Sri Akal Takhat
Sahib, Amritsar (Gurudwaras)
Sri Akal Takhat Sahib (lit. the Revered Throne
of the Timeless One)
Housed in Akal bunga opposite the Darshani
Diorhi (gateway to the Harimandir) across the marble paved Parkarma
(circumambulatory terrace around the sarovar), is the secular
counterpart of purely spiritual or religious Harimandir. It must
be kept in mind, though, that in Sikhism, the secular is not divorced
from or in opposition to the religious and the spiritual. Sri
Akal Takht Sahib is the highest seat of religious authority for
the Sikhs. Four other Takhts also have that houour and authority,
but Akal Takht is primus inter pares in that hukamnamas (religious
fiats) issued by it hold precedence over similar fiats issued
by other Takhts. It has been the conventions that only Akal Takht
has the authority to try and excommunicate a Sikh for religious
offence(s). In any case this is the seniormost in age in that
no other Takht came into existence til the birth of Guru Gobind
Singh sixty years later.
Akal Takht was founded and physically constructed
by Guru Hargobind on 15th June 1606. According to Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi,
the Guru laid the foundation and Bhai Buddha and Bhai Gurdas completed
the construction, no other person permitted to take part in the process.
It was, of course, then only a platform of mud and masonry on which the
installation ceremony of Guru Hargobind was performed on 24th June 1606.
Guru Hargobind had decided to adopt a princely style. Even his father had
approved of and arranged his training in martial sports. And the Gurus,
at least from the time of Guru Ram Das, had been given the epithet Sachcha
Patshah (the true Sovereign) by their devotees. So there must be a throne
for a Patshah. Guru Hargobind was anointed the next Sachcha Patshah on
this throne which he named Akal Takht, meaning both the throne of the Timeless
or the Timeless Throne.
A building over the Akal Takht must have been
raised during the time of Guru Hargobind himself. During the period of
persecution following the martydom of Banda Singh Bahadur, the Sikhs looked
to Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Sri Harimandir Sahib and the Amritsar pool of
nectar for frest inspiratino and revived courage. Occasionally, usually
on Baisakhi and Divali, different jathas (later misls) assembled at the
Akal Takht and held Sarbat Khalsa (assembly representing the entire nation)
and passed Gurmatas (resolution is presence of Guru Granth Sahit) related
to general strategy, particular operations or other organisational or administrative
matters. After the Misls had set up their different independent states,
the significance of Sarbat Khalsa assemblies declined, but the supremacy
of the Akal Takht as the final arbiter in matters of religious and moral
discipline continued to be acknowledged.
Like sri Harimandir Sahib, Sri Akal Takht Sahib
also suffered destruction at the hands of Ahmad Shah Abdali during his
invasion in 1764, because a small garrison of 30 Nihangs stationed here
had the audacity to stand up to the invading horde. But what was destroyed
was the Akal Bunga, the building, and not Akal Takht, the institution.
The Dal Khalsa continued to meet at the Akal Takht on the ruins of Akal
Bunga of which, too, the ground floor was reconstructed by 1774. Another
four storeys were raised above it diring the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
This was the building which was destroyed with the Indian Army attacked
the Darbar Sahib complex early in June 1984. Alarmed at the strong reaction
and indignation of the Sikhs, the government hastily reconstructed it,
but simultaneously it commited another faux paus - the holding of a fake
sarbat Khalsa at the site. This infuriated the Sikhs more than the destruction
perpetrated earlier on the building, because this latter act meant an insulting
assault on the Akal Takht as an institution. The Sikhs, therefore, ehld
a real Sarbat Khalsa in which they, through a Gurmata, decided to pull
down the building raised by the government and to reconstruct the Akal
Bunga through Kar-Seva (voluntary free service).