By Swami Harshananda
Harimandir literally means ‘House of God’.
Sikhism is the youngest of world religions started by Guru Nānak (A. D. 1469-1539). The Harimandir, also called as ‘Śrī Darbār Sāhib,’ is popularly known as the ‘Golden Temple’. It is the most sacred shrine of the Sikhs. It is in Amritsar (Punjab).
It is situated inside a huge tank which was constructed in A. D. 1577 by Guru Rāmdās (A. D. 1534- 1581). The foundation for the temple was laid by the Muslim saint Mia Mīr (A. D. 1550-1635) in A. D. 1588, at the request of Guru Arjan (A. D. 1563-1606).
Extent of Mandir
The dimensions of the tank are 154.5 by 148.5 meters (507 by 487 feet). The temple is 12.25 meters (40 feet) square and stands on a platform which is 19.7 meters (64 feet) square. The temple took its present shape and form during the reign of Mahārājā Raṇjit Singh (A. D. 1780-1839). The architecture is a mixture of the Rajput and the Mughal styles.
The object of worship is the Adi Granth, (or Guru Granth Sāhib), the sacred scripture of the Sikhs compiled by the fifth Guru, Arjan. He also set the daily routine and liturgy which continue even today. Just as the the utsavamīirti (processional image) is ceremonially shifted in the night to a rest-room, the Book is also reverently escorted from the main shrine to the Akāl Buṅgā in the night and brought back in the early morning.
The Harimandir has been desecrated several times by hosts of Muslim marauders from Delhi and Afghanistan. They have even defiled the tank in abominable ways like filling it up with sand . However, these sacrilegious acts have always been met with stiff resistance and the shrine has been redeemed and renovated with greater vigor and faith.
The great dome over the temple is covered with plates of copper gilded with gold. Hence it is called as ‘Golden Temple’. Inside the temple, several verses from the Guru Granth Sāhib (Adi Granth) have been inscribed in letters of gold on the arches.
- It is the edifice raised over the Akāl Takht, the primary Church of Sikh religious authority.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore