Golden Temple: Marvel of Sikh Architecture
Golden Temple: Marvel of Sikh Architecture by Dr SS Bhatti is based on the author┐s doctoral thesis for his third PhD from Panjab University, Chandigarh. This work on the Golden Temple is the first one of its kind in that it has been done by a professional whose research and creative contribution in the three fields of Architecture, Engineering, and Aesthetics is quite well known. The author has developed a new method of studying historical monuments, and of establishing their distinct styles on the basis of illustrated analysis of the three fundamental elements of building design: space, structure, and form. Dr Bhatti has convincingly shown how Sikh Architecture is an independent style of building design, which has produced the Golden Temple, Amritsar: a marvel of Sikh Architecture with its characteristic ebullience and aesthetic charm. This book is a definitive work on the theory and practice of building design with a befitting research methodology, which should benefit students, teachers, practitioners, and scholars alike worldwide.
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There are many books and articles and research papers available on historical styles of architecture such as Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and so forth but very little has been written on Sikh Architecture which scholars of all genres hitherto have not recognised as an independent style of architecture as they have in the other stated cases.
NEW METHOD OF APPROACH
"GOLDEN TEMPLE: Marvel of Sikh Architecture" suggests a comprehensiveness that is crucial to an objective understanding of this hitherto-ignored subject. Not only has the author established that a style of architecture legitimately called "Sikh Architecture" exists using illustrated analysis and cogent arguments based on the 'comparative method' but also invented a method that may well be applied to verify the authenticity and autonomy of other historical styles like Hindu Architecture, Buddhist Architecture, Jain Architecture, beyond mere scholarly sentimentalism. Communal conceit is a sordid temptation, he points out, to which historians of all genres succumb in a vain bid to prove the supremacy of forms of their community's Building Design, the cause of which they champion without any outside provocation as self-avowed crusaders of historical reality! To get over this malaise, Dr Bhatti has based his findings on the study of 45 centuries of World Architecture beginning with the Egyptian style.
GOING BACK TO THE FIRST PRINCIPLES HIS METHOD EXPLORES THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF BUILDING DESIGN VIS-└-VIS ITS FOUR CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS OF SPACE, STRUCTURE, FORM, and TIME.
Elements of Building Design: (1) Space, (2) Structure, (3) Form, according to Dr Bhatti, correspond to (1) Architecture, (2) Engineering, and (3) Aesthetics. He has shown that the Elements of Building Design and their Technical Aspects are, at bottom, interrelated, and yield their fuller sense only when they are used together in any discourse on the planning (i.e., conceptualisation followed by a comprehensive action plan) and making (i.e., construction, materials, and resolution of emerging problems of implementation) of Built (or Human) Environment. He covers all these concerns under the fourth element called 'Time', which, incidentally, encompasses Technical Aspects as they are the rational index of the overall-all-round advancement identifiable at any point or period of history anywhere in the world.
DESCRIBING THE HOLY SHRINE
Let me now attempt a brief description of the Golden Temple as given in the book. The shape of the holy shrine is a square joined to a semi-hexagon, symbolising, respectively, the Absolute [i.e., Being] and the Relative [i.e., Becoming] aspects of Truth which, according to the Sikh scriptures, is the chief attribute of God. The dome is elliptical which, despite its very low height, can be seen from all the sides without obstruction. Its low height denotes 'Humility' which Guru Nanak has made the cardinal principle of the Sikh Faith. An inverted lotus flower forms the crowning feature of the dome as a visual metaphor for 'Reflection' whose inalienable significance has been repeatedly underscored by the Sikh Gurus as the mainstay of meditation. The sacred 'Amrit‐Sarovar' was developed by preserving the existing Zizyphus jujube trees or Beris along with the water pond that is believed to have had curative properties. The result is that the entrance to the holy shrine is from the west unlike in Hindu temples in which it is always from the eastern side. Fullest reverence was shown to the lowlying site which was developed to be accessed by moving downstairs 2-3 storeys suggesting that the Spirit World is negotiated by a devotee's deliberate self-abnegation. This makes the Golden Temple perhaps the most environment-friendly architectural
creation in the world!
As a pioneer of metaphysical thinking on the subject, Dr Bhatti has made a magnificent contribution to architectural research involving historical monuments. In my opinion, "GOLDEN TEMPLE: Marvel of Sikh
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND PARTI
ELEMENTS OF BUILDING DESIGN
ASSESSMENT OF CREATIVE MERIT