Akal Takhat Hijacked?

Akal Takhat Hijacked?

I have often thought about the Siri Akal Takhat Sahib and the role which it must have played for the Sikh Panth during the time of the Gurus. I then look at the state of the Sikh community these days and wonder how this has changed. The world is a very different place now with Sikhs spread all over and very different issues.

I often hear frustration and disappointment in relation to SGPC and those involved in the management of the Gurdwaras in India. There is a feeling of lack of leadership, corruption, over politicization of Sikhi, practices which are counter to Sikh belief, etc etc. I remember when the issue of women doing seva/kirtan in Harimandir Sahib came up or issues related to people with physical disabilities. Whenever issues like this come up it seems so political, and quite often doesn’t reflect the higher values that the Sikh lifestyle stands for. When people in these positions don’t show true spiritual leadership and get caught up in petty politics it takes away my confidence in the structures as a source of leadership.

I often hear people quoting a Hukamnama issued from the Akal Takhat and others talking about it coming from the "Supreme Authority of the Sikhs". While I consider the Akal Takhat to be the enternal throne of the Sikhs I do question how these so called orders are made and who controls this. Just because someone says an order is from "THE" Akal Takhat I don’t consider the Jathedhar or a few Sikhs in Amritsar as the "Supreme Authority" to me as a Sikh. The Siri Guru Granth Sahib is my supreme authority, so how does the will of a few Sikhs become the voice of the Akal Takhat and therefore the "Supreme Authority" to me as a Sikh in America and everyone?

The management and control of Sikh related affairs has become so political that much of the spiritual parts that I relate to seem to be lost in the wind. I rarely see any true leadership. I don’t feel that the actions of many of the so called leadership in India reflect the will of the Sikhs as a whole. 

I often cringe when I hear things like "High priest/clergy" and Christian type references which make Sikhi out to to be like a hierarchical structure. So when management at the SGPC declare something I take it with a grain of salt. We all have a direct connection with our Guru and are not ruled by any particular individuals in Punjab. I personally don’t relate to much of the actions taken by so called Sikh leadership in Punjab and choose to do what I feel is right and in line with Sikh beliefs. I think we all need to look at what is going on and not blindly follow things "just because" someone said so.  I try to always remember the essence of the Sikh lifestyle and see each person as a part of God…a part of me, and me a part of them.

While searching online I found an interesting article written a few years back on these same issues. The article is titled "The Crisis of Akal Takht Sahib" and brings up some very interesting points that I never knew about. The writer asks some similar questions and details some of the background in relation to the Akal Takhat and actions from the past.

I am curious to know what other people think about all this? Particularly related to decisions or "orders" that are made supposedly for all Sikhs every where in the world. I think often times people don’t express what they are thinking in fear that they will be criticized or called "blasphemous" for going against something like this.

As always, please keep any comments neutral and calm so we can share with each other in a positive way.


This is Guruka Singh – I’m going to append my comments here to the post above…

Take a look at what’s happening in the Catholic Church right now. Evidence is fast coming to light that Pope Benedict failed to deal effectively with scores of pedophile priests in Europe and America who abused hundreds of young boys over many years, and even allowed these priests to continue working with children. What we are witnessing is the collapse of Piscean religious structures that are based on hierarchy, secrecy and command and control. This includes ALL religions that have such a structure. The Aquarian energy is transparent, clear and empowering. It does not relate to fixed leaders who are given titles and positions by some earthly "authority." It recognizes leadership as arising in each moment and in many people, often unexpectedly, at exactly the time and place that is required. The reason why the Sikh Dharam is eternal is just that. It recognizes the sovereignty of each individual and the fact that there are NO MIDDLEMEN. We each are embodiments of the supreme consciousness. We honor each other. We recognize leadership in each other. We learn from each other and we teach each other because we are all equally the Guru’s voice (though we may not always be listening well ;-) Structures based on secrecy, power and control cannot and will not survive this transition.  They will fall away from the tree of the Dharam like dead branches. Let us look to the green sprouts and the young saplings. The roots of the tree are fine. The problem is that people are focusing on the dead branches rather than the new growth.

Waheguru! Nanak Naam Cherdi Kala, Tere Bani Sarbhat da Bhalla.


