Op/Ed: It is Darbar Sahib, not “Golden Temple”

CHANDIGARH, Punjab—The proper nomenclature for the central Sikh shrine at Amritsar is not ‘Golden Temple’ or its Hindi translation ‘Sunehri Mandir.’  It is not only improper but absurd to try and identify it with the adjectives it acquired centuries after it was built. It is hoped that the NHAI was not bitten by the Hindutva bug to attempt obfuscation of the Sikh identity by low underhand means. It is at least surprising that the NHAI did not bother to take proper advice on the vital matter. This shrine was built in the 16th century, rebuilt in the original form in the 17th and was gilded by Ranjit Singh in the 19th (1820) century.

       It is to serve as a central shrine, the very focal point of the new universal culture revealed by Guru Akalpurakh to Guru Nanak. It is to embody, showcase and propagate the essential ingredients of that culture and is not a mere sacred spot. At the very root of this socio-political culture is the stipulation that Akalpurakh is the only sovereign to whom homage is due and not to any short-lived human potentiates masquerading as rulers (kou har sman nahi raja. eh bhoopat sabh divas char ke jhoothe karat divaaja). It is a symbol of a free human of the new universal social order who accepts ‘no law or lord but the Lord his God (read Akalpurakh) and is a patriot to heaven (read spirituality) alone.’ For the Guru-oriented (gurmukhs) this ‘is the sure keel of ages.’ It has doors in four directions to signify that it is the common spiritual home and place of congregation of all freedom loving spiritual peoples from all over the world who are prepared to shed all man-made distinctions to proclaim mutual brotherhood under the fatherhood/motherhood of Akalpurakh (tu mera pita tu hai mera mata). All those who wish to enter this unique shrine must first wash off their egos, caste distinctions, false notions of superiority, superstition of purity and pollution, and desire to dominate another human being in the sarover of nectar around the shrine. Humankind needs no such dross. 

       Guru Granth Sahib, the living eternal Guru, the embodiment of Akalpurakh in the quintessential form of Truth, spirituality and absolute Justice, presides at the central shrine. Guru Granth holds Court at the epicenter where those seeking instructions and enlightenment congregate. The fly whisk is waved over it in the oriental indication of sovereign status. By what has been said above, the only name that could describe it adequately to the world is Darbar (Sahib) and that name was given to it at inception by the Guru who built it. No one should even try to slight the common yearning of humankind to seek eternal peace in harmony that is personified by the existence and message of the Gurdarbar. The name Gurudarbar for it is used by Guru Arjan Dev Ji.

       For the jealous Sikhs who are its privileged custodians, Darbar Ji is also a holy spot because throughout the centuries, since its inception, they have spilt their blood to safeguard its absolute right to exist eternally, to provide solace and to instruct humankind on the right path of spiritual and harmonious living.


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