Was John Lennon inspired by the Bahá’í Faith when he penned the lyrics of the song ‘Imagine’. He and the Prophet founder of the faith Bahá’u’lláh, who said “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens,” seem to have a lot in common.
I was in Delhi for a short visit and made a visit to the Bahá'í Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, better known as the "Lotus Temple" ( Kamal Mandir as the auto drivers of Delhi know it). As you approach the temple, one gets the first glimpse as the road takes a curve, and you gasp. Then it goes out of sight till you are almost there.
As you walk into their premises, every step, seems to be the ideal photo op. Cameras, mobile phones all work overtime. People who may otherwise be camera shy request you to take their picture with the temple in the background.
Constructed to resemble a lotus flower, the temple made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand stands on 26 acres of land, . The Persian architect Fariborz Sahba from Canada, created the beautiful structure composed of 27 free-standing marble clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. Nine pools encompass the building and nine doors open on to a central hall.
The structure is slightly more than 40 metres tall and it took 800 engineers, technicians, workers and artisans almost ten years to complete the task. At a lecture at Yale, the architecht is reported to have said that the temple was built with primitive methods, but the dedication of the workers more than made up for the lack of technology available at that time. The doors of the temple were thrown open to the public in December 1986
As we approach the temple, we are requested to remove our footwear and maintain silence within the main inner hall. Volunteers of different nationalities guide the tourists. ‘You may sit as long as you wish. You may belong to any religion, but you are free to pray ’ . Photography is not permitted inside and therefore one could not capture the beautifully structured dome. No idols, no noise, no bells, no chants. It is so peaceful and the silence unconsciously nudges you into closing your eyes in prayer. What is more amazing is that the average Indian known for his noisy demeanour is silent without being monitored. Such is the effect of the magnificent structure .
The building uses natural light that streams through the inner folds of the petals of the temple, and the construction is based on the Mughal ventilation technique and has an amazing inflow of fresh air and therefore banishes the need for an AC – that is conspicuous by its absence.
As we walk out, we are asked if we have the time to visit the museum at the other end which houses literature of the faith and pictures of the Bahá’í places of worship in other parts of the world. It is worth a quick visit, and if you have more time, view the video that shows the construction of the temple at different stages.
I did not feel the need to be a Bahá’í to appreciate their ideology. I guess all peace loving individuals feel that way. I wish all places of worship were like the Bahá'í Mashriqu'l-Adhkar temple – clean surroundings, peaceful and quiet – conducive to meditation and prayer.
You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one