21 Responses to “Akal Takhat Hijacked?”

  1. Vir ji, we all have concerns about the leadership. However, we should also take a look at those who are questioning and trying to limit Akaal Takht Sahib's role. What are their vested interests? The writer of the article you mentioned opposes Guru Gobind Singh ji's writings. For the panth to accept the shrinking of Akaal Takht's role is in his best interest, and in the best interests of those who think like him. However, the great crisis in leadership from the void that would be created by such an act is not in the panth's best interest.

    He asks where the authority to excommunicate came from. We have clear historical evidence of Akali Phula Singh ji, then jathedar of the Akal Takht, ordering the whipping of Maharaja Ranjit Singh for violating the Guru's Hukam and marrying a Muslim. Upon hearing the benti of the sangat Akali ji pardoned the maharaja. But we have a clearcut case from pre-British times of a Jathedar of the Akal Takht having the power to issue punishments upon even very high level sikhs. So, why is this person trying to brush aside this historical evidence?

  2. mrsikhnet says:

    Sundeep Singh ji, thank you for your comments. My post is not about a specific situation, it is more general in nature.

    Guruka Singh's note at the bottom I think sums up how I feel. It's a matter of changing times and the need of the ever growing global sangat.

    I personally don't relate to how the the older generation "leaders" in Punjab and other parts of the world operate. There is a major generational gap in how things used to operate and how people relate and operate now.

    My purpose of this article is not to criticize SGPC or Jathedhars but to bring up the topic to make people think about all this topic. I don't have the answers, but like Guruka Singh said…"The roots of the tree are fine. The problem is that people are focusing on the dead branches rather than the new growth."

    The more of the younger generation that take the time to dialog and think about these issues the more ideas and growth I think we will get as these old branches fall away.

  3. Guruka says:

    "Nobody can tell you you are a saint, nobody can tell you you are a devil, nobody can tell you that you are good, nobody can tell you that you are bad. Not at all. It is a bunch of lies and these lies are religiously spoken to squeeze money out of your pocket. Every religion does it and if this religion starts doing it tomorrow, it is going to do the same thing, because religion sells people 'authoritative hope.' That's the curse of the religion. Religion sells people 'authoritative hope' in lieu of the fact that they shall pay. Now that is something every religion does. Person who IS intuitively authoritative, and one with the God, "Aad ant madh," and that is where the reality of religion actually is." – Yogi harbhajan Singh Ji

  4. Sarib Singh says:

    The institution and history of the Akal Takht and the Akal Takht Jathedar are valuable facets of the Sikh community and identity. I hope that now and in the future it will be able to adapt to the changing times and begin to better understand, and relate to the diverse cultures and perspectives of the Sikh communities all over the world in a way that is relevant and valuable to them. It is certainly possible. I think it is largely about expanding the perspective beyond the culture and politics of the immediate vicinity to include the world.

  5. Harnam says:

    Gurmustuk, MOST people, probably 99% of Sikhs all over the world agree with you!!!!!

    The Sikh community in Punjab and throughout the world is fed up with the so called "leaders" at the Sri Akal Takht. They act like they have authority, but they abuse this authority and power and they cannot tell women that they are not allowed to do this or do that. The only people who are in favour of these so called leaders are corrupt and ignorant people in India, who would rather see the Sikh community fighting and destroying one another, then united and on a spiritual path. Many people think the Indian government is involved in weakening the "Sikh Community", because when you want to destroy a community and their spirit, you target their religion (people in India really need morals, so much corruption and it's just an inhumane society in general), language, culture, history, etc., etc. The British knew this, the Europeans did this to the Natives of North America, and Indian government knows this as well, in the 1980s many Sikhs were becoming true Gursikhs and the Indian government saw this as a threat, because once you awaken to the path of the guru, you start to live an honest life, one that was very contradictory with what the congress wanted the youth in Punjab to be like (assimilated into the "modern" north Indian brahmanical culture and to simply accept anything but their Sikh and Punjabi heritage). During the British time, the akal takht jathedars actually rewarded General O'Dyer, similarly, today, corrupt people, politicians, and bollywood actors get a sarooph, and these VIEWS definitely does not represent the wider Sikh community, just a bunch of people in India who will lick the dirt off of a politicians shoes!!

