What a history this is. And there's a twist to make you think of a little more than blood and death.
Along one wall -- in fact, just above those thirteen bloody men -- are large paintings of Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh and Kartar Singh Sarabhai, with brief descriptions of their heroism. All called "Shahid", or martyr. On the adjacent wall is a painting of the ruins of the Akal Takht in ruins. Dome fallen down, walls shattered. This paragraph below it:
- Under the calculated move of Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, military troops stormed Golden Temple with tanks. Thousands of Sikhs were massacred. Sri Akal Takht suffered the worst damages Sikhs rose up in a united protest. Many returned their honours. Sikh soldiers left their barracks. The Sikhs however, soon had their vengeance.
- Shahid S. Beant Singh Ji (1949 - 31 Oct 1984)
Shahid S. Satwant Singh Ji (1967 - 6 Jan 1989)
Shahid S. Kehar Singh Ji (1940 - 6 Jan 1989)
These three men, up on this wall and called shahid (martyr), exactly like other revered martyrs from our history. In this place that remembers so much blood; that doesn't mention, but manages to put in your thoughts, the long nights of even more bloodshed right after that October day.
I walk down from the museum and step back into the Golden Temple. The serenity after the memories of great violence, the sense of welcome that extends to every visitor who comes to this magnificent place, is almost overwhelming.
Yes, I have never been in a place of worship that is so clean and inclusive, that is so peaceful, that lets you be yourself so fully. Yet my mind is consumed, vibrating, taut, with the horrific violence remembered upstairs.