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Gurdwara Sri Damdama Sahib Goindwal

Location - Goindwal Sahib, Tarn Taran, Punjab, India

Associated with - Sri Guru Amar Das Ji

Sikh Artifacts - unknown

Sarovar - Yes

Sarai - unknown

Goindwal Sahib is beautiful town located in Punjab at a distance of 23 km from Taran Taran Sahib.

The town of Goindwal Sahib has immense significance in Sikhi and has been an important center for Sikhs since the 16th century during the Guruship of the Sri Guru Amar Das Ji. The town is situated on banks of River Beas.


Sri Guru Amar Das Ji (the third Guru or the third Nanak) stayed in Goindwal for 33 years where he established a new centre for preaching Sikhism.

Guru Amar Das also developed a new system of propagating the Sikh faith in far off places known as the Manji System, for Sikhs he stopped the practice of Sati (ceremony of burning a hindu widow with the body of her late husband, which hindus still follow), wrote the Anand Sahib Gurbani at Goindwal and made many other contributions to Sikhi.

Goindval is where Guru Amar Das met Bhai Jetha (Sri Guru Ram Das Ji), the next Guru. Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji was also born there on 15 April 1563. It is called axis of Sikhism as it was the first main center of Sikhi. Today the Goindwal Sahib is visited as a prime tourist destination and the massive langar or the community kitchen provides food to a large number of visitors every day.

The Origin Of The Goindwal Name

The location of the town was an ancient eastwest highway that crossed the river Beas connecting Delhi and Lahore and the head of the most important ferries on the river Beas. With the renovation of the highway by Sher Shall Sur, the Afghan ruler of north India (1540–45), this ferry site became an important transit point.

This led one Goinda or Gonda, a Marvaha Khatri trader, to plan establishing an habitation at the western end of the ferry. Thwarted in his endeavour by natural calamities which Goinda attributed to evil spirits which nobody settled there, Goinda went to Khadoor to seek Guru Angad's blessing and asked if anyone of the two Guru's sons of the Guru starts living there, the superstition of the people regarding the evil spirits will vanish and the village will be inhabited.

The Guru agreed to help Goinda but none of the Guru's sons agreed to this proposal so the Guru asked his devoted disciple, (Guru) Amar Das, to help Goinda. Bhai Amar Das, who knew that tract very well as he had been carrying river water from this place to Khadoor daily for his Master`s ablutions, laid the foundation of Goinda's village which then was named after Goinda, Goindwal. The trader Goinda had a special place built in Goindwal to honor Guru Angad Sahib Ji.

Gurdwara Sri Damdama Sahib Goindwal

Guru Angad requested Bhai Amar Das to make Goindwal his home. During the night Bhai Amar Das slept in Goindwal and during the day he resumed his duties and carried water from the river Beas to Khadoor for Guru Angad's morning bath. Along the way Bhai Amar Das recited 'Japji Sahib', the Sikh's morning prayer. In this way, Bhai Amar Das carried out daily seva of bringing Guru Angad water.

Gurdwara Sri Damdama Sahib was built in commemoration of the place where Guru Amar Das took rest under a tree about one and a half miles from Goindwal, the historic tree is still preserved today. Guru Amar Das stayed in Khadoor to hear the hymn of 'Asa di Var', a composition of Guru Angad, interspersed with hymns of Nanak. He then returned to Goindwal to fetch more water for the guru's communal kitchen and carried it back to Khadoor where Guru Angad, and his followers resided.

The present building was constructed in the 1960's by Bhai Bhurivale, whose associated Sikhs continue to administer it.

Gurdwara Sri Baoli Sahib Goindwal

A Baoli (step well), paved with 84 steps was constructed here. Sikhs believe that by reciting Japji Sahib, the divine Word revealed to Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, at each of the 84 steps after taking a bath in the Baoli provides Moksha, liberation from 84,00,000 cycles of life of this world and unity with God (mukhti) if completed with a pure heart.

The Baoli Sahib is a large, open well, 8 metres across. Its water level is reached through a covered passage comprising a flight of 84 steps. A wide pointed archway opens on a domed clearance, four steps below the ground level, decorated with frescoes depicting the life of Guru Amar Das. The well has a few resting places between the 84 steps providing the Sikhs a place to get together and have spiritual discussion.

There are projected eaves on all sides, while the front face also has a row of small turrets. The cornice under the dome is multi-coloured with floral designs. Its cupola is painted with multi-coloured floral designs and portraits of Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh.

