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Takht Sri Harimandir Ji, Patna Sahib

It was here at Takhat Patna Sahib, that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru was born in 1666. He also spent his early years here before moving to Anandpur. Besides being the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, Patna was also honored by visits from Guru Nanak as well as Guru Tegh Bahadur.

This is one of only five Takhats or Holy Seats of Authority of the Sikhs. The Gurdwara Patna Sahib is in remembrance of the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. Like many historical Gurdwaras in India and Pakistan, this Gurdwara was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Originally, this is the place where Guru Nanak visited before going to the holy place Gaya. He was a great scholar of history and knew the importance of Pataliputra, which already was almost forgotten by Hindus. He tried to revive the glory of Indian culture. At this place stood the haveli of Salis Rai Jouri, who was a great devotee of Guru Nanak. He was so influenced by the teachings of the Guru that he converted his palatial home into a dharamsala (place where dharam is learned).

When Guru Tegh Bahadur visited Patna, he stayed in this exact site. A magnificent house was built above the dharamsala of Salis Rai. Mullah Ahmed Bukhari, the author of Mirat-ul-Ahwal Jahan Nama, who stayed at Patna for some time at the close of 18th century, has made a reference to Harmandir Sahib. He writes, “Over the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikhs have raised a public edifice, made it a place of power and strength, and call it ‘Harmandir’. It is also called ‘Sangat’ and is held in great esteem and veneration. They have made it a place of pilgrimage. Maharaja Ranjit Singh started the work of reconstructing the Harmandir in 1839 following destruction by fire, but did not survive to see the new structure. Again in 1934, when an earthquake rocked the entire state of Bihar, some portions of the Harmandir fell down. Construction of the present building was taken up on November 19, 1954 and was completed in about three years.

Illuminated Guru Granth folio with nisan (Mul Mantra) of Guru Gobind Singh. Collection of Patna

“As described by Charles Wilkins” by Professor Kirpal Singh, Punjabi University

Charles Wilkins was one of the pioneering orientalists of the 18th century. With his help Sir William Jones, founder of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, learnt Sanskrit. Later, he earned the title of “Father of Sanskrit” in the eyes of his contemporaries by writing grammar of Sanskrit language. He was the first to design and manufacture the type for production of Sanskrit and Persian grammars and proved to be a pioneer in the typographic art in the oriental language.

Born in 1749 in England, Wilkins joined the service of the East India Company at the age of twenty. He suggested to the Governor General, Warren Hastings, to establish a printing press in 1778. Wilkins translated Manusmriti, Mahabharat and Hitopdesh and the later years of his life were devoted to the revision of Richardson’s Persian, Arabic and English Dictionary. He died in 1836 in England.

Charles Wilkins was one of the earliest Europeans to write about the Sikhs. He wrote on March 1, 1781:

“Before I left Calcutta a gentleman with whom I chanced to be discoursing of that sect of people who are distinguished from worshippers of Brahm and followers of Mohomed by the appellation ‘Seek’ (meaning Sikhs) informed me that there was a considerable number of them settled in the city of Patna.”

Since he was proceeding on leave to Benaras he stopped at Patna. Following is the description ofGurdwara Patna Sahib and the daily routine there:

“I found the College of the Seeks (Sikhs) situated in one of the narrow streets of Patna, at no very considerable distance from the custom house. I was permitted to enter the outward gate; but as soon as I came to the steps which led up into the Chapel, or public hall, I was civilly accosted by two of the Society, I asked them if I might ascent into the hall. They said it was a place of worship open to me and to all men; but at the same time, intimated that I must take off my shoes.. I did not hesitate to comply, and I was then politely conducted into the hall, and seated upon a carpet, in the midst of the assembly, which was so numerous as almost to fill the room.

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