Autar ji said ‘IMHO, Akaal Takht is the Time-less Throne of the Panth Khalsa.’
An account by Dr Dilgeer says ‘Akal Takht Sahib was revealed by Guru Hargobind Sahib on June 15,1606. The foundation stone of the building of Akal Takht Sahib was laid down by Guru Hargobind Sahib himself. (Guru Hargobind Sahib did not built or create Akal Takht Sahib, he revealed it. Akal Takht Sahib belonged to Waheguru and it was the Almighty who could have created Akal Takht Sahib). The rest of the structure was completed by Baba Buddha (the veteran Sikh servant) and by Bhai Gurdas (Sikh scholar) only. — Guru Hargobind Sahib himself was the Custodian of the Takht of Waheguru. According to a source, when Guru Hargobind Sahib remained in Gwalior Fort prison, he had asked — Bhai Gurdas to take care of Akal Takht Sahib. Between 1635 and 1696 (until the death of Harji), Amritsar was under the control of the descendants of Pirthi Chand (elder brother of Guru Arjan Sahib). In April 1698, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib appointed Bhai Mani Singh as Granthi of Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht Sahib —
After the martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh (June 24,1734), there was no one to take care of the shrines at Amritsar during the dark period of the Sikh history. There were Sarbat Khalsa gatherings at Akal Takht Sahib, at least since 1726, but no reference is available as to who convened these gatherings.
— Akal Takht Sahib is the Throne of the Almighty — The caretaker of Akal Takht Sahib — can issue the Gurmattas of the Sarbat Khalsa as the Hudamnamas of Akal Takht Sahib.’
An account by Kapur Singh says ‘A building subsequently raised over the Takht was called Akal Bunga (house) so that the Takht is now officially known as Takht Sri Akal Bunga although its popular name Akal Takht is more in common use.’ I would think that Panth Khalsa, or more appropriately Guru Panth [only difference is semantic] is certainly the inheritor of the right to use Akal Takht but if the Takht was revealed as seat of Akal Purakh, it would not be right for Guru Panth to claim it as their seat. Guru Panth is a divine entity and may be timeless but it still does not exhaust and replace the Divine Akal Purakh.
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One of the reasons said to have got Jathedar Vedanti into difficulty was his reported stance on the issue of Khalistan when visiting US. His clarification as now reported by Rediff and posted by Jagpal ji says: ‘Vedanti has also been accused of supporting the demand for a separate homeland for Sikhs during his recent trip to the United States. “I never made such statements. You can browse newspapers in the US during that period. What I said was that wherever the Sikhs go, they carve out a separate state for themselves and our homeland has no boundaries. I still stand by that statement,” Vedanti clarified.’ I think we should get the Punjabi version of this remark because this clarification seems to further confuse what he is saying – we carve out a separate state where ever we go and our homeland knows no boundaries – what does it mean?
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Autar ji said ‘the jathedar can go and offer a prayer for sarbat dha bhalaa at ground zero, but maybe only the Sikh press will be interested. Etc.
When Jathedar Manjit Singh and later Jathedar Joginder Singh visited Malaysia, I personally arranged for many such ‘world spiritual leader’ opportunities, but the press did not take much notice. We went ahead anyway and were content that we did do and say the right things for sarbat dha bhalaa.’
This is well said and is a good suggestion. Since Autar ji has hosted and conducted the Jathedars in Malaysia would he recommend that the Jathedars use written texts when addressing inter faith or public functions and that they are given the help of speech writers. I do not mean to cast a doubt on their ability to speak extempore but this approach may perforce lead to more serious thought being given to what is said. I think media will get interested if they are aware of the position the religious leader has on issues confronting the society or those that may be dividing the faith community. Karam ji has also asked if Jathedar is a good theologian. Now my simple answer would be yes but on second thoughts I must qualify it. Unless our religious leaders move beyond naam jaap, kirtan and ardas to discuss, debate and pronounce on issues that are the dominating concerns of the society at large and their laity they really are not theologians. I would however greatly value others to weigh in.
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Gurcharan ji Kulim has said ‘Sikhs organizations of the west should NOW pronounce clearly and loudly that ‘no decision from the Akal Takaht issued under the present politicized conditions will be respected or accepted until such time the Panth abroad and
in Punjab /India is satisfied the post is held by a non partisan, non politicized jathedar chosen by the agreement of the WHOLE PANTH.’
I understand the sentiment Kulim ji, Harmander ji and others have expressed but we need to recognize the basic institutional lacunae that Sikhs suffer from. Guru Gobind Singh had dismantled the order of Masands. We have taken that step to mean that the Gurdwara sewadars are mere paid employees and must do the bidding of the Khalsa who has direct relation with the Guru and even in a group of five is Guru incarnate.
Unfortunately in our flawed understanding there are no lines of religious responsibility or authority at the collective level. The drafters of the SRM may have had a model in mind but chose not to say anything about the status or position of Bhais, Kathakars, Ragis, Ardasias and others engaged in the actual routine of making the worship service possible or their relationship with the sangat. The results are visible – the managing committees are supreme and the liturgical support is paid employees or contractors.
We all want somebody who is takhtai de laik to be the Jathedar of the Akal Takhat. How do we create a corpus of potential candidates when there is no accepted way of recognition of the growth of an individual in Sikhi or its seva. In this situation what is it that the whole Panth can do? Even if we agree to a modality of gurmatta and sarbat khalsa like set up, it is not going to help unless we start building this entire cadre of liturgy sewadars and others who commit themselves in the service of gurmat ground up so that we develop them and offer the community a choice to pick the best.
Otherwise we can go through the motions but will end up with a ragi whose albums sell the most or a kathakar who has a TV program or just a good sewadar or a professor and then we will expect that the person will display deepest understanding of Sikh thought, sense of complexities in contemporary Sikh living, show the sagacity to stay clear of pervasive Sikh politics, bring dignity to us in interfaith conversations etal. Our crisis is not limited to politicization of institutions – it is also absence of organization and our lack of recognition of the need for it.
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One of the reasons said to have got Jathedar Vedanti into difficulty was his reported stance on the issue of Khalistan when visiting US. His clarification as now reported by Rediff and posted by Jagpal ji says:’Vedanti has also been accused of supporting the demand for a separate homeland for Sikhs during his recent trip to the United States. “I never made such statements. You can browse newspapers in the US during that period. What I said was that wherever the Sikhs go, they carve out a separate state for themselves and our homeland has no boundaries. I still stand by that statement,” Vedanti clarified.’ I think we should get the Punjabi version of this remark because this clarification seems to further confuse what he is saying – we carve out a separate state where ever we go and our homeland knows no boundaries – what does it mean?
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