Shining in the morning light, the gilded splendor
Of its paneling’s and big dome and small minarets.
This temple is a fairy world palace
To the devotes of the Sikh faith.
Certainly, the first look brings onto the innocent eye
The image of a transcendent fact.
The ‘loving sight’ peering into heaven
From the legends of the miraculous cures
By the touch of the water in the pool of nectar,
In which the shrine stands,
Makes for ecstatic awareness.
The vision has been received by millions of pilgrims
Who have come here for centuries from near and far.
The actual construction had modest beginnings:
A mud-house was constructed by Guru Amar Das,
Who is said to have found on the edge of the pool
The magical herb which cured a skin ailment
Of his master Guru Angad.
The Amrit Sarovar remained a village tank,
Until the fourth Guru Ram Das began
To carry out the plans of his mentor
For a more permanent structure in brick.
Guru Ram Das/Ram Das Pura
Were the names of Amritsar in those times.
And the temple on the banks of the pool
Of nectar was surrounded
By the houses of the craftsmen from the towns
Of Patti, Kasur and Kalanur,
Who came to build the holy place.
The only market was then called
Guru-ka-bazar, still known by that name,
Though more populous.
Guru Ram Das composed a poem
In praise of Amrit Sarovar.
Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth master,
Who came to the spiritual throne in 1581,
Felt from the growing popularity
Of the shrine as a pilgrim center the need
To have the tank paved on the four sides
And the steps of Hari Mandir bricked.
The devotees joined to construct the temple,
Which would be lived in during the everyday life?
Where the infinite mystery would be revealed
To those who may want to see.
Already, however, the demand to create
A paradise on earth became urgent,
From the vision of Guru Arjan Dev,
Of many simple hearts coming,
With dipped eyes over joined hands.
To pray and touch the holy water on their foreheads.
So this Guru had the structure of the Hari Mandir
Planned in such a way one
Outsight might afford the insight. ‘ :
The ponent causeway leading to the Hari Mandir
Was then designed, with the rectangular shape
Of the circumambulatory walk ending
At the gateway, from which the path
To Reality began.
To nine, symbolically, the noblest truth
Of Islam about One God with the faith,
In the Hindu God Hari and his many incarnations,
The Muslims divine, Mian Mir of Lahore,
Is said to have been invited by Guru Arjan Dev
To lay the foundation stone of the temple
In A.D. 1588.
The structure of the shrine also mixed
The rectangular form of the Hindu temple
With the dome and minarets of the Muslims
Hallowed by the meditations of holy men,
The blood of martyrs defending the Sikh faith
Against imperial oppression, a refuge to the sick
And weary, the faithful held on to the center
Against many onslaughts and the rhythms
Of the universal life seemed to secure the pilgrims
In the belief that the essential self exists
In and through and behind the flow
Of the obvious states.
And as the universe of calm survived
In the midst of all the in clemencies of change,
The first Sikh Emperor, Maharaja Ranjit Singh,
Made the pool of nectar the spiritual capital,
While Lahore was the temporal seat
Of his newly founded kingdom.
The gilding of the embossed plate,
Above the marble skirt of the Hari Mandir,
The renewal of the Piet redure, the embellishment
Of the interior, with lovely ceilings,
Adored with floral reliefs and little mirrors,
Were all renovated, finished and perfected
Under the patronage of the great general,
So that men and women may brood upon
The inner splendor, after gazing at the beauty
And wonder of the outer house and body of God
The Sikhs have always retained,
In spite of the militancy they were forced to adopt
To defend their order against the enemies
Of their reformation, the injunction of Guru Nanak
That you can range from yourself to the stars
And the moral law, if you contemplate
The Nam in the quiet of your heart.
As an eclectic monument, which has grown
From the devotion of the folk,
As much as through the skill of the craftsmen
Of the guilds, the Golden Temple achieves the kind
Of romantic glory which flouts convention,
Answers to the mood of astonishment,
And compels humility before the inner sight.