Akal Takht. Do We Worship The Seat Or The Guru? | SIKH PHILOSOPHY NETWORK
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Akal Takht. Do We Worship The Seat Or The Guru?


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004

The Meaning of Akal Takhat

Professor Darshan Singh, posted November 27, 2013

In his kathaa at the Sikh Gurdwara, DC, during Guru Hargobind Singh’s gurpurab celebration on July 7, Professor Darshan Singh said the Akal Takhat is a place where the suchaa paathishah is supposed to sit, but many Sikhs are treating the place as the Guru. He also talked about the conspiracy behind the Dasam Granth, which involves a Hindu.

vaddaa thayraa dharabaar sachaa thudhh takhat ||
The Darbaar of Your Court is glorious and great. Your holy throne is True.

Guru Granth Sahib’s Baanee… (inaudible). In life, some popular subjects are in the form of raag, and some are like puzzles. By the time you understand the puzzles, many years may pass. That puzzle is to be solved with the understanding of and solution from Guru Granth Sahib. Whatever aspect of life is coming to you as a puzzle, bring it to Guru Granth Sahib and ask for a solution for that puzzle so that all your doubts and misunderstandings are resolved… (inaudible). Life begins and ends with the Baanee of Guru Granth Sahib.

Guru Hargobind ji daa... (inaudible). You cannot separate the Guru from the physical form. We have just one Guru. The principles and philosophy are just one. The bodies kept changing. Their names kept changing. But, following this concept, when the Guru Granth Sahib was compiled, this principle was observed with the use of Mahalla. The names of the Gurus were not included. For example, Mahalla 2 is recognized as Guru Angad. If the name was important, the Guru could have written that in the Guru Granth Sahib.

When we read hukamnamas… (inaudible). For example, Mahalla 3, under that only the name Nanak is there. We cannot say that this is Guru Amar Das ji’s shabad. It is by Nanak. The shabad belongs to the Guru, not the body… (inaudible). So we have no right to write Guru Amar Das instead of Nanak.

These shabads are from before Guru Hargobind’s times. According to the physical form, the shabads are from before Guru Hargobind’s times. Because Guru Granth Sahib was compiled before him, they already were in Guru Granth Sahib.

And takhat is already mentioned there, and paathishah (king) is also mentioned there, and the maryada of the takhat is mentioned there, the status of the paathishah’s place there is mentioned. Who is the paathishah who sits at the takhat? The one whose rule prevails.

But the paathishah is the one who passes judgments.
That alone is true justice, which is pleasing to the Will of the Supreme Lord God.

The word takhat has come in many places in Baanee. It’s even said that He is true, the takhat is true, and the True One sits on the takhat and dispenses judgment.

Aad sach, jugaad sach, haibee sach, Nanak hosee bee sach.
He is true, He is true through the ages, He is true now, and Nanak says He will ever be true.

His takhat also is true. There is no falsehood there. And when He dispenses justice, it also is true. There is no injustice.

Guru Ram Das also gets the takhat. We call it the takhat of miri-piri, which means the throne of all things temporal and spiritual. But Guru Hargobind is not the takhat. He is the one who sits on the takhat. The paathishah is not the takhat, he is the one who sits on the takhat. We read so many times that only the one who is qualified will sit on the takhat. Takhat is a place where someone sits.

About Guru Ram Das, Gurbani says:
raaj jog thakhath dheean gur raamadhaas ||
Guru Raam Daas was blessed with the throne of all things temporal and spiritual.

The miri-piri takhat was given to Guru Ram Das to sit there. It means that the takhat and Guru Ram Das are two different things. Guru Ram Das is the paathishah. The one who sits on the takhat is the paathishah. Only the one who is qualified is the one who gets the takhat.

Now, moving past Guru Ram Das, Baanee has clarified even that:

thakhath bait(h)aa arajan guroo sathigur kaa khivai cha(n)dhoaa ||
Guru Arjan sits on the throne; God’s protective canopy waves over the True Guru.

We get all the answers from Baanee. Guru Ram Das sat on that takhat of miri-piri. Guru Angad sahib also sat there before him. The raaj-jog takhat was established by Guru Nanak. Accept raaj-jog… (inaudible). The meaning of raaj-jog is miri-piri and miri-piri is the takhat. On that takhat Guru Amar Das sat. On that raaj-jog takhat, Guru Ram Das sat. And on that takhat, sat Guru Arjan. And they all were given the protection of God’s canopy. And the Gurus that followed continued to sit there.

