A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Installation of the Guru Granth Sahib in the Harmandir Sahib. Anniversary observed in the Golden Temple, Amritsar. The Sikhs’ martyred fifth Guru Arjan Dev (ਅਰਜਨ ਦੇਵ) (1563-1606 CE) completed the Adi Granth volume of sacred writings of spiritual poetry set to traditional musical ragas (ਸਿੰਗ) on 30 August 1604 CE and it was first installed on 1 September in the Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib, sacred audience). The Adi Granth did not contain the writings of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji on this date but consisted of the hymns of the first five Gurus and those of other saint-poets. The hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur were added by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708 to form the present Guru Granth Sahib (ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ), which at 1,430 pages (angs) is the central religious scripture of Sikhism, regarded as the final, sovereign, eternal living Guru following the lineage of the ten human gurus of the religion of 25 million people. Image: www.gururavidassbhawan.org
Prayer One sings God’s power, if one has power so to do. Another sings his liberality, if he knows his sign. One sings his beautiful qualities and greatnesses. Another sings a difficult thought of science. One sings having made the body he reduces it to ashes. Another sings having taken life he gives it again. One sings he is known but seen afar off. Another sings being present he sees in the presence. There is no end of sayings and tellings, the story is told by ten millions. God goes on giving and the Lord goes on executing his order. O Nanak! he expands unconcerned.
Saint-Gilles (St Giles, Giles the Hermit, Giles of Provence, Gilgen, Aegidius, Aegidius) (650-710). Feast Day and Church of England commemoration of the legendary noble Athenian Christian vegetarian hermit who sought solitude near the mouth of the Rhône, by the River Gard and in Nimes in southern France. He was sustained by a female red deer and, when the king’s hunters pursued her to Giles’ refuge, an arrow shot at the deer wounded Giles instead. The king held the hermit in high esteem for his humility in rejecting all honours, save having some disciples, and built him a Benedictine monastery in his valley where Giles died with the highest repute for sanctity and miracles. The Abbey built in the Provencal Saint-Gilles-du-Gard valley in the Tenth Century was dedicated to him and his tomb became a cult place of pilgrimage on the road to Arles and Santiago de Compostela, the Pilgrim Way of St James. The town of Saint-Gilles-du-Gard grew around the Abbey and Giles’ cult spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, as is witnessed by the churches and monasteries dedicated to him in France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Britain, by the numerous manuscripts in prose and verse commemorating his virtues and miracles, and especially by the vast concourse of pilgrims who from all Europe flocked to his shrine. The centuries-long presence of Crusaders, many of them of French origin, left the name of St Giles in some locations in the Middle East, including the 1103 Citadel of Raymond de Saint-Gilles (Qala’at Sanjil) in Tripoli, Lebanon. In 1562, the relics of the saint were secretly translated to Toulouse to protect them from the Huguenots and the level of pilgrimage declined until the restoration of most of the relics to his Abbey in 1862 and the publicised rediscovery of his former tomb there in 1865. Venerated in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran Churches, Anglican Communion. A popular saint in England and elsewhere, including Germany as the only non-martyr in the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Major shrines Abbey of Saint-Gilles and St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh. Patron of Edinburgh, Graz, Nuremberg, Osnabrück, Sankt Gilgen, Brunswick, Wollaberg, Saint-Gilles Brussels, Sint-Gillis-Waas, beggars, blacksmiths, breast cancer, breast feeding, cancer patients, disabled people, epilepsy, noctiphobics, forests, hermits, horses, lepers, mental illness, outcasts, poor people, rams, spur makers, sterility. Invoked against childhood fears, convulsions, depression. Image: aidanharticons.com.
St Drithelm (Dryhthelm ) (died Eighth Century). Feast Day for rich Northumbrian Ayrshire Anglo-Saxon known from the Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum of St Bede. After a battle with illness around 700, Drithelm briefly died but came back to life after a few hours. A deathly tour of the afterlife with a celestial guide gave him what in the Fourteenth Century would be known as a Dantean vision of hell, purgatory, paradise and heaven and of the souls therein. This he related to Aldfrith (Flann Fína mac Ossu, Aldfridus) the king of Northumbria and St Eadfrith (Ealdfrith) the Bishop of Lindisfarne, convinced that it was vital to live a devout life on Earth if he was to be granted immediate entrance into heaven. The mention of purgatory is vital in understanding the Eighth-Century Christian view on the afterlife with this staging post that operated within the Church as a reminder to people that simply identifying as a Christian would not lead to automatic entry into heaven, but that rather one must dedicate one’s life to God’s work. Drithelm apportioned his wealth between his wife, sons and the poor, and became a monk at the monastery at Mailros (Melrose), where he devoted himself to God. He established a reputation for being able to endure bodily torment, reciting psalms whilst standing in the River Tweed even when it was icy. Bede used Drithelm as a rôle model, displaying how a previously elite layman could transform himself and lead a devout life within the confines of the Church. Venerated in Medieval England. Drithelm died in Melrose Abbey, where his major shrine was destroyed when in 1322 Edward II desecrated and burnt the Abbey and, although it was rebuilt and endowed by King Robert the Bruce in 1326, it was burned down in 1385 by Richard II. Image:youtube.com.