Visitors to the Golden Temple see a few tall structures in the vicinity. Two of the tall structures are the bungas—the mansions that various royal families of Punjab had built around the Temple. The other structure is the gurudwara called Baba Atal, a double octagonal nine-storey structure, with a gilded dome. Baba Atal was the son of the sixth Teacher, Guru Hargobind. He was a lively child, but spiritually oriented from a very tender age. The Guru called him often, and spent long hours in conversation with the young one. Baba Atal was one of a group of friends. They learnt the alphabet, bathed in the temple pool, and then played for hours around the Golden Temple. Their favourite game was hide and seek, with each friend being the den in turn. One evening, one boy from the group named Mohan is to be the den, but just as they start a round of hide and seek, his mother calls him to their home. As Mohan runs to his mother, he promises to complete his turn next day.

However, tragedy strikes, and that night, the sleeping Mohan is bitten by a snake and dies. The shattered family is wailing in grief. Baba Atal goes to Mohan’s house as usual, because he wants to continue yesterday’s game, but arrives to see Mohan’s family crying, as they surround his lifeless body.

Baba Atal takes Mohan by the hand, and asks him to get up and complete his den. With a yawn, Mohan gets up, and runs out to play.

As news of this reaches the Guru, he summons the young Baba Atal, and expresses unhappiness at what happened, since the Gurus were against any attempt at miracles. The young boy is full of remorse.

“Then I will trade life for life,” he said. Assuming the lotus position, Baba Atal left his body.

The octagonal gurudwara commemorates this event.


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