Personal testimony and grateful reflection.
A PILGRIM AT THE "COURT"
As I approached the causeway to Harimander Sahib (Court
of the Lord), the crown jewel of the Golden Temple complex
I was overwhelmed by the thought that all outstanding heritage
sites: relics, archaeological treasures, and architectural
monuments belong to all people. As great and magnificent
visual symbols of mankind's journey through the ages; they
are the heart and soul of our civilization and a connecting
bridge to diverse cultures, people, inspirations, and human
As if to affirm this transcendent intercultural moment,
I encountered hundred of non-Sikhs and non-Indians from
other faith traditions visiting the holiest shrine of the
Sikh faith, the magnificent sixteenth century Indo-Sarsenic
masterpiece at Amritsar, Punjab-the colorful western "gateway"
to Indian civilization. Bathed in serene and shimmering
elegance in mid-day sun, from under the Temple's golden
domes, the message of Oneness, Equality, Human Dignity,
and Sanctity of all faith reverberated in universal spiritual
The foundation stone of the famous Harimander Sahib at
Amritsar was laid by a venerated Moslem Sufi Saint Hazrat
Mian Mir at the request of the Fifth Sikh Guru, Arjan Dev.
In a magnanimous affirmation of the spirit and commandments
of this fifteenth-century monotheistic Sikh faith the writings
of several Moslem and Hindu saints of various castes and
revealed writings of Sikh Gurus are enshrined in the sacred
Adi Grunth. Guru Arjan Dev compiled the original Guru Grunth
Sahib and installed it at the sacred Temple in 1604.
Each pilgrim arrives here to offer prayers or make petitions
for cherished hopes and concerns or express gratitude for
blessings already received. Some estimates suggest that
a million people from around the world visit the Golden
Temple complex each week
In this hallowed place, my mind and spirit surrendered
in grateful salutation to the : majesty and splendor of
other "cathedrals of spirit", testimony of defiance
and sacrifices of martyrs for righteous causes; anguish
of Tibetans, Jews, American Indians, Sikhs and others over
destroyed heritage and continued injustice; peaceful reflections
of the beautiful Lotus Temple of Bahais at New Delhi, sacred
pagodas, pavilions and shrines that celebrate and grace
our civilizations with a rich tapestry of emotions, traditions,
experiences, cultural textures and rhythms and offer us
a glimpse of Divine amidst the temporal distractions. My
time and spirit stood still as I meditated on the moment.
Countless unexplored and neglected heritage sites scattered
throughout the human landscape capture the very essence
of our cultural, visual, and spiritual universe. They are
important mirrors and milestones of our collective wisdom,
creative innovations, and landmark attractions. These sites
need identification, designation as protected sites, legislative
and financial support, and committed partnerships for preservation,
restoration, and aesthetic integration into the community
cultural and architectural fabric.
Safeguarding our threatened recent and ancient history,
celebrated architecture, and heritage sites: our collective
cultural frontier with responsible action and intervention
and assuring a universal and safe access is a challenge
with unimagined promise.
Kanwal Prakash "KP" Singh,
Amritsar, Punjab India