    I really did not want to bring this up and India and many people in general consider it to be such a "taboo" topic but Sikhs during the 1970s-mid 1990s tried to revolutionize and Khalistan was just not about a land where Sikhs can govern themselves, but was to get rid of corruption, to have a real democracy and equality, the whole movement gets portrayed so negatively and wrongfully by the masses, but unfortunately, they were over powered by India and India was soo scared of true Sikh fighters that they had to send in the ARMY and many people said that the faces of these Indian soldiers were shaking, especially General Brar.
    The Indian government was so determined to undermine the whole movement and true Sikhs that they went to the EXTREME by committing so much state terrorism that it is so unfortunate that the people of India (most of them) are so easy to manipulate, they will believe anything if it comes out of the mouth of some "politician". There are a few scholars and smart people out there who challenged the Indian government to prove their claims, such as Joyce Pettigrew, who challenged people to PROVE that Sant Bhindranwale was a terrorist but no one has ever given any reasonable evidence, just keep repeating the same lies, "he started it, he was a militant, he was responsible". There's also a book called Soft Target by McAndrew and Kashmeri that exposes the Indian Governments involvement in killing over 300 Canadians, who were mostly of Indian origin. SHAME on INDIA!!! There were also many news reporters in Toronto who refused bribes from Indian agents who were trying to convince them to write all this propaganda about Sikhs but they refused to, one of them was Kashmeri, and this was what influenced him to further investigate and write this book.

  6. Harnam says:


    My point is that everything relates, the Siri Akal Takht is not about bricks, marble and some gold at the top, its not about those so called "Sikh jathedars" but one day, whether you think I'm crazy I don't care, the Akal Takht will shine and it will represent something truthful in a time when the Khalsa will overcome tyranny, not just for the Khalsa Sikhs, but for all of humanity, from the lower caste in India who are so oppressed that they don't even have a voice to the poor in villages and the victims of police brutality and torture. Punjab today is not "peaceful" people are so depressed, leaving to different lands in disproportionate numbers compared to the rest of India, addicted to drugs/alcohol, being trafficked in the sex industry & illegal labour, starving in vilages, no proper health care for everyone, being viciously discriminated in the countries they land (ex. Australia, France, United Arab, etc.,) and the youth have no jobs but they are educated and one day, they will definitely rebel because how much longer are these harsh social conditions going to keep pushing people out, one day they will realize they want justice in India, and don't have to sell all of their land and become bankrupt. Just because there's a couple of McDonalds and a Walmart in Punjab does not mean it is becoming more "modern" and developed, one day the fools who are being fooled into believing their Punjab is on the rise will realize they have no morals left or culture or Sikhi then there would be complete chaos in society. I do not want wish for chaos but this is just something that will eventually come, movements come and go all the time, only Waheguru knows.

    Sorry for this rant but this is a blog and the internet is the free world!!

  7. Veerji, its really nice that you pointed out role of Akal Takhat Sahib at this time when a hue and cry is being made by those holding SGPC over world sikh convention being called in by DSGMC. With due respect to Jathedars of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, it is presumed by people calling convention that Badals control SGPC that controls Akal Takht Sahib; and Jathedars.

    It is irony that after 1984 riots, any politically active Sikh having a political view, not aligned with Akali Dal Badal/SGPC is labeled as an agent of congress, against SGPC and finally Anti-Panthic and against respected Jathedars of Akal Takht. We may be on the verge of losing more than that what we lost in 1984 riots as its aftermath.

    I believe that for welfare of Khalsa Panth, sovereignty of Akal Takht Sahib has to be maintained and Sikh factions having alliances with different political parties, may play their games outside Gurudwaras for the welfare of Khalsa Panth and sovereignty of Akal Takht Sahib is allowed as free as a divine force.

  8. Kanwal says:

    It is more like a Corporate world problem that an A type manager hires more A types, but a B type manager will hire C types.

  9. sarbjit says:

    I agree with this post about nobody is the supreme authority but our Guru's word in SGGS.

    What about the many Baba's in Punjab with so many followers and they sitting next to a SGGS and are getting bow to them instead of the SGGS. These are what i am more concerned off rather than the Akal Takth puppets.


