Darbar Sahib, Amritsar


Darbar Sahib

Last updated on January 10th, 2004

Darbar Sahib, Amritsar!

The Slide Show of Darbar Sahib Amritsar

Golden Temple over the years have become a center of Sikh religion. Like Mecca, Benaras, Jerusalem for Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Jews Amritsar is a revered city for Sikhs.

Darbar Sahib:

Inception: 1588 A.D.
Inaugrated By: Saint Mian Mir.
Completed: 1589 A.D.

Amritsar was established by the Fourth Guru Guru Ramdas ji in 1589 A.D. There are many versions of how he had done it. There is an evidence that he bought a land around a tank (sarovar) from the Zamindars of Tung Villages in Jhabal District for Rs. 700. There is another version which goes like this that Emperor Akbar was so immpressed by the work being done by third Guru Amardas ji that he donated the land at Amritsar to the Guru ka Langar. Most likely, some land was bought by Guru Ramdas while other being donated by the emperor. Amritsar is also mentioned in Ramayana as Ramtiratha, where Lav and Kush, sons of Rama were born. It is also said that Lav later established the city of Lahore, while his brother Kush established a city named Kasur about 30 miles South of Lahore, 20 miles South West of Lahore is where Guru Ramdas established city of Amritsar.

As time passed, traders, artisans, bankers and others settled at Ramdaspur. Gur Ramdas preached on the banks of the pool i.e. Sarovar.

Nanak IV, Guru Ramdas

Gurgaddi: 1574 to 1581    
Contribution:The Fourth Nanak, Guru Ramdas Sodhi aka Bhai Jetha ji, Established the city of Ramdaspur and later changed the name to Amritsar.
Guru Ramdas started digging a pool at the place which at that time was known as "Guru Da Chakk". Guru Ramdas named his successor, his youngest son Arjan Dev on September 1, 1581 before he passed away. GuruArjan Dev called on Sikhs to do the Kar Seva for unfinished pool, hundreds of thousands of Sikhs performed this service and pool was ready in few weeks. After this task was completed then Guru laid out the plan to construct Golden Temple as the supreme center of Sikhs. Guru also created several other buildings in and around the city. Parikarma Here is a quote from "Heritage of the Sikhs", " On October 15 1588, he laid out a temple in the middle of the tank. According to Giani Gian Singh (Twarikh Guru Khalsa, Urdu, Vol. r 1896, p.96), the Guru invited many holy men on this occasion. From among them, Mian Mir (1550- 1635), the famous Muslim Sufi, was asked to lay the first brick. Older authorities can also be cited in support of this statement. For instance, Ghulam Muhayy-ud-Din, also known as Bute Shah, states in his book, Tawarikh-i-Punjab (MS.), p. 139, Dr Ganda Singh Collection, Punjabi University, Patiala, that Shah Mian Mir came to Amritsar at Guru Arjan ' s request and "with his own blessed hand put four bricks, one on each side, and another one in the middle of the tank." Sohan Lal Suri in his Umdat-ut-Twarikh, Arya Press, Lahore, 1885, Book I, pp. 28-29, says that Guru Arjan went to Lahore to see Shah Mian Mir and sought his assistance in the construction of the tank and buildings at Amritsar. " Guru Arjan Dev got Mian Mir, a famous Sufi Saint to lay the foundation of the Darbar Sahib. Foundation was laid, built at lower ground level rather than on a high plinth as is done with Temples and Mosques, in keeping with the Sikh spirit of humility. Golden Temple was completed in about two years time. Guru Arjan Dev ji appointed Baba Buddha ji, a famous Sikh saint from the times of Guru Nanak as first Granthi of Golden Temple.

Main building of Golden Temple is very elegently made in keeping with the ideals of Sikhs. As A.S. Kang states that "Main structure rises from the centre of the sacred pook. 150 metres square, approached by a causeway about 60 metres long. An archway on the western side of the pool opens on the causeway, bordered with balustrades of fretted marble, and, at close intervals there are standard lamps, their great lantrens set upon the marble columns. The 52 meter square based Hari Mandir, to which causeway leads, stands on a 20 meter square platform. Its lower parts are of white marble, but the upper parts are covered with plates of gilded copper". Entrance to Darbar Sahib Darbar Sahib was later serviced by many Sikh Chiefs. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who donated gold to be put on top of Darbar Sahib has this inscribed at the entrance "The Guru was kind enough to allow the privilege of service to the template to his humble servant Ranjit Singh"

