With the surge in the number of tourists thronging the holy city of Amritsar in recent years, people wishing to pay obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple have risen manifold. The ever-burgeoning length of queues of devotees and tourists act as a deterrent for lazy bones like me who wish to pay obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum but are reluctant to stand in queue and wait for their turn. As a busy clinician, I somehow always try to resist the temptation because I know it would take at least an hour or maybe two to reach the centre of divinity.
Last Sunday, my perspective and attitude towards the endless queues changed for the better, forever. One of my friends, a policeman, offered to take me to the Golden Temple and facilitate my sacred wish of paying obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum. I was excited at the prospect of a VIP entry and fulfilment of a long-cherished desire of bowing at the heart of spirituality. I was up at the first ring of the alarm, took a hasty bath and rushed out to find my friend already at the door.
As I stepped into the precincts of the Golden Temple, I was mesmerised by the reflection of the morning rays of the sun kissing the golden canopy of the temple and the entrancing shimmer it lent to the water in the holy tank. My friend was leading from the front and I was following him gingerly, expecting a quick turn to bow before the Almighty. But he had other plans. “Listen, here I’m not a policeman and you’re not a doctor. We are simple human beings in quest of peace and enrichment of our souls,” he said and we joined the mammoth queue of people coming from all strata of life.
“Remember, a reasonable level of maturity, wisdom and patience is required if you wish to mark your presence before the Almighty,” he reassured before beginning to recite prayers under his breath. I kept following him cautiously and tried to focus on the Gurbani being recited by the ragis. Large screens hanging in the passage helped me understand the meaning of every verse.
Though the corridor leading to the sanctum sanctorum was packed with the devotees, every time a woman with an infant in her lap, an elderly or infirm person recited “Waheguru, Waheguru” to request for a passage, everyone retracted into themselves to spare an inch or two to make way for them. The vulnerable would then walk through the multi-rowed, bursting-at-the-seams corridor of people with effortless ease, eliciting a perfect example of cooperation and harmony our society is capable of.
Engrossed in the divine ambience, I lost track of time. We reached the sanctum sanctorum, overwhelmed and soaked in sublimity. The queue was in fact the key to the Almighty’s abode. The long wait taught me an important lesson in humility, humanity and compassion before seeking the blessings of the Almighty. [email protected]
The writer is an Amritsar-based freelance contributor