  10. jiwan jot kaurk says:

    I was in India all winter and at the golden temple everymonth for evrybirthday celebration;
    There was almost everytime this man who has a broken leg in 2 places and cannot do anything..sitting by the gate ;I have been seeing him for a few years now and I gave him a few roupies …which I don't usually do ..
    This time,the guards came and forced him to return the 100 rupies I gave him;and they did it quite roughly also..
    I do not understand .CAN someone explain to me ?I know the whole thing about not begging and working… ..but when a MAN HAS BEEN MUTILATED FROM BIRTH BY I DON'T KNOW WHo,I'm just wondering what sort of inhumanity is happenning that I cannot even choose to donate a little something from the heart .
    I mean ,…the whole crew of guards came in to chase him out so that I cannot give him anything .that was very strange .
    Also ,those crippled people don't seem to be accepted inside the golden temple !
    What's going on?They are the ones who need it the most .Where is the spirit of caring for the meak etc…
    Can somebody explain what happenned/?
    in grace
    Jiwan jot kaur khalsa.

  11. Gurpreet singh says:

    Vaheguru ji ka Khalsa
    Vaheguru ji ki fateh ji

    we all should look deeper inside us.if you know the meaning of each word in the SGGS ji,only then we can think of making comments.
    AKAAL TAKHAT SAHIB and HARMANDIR SAHIB belongs to WAHEGURU JI.so please stop your comments and pray to WAHEGURU JI.He knows what to do for the sikh PANTH.

  12. Brijdeep Singh says:

    Sat Sri Akal,

    I could not agree more with your thoughts. At one level I completely recognize that formal structures are sometimes needed to maintain the continuity and maryada of a Religious philosophy. However, I feel at some level that our Guru's especially Guru Gobind Singhji recognized the dangers of this power being concentrated in a few hands as is the case in some other religious structures.

    This is the reason I see behind concepts like the Panj Pyare and the Khalsa Panth/Sarbath Khalsa. I don't know history very well but these were important seeds laid to a path of a democratic and transparent systems where every individual while entitled to their own opinion can't have more control than optimal on the masses.

  13. Brijdeep Singh says:

    Coming back to the current situation and the comment made on the roots being strong yet the tree having some dead branches and such. I'm an India born Sikh who has had the grace to come to the US at 18 study in the US education system and interact with the sangat there. I found most of the younger generation of Sikhs really clued to the path in places like Chicago, New Mexico and parts of California. This was at a time of great personal turmoil for me in terms of the Sikh philosophy and rituals as being young I questioned the merits of it all, while being exposed to a western way of thinking and questioning. Then 10 years later I have moved back to India again and now have reconciled and thought through most of my doubts and truly believe in the teachings of the Gurus while slowly coming to an understanding the reasoning behind each custom and edict. This after deliberate questioning and reconciliation and not some high handed commands being followed out of fear. However, the situation I see in India is different. While there are a lot of young people who accept the teachings of the gurus and practice the faith I feel at one level is mostly to appease their community or out of the fear of the gurus, not love. Then there are those that have given up on this and have even moved beyond the faith. I will not go into the details but from what I hear the youth in Punjab has not come closer but has only gone farther from the Gurus in the last 10-20 years. Sometimes I wonder about the reasons. Is it because our faith is too difficult to follow? Is it because our structures have become so hierarchical, high minded and judgmental there is no no room for democratic decisions and peaceful mutual conclusions? is it because it is easier to run away than to seek the true meaning? Is it because it is easier to gain power through fear, than through love? There are answers out there for these and the Gurus will help us find them, but are we as a panth willing to seek?

    I could go on and on, but will now stop in the interest of brevity. Sorry if my words hurt any feelings, they are only honest questions of a young mind.

    Sat Sri Akal,
    Brijdeep Singh

  14. D kocher says:

    we agree to all U wrote ,
    the Sikh Panth has to remove Badal's complete control on Akal Thakat Sahib,
    Thanks for the awareness.

  15. Balli singh says:

    It is easy to make things claps and it’s hard to construct them. It’s really easy to rase up questions and it’s really hard to answer them. We all (hopefully) know what is the problem at THE Akal takhat don’t over discus them in old ways. If you ask me to count down 10 non-Sikh traditions in any well known Sikh organisation, from Mehta to Espanola, Anandpur sahib to Toronto. I can count it down and I will make you believe (by True or False arguments) because it is really easy to play blame game. That’s what we are doing right now.