Guru Arjan dev got constructed many Gurdwaras around Amritsar and in the Majha country( area between Chenab and Satluj, Amritsar, Lahore, Gurdaspur, Batala). Since he was doing so much social work, Sikhs started calling him Sacha Padshah means true king. Whereas Guru Nanak had travelled to far fledged places from Punjab, like Mecca (Saudi Arabia), Baghdad, Decca(Bangladesh) and Bidar (South India), Guru Arjan dev travelled mostly in Punjab, preaching and organizing the system of preachers (called masands established by NANAK III Amardas). On returning to Amritsar, Guru Arjan prepared to codify and compile the writings of all the previous gurus as well as important saints of India. According to Mahima Prakash he said "As the panth (community) has been revealed unto the world, so must there be the Granth(book) too." The bani guru's inspired utterance, had always been the object of highest reverenec for Gurus and Sikhs. Guru Arjan called Bhai Gurdas to his prescence and expressed to him the wish that compositions of gurus and some saints to be collected. Baba Mohan, the son of Guru Amar Das (Nanak III) had two manuscripts collections of the Gurus hymns inherited from his father. These pothis contained all they hymns of Guru Nanak, Guru Angad and Guru Amardas. Guru Arjan dev ji already had the pothi of his father Guru Ramdas. Bhai Gurdas travelled to Goindwal (close to Amritsar) to bring these pothis but the owner refused to see him. The Baba Buddha ji , Head Granthi of Darbar Sahib also tried but he was similarly turned away from the door. Then Guru Arjan went himself. He sat in the stree below Baba Mohan's attic serenading him on his tambura.

Nanak V, Guru Arjan Dev

Gurgaddi:1581 AD - 1606 AD
Contribution:Completed the excavation of Sarovar and construction of Golden Temple. Compiled the Adi Granth by collecting hymns of all the previous Gurus. Installed Baba Buddha ji as first Granthi of Darbar Sahib. Started the glorious tradition of martyrdom in Sikhism by giving his life but not Dharma at Lahore.
Baba Mohan was disarmed to hear the hymn, came downstairs with the pothis and presented these to the Guru. As says the Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi, the pothis were placed on a palanquin bedecked with precious stones. The Sikhs carried it on their shoulders and Guru Arjan walked behind barefoot. He refused to ride his horse, saying that the pothis were the very spirit of the four Gurus - his predecessors. The cavalcade broke journey at Khadur Sahib to make obeisance at shrines sacred to Guru Angad. On the outskirts of Amritsar, it was received by Hargobind, Guru Arjan's young son, accompanied by large number of Sikhs. He bowed at his father's feet and showered petals in front of the pothis. Guru Arjan, Hargobind, Bhai Gurdas and Baba Buddha now bore the palanquin on their shoulders, led by musicians with flutes and drums. Reaching Amritsar, Guru Arjan first went to Darbar Sahib to offer Karah Prasad. Then as gurbilas sais "an attractive spot in the thick of a forest next to Amritsar was marked out by Guru Arjan. A ten was hoisted in this idyllic setting. Here Guru Arjan and Bhai Gurdas started work on the sacred volumes. The making of granth was not easy and it took quite some time. All work was done in Punjabi with gurmukhi script of Guru Angad. Total of 1400+ pages were compiled. When Granth was done, Guru Arjan named it Adi Granth and installed it in the innermost santum of Darbar Sahib. Completion of Granth was celebrated with much jubilation. Karah prasad was prepared in huge quantities, large number of Sikhs came to see the Granth at Darbar Sahib.

Nanak VI, Guru Hargobind

Gurgaddi:1606 - 1644    
Contribution:Established Akal Takht as the parliament of Sikhs. Wore two swords, Miri and Piri as symbols of Saint and Soldier. Created the First Sikh army and fought against Mughal emperor Shahjehan.

Guru Arjan Dev ji achieved martyrdom on the orders of Mughal king Shahjehan in 1606 AD at Lahore. He had just before leaving to Lahore, appointed his son Hargobind as sixth guru. Guru Hargobind was formally declared Guru on June 24 1606. Guru Hargobind steered the Sikhs towards becoming soldiers from saints as by earlier Gurus. He established the institution of Akal takht, which is a declared center of all Sikhs. From Akal Takht he conducted all the secular affairs of community. In the open place between Golden Temple and Akal Takht were held tournaments of Physical feats every afternoon, and here the bards, Bazaar outside Golden TempleAbdullah and Nattha, recited heroic poetry. All Sikhs are suppose to make all political decision through consensus at Akal Takht with elected jathedar means head or leader of Akal Takht leading them. Guru Hargobind took a different approach then his predecessors and asked his devotees to give him gifts of horses and weapons. He created a small army of 752 men, his men include warriors like Bidhi Chand chhina. Guru Hargobind fought small battles in and around Amritsar, he was captured by Mughals and put in jail at Gwalior. When he returned from jail it was Diwali, people of Amritsar celebrated that occasion with much enthusiasm, from that day on Diwali of Amritsar is famous all over India. It is said Daal roti ghar di, Diwali Amritsar di, means "good food is always at your home, and good diwali at Amritsar" . By virtue of being the seat of the Guru and by its connections with Sikh Sangats in far-flung regions through a chain of masands, Amritsar had developed the characterstics of a State Capital.