But the one who inherits the takhat, his qualifications need to be understood. Last night someone asked me, Prabhdeep Singh, the fact is that it is important to know the qualification of the one who sits there. That is the main criteria. The main issue is qualification.

There were many Sikhs during Guru Nanak’s times. But he himself decided and announced that the Guruship would go to Lainaa. He examined him, tested him and then gave it to him. It happened the same way with Guru Ram Das. When he was fully convinced that this is the only person able or qualified to sit on the takhat, then only would he be happy. Then the raaj-jog takhat was given to Guru Ram Das.

This is something to think about. There is a method or rule to select the person to sit on the takhat.

There is a lot happing, Singh-o. Now, again, for Mahalla 5, Baanee says Nanak because Guru is only one. But why is it written Mahalla 5?

The detractors have found a way. For hundreds of years nobody dared - until now. A new book has been issued. The title is: “Sodhi Prithi Chand Di Rachanaa.” In it, exactly like in Gurbani, he (the author) has used the word Nanak. Why did this happen? Because, recently we had questions about Dasam Granth.

Some said that the reference to Nanak is not used in it (Dasam Granth). People criticized that in Guru Granth Sahib, Nanak is referenced for all Gurus, but because Nanak is not referenced in Dasam Granth, this could not be the Baanee of Guru Gobind Singh. This was our tradition (maryada). If Nanak is referenced for all Gurus, why did Guru Gobind Singh not do that? There is no Nanak word (shabad).

To silence these critics, this new book has been brought out (produced). And whatever is written in that, I can tell you. For every passage, it also begins with a Mahalla. The only difference is - because he (the author) knows that the Baanee in Guru Granth Sahib already includes up to Mahalla 5 - so, in this new book, the passages begin with Mahalla 6. The raags also are like in Guru Granth Sahib – Raag Gauri, Raag Asa, Mahalla 6.

We are astonished! Our children will be confused. There really is Baanee by Guru Hargobind that is compiled outside of Guru Grant Sahib?

And, at the end of the passages, it also uses the word Nanak. If you believe in the word of Nanak, then you should believe this, too?

Think about it. There is a tradition (maryada) for those who can sit on this takhat.

sir saahaa paathisaahu nihachal chour shhath ||
You are the Emperor over the heads of kings. Your canopy and chauree (fly-brush) are
permanent and unchanging.

We are being confused, and so many falsehoods are created that now we have abandoned the word paathishah. We have blindly begun to worship the takhat. No one says that the edict is from the true king (sachaa paathishah). They say it is the edict of the Akal takhat. The Akal takhat is just a seat where Guru Hargobind used to sit. Instead of the Guru, we have started worshiping the seat. The seat is one thing, the Guru is another thing.

I was reading the chhants in Asa Di Vaar:
Jithay jahay bahay mayraa Satguru so thaan sohaavaa Raam raajay.

I admit that that seat also is holy, it’s important… (inaudible). I want to present both sides. The subject is such that we need to complain, so there is no time constraint.

gurasikha(n)aee so thhaan bhaaliaa lai dhhur mukh laavaa ||
The Guru's Sikhs seek out that place; they take the dust and apply it to their faces.

That place should be sought and reached and taken care of.

gurasikhaa kee ghaal thhaae paee jin har naam dhhiaavaa ||
The works of the Guru's Sikhs, who meditate on the Lord's Name, are approved.

The Gursikhs sought the seat where the authority lies, and were successful.
It’s strange that this time when they sought the seat, they could not find it. We must
seek our historic places, we must never forget them. But we must worship the Guru,
not the seat.

jinh naanak sathigur poojiaa thin har pooj karaavaa ||2||
Those who worship the True Guru, O Nanak – by God’s will, they will be revered.

They always worship Satguru. But now we have started worshiping the seat. Satguru is Guru Granth Sahib. Akhand Paat, whether it is here or there, it is the same.

In Darbar Sahib, there are many Akhand Paats in progress, around the parkarmaa. Do we do mathaa tayk at every one of those places? But the one who is inside those other rooms also is Guru Granth Sahib. We wait for two hours to go do muthaa tayk at Darbar Sahib but we do not go to the other places. We are worshiping the place, not the Guru.

A place can be demolished. Whether it is Harmandir Sahib, whether it is Akal Takhat, an enemy can demolish a place. Satguru can never be destroyed. He is immortal. Indestructible is the Guru, never the place.

