Takht is a Persian word which means throne. Literally, Takht means throne or seat of spiritual or temporal authority. In Sikhism, five significant Gurdwaras are named as seats of religious and temporal authority. They are elevated as Takhts and held in high esteem by the Sikhs. Although all the Takhts are equal in sanctity, yet the foremost significant of the Takhts is Sri Akal Takht Sahib, located at Amritsar. This Takht is the central authority of the Sikhs and enjoys a special status. The issues concerning the Sikhs are discussed and debated at the Takht. The edicts in the best interest of the Sikh nation are issued to the Sikh Sangat. The Gurmatas and Hukamnamas (Decrees) issued from Sri Akal Takht Sahib are binding on all the Sikhs, all over the world. All the five Jathedars of the Takhts are ex-officio members of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Amritsar.
There are five seats/Takhts of Sikh religious and temporal authority,
Sri Akal Takht Sahib
Sri Akal Takht Sahib Amritsar, 'the throne of the immortal is the supreme seat of religious and temporal authority of its kind for the Sikhs in the world. It is an institution to which every Sikh bows with honor and dignity. Since its inception, Akal Takht Sahib has been shaping the religio-socio-political destiny of the Sikhs. It has been influencing the history and life of the Sikhs. It is the most secular yet deeply religious institution of its kind in the world where spiritual and temporal power blossom together. It is a symbol of continuing faith in unifying doctrine of the Sikh religion and its non-violent politics. It is a place where divinity and dignity go together. It is a source which gives inspiration that righteousness must be defended with rosary in one hand and sword in the other. It is a supreme power to guide the future of the Sikh nation. Sri Akal Takht has played a significant role in establishing a distinctive Sikh identity of Miri and Piri.
According to H.S. Dilgeer,
Sri Akal Takht, the Throne Of Immortal is the only institution of its kind in the world, which has been influencing the course of the history and life of a community that is essentially non-violent, yet so self respecting, most secular but deeply religious, dedicated to self-sacrifice, yet pledged to self-preservation too.
This in sense, constitutes the elan vital of the Sikh community.
According to Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, it is a Raj Sanghasanâ(Royal Throne) of the Sikhs.
The principle place of worship in the name of Sri Harmandar Sahib was built at Amritsar (Punjab) by Guru Arjan Dev Ji (the fifth Guru of Sikhs). In close proximity of Sri Harmandar Sahib, Sri Akal Takht, the highest seat of religious and temporal authority of the Sikhs was revealed and built by Guru Hargobind Sahib which stands for protection of righteousness and human rights.
Although all the five Takhts are equal in sanctity, yet the foremost significant of the Takhts is Sri Akal Takht Sahib. This Takht is the central authority and nerve center of the Sikhs. The national and international socio-religio-political issues concerning the Sikhs are discussed and debated at the Takht. The edicts in the best interest of the Sikh nation are issued to the Sikh Sangat. The Gurmatas and Hukamnamas (Decrees) issued from Sri Akal Takht Sahib are binding on all the Sikhs, all over the world.
During the time when Akal Takht was built, Mughals were ruling India. Emperor Jehangir became the successor to the moderate Emperor Akbar. He asked Guru Arjan Dev to renounce Sikhism and become a Muslim. Guru Arjan Dev refused and said that nothing could get him to renounce his faith. The Emperor took it as a disgrace and ordered the Guru to be seated on red hot Iron plates. Burning sand was poured on his head. He was boiled in the hot caldrons. The Guru did not budge an inch and gave his life for righteousness on May 30, 1606. A need was felt to defend righteousness, not with rosary alone but with sword also.
According to Macauliffe, Guru Arjan Dev said in his last message to Hargobind trough his followers,
have succeeded in effecting the object of my life. Go to my son, the holy Hargobind and give him from me ample consolation. Bid him not mourn or indulge in unmanly lamentations but sing God's praises.
