Indian art in close-up detail, £14.99
Width: 27 mm
Purchased from R B Whitehead
Coins and Medals
Sikh temple token
From Amritsar, Punjab, India
A genuine silver token from the Sikh Golden Temple
This silver temple token would have been given to pilgrims to the Golden Temple, the holy Sikh shrine, in Amritsar, Punjab. The token is undated, but is of the same type as those which were produced in 1898. The loop of metal at the top suggests that it may have been worn as a pendant.
The token depicts the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak (AD 1469-1539). Guru Nanak taught his followers to have faith in the one true God and encouraged them to worship and recite the name of God.
On the obverse of the token he is shown seated under a tree between two of his companions. Bhai Mardana, a Muslim, is seated on the left playing a rebab (stringed musical instrument) whilst Bhai Bala, a Hindu, is on the right holding a chowri (fly-whisk). The principle of equality of men, promoted by Guru Nanak throughout his life, is represented by showing members of the different faiths sitting together.
The inscription in Gurmukhi on the reverse is the first verse of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Scriptures), written by Guru Nanak himself. It translates as: “There is but one God. True is his name, creative his personality and immortal his form. He is without fear, without enmity, unborn and self illuminated. By the Guru’s grace he is obtained. Embrace his meditation. True in prime, true in the beginning of ages, true. He is true even now and true he shall be, O’ Nanak.”
Guru Nanak placed emphasis on three main principles which were to be the basis of the Sikh way of life:
- Naam Japna: chanting the Holy Name and remembering God at all times.
- Kirat Karni: earning a livelihood through an honest means.
- Vand ki Shakna: sharing with others.
Hans Herrli, The Coins Of The Sikhs (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Ltd, 2004)