Friday, August 03, 2012

Episode 8: Destruction of Sikh Heritage

Gurdwara Baba Attal Sahib is situated to the south of Sri Harimandir Sahib and close to the accommodation buildings for pilgrims. The Gurdwara Sahib has nine floors and is the tallest building in Amritsar. The Gurdwara Sahib was made in memory of Guru Hargobind Sahib jee's son, Baba Attal Rai jee.

At the age of nine, Baba jee brought his close friend Mohan, son of a widow, back to life after his sudden death. In accordance you cannot alter with Waheguru's Hukam, so Guru Hargobind Sahib jee was not pleased with his son performing such a miracle. It is said that Baba Attal Rai jee told his father that he would lay down his own life for breaking the law of nature by reviving his friend from the dead. So he went into a meditative trance and soon breathed his last. Although he died at the age of nine, he was honoured with the title of Baba, a grand old man, for the extraordinary powers he had displayed. The present nine-storey building represents the nine years of Baba Atal's life.

There are many murals on the walls of the Gurdwara Sahib, however many of these have been damaged beyond recognition and at present only 42 panels survive. A large series of paintings unfold, stage by stage, the life of Guru Nanak Dev jee. Another series represents Sikh martyrs, including the four Sahibzaade (princes) of Guru Gobind Singh jee, who laid down their lives for the cause of their faith. Large panels illustrate scenes from the life of Baba Atal and Guru Nanak; and the various stages of the battle of Muketsar. Some historians date the murals to the early nineteenth century, and some suggest even later.

Below are photographs showing how poorly Sikh heritage buildings are being maintained:

It was very disheartening to see the condition of certain buildings in the Sri Harmandir Sahib complex.

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