Nanak VII, Guru HarRai

Gurgaddi:1644 - 1661    
Contribution:Stopped the confrontation with Mughals and concentrated on building up the ideals as well as force. Had to Leave Golden Temple in the hands of jealous relatives and establish a new Sikh center at hills of Himachal.

Guru Hargobind made his son Harrai as Seventh Guru. Guru Har Rai formally took the seat of succession on March 3 1644 on the eve of departure of Guru Hargobind from this world. Guru Harrai was more like Guru Arjan although he kept the army, he spent his most time preaching the Sikh ideals. One remarkable thing happened at this time was that his relatives took control of Golden Temple and declared to mughals that it was their personal property. Guru Harrai had to move to Nahan in Himachal and other places all over Punjab. 5 oct 1661 Guru Har Krishen was made eighth guru., 6th October 1661 Guru Har Rai breathed his last in this world. Guru Har Krishen passed away on 30 March 1664 after he asked for a coconute, 5 paisas and all of his closest disciples. He circled coconut three times in air, put the 5 paisas in front of coconut and uttered "Baba Bakala" (these rights were consistent with what earlier gurus had done when passing down the Guru Nanak's throne.) Guru Tegh Bahadur became guru on 11 August 1664, after Makhan Shah Lubana found him. Guru Tegh bahadur, ninth Guru bought some land in Ropar district and established city of Anandpur, since he was also not welcomed at Golden Temple which was under the control of Sodhis. Guru Gobind Singh became guru on Novembor 16 1675 (he was 9 years old then). Guru Gobind Singh also could not dislodge his jealous relatives., not until 1920's when Singh Sabha movement was started, Heriditory Sodhi mahants were thrown away from Golden Temple, and Golden Temple was put under a democratically elected forum of people called Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee. For more information you can visit their web site at www.sgpc.org

Service for the needy one's is one of the ideals of Sikhism. Guru Gobind Singh declared that "Khalsa shall always be there to help the needy one's, Khalsa is a saint and soldier" Even these days, I once heard a Hindu gentleman giving advice to his daughter who had recently got a job in the city of Delhi and had to travel about 30-40 KM everyday, " Always take an auto rickshaw whose driver is a Sikh. " he further reiterated " A Sikh will protect you like his own daughter. " In Ancient India, job to upheld Dharma and righteousness was taken up by the Rajputs, When creating Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh (Himself a Rajput Kshtraiya) said " Serving Jal at Darbar Sahib Rajputs have forgotten their Dharma and are marrying their daughters to the oppressors and thus today I am creating Khalsa which shall be Saint and Soldier and whose job will be to upheld the righteousness and protect the needy." Not just protection, Sikhs have ideals that are unique among all the world religions., for example, Bhai Kanhaiya ji, a Gursikh of Guru Gobind singh was arrested by fellow Sikhs from the battlefield. They complained to Guru that Bhai Kanhaiya is helping the wounded enemy by giving them water, Bhai Kanhaiya ji replied "In a battlefield everywhere I see there is God, I do not know how to separate foe from friend." Guru Gobind singh was so happy that he provided him with bandages and medicine to be put on the wounded soldiers (all). From that day serving water to pilgrims, etc have become a sort of tradition with Sikhism. At Golden Temple, there are small plazas for water. As in the picture above.

Nanak X, Guru Gobind Singh

GurGaddi:1675 - 1707 A.D.    
Contribution:Visited Golden Temple periodically but never lived there as it was owned by jealous relatives who even shut the doors of Golden Temple for Guru Gobind Singh.

Guru Gobind Singh made Adi Granth as the Eleventh Guru for all the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh ji right before he passed away, issued orders to make Bhai Mani singh as Head Granthi of Golden Temple, Amritsar. His relatives at Golden Temple complied with the wishes of Sikh sangat and Bhai mani Singh was made head granthi. Around the same time, Punjab was swept by the Khalsa under Banda Bahadur and all lands were taken away from rich landholders distributing to poor. Taxes were levied at straight 10% (reduced from 63% earlier by Mughals which include Jizya for being a non-muslim). Khalsa under Banda Bahadur started calling themselves as "Bandai Khalsa" while the rest of the Khalsa as "Tat Khalsa" meaning "Original Khalsa". This rift caused Banda Bahadur and 2000+ of his supporters their life but Guru ke Sikhs Bandai Khalsas did not converted to islam. Some time later, Bhai Mani Singh at Golden Temple got both the parties, Bandai and tat khalsa together and solved the dispute of their war cries "Sat Sri akal" vs. "Fateh Darshan". It is said that Bhai Mani Singh wrote both of these words "Sat Sri Akal" on one piece of paper and "Fateh Darshan" on other piece of paper and dropped these papers into sarovar close by Akal Takht at Golden Temple, after sometime one piece of paper came above with "Sat Sri Akal" on it. From that point on, there was no dispute about Sikh salutation of Waheguru ji ka Khalsa and Sat Sri akal.

