To complete the year, we dipped at the five sarovars of Amritsar and it was an amazing experience. We started early, at 1:30am, getting back to the school at 5:00am. The students then had a few hours to sleep before an 8:45am breakfast and their last day of exams.
For this experience, the boys wore kacheras and the girls wore their school uniforms. We stayed in the same outfits the whole time, wrapping a shawl around us between dips to stay warm. Thankfully, it’s hot here in Amritsar, even in the early morning hours.
Gurdwara Santokhsar Sahib
We arrived first at Santokhsar Sahib, which is approximately 700 meters from the Golden Temple. We were so early that it was still closed so we recited Benti Chaupai and did Mul Mantras until a sevadar came to open up the gates. Walking into the complex, it was very still and silent. We dipped together, with Jugat Guru Singh leading an Ardas.
Santokhsar Sahib was completed in 1589 by Guru Arjan Dev Ji, with the construction supervised by Baba Buddha. Guru Amar Das had given Guru Ram Das instructions to excavate a holy tank. When Guru Ram Das excavated the tank, he found a Yogi meditating in the dirt. When the Yogi opened his eyes, he told Guru Ram Das that he had been meditating there for a long time, waiting for the time of the Gurus. He told Guru Ram Das that his name was Santakha and then breathed his last breath. The tank was named after that Yogi.
Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib
After dipping at Santokhsar Sahib, we got into the buses, quite wet, and drove to the next location, which was Ramsar Sahib, another peaceful sarovar, located one kilometer from the Harimandir Sahib. It was completed in 1603, just two years after the completion of the Harimandir Sahib. Guru Arjan Dev Ji was looking for a secluded, shady spot, away from the bustle of the town that was then growing around the Harimandir. Choosing this spot, he had a small sarovar dug, which he named Ramsar after his father Guru Ram Das. It was here that he collected the hymns of the first four Gurus and wrote Sukhmani Sahib.
Gurdwara Mata Kaulsar
After Ramsar, we walked to Kaulsar, which is right by the Golden Temple. Mata Kaulsar was the adopted daughter of the Qazi of Lahore. She took refuge with Guru Hargobind Ji after her father had pronounced a death sentence for showing devotion to the Gurus. She was brought to Amritsar by Sant Mian Mir and lived there from 1606 to 1645. After the sarovar was constructed in 1627, Guru Hargobind Dev Ji instructed his devotees to take a dip in the Sarovar Kaulsar before they dipped at the Golden Temple.
Gurdwara Bibeksar Sahib
Next we walked to Bibeksar Gurdwara. Here there were many devotees sleeping on the parkarma, unlike the first three gurdwaras.
This sarovar was built by Guru Hargobind Dev Ji in 1628 and the gurdwara was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Guru Hargobind Dev Ji often rested at the edge of the tank, where the gurdwara now stands and sometimes held his meetings there in the evening.
Amritsar, the Golden Temple
After Bibeksar Sahib, we walked to the fifth sarovar, Amritsar (The Golden Temple). We’ve dipped here many times throughout the year but today was special as it was part of this unique sadhana. We entered the complex, dipped and exited, keeping the peace and tranquility of the previous sarovars with us throughout. The boys dipped together in the open with the girls dipping together in the women’s dipping area.
Gurdwara Bhai Saalo
To complete this sadhana, we visited Gurdwara Bhai Saalo, walking through narrow alleyways to get there. At Gurdwara Bhai Saalo, there is a small ‘pond’ where we took turns pouring a bucket of the water from the pond over our heads. This pond belonged to Bhai Saalo who was a devotee of Guru Ram Das, Arjan and Hargobind. During Bhai Saalo’s time, many Sikhs visiting from Lahore would stop here on route to the Harimandir Sahib. Guru Arjan Dev Ji visited many times. It is said that whoever baths here with heart and soul will be blessed with a son and weak children would become healthy.
After this last ‘dip’, we changed into new clothes and walked back to the Harimandir Sahib.
Ardaas Outside of the Golden Temple
At the Golden Temple we completed our sadhana and our year with an ardaas outside of the Harimandir Sahib. We also donated five bowls of Prashad on behalf of the school.