  16. Balli singh says:

    There is political environment in Punjab which makes our honest people corrupt. Here is an example Australia has an environment minister called Peter Robert Garrett. He had a band which was long identified with critical political and environmentalist causes. It was particularly critical of western alliance military (USA-UK-Australia etc.) and foreign policies during the 1980s. Now he is minister of same system which he used to criticise. He starts a policy for good cause which went wrong and cause 4 human lifes and put thousands of houses at fire risk. Furthermore people are asking for his resignation. So the morel is some time you want to do right things but things just went wrong.Please talk if you have the alternatives of "The Crisis of Akal Takht Sahib".
    ‘Use your worlds like a cheap man spend his money’ —old Punjabi saying.

  17. Amardeep Singh says:

    SSA Ji i am currently living in punjab so i guess i’m aware of the politics going on here more than the sikhs who don’t live in punjab. No doubt that Akal Takhat Sahib is our supreme authority. However the process of election or selection of Akal Takhat Sahib Jathedars has to be changed due to the change of the circumstances. Looking into the fact that today a very large number of sikh population lives outside of india. Secondly control of Badals over SGPC and Akal Takhat is not good for the sikhs cause he has never thought of his religion, he and his son are just interested in money and power. On the other hand we have already seen what congress did to us in 84. So we can never trust them anymore. We really need a truthful to sikhism leaders. Who is a true sant sipahi. Situation here is so bad and i really feel so ashamed of it sometimes whenever there are SGPC Elections these so called candidates of akalis and congress both, they distribute narcotic drugs like opium etc. It is done just to take control of the Gurdwara Management. Just like any other corrupt political leaders. These people do scams for money etc. In my opinion our system for electing the Jathedars has to be changed everything else remains the same Akal Takhat was our supreme authority and it will remain so in future. Times change but foundation of our religion should be so strong that changing time cannot damage it. It’s true that indian goverment is trying to weaken us this is a fact this is why we have maximum number of deras, drug addicts in punjab. We have the highest consumption of narcotics and alcohol in punjab. If congress is in power sikh are simply out of the rule. If Akali BJP is in power, even then sikh are weak. It’s the win-win situation for the hindu fanatics. It is tricky. It’s dirty politics all over the punjab. We should pray to Waheguru to give us a sincere and strong leadership. Be aware don’t fight with each other. Our strength is our unity. When we were united we fought and won many wars, that too with armies which outnumbered us by huge numbers. Guru ji has given you power to fight with sawa lakh.
    Gur Fateh

    • neena says:

      Amardeep, how can you say if Congress are in, Sikhs are out? My grand father was a devoted Sikh and a Congress leader…Look at Manmohan Singh, a Sikh. There are great leaders such as Rahul Gandhi…so don’t get so pessimistic!

  18. neena says:

    Be the change you want to see….don't blame Congress for '84, blame certain leaders in the party….don't blame Badal and his son, because it is the public that has given them the power to be corrupt….don't blame the jathedars, because it's the Sikh people who have'nt risen up to challenge the 'voting' system. Where is the unity in our society? Why so much leadership strife in our gurdwaras? Why do we obey orders from Akal Takht, for example, that we must have no tables/chairs in our langar halls, that we must sit on floors, that old women resort to sitting on milk crates, as they cannot sit on the floor? Who is dishing out these nonsensical orders in a world where man has reached the moon? does sitting on the floor when eating make the so called priests more humble, whilst they are allegedly lining their pockets, not accounting for sangat donations. Only the brave and truest in our society will be able to do something…what is needed is a change in conciousness…which is coming again…

  19. neena says:

    Be the change you want to see….don't blame Congress for '84, blame certain leaders in the party….don't blame Badal and his son, because it is the public that has given them the power to be corrupt….don't blame the jathedars, because it's the Sikh people who have'nt risen up to challenge the 'voting' system. Where is the unity in our society? Why so much leadership strife in our gurdwaras? Why do we obey orders from Akal Takht, for example, that we must have no tables/chairs in our langar halls, that we must sit on floors, that old women resort to sitting on milk crates, as they cannot sit on the floor? Who is dishing out these nonsensical orders in a world where man has reached the moon? does sitting on the floor when eating make the so called priests more humble, whilst they are allegedly lining their pockets, not accounting for sangat donations. Only the brave and truest in our society will be able to do something…what is needed is a change in conciousness…which is coming again…

  20. I really have to make the comment that it’s rather a novelty to arrive at a somewhat original blog like this, excellent effort. I expect I’ll be coming back fairly often, do you think you’ll be posting more comments?