Let him also restrain from grief the other members of my family. Let him sit fully armed on his throne and maintain an army to the best of his ability. (p-99; Volume 111).
According to Dr. Bhagat Singh,
this message seems to be a later concoction as it does not agree with the tenor of Guru Arjans life. He is known to history and tradition to be an apostle of peace and a staunch and unstinted follower of non-violence. Under no circumstances he could change his faith in the peaceful demeaner. There can be no doubt about the fact that the decision to arm the community was taken by Guru Hargobind and his followers collectively after Guru Arjan Dev had been martyred. (p-53; The City Of Amritsar)
Lately, the building of Akal Takht was smashed by the Indian Army during Blue Star Operation in June 1984 when Indian Prime Minister Indra Gandhi ordered the troops to storm the holiest shrine of the Sikhs. Sri Harmandar Sahib was badly damaged. The most precious Sikh Reference Library was burnt and thousands of innocent pilgrims were killed in this operation. The Sikhs around the world were outraged. No doubt, the Government could smash the building but it could not smash the irresistible spirit of the Sikhs. This unfortunate incidence upset the Sikhs throughout the world.
Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala and thousands of others who led the human rights movement of Khalistan laid down their lives during this Ghallughara.
The government says, it was Blue Star Operation but the Sikhs say, it was the third Ghallughara. Whatever it was, it bruised the Sikh psyche. The entire Sikh community felt shaken, humiliated and grievously hurt as a result of this sacrilege.
Wounds can heal but the damage done to the nerve centre of the Sikhs would continue to agonize the bleeding history of the Sikhs. This operation added one more fissure into the Sikh minds which could have been avoided prudently.
Takht Sri Patna Sahib(Bihar)
Patna Sahib is located in the province of Bihar. Guru Tegh Bahadur lived at Patna Sahib about 1665 AD. Guru Gobind Singh was born at Patna Sahib on December 22, 1666. At that time, his father Guru Tegh Bahadur was visiting Dacca. It was at Dacca that Guru Tegh Bahadur received the news of birth of his son. Guru Gobind Singh lived there for a couple of years before shifting to Sri Anandpur Sahib. A Gurdwara was built in memory of Guru Gobind Singh's birth. The principal Gurdwara at Patna Sahib is called Takht Sri Harmandar Sahib, Patna. It is one of the five Takhts. Four of the five Takhts are related to honor the memory of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
This place has the touch of Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh.
Gurdwaras at Patna Sahib are managed by a committee. Other Gurdwaras are:
Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib (Punjab)
A place where Khalsa was revealed
Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib is the most sacred place for the Sikhs. It is located at Anandpur Sahib and is one of the five Takhts. It is one of the most holy places of the Sikhs. Kesgarh Gurdwara was built at the place where the historic ceremony of the inauguration of Khalsa took place on the day of Baisakhi in 1699. Anandpur Sahib is a city of bliss. It is about 40 kilometers from Ropar and 85 km from Chandigarh. Anandpur Sahib is linked with the Sikh traditions and their religious history. It is the place which had the touch of thousands of the martyrs who flowed their blood in the streets of Anandpur Sahib for upkeeping of righteousness.
The site of the city of Anandpur Sahib on the lower spurs of Shivalak hills, was purchased by Guru Tegh Bahadur from the ruler of Bilaspur on a payment of rupees five hundred.
At the site of old Makhowal village, the town of Anandpur was founded in 1664 AD by Guru Tegh Bahadur. Originally , it was named Chak Nanki after the name of Guruâ€™s mother. Its foundation stone was laid by Baba Gurditta Ji grandson of Baba Buddha Ji on June 19, 1665. (Damdami Diary 96) Guru Gobind Singh spent 25 years of his glorious life at this place.