Take, for example, the history of Harmandir Sahib. In 1643, Guru Arjan built Darbar Sahib. Then, exactly after 175 years, in 1818, Durrani blew up the Harmandir Sahib with explosives. He filled the sarovar. For three years there was no Darbar Sahib. We need to understand this. In 1821, the Sikhs (Singhs) had the foundations of Harmandir Sahib laid (again) by Jathedar Jassa Singh Ahluwaliaa. The present Darbar Sahib is the one that was erected by Jathedar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. And, with him, was a Hindu who was assigned as sevadaar. And, 29 years later, in 1850, Maharaja Ranjit Singh did the seva of decorating Darbar Sahib with gold, also after 29 years, in 1850. This was recorded in our written history, in Mahan Kosh, by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha. This is not the same Darbar Sahib raised by Guru Arjan, it’s built by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.

It does not mean that its importance is any less because the importance is of the Guru Granth Sahib that is placed there, not of the place itself. It doesn’t matter who built it. Even if you have Guru Granth Sahib in your home, it has the same sanctity. O people, join with the Guru, keep the relationship with Guru, not the place. We give too much importance to places. A place can be acquired or occupied by anybody, but not Guru.

If you place a Sikh prayer book (gutkaa) in your pocket and go to an Islamic county, you will be stopped. You cannot bring any other religious literature to our country (they will say). In Dubai, I was informed not to bring any Sikh literature with me. But if you have memorized the Japji Sahib in that gutkaa, you can go anywhere. No one can stop you because you have Japji Sahib in your heart and mind. You can cross the border… (inaudible).

O man, if you tie yourself to a place, you cannot go anywhere. If you tie yourself with the Guru, then: Guru mayray sang sadhaa hai naalay (Guru is always with me). But if you are more attached to the place than the Guru, the place can be snatched by someone else. Even Darbar Sahib was captured by others.

Today, the Akal Takhat is again occupied by someone. Because it’s a place it can be controlled by anyone. I’m surprised when people say that we accept the supremacy of the Akal Takhat’s maryada (code of conduct).

The Akal Takhat’s maryada is that Raag Maalaa is not recited. Do you agree? If you have Akhand Paat at the Akal Takhat, they will not read the Raag Maalaa. How was this decided? Even after the last 14 years of intense discussions, it still is not resolved. At the end, the mediators remained noncommittal and left it optional. In Darbar Sahib, Raag Maalaa is recited. But at the place where they give the edicts to the entire quam (Sikh people), the Akal Takhat, it will not be read there. Can we stop reading Raag Maalaa here?

There are so many difficulties before us. We want to follow the Akal Takhat. But a place can be controlled, so give more importance to the place (our detractors would say). Now this place has become so big and important that it has become a tradition in the mind of the devotees. But it has not become Guru. The Guru is greater, believe me. Gur Hargobind, Guru Har Rai, Guru Har Krishan and Guru Teg Bahadur - are all one.

I am surprised. There are so many problems, which issue should I discuss?

The people who talk about Dasam Granth, ask them, they are doing it consciously and cleverly. When in Dasam Granth, the ninth and tenth Gurus are mentioned, the ninth Guru is mentioned, Guru Teg Bahadur’s shaheedee is described by Guru Gobind Singh. So I’m (as the author) thinking how do we change the writings of Guru Gobind Singh?

Guru Gobind Singh has described the shaheedee of Guru Teg Bahadur but not the shaheedee of his great grandfather, Guru Arjan Dev ji. It’s not there. From this, we can tell who has written this granth. Because the author would understand that if he writes the shaheedee of Guru Arjan Dev ji, he also will have to mention the name of Chandu, a Hindu khatree.

Sushma Swaraj (member of Parliament) gave a statement that the shaheedee is not Chandu’s fault, he was innocent. Now they have a problem with including that in the granth. If they add the shaheedee of Guru Arjan Dev ji, it would involve a Hindu khatree.

(In the 1740s, Chaupa Singh, who was close to Guru Gobind Singh, placed the blame on Chandu Shah, a Hindu official in Lahore, who Chaupa Singh accused of having the Guru arrested and executed after he turned down Chandu Shah’s offer of marriage between Chandu’s daughter and Hargobind) . H. McLeod, ed. and trans. The Chaupa Singh Rahit-nama. Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 1987), p. 107.

