting here...plz plz plzzzzz...really luking forward to seeing sumthing from u here...

love to both of u..tons of it..
anupam.

Anonymous said...

hey bau,
In the picture,
Bahiya fits my imagination of Jesus..But Who are you resembling sooo much I just can't get!!
There is definitely someone, you remind of,.what do you think?
Jai Gurudev

Manish said...

Bawu!!

I really enjoyed this one!! You are as funny in text as you are in person :-) :-)

Your mention on Sikh devotion was kind of nostalgic for me, having lived for 22 years in Delhi and having many Sikh friends!

I long to go back, but somehow when I am there I dont like it that much! :-)

Satnaam Waheguru!!
Jai Gurudev!!

Mano-Sphere! said...

Bauu...A whole city is named after Auranagazeb.... 'Aurangabad'
You should see how his army broke the b'ful scluptures at Ellora.. It hurts to see the magnificient caves in such a bad condition.
Well your description about your visit to Amritsar was awesome, it felt as though I visited the place. :) Love & JGD.

pia said...

waaaaaaaaoooooooo!!!!while i was going through abt ur trip i experienced as if i was also der:))
hey baaauuu so finally u bought d shoes!!!i remember in Nagpur u went everywhere to get dem but???....do post more pictures.......n yes Dada m sure all of us r waiting for ur posts!love ankita

Nizam Palace said...

jgd bawa,
i also feel the devotion and waves of energy you were feel there... and its all because of such a nice way to express feelings....

thank for this great experience

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