“There it is! There it is!” Excited voices surround me. I look out the window of the plane and there below, shimmering gold reflecting in crystal clear blue waters, is the most exquisite jewel in the world – the Golden Temple of Amritsar. My eyes fill with tears.
I had heard of this magical place, where Yogi Bhajan had washed the marble floors every night for four years, the powerful yogi humbly offering all his powers to Guru Ram Das. I find its presence awesome as I stand on the perkarma (walkway around the Temple), trying to memorize the patterns in the marble. I say out loud, “Someday I’m going to want to remember this!” Then I have to leave and run to the bathroom.
They call it, “Delhi-belly.” I am physically unsuited to Indian bacteria, and they attack me in full force. Although I am not bed-ridden, I can only stay away from my room that, thank God, contains toilet facilities (Indian style – the hole in the cement floor of a tiny cubicle) for short periods of time.
The physical reality of Amritsar is a great comparative study. The smell from some disinfectant recently applied to the bathroom in Nanak Nivas , the guest house in which I’m going to stay, almost knocks me out the first time I enter the room. From that moment on, I feel ill. Nausea is my daily experience.
For months after my return to Los Angeles I can’t even think of India without feeling sick to my stomach. But I still cherish those ten days in India and the one “dip” I had in the miracle waters of Harimandir Sahib. Water so murky I’m sure it must be filled with bacteria, but nevertheless absolutely soothing and healing, filled with the love and prayers of multitudes who have come with faith and devotion.
Seldom can any place live up to its reputation, but the Golden Temple is one reality that truly defies adequate description. It is so much more than the physical beauty of its marble and gold exterior. Hundreds of years of the divine vibrations of Shabd Guru and Gurbani Kirtan permeate its walls and floors. The very air within offers the devotee of any religion an experience that is unequalled anywhere on the planet.