From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Takhts in Sikhism
Mains level : Not Much
The Delhi Assembly has passed an amendment Bill to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1971, recognizing Takht Damdama Sahib as the fifth Takht of Sikhs.
What is a Sikh Takht?
- A Takht, which means a throne, is a seat of temporal authority for Sikhs.
- There are five Sikh Takhts, three in Punjab and one each in Maharashtra and Bihar.
(1) Akal Takht
- Located in Amritsar, it is the oldest of the Takhts, and considered supreme among the five.
- It was set up in 1606 by Guru Hargobind, whose succession as the sixth Guru after the execution of his father, Guru Arjan Dev, is considered a turning point in Sikh history.
- The Akal Takht, a raised platform that he built in front of the causeway leading to the sanctum sanctorum of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple).
- It symbolised the coming together of the temporal authority and the political sovereignty of the Sikh community (miri) with the spiritual authority (piri).
- It is seen as the first marker of Sikh nationalism.
The other four Takhts are linked to Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru.
(2) Takht Keshgarh Sahib
- Located in Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. It was here that Guru Gobind Singh raised Khalsa, the initiated Sikh warriors, in 1699.
(3) Takht Patna Sahib
- Guru Gobind Singh was born here in 1666.
(4) Takht Hazur Sahib
- In Nanded, where Guru Gobin Singh spent time and where he was cremated in 1708.
(5) Takht Damdama Sahib
- In Talwandi Sabo of Bathinda. Guru Gobind Singh spent several months here.
What does the amendment to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act mean?
- Simply put, it adds one more ex officio member in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managament Committee (DSGMC) house.
- Earlier, there were four ex officio members in the house — the chiefs (jathedars) of the other four Sikh Takhts.
Is it the first time it has been recognised as the fifth Takht?
- It was back in 1999 that Takht Damdama Sahib was recognised as the fifth Sikh Takht by the Union Home Ministry.
- It included it as such in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 (Punjab Act VIII of 1925) with a notification dated April 23, 1999.
- Before that, an SGPC sub-committee had declared it the fifth Takht of Sikhs back in November 1966 after Punjab was carved out as a separate state through the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.
How politically significant is the move?
- It comes ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections, where the, Delhi’s ruling party, has high stakes.
What is the role of the Sikh Takhts?
- The Takhts are known to issue hukumnamas (morality orders) from time to time on issues that concern the Sikh community.
- Akal Takht is supreme among them because it is the oldest and was created by a Sikh Guru himself, say Sikh scholars.
- Any edict or order concerning the entire community is issued only from Akal Takht.
- It is from Akal Takht that Sikhs found to be violating the Sikh doctrine and code of conduct are awarded religious punishment (declared tankhaiya).
Who appoints the jathedars of the Takhts?
- The three Takhts in Punjab are directly controlled by the SGPC, which appoints the jathedars.
- The SGPC is dominated by SAD members.
- It is widely understood that SAD puts the final seal on the appointment of these three jathedars.
- The two Takhts outside Punjab have their own trusts and boards.