History Made! Giani Iqbal Singh ji, Jathedar Siri Harmandir Patna Sahib
Dedicates new Gurdwara at Gobind Sadan, USA.
“Out of the ashes – comes the Light”
Listen to Giani Iqbal Singh ji’s interview on National Public Radio (USA)
22 March 2008
Central Square, NY
“The taste of a lifetime.” That’s how some of the hundreds from all faiths and backgrounds gathered for the dedication of the new Gurdwara at Gobind Sadan, USA, described their experience today as Jethedar Giani Iqbal Singh ji offered prayers and spoke glowingly about how he witnessed the spreading of the universal message of love of Guru Granth Sahib by His Holiness Baba Virsa Singh ji first in India and now here in this small rural upstate New York community.
“When we bow before the Holy Guru Granth Sahib, we bow before the saints and prophets of all religions and we bow before those of low caste, and those of all ages. Guru Gobind Singh ji, at whose birthplace I have the honor and privilege of serving, taught us to recognize all people as one human race. These words I have seen practically demonstrated by the Great Brahmgyani (Enlightened Soul) Baba Virsa Singh and now here before my eyes, you have come from all religions to praise the One God and speak of how Babaji and his message touched your lives.”
There were Christian theologians from Africa, an elder in the Mormon Church, a Christian woman, a Buddhist Abbott, a Muslim man and Hindu woman all sharing their experiences with the love of God that Babaji reflected and that they experienced in Gobind Sadan.
The Rev. Dr. Harvey Sindima, a Malawi Presbyterian Minister who is also a professor of religion and philosophy shared his tribute how more than anyone he’d ever met, “Babaji had embodied the holiness which is Jesus and truly loved people unconditionally and loved all those who are messengers of God.”
Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mohoney, shared how she was touched by the openness of the invitation and offered her admiration for Babaji and the Gobind Sadan community’s response to the arson which destroyed the original building in 2001.
I was fitting that the Holy Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth which triumphed over the fires of hatred were brought in procession with great love and installed and opened with great reverence in their new home for all to see. The service entitled “Out of the ashes – comes the Light” captured the essence of the moment: “Today is especially appropriate to dedicate this new building. As the world celebrates Easter, this building has risen out of the ashes of hatred and offers the Light of God’s love to everyone. Just as Jesus forgave those who crucified him, so Baba ji forgave the young people who, out of ignorance, burned down the original temple building. Babaji’s words created a wave of positive energy that until today move us forward, said Ralph Singh, Gobind Sadan, USA founding president, who now serves as Director of Publications and Public Relations for the worldwide Gobind Sadan community.
United States Congressman James Walsh, in his letter addressed to the entire sangat of Gobind Sadan, USA in which he welcomed Giani Iqbal Singh ji, wrote, “Baba Virsa Singh ji’s message of peace healing, and love is exemplified in this temple. I greatly admired his powerful statement of forgiveness towards those who committed the arson. Babaji turned this sad story around and used it as an opportunity to educate all on tolerance and the importance of celebrating the commonalities shared by all religions. It is wonderful to see this new temple dedicated so that it once again may serve as a place of spiritual strength and acceptance for all.”
Gurbachan Singh, Chairman of Gobind Sadan, USA actingas stage secretary was able to shift between Punjabi and English in sharing the history of Patna Sahib and the significance to the day’s events. Sajjan Singh, Vice Chair welcomed the Jethedar, referring to Guru Gobind Singh ji’s universal teachings and Jaspal Singh Kalra read a beautiful scriptural passage which was presented to Jathedar Sahib.
In his closing prayer Giani ji, asked blessings on the leadership and all present, “May God bless you with even more love and joy so you may share it with the world.”
The temple was built largely through the efforts of a team of volunteers lead by Paramjit Singh from Canada who worked day and night to ready it for this day. When asked about the day, he replied, “it’s such a wonderful feeling that all our work was accepted by the Guru. It’s like the taste of a lifetime.”