The area between the arch and the coping is covered with portraits of the Ten Gurus, and those of Baba Mohari, Baba Mohan and Baba Anand. Other paintings depict scenes from the life of Guru Amar Das. Most of the steps are covered with marble slabs donated by different Sikhs, the earliest of these being dated 1963 Bk/ 1906AD. The lotus dome above the entrance has a tall gold-plated pinnacle with pinnacled kiosks and solid decorative domes around it.

Guru Angad asked his faithful follower, Bhai Amar Das, to oversee the project of building Goindwal. Guru Angad gave Amar Das a staff with instructions that it should be used for the removal of any obstacles. Guru Angad selected Bhai Amar Das as the most faithful of his Sikhs and appointed him to be his successor.

After becoming Guru in 1552, at the age of 73, Guru Amar Das Ji moved from Khadoor to Goindwal with his family and followers. That year Guru Amar Das commenced the digging of the Baoli in Goindwal, ie. a well with steps descending down to water level. In the time of Guru Amar Das, Goindwal became the centre of an annual fair on the occasion of Vaisakhi.

Thara Sahib Sri Guru Amar Das Ji is a marble lined platform, with a pinnacled canopy of white marble supported on cylinderical columns, at the entrance to the Baoli Sahib. It marks the site where Guru Amar Das used to sit supervising the digging of the Baoli.

Gurdwara Sri Chaubara Sahib Goindwal

Gurdwara Sri Chaubara Sahib Goindwal was the home of Guru Amar Das and his family. The Guru Granth Sahib within the Gurdwara is seated in the front room on a silver palaki. This room has doors covered with silver. The interior is decorated with stucco work inset with reflecting glass pieces and intricate designs in many colours.

The following events occurred at Gurdwara Sri Chaubara Sahib Goindwal;

1. The sakhi of Guru Amar Das and Bibi Bhani Ji, where after Bibi Bhani made a request Guru Amar Das warned that many sacrifices would have to be made by Bibi Bhani and her family if the Guruship stayed with them.
2. This was the location of the Kili Sahib that Guru Amar Das used to hold to stand in his old age.
3. Guru Amar Das blessed Guru Ram Das with succession of Guruship at this location in 1574.
4. This was the location where Guru Amar Das in 1574 and Guru Ram Das in 1581 became Joti Jot (rejoined) with God.
5. This was the location where Guru Arjan Sahib Ji was born in 1563.
6. The Tham Sahib at this location was where Guru Arjan Sahib used to play as a child. Bibi Bhani Ji used to prepare Langar here.
7. Palki Sahib of Guru Arjan Sahib Ji. In this Palki Sahib, Guru Arjan carried the Gurbani of the first four Gurus to Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar
8. This is where the sacred hair and Chola Sahib of Guru Amar Das Ji is kept.
9. This is where Guru Arjan Sahib Ji came here to collect Sanchiaa Sahibs from Baba Mohan Das.
10. Khuh Guru Ram Das, the khuh sunk by Guru Ram Das is still preserved.

Gurdwara Sri Goindwal Sahib

Adjacent to Sri Baoli Sahib, is Gurdwara Sri Goindwal Sahib. It is a square hall with a sanctum in the centre where the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is seated. Daily congregations take place in this hall. After Gurgaddi of Guru Amar Das people visited in large crowds for a spiritual glimpse of the third Guru. This angered the jealous Dattu, the youngest son of Guru Angad. Dattu came to Goindwal and found the Guru who was surrounded by Sikhs.

In rage he kicked the Guru; the Guru immediately touched his foot and feeling sorry asked Dattu if his foot had been hurt by his aged bones. This showed the humility of Guru Amar Das. This event and the overall dislike that Dattu had for Guru Amar Das was the cause for Guru Amar Das to decide to briefly leave Goindwal. Guru Amar Das shifted himself to his native village Basarke Gillan and closeted himself in a secluded place.

On the door of his house, Guru Amar Das wrote 'whosoever opens the door will not be his [Guru Amar Das's] Sikh and he will not be their Guru. However, the Sikhs longed to see the Guru. Baba Budha, instead of opening the front door, broke open the back wall and enabled the Sikhs to reach the Guru. The Sikhs led by Baba Budha requested the Guru to come back to Goindwal and then took him there. Gurdwara Sri Sanh Sahib commemorates this incident.