If they write about the shaheedee of Guru Teg Bahadur, there is no involvement of any Hindus. That’s a good thing for them. One shaheedee is remembered, the other is not. There is only one Granth and only on Guru. They used the name of Guru Gobind Singh as the author. Did Guru Gobind Singh forget about Guru Arjan? That shaheedee that we regularly commemorate with detailed description of his torture on a hot plate with hot sand poured over him, with all the details of history, in gurdwaras everywhere, every year? Did Guru Gobind Singh sahib forget this?

O people, remember that in this granth, only those passages were included that suited them. This is the reason. There even is no mention of the takhat of Guru Hargobind. Today we are celebrating that Gurpurab, but even that is not included.

But understand one thing for sure - a takhat is a place. Places change, enemies can conquer them, and even today, in the present government has, in the name of Blue Star, desecrated the Darbar Sahib. But remember that they can destroy a place. They demolished it and rebuilt it. But after 10 days, we ourselves demolished it and rebuilt it. Then the maryada was changed.

In his book, he writes that during the days when the Akal Takhat was being rebuilt, the opposition did not want it to be rebuilt. The principal, Sukhbir Singh, said that it is a disaster. We assigned the Sant Samaj to rebuild the Akal Takhat, and a fight ensued between Sant Uttam Singh and Damdami Taksal, over money. Sant Uttam Singh came to me and said the Damdami Taksal is angry with him. He suggested that the seva be prolonged so that they receive more donations, in the name of the takhat sahib, people are giving money. We need money because the truckloads of marble have arrived, but they are not signing to accept the delivery. In the end, I mediated and divided the seva into two parts. One part was done by Damdami Taksal and the other part was done by Sant Uttam Singh. As a result, the marble tiles on the two halves do not match, and have different appearance.

We should know what is a place and what is a Guru. Takhat is a place, and Guru is king. The Guru has clarified this in Guru Granth Sahib. It’s alright. The court is big. The takhat is great. The takhat of raaj-jog and miri-piri was not made today. It was founded by Guru Nanak. Subsequently, it went to Guru Angad, Gur Amar Das, Guru Ram Das. On that takhat, Guru Arjan also sat. And on the takhat, Guru Hargobind paathishah ji also sat. Guru sat on the takhat. The takhat is not Guru.

Today, the propaganda fed to us is that the takhat is Guru.

When our enemies found out that now we are believing that the takhat is Guru, they began another conspiracy: create a new takhat. They (five jathedars) built a small room with a new takhat (secretariat). They said that anyone who cannot be at the takhat can come and sit here for hours and will be recognized. It happened to me. But I would not turn away from the Akal Takhat. I will go there and sit there in front of the takhat for 90 minutes and anyone who wants to ask anything of me, I would answer it, in front of the sangat. No one came.

They said come to our takhat. I said I have always know this takhat, I don’t know any other takhat, their takhat in the back room of the building in the back alley. Photos of that place were published. For that matter, even a rooftop can be a takhat. The entire sangat showed everyone, told the public, where he was sitting.

After that, they issued a proclamation (hukamnama) that we waited for 90 minutes and Darshan Singh never appeared at the Akal takhat.

Where is your Akal Takhat?

They made a fool of the public, and confusing the public. They have turned away from the Guru and the Akal Takhat. As long as the Guru sits at a certain place, that is the principle place, that place is holy.

If Massa Ranghar sits at that place, would you go there to do muthaa tayk? It is part of history that when Massa Ranghar was there and prostitutes were there and alcohol was served there, we went there to do muthaa tayk? No! No one went. Until he was removed and the code of conduct was re-established and Guru Granth Sahib was installed, no Sikh went there to do muthaa tayk. We are creatures of principles, not of buildings. Building can be brought down, they change. But Guru never changes and is immortal.

Guru has mentioned the takhat as a place and the darbar as a place, and then he mentions the True King (Suchaa Paathishaa).

sir saahaa paathisaahu nihachal chour shhath ||
You are the Emperor over the heads of kings. Your canopy and chauree (fly-brush) are permanent and unchanging.

Who is the King. Who do we believe in? The one who, under the eternal God’s guidance, dispenses justice (neyaa-i). Not the one who receives a phone call about what judgment to dispense.

Guru says:

jo bhaavai paarabreham soee sach niaao ||
That alone is true justice, which is pleasing to the Will of the Supreme Lord God.

jae bhaavai paarabreham nithhaavae milai thhaao ||
Even the homeless receive a home, when it is pleasing to the Will of the Supreme Lord God.

jo keenhee karathaar saaee bhalee gal ||
Whatever the Creator Lord does, is a good thing.

jinhee pashhaathaa khasam sae dharagaah mal ||
Those who recognize their Lord and Master, are seated in the Court of the Lord.

