15 September 2018
DEVELOPING A MECHANISM THAT SAFEGUARDS THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE AKAL TAKHT
A RESPONSE TO THE REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫ਼ਤਿਹ | Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fatih!
The response in this document has been drafted on receipt of an invitation for suggestions received from Bibi Kiranjot Kaur (senior SGPC member). This invitation read as follows:
Dear Well Wishers of Punjab, We all know the crisis within the quom right now. Some of the scholars I have spoken with see solution if Akal Takht institution functions in a way that any Jathedar cannot be manipulated by those in power. This is possible if a mechanism is created for reaching a Gurmatta. I invite your suggestions to what this mechanism (system) could be that safeguards independence of Miri-Piri da Takht. Brief, to the point suggestions please. Reference to past history( when needed) could help focus on solution. The consensus reached could be a basic draft for further action within sgpc. I look forward to your active input.
The Free Akal Takht (FAT) movement is delighted to provide a response, suggestions, and to help in any way required - be it from process drafting, to facilitation and consensus building. The FAT movement was established to help design a new governance mechanism for the global Sikh community from the ground up - in open consultation with the global Sangat and with allegiance only to Guru Granth-Panth - focusing on the systems/mechanisms that surround and comprise Akal Takht Sahib. Our consultations have been manyfold and extended to dialogue with over 300 Sikh organisations and thousands of individuals across the major countries of Sikh populace on the back of open invitations to participate.
Having diligently pursued some of the questions posed, we provide a summary of suggestions in this document.
In order to participate in dealing with the current crisis within the Quam, we put forward that all those involved and part of the process must accept the three items below as essential truths:
Gurus are Ik in Jot and Jugat
Guru is both Guru Granth Sahib and Guru Khalsa Panth
- Guru Khalsa Panth has 4 mechanisms: Akal Takht, Panj Piare, Jathedar, and Sarbat Khalsa
A brief of our research based on Gurbani and Sikh History on the 3 essential truths can be found on our website: www.freeakaltakht.org/research
To establish the connection between Sarbat Khalsa and Gurmatta Principal Teja Singh has written a detailed explanation of which we copy an extract below:
“The “Sarbat Khalsa” or the whole people, met once at the Akal Takht, Amritsar the highest seat of Panthic authority, on the occasion of Dewali or Baisakhi, and felt that they were one. All questions affecting the welfare of the nation were referred to the Sangats, which would decide them in the form of resolutions called Gurmattas. A Gurmatta duly passed was supposed to have received the sanction of the Guru, and any attempt made afterwards to contravene it was taken as a sacrilegious act.”
Roles, responsibilities, and relationships between the 4 Gurmat-oriented Panthic Mechanisms (Akal Takht, Panj Piare, Jathedar, and Sarbat Khalsa) need to be researched, and drafted for the 21st century. This would comprise the main body of the Gurmat-oriented Panthic Governance Model.
A Gurmat-oriented Panthic Governance Model needs to be developed which is based around the essential truths above. This is the all encompassing “mechanism/system” being sought.
Our preliminary draft for Akal Takht Sahib can be found here:
Our preliminary draft for Sarbat Khalsa in the 21st century can be found here:
A process for developing a Gurmat-oriented Panthic Governance Model must be made. The FAT team has drafted this for the Panth’s consideration and the two overriding guidelines are:
Principles must be extracted from Guru Granth Sahib after which systems are created based on those principles. If there is a problem with the system, the principles would need to be revisited. If there is a problem with the principles, counsel must then be sought with Guru Granth Sahib.
- Since new challenges arise as the conditions continue to change, Sikhs must collectively, continuously grow and make improvements to their institutions and processes, following the timeless teachings of Guru Granth Sahib while remaining connected to their glorious history.