Gurdwara Sri Akal Chalana Sahib

Gurdwara Sri Akal Chalana Asthan Bhai Gurdas Ji is situated in the Goindwal Sahib city and is associated with Bhai Gurdas. Bhai Gurdas was a brilliant scholar, poet and nephew of Guru Amar Das Ji. He rendered an imperishable service to Sikhism. He was so devoted to his cause that he never married.

Bhai Gurdas remained in close association with third, fourth, fifth and sixth Gurus from 1579 to 1637 for 58 years. Bhai Gurdas Ji breathed his last at Gurdwara Sri Akal Chalana Sahib. The Gurdwara Sahib is situated on the left side of Gurdwara Sri Chaubara Sahib Goindwal.

Bhai Gurdas's humility was so great that though he wrote the Adi Granth at the dictation of Guru Arjan, and included therein sayings of many hindu and muslim saints, and was the Guru's maternal uncle, yet he declined to include in it his own compositions which were of a high order, for the simple reason that he did not want to raise himself to the position of the bhaktas.

Emperor Akbar's Visit

Guru Amar Das made langar an integral activity of the Sikh community and he insisted that anyone who wanted to see him had to first partake of food at the langar creating the proverb 'Pehlay Pangat tay picchhay Sangat' - First sit in the 'Community of Feet', and then join the 'Company of Singers'.

In 1598, Emperor Akbar visited the Guru Amar Das in Goindwal and took lunch in the Langar while he was travelling from Delhi to Lahore. Akbar was so highly impressed by the tradition of Langer that he granted land in the name of Bibi Bhani, the daughter of the Guru, as Guru Amar Das wanted nothing for himself. Guru Amar Das directed his son in law, the future Guru Ram Das, to start a new settlement which has now become known across the world as 'Amritsar'.

Bhai Jetha (Guru Ram Das) At Goindwal

Guru Ram Das, whose original name before becoming the Guru was Bhai Jetha, arrived at Goindwal to remain in contact with Guru Amar Das who he had seen previously at Khadoor. Bhai Jetha started earning his bread by selling cooked beans, however he spent most of his time in the service of Guru Amar Das in the construction of the Baoli and in the community kitchen.

Guru Amar Das and his wife Mata Mansa Devi recognized Bhai Jetha's upright character and steadfast service and decided to get their daughter, Bibi Bhani married to him, they married on 1st February 1554. The couple stayed in Goindwal to remain in the service of the Guru. They had three sons, Bhai Prithi Chand, Bhai Mahadev, and Bhai Arjan (later known as Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji).

Guru Hargobind and Guru Tegh Bahadur's Visit

Guru Hargobind with his family travelled to from Jhabal to Goindwal. As they reached Goindwal, Guru Hargobind, his family, and his Sikhs bathed in the Goindwal Baoli built by Guru Amar Das. Bhai Tegh Bahadur, then barely two, was bathed with the holy water. The bath was repeated the following morning before Guru Hargobind left for Kartarpur.

The family were left in Goindwal on the persuasion of Baba Sundar, great-grandson of Guru Amar Das. Upon his return to Amritsar, Guru Hargobind recalled the family from Goindwal. Guru Tegh Bahadur also visited Goindwal again in 1664 after first stopping at Amritsar, followed by stops at Tarn Taran and Khadoor Sahib.

Guru Har Rai's Visit

When the mughal emperor Shah Jahan's eldest son Dara Shikoh was seriously ill Guru Har Rai sent a herbal medicine which cured him. Thus Sikh - Mughals relations remained on a good footing for a short time. There was eventual instability in the Delhi royal court when Shah Jahan fell ill and his second son Aurangzeb aligned himself with his youngest brother Murad against their eldest brother Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan's approved successor.

Aurangzeb imprisoned his father in Agra and his soldiers, as well as those of his youngest brother Murad, and forced Dara Shikoh to flee towards Punjab. Guru Har Rai was visiting Goindwal in June 1558 along with 2200 horse riders and here he met Dara Shikoh who had come to receive his blessings. Dara Shikoh remembered that the Guru had been responsible for saving his life when he was sick.

Dara Shikoh was both an intellectual and liberally tolerant towards other religions. He was a great admirer of the Muslim Sufi Saint Mian Mir who was in turn a great admirer of the Gurus. Guru Har Rai granted Dara Shikoh an audience and received the prince with due courtesy. After some time Dara Shikoh was eventually captured by the forces of Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb had Dara Shikoh executed, then killed his own youngest brother Murad and appointed himself as the emperor.

Most of the Gurdwaras in Goindwal are managed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. A largely attended three day fair takes place in the month of September to mark the Joti Jot Divas of Guru Amar Das.

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