Interior Darbar Sahib

In the next few years Golden Temple achieved a supreme center for all purposes of Sikhs. Villagers from nearby would come to Darbar Sahib and solve their disputes. Visiting Golden Temple became a sort of a ritual on Diwali and Visakhi for Sikhs. Mughals were watching these activities. On Diwali, Bhai Mani Singh, head granthi of Golden Temple, asked for permission to hold Diwali Fair at Golden Temple. Mughal governor allowed it on the condition that after fair Bhai Mani Singh ji will pay 500,000 rupees to Lahore, Bhai Mani singh ji agreed. But two days before fair, Mughals sent a huge force to Amritsar, scaring away majority of the visitors and thus there was very less amount collected, not enough to pay mughals. Mughals arrested Bhai Mani Singh ji, Qazi ordered death sentence after torture or conversion to Islam. Bhai Mani Singh following the glorious tradition of Sikhism, picked death.

Martyrdom of Banda Bahadur and Pious Sikh Priest Bhai Mani Singh had a deep impact on Sikh youth. For them Amritsar became a focal point. Sikhs Under Bhai Tara Singh of Village Wan, Nawab Kapur Singh of Village Singhpuria, Bhai Nodh Singh of Gujranwala , Jassa Singh Ramgarhia of Gurdaspur, started attacking Mughal treasuries. They became folk heroes of Sikhs. Mughal governor appointed Massa Ranghar as chief of Amritsar, he occupied Golden Temple and banned Sikhs from visiting it. Sikh youth at this time would gallop on their horses and in a second would take a dip in sarovar fill up the water for their elders and ride away. Massa Ranghar made Golden Temple as his palace and dance hall where he watched dances by half naked woman. He also started abusing Hindus and Sikhs of Amritsar. This was too much for Sikhs to bear. Bhai Mehtab Singh and Bhai Sukha Singh avenged this descration by killing Massa Ranghar in the Golden Temple when they entered in disguise. They were both eventually hunted by Mughals and attained martyrdom. Meer Mannu and later Zakriya Khan continued their atrocities on Sikhs until Nadir Shah attacked .

Nadir Shah (about 50 years old) from Afghanistan, easily defeated the Mughals and occupied Delhi. His forces harassed, raped, looted allmost all citizens of Delhi Sikh leaders of Akali Party at Langarfrom mughal dignitaries to common persons. When he left, Delhi came under Marathas who let the Mughal emperor rule but whole Army was Maratha. Then Ahmad Shah Abdali or "Durrani" attacked Punjab. His forces occupied Punjab, he clashed with Marathas at Panipat and won a decisive battle. His forces had a field day of loot, Ahmad Shah Abdali was basically a free booter and a looter from Afghanistan just like Nadir Shah (Surprisingly Majority of Afghanistanis till today have remained like him, freebooters, looters and uncivilised people). His men abducted about 5000 women from Delhi for their harems and bazaars of Middle East. When he was returning, Sikhs under various small Jathas attacked Abdali and freed almost all of women as well as snatched back the looted riches of India. Abdali was furious and returned back in few years to punish Sikhs. Sikhs emptied Amritsar, Abdali forces occupied Golden Temple after a small fight with five Sikhs at golden Temple. Baba Deep Singh ji attacked Abdali's general at Amritsar and attained martyrdom. Sikhs retaliated the baggage train of Abdali and freed much of looted booty again, Sikhs also captured about 10,000 Afghanis who were made to work and restore Golden Temple in original state for about 1 year and then freed. Abdali attacked again five times to punish Sikhs but Sikhs retaliated each time. After Abdali died, his son Zaman Shah attacked Punjab but was severely beaten by a 16 year old one eyed lad from Punjab named Ranjit Singh in 1798 A.D.. After which Sikhs permanently occupied Golden Temple and its sanctity was not hurt until 1984 A.D, when Indian Army marched into the Golden Temple.

Written By Sandeep Singh Bajwa with excerpts from History of the Sikhs authored by Harbans Singh ji