The last line should be read very carefully. They say, what is the mark of the paathishah? He is the one whose order prevails. The one who delivers an order, and whose order no one can disobey.

He said this at Bangla Sahib, in Delhi. Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib are the takhats of Guru Gobind Singh. When someone is asked, that is what they say. It is a takhat if it belongs to Guru Gobind Singh. And the Guru orders from His own revealed words that Guru Granth is to be recognized as the embodiment of the Guru.

It’s strange that the takhat belongs to Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Gobind Singh sahib ordains: Believe in Guru Granth as the embodiment of the Guru. The Guru is Siri Guru Granth Sahib. And we take Guru Granth Sahib and place the Guru outside.

There is a need to understand, know and examine the Guru.

At Patna Sahib, at the place of the takhat, they have placed Guru Gobind Singh’s arms (shastras). They have put another guru in that place. The arms are there. There is a photo, an idol, even a pair of sandals belonging to Guru Gobind Singh. These three things are inside the takhat. And Siri Guru Granth is sitting outside in the varanda. The One that Guru Gobind Singh installed as Guru, you have ejected outside of the takhat. The prakaash is outside in the varanda.

It’s the same at Hazoor Sahib.

It’s the same at Keshgarh Sahib.

There is no prakaash of Guru Granth Sahib in any of Guru Gobind Singh ji’s takhats.

On the one hand we say: Guru Granth jee maniyo, pargat Guraa kee deh. And if Guru Gobind Singh ji were here in person, you would say to him: Here is the prakaash of your shastras, you go sit in the varanda.

In all the places, Keshgarh Sahib, Damdama Sahib, even in Akal Takhat Sahib.

At the paalkee of Akal Takhat Sahib, the shastras are at the alter. The Guru Granth Sahib is on the side. When you do muthaa tayk, you do it to the shashtras. You have to turn to the side to do mathaa tek to Guru Granth Sahib. At the main seat, there is no prakaash of Guru Granth Sahib.

We talk of the Guru Granth Sahib. We keep saying that it was Guru Gobind Singh’s hukam to follow Guru Granth Sahib, and said from today on, Granth Sahib is your Guru, and all the takhats where His hukam applies, they are in such a state that they are violating this hukam.

And these edicts are not followed because now the one who gives the order is not the Guru. They are the ones appointed by some other authority. They have added an extra word. They say: Your hukam cannot be ignored but Your hukam must be agreeable.

The next line:

sehee thaeraa furamaan kinai n faereeai ||
True is Your Command; no one can challenge it.

But now, your command does not come through the seat of the Akal Takhat that is why people don’t accept it.

kaaran karan kareem kudharath thaereeai ||16||
O Merciful Lord, Cause of causes, Your creative power is all-powerful. ||16||

Guru Arjan’s sacrifice brought a revolution that transformed Hargobind into a revolutionary, a warrior-saint. Those who say that Siri Guru Granth Sahib can only create saints, not a warrior, ask them how Guru Hargobind became a warrior. At that time, there was no Dasam Granth. So how did he become a warrior? And also, Guru Har Rai had to fight wars, won many battles. Who made him a saint-warrior?

It was a conspiracy to not mention Guru Arjan sahib’s martyrdom at all because in that event a Hindu was involved. It was a conspiracy to not mention the takhat of Guru Hargobind. They went straight to Guru Teg Bahadur, and that too because thilak jann joo raakhaa prabh thaakaa (God has protected the long mark on the forehead and the sacred thread of the Hindus, from Dasam Granth).

We should be alert about these conspiracies so that they may not confuse us and misguide us. The present day gurus cannot make you a saint nor a warrior, they can only make you the offspring of Luv and Kush. The ones who believe in that granth cannot be convinced that they are not the offspring of Luv and Kush.

We have an example: Akal Takhat Jathedar Giani Puran Singh said Sikhs did not fall from the sky, we are the offspring of Luv and Kush. Those who believe in that granth, that granth has powers. That granth can certainly make you the offspring of Luv and Kush. Whether it can make you a saint-warrior or not is questionable. We have to decide whether we want to be Guru Hargobind’s saint-warriors or offspring of Luv and Kush.

The author was jathedar of the Akal Takhat in 1986. He can be reached at dsinghsahib@ggsacademy.com.


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