At this place, Guru Tegh Bahadur listened to an aggrieved group of Kashmiri Brahmins who were being terrorized and oppressed under the religious bigotry of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Guru Gobind Singh, a child of nine, asked his father at Anandpur Sahib to make sacrifice to upkeep righteousness.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded on November 11, 1675 at Chandni Chowk Delhi. His chopped head was handed over to Guru Gobind Singh by Bhai Jaita at Anandpur Sahib. It was at Anandpur Sahib that the Guru flinging his arms around the neck of Bhai Jaita had declared, Rangrete Guru Ke Bete(Rangretas are sons of the Guru). Guru Gobind Singh cremated the head of Guru Tegh Bahadur at Anandpur Sahib, the place now marked as Sis Ganj Sahib.
Gobind Rai, a child of 9 years was coronated as tenth Guru of the Sikhs here at Anandpur Sahib after martyrdom of his father.
The festival of Hola Mahalla was first started by Guru Gobind Singh at this place to display the marshal arts of the Sikhs. This festival is celebrated here in the month of March every year.
Guru Gobind Singh wrote the greatest verses of ethical values at this place.
This is the place where Khalsa Panth was revealed by Guru Gobind Singh. On the day of Baisakhi in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh inaugurated Khalsa Brotherhood that served as cradle of a revolution which entirely changed the course of human history in this part of the world. He initiated the first ever five Panj Pyaras by shattering the age old caste system and asking them to initiate him (The Guru) into the new order.
Guru Gobind Singh required of the Khalsa to wear five Kakars viz. Kes, Kangha, Kara, Kachhehra and Kirpan at this sacred place. He ordered them to stay away from four Kurehts. The Guru gave appellation of Singh to men and that of Kaur women to be used after their first names. It is believed that 20,000 people were initiated that day (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee: The Holy City of Bliss) at Sri Anandpur Sahib. According to Syad Muhammad Latif, "in less than a fortnight 80,000 Sikhs flocked to Makhowal (Anandpur Sahib) in obedience to the commands of the Guru (p.263 of History of the Panjab)
From 1701 to 1704, the holy city of Anandpur Sahib was under attack by the Mughals and Hindu Hill Chiefs. Guru Gobind Singh fought several battles at this place and was obliged to leave Anandpur Sahib in 1704 under pressure of countless enemies.
The Gurdwara (Takht) stores the weapons (Shastras) of known Sikh bravos which are exhibited to the visitors. These include Khanda used for preparing Amrit by Guru Gobind Singh Ji on the day of Baisakhi in 1699, Kattar and Barchha (Spear) of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. There is Nagni (Spear) of Bhai Bachittar Singh who drove away the drunken elephant of the enemy in an attack. "Saif" believed to be of Caliph Ali (son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad) is also exhibited for Darshan of the Sangat. The Saif is said to have been presented to Guru Gobind Singh Ji in the Fort of Agra by Emperor Bahadur Shah. ( See page 7 of "Sankhep Itihas of Sri Anandpur Sahib" published by SGPC & See Board at Main Gate of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib).
Festivals of Hola Mahhalla and Baisakhi are celebrated every year at Anandpur Sahib.
There are large number of Gurdwaras at this place to commemorate the historical incidents which happened here.
Other shrines at Anandpur Sahib are:
Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib Nanded (Maharashtra)
In South central India at Nanded, on the banks of river Godawari, is a Gurdwara named Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib Abchal Nagar Sahib. This Gurdwara is located at the place where Guru Gobind Singh ended his sojourn on October 7, 1708. It was here that Banda Singh Bahadur was initiated with Khande Di Pahul by Guru Gobind Singh and detailed to establish peace in Punjab and protect righteousness. Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam Singh are said have left for heavenly abode from this place.
The inside central room is called Angitha Sahib where Guru Gobind Singh was cremated. This Gurdwara is one of the five Takhts (Seats of Authority) of the Sikh faith. Guru Gobind Singh ended the physical Guruship before his departure from this world and passed on the permanent Guruship to Sri Guru Granth Sahib on October 6 , 1708. He declared that the temporal functions of the Guru will be performed by the Five Beloveds. The spiritual guidance will be given by Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Whosoever wishes to find (Behold) God, let him search Him in Sri Guru Granth Sahib....Where ever five Sikhs are assembled together, there will I be present.
