Akal Takht & Five Holy Takhts of Sikhism

Akal Takht refers to the primary seat of Sikh religious authority and central altar for Sikh political assembly. Akal Takht issues hukammanamas or edicts or writs providing guidance or clarification on any point of Sikh doctrine or practice referred to it.

  • Akal Takht is located in the Harmandir Sahib complex in Amritsar, Punjab, and faces the Darshani Deohri.

Meaning

The word Akal, a negative of kal (time) is the equivalent of timeless, beyond time, everlasting, and Takht, in Persian that of royal throne or chair of state. It is the timeless or everlasting i.e. god. In the Sikh system, god is postulated as formless (nirankar), yet to proclaim his sovereignty over his creation, he is sometimes referred to as sultan, patshah, sacha patshah, or the true king. The seat of God is referred to as saccha takht. The true throne, sitting on which he dispenses sachcha niao, true justice.

History

  • For the ceremonies of succession, Guru Hargobind (1595-1644), son and successor of Guru Arjan had a platform constructed opposite the Harmandir, naming it Akal Takht in 1606.
  • The guru laid the cornerstone and Bhai Buddha and Bhai Gurdas completed the construction, no third person being allowed to lend a helping hand.
  • Guru Hargobind used the Takht for the accession ceremonies which, according to the source quoted, took place on 24 June 1606. From here, he conducted the secular affairs of the community.
  • From here he is said to have issued the first hukamnama to far flung sangts or Sikh centres announcing the creation of Akal Takht and asking them to include in their offerings thenceforth gifts of weapons and horses.
  • Bhai gurdas was named of officiate in charge of the Akal Takht.
  • A building subsequently raised over the Takht was called Akal Bunga (house).

Four Other Takhts

  • The Sikhs recognize four other holy places as Takhts, namely
    • Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur
    • Akht Sri Harimandar Sahib , Patna
    • Takht Sackhand Hazur Sahib, Nanded
    • Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talvandi Sabo.

      All four are connected with the life of Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). All five Takhts are equally venerated, but the Akal Takht at Amritsar enjoys a special status. Historically, this is the oldest of the Takhts and along with Harmandir, across the yard, constitutes the capital of Sikkim.

  • Meetings of the sarbatt khalsa or general assembly represent native of the entire panth are traditionally summoned at Akal Takht and it is only there that cases connected with serious religious offences committed by prominent Sikhs are heard and decided. Hukammanamas or decrees issued by the Akal Takht are universally applicable to all Sikhs and all institutions.
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