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The Guru's Way
The Guru's Way

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The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple

In the days of the great Guru Arjan, there were two main religions in India. They were Hinduism and Islam. The Hindus did not allow Muslims and low caste people to enter their temples, and the Muslims did not allow Hindus to enter their mosques. The Guru did not like this. He said, "God gives air, water and sunshine to everybody; so all have equal rights to thank God for His gifts and sing His praises. So temples should be open to all."

After the holy pool at Amritsar had been dug, Guru Arjan made up his mind to build a temple where all could go and pray. So a temple called the Harimandir was built. Harimandir means "the temple of God." It is now also called the Golden Temple and it stands in the centre of the sacred pool at Amritsar. The Harimandir is really the 'House of God.' It has four doors, one on each side, and all people, rich or poor, high or low, black or white, Sikhs or non-Sikhs can go there at any time and sing the Lord's praises. In the Harimandir the Sikhs always sing the hymns of the Gurus in praise of God, and no one is allowed to sing or say anything else. There is no idol or statue in the temple and no cross. Only the Holy Book of the Sikhs, draped in fine cloth, is placed in the centre of the temple and the people sing or listen to the praise of God. The walls of the temple on the inside are covered with very fine paintings and on the outside they are covered with gold leaf. That is why people call it the Golden Temple.

There is a Langar near the temple in the great court- yard around the pool. In the Langar, all sit down as brothers and sisters and eat simple food. One can get food here at any time of day or night.

When the Guru planned to build the temple, he needed a lot of money. Many of his Sikhs sent him money and came to work there. A rich merchant, Ganga Ram, came all the way from Bhatinda and offered a large heap of com for the Guru's Langar. He liked the Guru so much that he never went back home. He stayed and worked with the Guru and became a Sikh.

Foundation of Harimandir SahibThe first brick of the Harimandir was laid by a Muslim saint, Mian Mir. He was a great friend of the Guru. This shows that the Guru loved good people of all religions. When the temple was complete, the Guru said, "God himself has done the work through His grace." Later he had the city of Tam Taran built .He got another sacred pool dug and a temple built there. Some time later another town, Kartarpur, was built by this great Guru.

A Holy Book for the temple was now needed. The Guru therefore sent for his faithful follower, Bhai Gur Das, and said, "Gur Das, write down the hymns of the great Gurus as I sing them to you." He arranged the hymns according to tunes and began to sing. Gur Das wrote them down as the Guru sang. The Guru then selected hymns of some Hindu and Muslim saints to include in the Holy Book. These saints are called Bhagats (holy men). When the Holy Book (The Granth) was complete, the Guru placed it in the Harimandir, and said, "O brothers, listen. The Granth contains the teachings of the Gurus. Show respect to the Granth, read it every day and act upon its teachings. Translate it into other languages so that its teachings may reach everybody and spread like oil on water." Nowadays, the Sikhs call the Holy Book not simply "The Granth," but "The Guru Granth Sahib."

"By repeating God's Name I have made God's temple; O saints and followers, sing God's praises day and night."
(Guru Arjan)
"If I go to a temple, I see men boasting; If I enquire of Brahmans, I find them proud. O my friends, show me that place Where only God's praises are always sung."
(Guru Arjan)
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