Saturday, February 25, 2006

Concreting History in the name of progress

I can't get over this. For those that don't know me, I am very fond of food, technology, travel, Gurmat Sangit, Sikh History and of course, Sikh Arts and Culture. It makes me so frustrated and sad that in the name of progress original historical art and architecture are being destroyed for new, shiny, big, vah vah effect slabs of useless marble and stone.

Gurmeet Rai (archielogical preservation expert and wife of Raghu Rai - famous photographer) wrote this scathing rebuke to the SGPC leadership and administration. Please see -

It is amazing that her keen discerning intellect is aware of the power and imagery of Gurbani in relation to nature and environmentalism. Members of the SGPC, I am sure can quote loads and loads of Gurbani more than Gurmeet. However, they fundamentally lack the intellect to apply in their daily lives or in the running of our Gurduaras and organizations. What use is Gurbani if it is not applied? Application to our lives is what makes it a living philosphy. Otherwise it will become one of the thousands of scriptures of ancient wisdom that only shows up in academic and historical studies. Gurbani interpreted into active life is like the budding trees in spring. Mere recitation and rote memory with no application makes the reciter into dry wood.

ਸੂਕੇ ਹਰੇ ਕੀਏ ਖਿਨ ਮਾਹੇ ॥
ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਸੰਚਿ ਜੀਵਾਏ ॥1॥
ਗਉੜੀ ਮਹਲਾ 5

The glance of infinite wisdom (ammrit) puts life in the lifeless.
It makes dry wood, green in an instant
Nanak V, Raga Gauri

On a visit to Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, in 2004 I visited Gurduara Baba Atal which is within the complex just beside the rest houses. I had heard of the destruction of art and architecture in the building. Here are some pictures. Lime green bathroom tiles, whitewash...its quite ugly. I had heard that some protestations had stopped the destruction and so you can see the state. I don't know what it looks like now.

Picture 0 - Gurduara Baba Atalrai ji

Picture 1 - this is what the intricate work on the walls looks like.

Picture 2 - whitewashing of the ceiling

Picture 3 - neon-green (lime-green) bathroom tiles!!

Picture 4 - The brass/golden part is left. Arghh...the panjabi infatuation with Gold!!