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Significance of Delhi government’s recognition to fifth Sikh Takht

Note4Students

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.

 

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