Principles must be extracted to create the Gurmat-oriented Panthic Governance Model from Guru Granth Sahib (as explained in step 3). The FAT team has drafted 11 principles for the Panth’s consideration with Mul Mantar as the driving inspiration: Gurmat Inspired, Mul Mantar, Reclaim Long-Term, Open, Inclusive, Sovereign, Consensus Based / Sarbat Khalsa, Allegiance, Collaborative, and Transparent. Each of these principles have sub points that articulate them further. Furthermore there is a commentary by the principle drafter and editor that further explains thought process per principle.
Several events need to be facilitated in order to discuss and find consensus on all drafts with the entire Panth.
Facilitating to Develop Consensus
The FAT team has done substantial work in this regard and taken steps to research each mechanism, which we offer could be used as a starting point for discussion. The participating diaspora achieved substantial consensus on these proposals which were discussed between prominent sikh organisations, scholars, think tanks, gurdwaras, academics, business people, and any ordinary members of the Sangat which were all invited to participate on a proactively inclusive basis both in person and digitally.
The Jathedar and Sarbat Khalsa components of the model were extensively explored with discussion amongst the Sikh Diaspora in 4 Regional Model Sarbat Khalsas (USA, UK, Canada, and Malaysia) facilitated by the FAT Team with over 300 attendees representing over 200 organizations. The Model Sarbat Khalsa’s were facilitated using a draft Sarbat Khalsa process for consensus in the 21st century which we would like to share. The Model Sarbat Khalsa’s sought to discuss 14 proposals:
7 Proposals on Jathedar Criteria: http://www.freeakaltakht.org/proposal_jathedar_selection_criteria
- 7 Proposals on Sarbat Khalsa Process: http://www.freeakaltakht.org/proposal_sarbat_khalsa_process
The FAT team Published results from the Model Sarbat Khalsa’s in a one of kind (in Sikh history) report titled “Disapora Polling Brief” which can be found here: http://www.freeakaltakht.org/regional_sarbat_khalsa
The Sikh diaspora agrees on more than 85% of Jathedar Criteria and Sarbat Khalsa Process detailed in our report.
We would be delighted to contribute further suggestions, research capabilities, consensus building event facilitation and expand on the above or answer any questions arising.
About Free Akal Takht
The #FreeAkalTakht movement aims to achieve freedom of thought and spirit for 30 million Sikhs by designing a new governance framework from the ground up. Its cross-border team of social activists, professionals, and academics is facilitating this by connecting and engaging with global Sikh population to develop for the first time, a truly global point of view for the Sikh community. #FreeAkalTakht believes the future of decision-making in Sikhi will be representative, collective, and transparent--not as the exception, but as the rule, and as revitalisation of the community's old patterns of self-determination made new for the 21st century.
List of documents already produced and freely available
Research Brief on Mechanisms:
Jathedar Criteria Proposals:
Sarbat Khalsa Process Proposals:
Diaspora Polling Brief & Regional Sarbat Khalsa Process:
Research Brief on Mechanisms:
Global Sarbat Khalsa Procedures Draft:
Akal Takht Sahib Governance Structure Draft:
February 26, 2018
The Free Akal Takht movement was formed to help the global Sikh community build 21st century institutions for deliberation, governance and action.
Over the past few years, we have created a model framework governance structure, grounded in Gurbani research. We have identified who ought to be the major stakeholders in it, and how it would interplay with a Sarbat Khalsa gathering. This has been done with input from across the Sikh community worldwide.
We have contributed to the many panthic discussions that have taken place regarding the proposed reform of the governance of Akal Takht Sahib.
Following an internal review of its activities, we have decided to end our grassroots and campaigning activities for now.
Our website will remain online and all of the existing content will still remain accessible, but we will not be generating any new public content for the moment. Though we will still have a social media presence, this will be scaled back, and our public-facing operations will be limited to answering direct queries via firstname.lastname@example.org until further notice.
We are grateful to have been able to serve the sangat. We strive to serve the Panth in whatever capacity we can going forward.
Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vahiguru Ji Ki Fatih!