Why is the Free Akal Takht initiative not partnering with the SGPC?

  1. The SGPC is a creation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925, as such it falls under the authority of the Government of India. Reform of the SGPC is impossible without those changes being introduced and passed in the Parliament of India. This is unacceptable. What was once supposed to be a simple Gurduara management committee to ensure that historic Gurduaras were being run in accordance with Gurmat Maryada and without financial mismanagement, has become the de facto leadership of the entire Sikh nation. In 2015 the Chief Administrator in Punjab was assigned to control Sikh affairs, further rendering the Sikh Qaum powerless and at the mercy of the Indian State, which is able to deliberate and ultimately decide on Sikh issues unilaterally.

  2. The SGPC was created to manage historical Gurduaras in Punjab. However, the Akal Takht Sahib is not a Gurduara but a unique institution created by Guru Hargobind Sahib ji, based on the principles of Guru Nanak Sahib ji, and with the blessings and inspiration of the Divine Creator, Vahiguru. It is where the Guru's 'Miri' (temporal) powers are exercised from. It is an integral part of Sikh governance structures and it is contrary to Gurmat history and principles for it to be under the authority of another body, such as the SGPC.

  3. The Akal Takht Sahib was created by Guru Hargobind Sahib as the seat of the Guru's authority. It was treated as such until the dissolution of the Sarbat Khalsa by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1805. The SGPC's role within the Sikh governance model has never been formally thought out, especially in regards to the role of Jathedars, Sarbat Khalsa, the Takhts, etc. This has led to confusing circumstances. For example, the Jathedars of Takhts are barely mentioned in both the Sikh Rehit Maryada and the Sikh Gurdwara Act, and yet they have played an increasingly prominent role in the community. There are no clear divisions of responsibility or frameworks of governance to determine who has authority over whom, creating conflict between Jathedars themselves, between the Jathedars and the SGPC and between these groups and state and party officials.

  4. While the early sevadars of the SGPC were brave GurSikhs who fought courageously against British colonialism to free Gurduaras, within a generation the institution had become corrupt. By the mid-1960's the SGPC was already a shadow of what it had once been. Using Westminster-style elections to govern a Panthic organization was a disastrous mistake and one that has led to increasingly outrageous anti-Gurmat behaviour. Elections for the SGPC have become sad and embarrassing spectacles with alcohol, drugs and money openly been used to win votes for what is ostensibly the supreme Panthic body of the Sikh Qaum.

  5. The SGPC has authority over the states that were a part of pre-1968 Punjab (i.e. present day India Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana). It has no authority over historical Gurduaras or institutions outside of that region. It is made up of representatives who are elected based on ridings in those three states only, with token representation from some other areas. However, Sikhi is and always has been a global faith, with a vast and widespread diaspora. Not only are Sikhs in other countries left disenfranchised but even Sikhs in other parts of India have no say in the way the SGPC is run. It is a fundamental flaw for a legislative body with such a narrow geographical mandate to have so much power over the entire Sikh Qaum. The concerns and opinions of millions of Sikhs are not being heard.

  6. The SGPC's electoral model has led to political parties taking an inordinate amount of control of Panthic Institutions. The Akali Dal party, once created to give voice to Sikh concerns in the colonial era, now runs Panthic institutions as a political prize, with the President of the SAD having more power than any individual should ever have in a Sikh governance model. In fundamental ways, the leadership of the Akali Dal has more power over the Akal Takht Sahib than Maharaja Ranjit Singh had over the Panth in the early 19th century.

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