Takhat Shri Damdama Sahib
Talwandi Sabo Bathinda
DAMDAMA SAHIB, also known as Talwandi Sabo (29° 59’N, 75° 5’E), a small town 28 km southeast of Bathinda in the Punjab, is sacred to the Sikhs as the seat of one of their five takhts or centres of highest religious authority. Damdama Sahib, place of repose where the Guru had some respite after a period of continuous turmoil, was visited successively by Guru Tegh Bahadur while travelling in these parts in the early 1670’s, and Guru Gobind Singh who put up here for over nine months in 1706. Tradition also recounts a visit by Guru Nanak during one of his journeys across the country. In the earlier half of the eighteenth century, the place became for the Sikhs a cantonment as well as a seat of learning. It gained renown especially under Baba Dip Singh Shahid (d. 1757). The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee approved, vide Resolution No. 32, dated 18 November 1966, Damdama Sahib as a takht, adjured the Khalsa to keep this takht in mind as they did in the past while saying their ardas, and recommended to the Punjab Government amendment to Gurdwara Act so that the jathedar of the takht, like those of the other four takhts, could be counted as an ex officio member of the Shiromani Committee. Several shrines, sarovars and bungas survive as relics of its historical past.
TAKHT SRI DAMDAMA SAHIB, adjoining the Darbar Sahib on the east, marks the site where Guru Gobind Singh during his stay here held his daily assemblies. Guru Tegh Bahadur had called Talvandi Sabo Guru ki Kashi, predicting that “many scholars, philosophers, theologians, copyists with elegant hand, students and devotees will adorn the place.” The prophecy came true when learned Sikhs poured in from far and near to be with Guru Gobind Singh. Among them was Bhai Mani Singh who came from Delhi escorting Mata Sundari and Mata Sahib Devari, the Guru’s consorts separated from him after the evacuation ofAnandpur. Guru Gobind Singh had Bhai Mani Singh prepare a fresh copy of the Guru Granth Sahib under his own supervision. The spot where this work was carried out is still shown the pilgrims. Copies continued to be prepared here from this recension. One such copy preserved here is believed to have been prepared by Baba Dip Singh Shahid himself. It contains 707 leaves excluding the list of contents spread over 29 leaves. It was from here that the Guru issued his commands and letters to farflung Sikh sangats. The place became in fact a centre of Sikh learning. This character it has maintained ever since as the home of what is known as Damdami Taksal, or the Damdama School of Learning. The present building of the Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, constructed during the 1970’s under the supervision of Sant Seva Singh of Sri Kesgarh, is a spacious highceilinged hall, with a pavilion, at either end. The takht (throne) proper is a 2 metre high square platform lined with white marble and marked off with marblelined columns in the southern part of the hall. This is the sanctum sanctorum on which the Guru Granth Sahib is seated. After the evening service the Holy Book is carried to the old Mariji Sahib in a procession of hymnsinging devotees. The interior of the sanctum is decorated with reflecting glass pieces of varying colours set in geometrical and floral designs. Over the sanctum, above the hall roof, is a domed square room topped by a tall goldplated pinnacle and an umbrellashaped fmial, with a khanda at the apex. Octagonal towers at the hall corners have also domed pavilions above them. All these domes are lined with glazed tiles in white, light yellow and light blue colours.