Gurdwara Sri Bangla Sahib is the most prominent Sikh gurdwara situated in the heart of New Delhi's famous Connaught Place in the capital city of India.
Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji stayed at the location of Gurdwara Sri Bangla Sahib for a few months as a guest of Raja Jai Singh.
It is located on the eastern side of the intersection of Ashok Road and Baba Kharag Singh Marg. It is instantly recognisable by its stunning golden dome and tall flagpole called the Nishan Sahib.
After the passing away of Guru Har Rai the seventh Sikh Guru, Ram Rai who was the eldest son of the seventh Master and his masands (masand is derived from Arabic word masnad, meaning delegating authority of the sovereign) instigated Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to issue a decree summoning Guru Harkrishan to his court. Ram Rai was elder brother of Guru Harkrishan.
Learning that Har Krishan had been appointed the spiritual head of the Sikhs, Baba Ram Rai became very perturbed. He tried in vain to influence the leading Sikhs of Delhi and Punjab. Later he approached Emperor Aurangzeb, who had befriended him, to help him acquire the Gurugadi. Consequently, Aurangzeb agreed to summon Guru Harkrishan to see whether he was really superior and more spiritual than Ram Rai.
Guru Harkrishan decided to go to Delhi since he felt that the 'sangat', his followers had been misguided and he saw an opportunity in this to clear their misunderstandings. Fortunately both Raja Jai Singh and his son Raja Ram Singh were in Delhi at that time. When approached by Sikhs for help, they agreed to assist them in their predicament. Raja Jai Singh, a strong devotee of Sikh Gurus would prevent any harm coming to Guru Harkrishan either by Aurangzeb or by the masands of Ram Rai.
When Ram Rai learned that Guru Harkrishan had accepted the summons to appear before Aurangzeb at his court at Delhi, he started rejoicing since Guru Harkrishan had taken a vow not to appear before Aurangzeb. So if Guru Harkrishan came to Delhi and refused to meet Aurangzeb then definitely he would be arrested and suffer humiliation. Now Ram Rai felt that this act of Guru Harkrishan will surely lower his prestige among his followers and would pave the way for Ram Rai to declare himself as the true successor of Guru Har Rai. This was a furtive attempt by Ram Rai to grab the Gurgaddi. Earlier Ram Rai had disgraced himself by giving a false translation of Gurbani to appease the Emperor. For this he had been disowned by his father and rewarded by Aurangzeb.
The Rajput chief took over the responsibility of persuading Guru Harkrishan to come to Delhi and also gained assurance from the Emperor that as long as he (the Emperor) was not satisfied about the succession issue, Guru Harkrishan Sahib could stay with Jai Singh and his son in his bungalow as a guest.
Mirza Raja Jai Singh had made elaborate arrangements to receive Guru Harkrishan. Guru Harkrishan was received on the outskirts of Delhi like a royal guest of honor. Guru Harkrishan was accompanied by prominent Sikhs from his darbar and his mother Mata Sulakhni.
During Guru Harkrishan's stay in Delhi there was a terrible epidemic of cholera and smallpox. Rather than staying in the safety of Jai Singh's home the Guru spent most of his time in serving the humble, the sick and the destitute. He distributed medicines, food and clothes to the needy. He also directed Diwan Dargah Mal to spend all of the daily offerings made by the people to the Guru on the poor.
The Guru won more admirers. Soon stories about his healing powers spread throughout the city. Contracting smallpox himself, the young Guru had consumed the illnesses of others and it was too much for his young body to control, he rejoined with God on 30th March 1664 at the location of Gurdwara Sri Bala Sahib. Guru Harkrishan had been tried and tested as a perfect fearless and fully illuminated soul.
In the Sikh Ardas, which is a prayer or Benti to the Lord, the following line is recited every time this prayer is read:
Guru Gobind Singh Ji says in Chandi Di Vaar which we read everyday in Ardas:
ਸ੍ਰੀ ਹਰਿ ਕਿਸ਼ਨ ਧਿਆਈਝ ਜਿਸ ਡਿਠੇ ਸਭਿ ਦੁਖ ਜਾਇ॥
sree har kishan dhhiaaeeai jis ddit(h)ae sabh dhukh jaae
(And then I reflect on) the most Venerable Guru Har Krishan, seeing whom all the sufferings melt away.
Dasam Granth, Ang 278.
Originally this place was a magnificent and spacious bungalow ('haveli' or 'bangla') of Mirza Raja Jai Singh, hence the name 'Bangla Sahib'. It's original name was Jaisinghpura Palace. A Rajput, Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber (Jaipur), was one of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb's most important military leaders and a trusted member of his Darbar (Court).
A small tank was constructed by Raja Jai Singh over the bungalow's well. The well was used by Guru Harkrishan to provide fresh water to all those that were suffering and cured them of their illnesses. Since then, Bangla Sahib's water is revered for its healing properties by Sikhs across the globe. The water body is said to act like a panacea for acne and other skin ailments. Today, the faithful continue to come to the well and take its water home, as amrit, to cure their ailments.
The Gurdwara building was built by Sikh General, Sardar Bhagel Singh in 1783, who supervised the construction of nine Sikh Gurdwaras in Delhi in the same year, during the reign of Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II.
The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee runs a hospital in the basement of the Gurudwara building and the Khalsa Girls School is located in the adjoining building. A tank 225 x 235 ft with 18 ft wide Parikarma and 12 ft wide varandah along its three sides has been constructed entirely with people's selfless contributions of funds and voluntary labour.
There is a multi-level car park and excellent accomodation for visiting Sikhs.
An art museum within the premises houses interesting slices of Sikh history from old manuscripts of Sukhmani Sahib and Japji Sahib to a handwritten Mool Mantar by Guru Arjan Sahib Ji and a miniature Granth Sahib. There is a colourful account of Sikh gurus and their childhood on canvases. Coins of earlier centuries and legendary scenes from the batt1efield come alive on the walls of this museum.
The art gallery is located in the basement of the Gurdwara is also very popular with visitors. They express keen interest in the paintings depicting historical events connected with Sikh history. The art gallery is named after the Sikh General Sardar Bhagel Singh who supervised the construction of nine Sikh Gurdwaras in Delhi in 1783 during the time of Shah Alam II. Within walking distance is the library that promises to tell you of the significance of the turban, besides covering vast texts on Sikh religion and history on its shelves.
A gateway to divinity in the heart of the city, Gurdwara Sri Bangla Sahib is the epitome of the Sikh spirit. Be it young, old or middle-aged, people across the spectrum come here to do sewa: from mopping the floors to shoe-minding, they do it all in the name of Ik Onkar, Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal.
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