Guru Gobind Singh did not appoint any human successor in line of human Guruship as per tradition. The Guru declared Granth Sahib to be the ultimate preceptor and the Guru-Eternal for the Sikhs. He conferred Guruship on Granth Sahib at Abchal Nagar Nanded by circumambulating five times and bowing his head before it. He declared that after him, the living Guru would be embodied in the Sabad (Word) as contained in Sri Guru Granth Sahib by uttering the sermon:
Agya Bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth,
Sab Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyo Granth.
Guru Granth ko Manyo pargat Guran ki deh
Jo Prabhu ko milna chahe khoj sabad men leh
(Tawarikh Guru Khalsa by Giani Gian Singh Part-1, p-1142)
(See Rehat Nama Bhai Prahlad Singh, Guru's contemporary)
Raj karega Khalsa aaki rahe na koe,
Khawar hoe sabh milainge bacheh sharan jo hoe.
(Tankhah Nama Bhai Nand Lal, Court Poet)
Hukam (Divine order by random reading) from Sri Guru Granth Sahib was taken at that time which reads, â€œAbchal Nagar Gobind Guru ka , nam japat sukh paiya Ram (783). So this place was named Abchal Nagar (Unshakable place) at that time. Maharaja Ranjit Singh decorated the Gurdwara with marble and gold plating during his regime.
It was from here that Banda Bahadur was sent to Punjab to fight for righteous cause. It is a repository of Weapons of Guru Gobind Singh which are exhibited for Darshan of the visitors.
Following are the other Gurdwaras which are around Sri Hazur Sahib.
Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo (Punjab)
Literally, Damdama means the breathing or resting place. Dam Dama Sahib is one of the Five Takhts of the Sikhs. It is located at village Talwandi Sabo, 28 km southeast of Bathinda. Guru Gobind Singh stayed here after fighting battles against Mughal atrocities. Before his arrival at Talwandi, two of the Guru's sons were bricked alive at Sarhind and two laid down their lives at Chamkaur Sahib. After writing Zafarnama, Guru Gobind Singh fought a successful battle at Muktsar and then moved towards Talwandi Sabo Ki.
While at Talwandi, Sikhs started coming to the Guru from all over Punjab and other places. Here a Gurdwara was erected in Guru's memory. This place is also known as Guru -Ki -Kanshi as it was made a center of the Sikh learning.
Damdame Wali Bir of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was prepared here by Guru Gobind Singh. It was transcribed by Bhai Mani Singh. The hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib were added into the Bir.
It was at Dam Dama Sahib that Bhai Dalla was tested for his bravery by Guru Gobind Singh and brought into the order of Khalsa. It was from Damdama Sahib that the Guru moved towards south. In the meantime, Aurangzeb died and the Guru helped Bahadur Shah, Aurangzeb's eldest son to sit on the throne.
The Guru was honored by Bahadur Shah at Agra. The new Emperor also left for south but parted from the Guru at Nanded. It is said that Bahadur Shah did not fulfill his promise to punish the officials who had committed atrocities upon the Sikhs and killed Guru's young children. The Guru commissioned Banda Bahadur to Go to Punjab and punish the guilty and bring peace to the state.
This Takht was officially recognized as the fifth Takht on Novemver 18, 1966. On demand from the Sikhs, a sub-committee was appointed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Amritsar vide General Meeting Resolution No: 789 on July 30, 1960. A report of the sub-committee containing 183 pages was received to declare Damdama Sahib, Guru Ki Kashi as the fifth Takht of the Sikhs. A general body meeting of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Amritsar approved the recommendations through resolution number 32 on November 18, 1966.
It has been declared as fifth Takht by the government of India in April 1999 during tercentennial celebrations of the advent of Khalsa.
Other Gurdwaras at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib