All is not well at Akal Takht

Free Akal Takht movement founder Harinder Singh comes to Malaysia to gather input to strengthen the operations of the Sarbat Khalsa. Key event: SIKH CONCLAVE ON SELF GOVERNANCE (22 Oct, Sat, 7-9pm at BAC PJ Campus)

| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 20 Oct 2016 | Asia Samachar |
Harinder SIngh: Founder of Free Akal Takht movement
Harinder SIngh: Founder of Free Akal Takht movement

All is not well at the heart of the decision making process of the Sikh community. Decisions supposedly taken by Jathedar, at times, do not square with the wider Sikh diaspora, for example.

What do we do? Change the Jathedars? Well, it’s never that simple. Even that may not be the solution.

One group is out to make a difference. Calling themselves the Free Akal Takht movement, they intend to ‘engage and represent the beautiful diversity of Sikhs worldwide’ to manufacture a solution.

They aim to ‘connect’ the 30-million odd Sikhs around the world to have a say on the governance of the Akal Takht, the central body that makes decisions affecting Sikhs.

“It is not enough to replace the current governance of the Akal Takht with new leadership. It’s how we arrive at new leadership, the process we undertake for decisions, and developing representative processes that will ensure our future leaders are equipped for success in their roles,” the Free Akal Takht movement says in a note on its website.

SEE ALSO: Guru Nanak was an original, says Women In Sikhi conference organiser

SEE ALSO: Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba historic, but may have been hijacked

Todate, the group has produced a 51-page draft ‘potential new future governance of the Akal Takht’ and two short-term proposals entitled ‘Jathedar Selection Criteria’ process and ‘Sarbat Khalsa Process’. All drafts are available at the movement’s website.

In a nutshell, the movement is an attempt to give some proper shape to the Sarbat Khalsa, often seen as the platform where the Khalsa Panth meets to make important decisions.

“The Sarbat Khalsa is a powerful model for collective decision-making, developed by our Gurus. Representative, collective decision-making has been available to Sikhs for centuries. The degree to which Sikh institutions have been compromised is apparent in how foreign and self-serving these institutions seem to us today,” the movement adds.

Sarbat Khalsa and Panj Pyare, acting within the spirit of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), are two separate institutions integral to Panth’s self governane. The Akal Takht, acting as the executive arm, manages and implements the decisions of the Sarbat Khalsa and the Panj Pyare.

However, over the years, the decision making has seemingly been taken over by the Akal Takht Jathedar, acting together with the jathedars of the four other Takhts, constituting the Panj Pyare. This has raised concerns as the Jathedars are not appointed by the Sarbat Khalsa.

The Free Akal Takht movement aims to build  ‘capacity’ to strengthen the operations of the Sarbat Khalsa.

“To achieve this, we must attract the necessary expertise and build capacity. A new governance framework must be developed from the ground up, based on input from our stakeholders—the global Sangat.

“Punjab is not locked in geography. We have the tools and ability to connect, engage, bring others into conversation and develop a point of view for the Sikh community. The future of decision-making in Sikhi will be representative, collective and transparent—not as the exception, but as the rule and a recognition of our old patterns of self-determination that, now rediscovered, are made new again,” the movement says.

Harinder Singh, one of the founders of the Free Akal Takht movement, will be in Malaysia to engage Sikhs in this part of the world. Prior to joining Free Akal Takht, Harinder co-founded Sikh Research Institute (SikhRi) and Panjab Digital Library.

Harinder was actively involved from the side of the US Sikhs when an attempt was made to hold a Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba, just outside Amritsar in Punjab, in November 2015. He would also be sharing his experience from that event.



Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional? The Assessment. (Asia Samachar, 9 Jan 2016)

Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba historic, but may have been hijacked (Asia Samachar, 11 Nov 2015)

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |



    I totally agree with Gurcharan Singh Sahib. SK Sarbat Khalsa is not a legal entity. Who are those standing up? Elected?, selected? or self initiated? The system of Akal Takhat (AT), like it or not are run by tightly monitored political parties of Punjab and Central Government. These Jathedars are controlled by the whims of the few leaders of the states of India. They obey and only act in favour of them. Nothing can change this system. If Harinder thinks he could change the fabric through his NGO (I suppose) movement, I can get my last coin lost to it. It is simply impossible. You would only further confused the already confused Sikhs if the world.

    I believe, the sacred seat of Sikhism will only be possible to be established out of India. Just like Vatican City, we need to establish A Sikh Vatican City. We should collectively purchase an Island best located anywhere out of India and create an International Jathedars comprising of 5 person by following the tenant set by Guru Gobind Singh. When these collective powers speak out, its only then, they would make an audible impact to the world of Sikhism and human brotherhood.

    The Sikh Diaspora apart from the secret connectivities with the takhts in India, we should abandon their policies and their mission. It is of no use to us, the Sikhs out of India any longer.

    Unfortunately, the divine knowledge of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Sacred Book, is being given an Indian touch which is not at all palatable to the generation of Sikhs out of India. We cannot Indianise the International Wisdom. For this reason Guru Nanak Dev Ji had his Udasis to make it a point that Sikhs should look out of India and not to confine to the Punjab only.

    Let’s all the International Sikhs work towards this mission instead of looking at India. India has no hope for us. We the International Sikhs can no longer hold those waters from abroad. The RSS strength, the sikh concept is being diluted and distorted, systems in Punjab is failing, language is distorted, society is been conned, youth are been made narrow minded, growth is corrupted, development is questioned , a state with shared capital (a dispute that cannot be resolved after years of independence). Why are we looking at India? We the international diaspora are being fooled from time after time. We are in a different era altogether.

    It’s time to see Sikhism grow its Seat of Religious discussion out of India. Let’s work towards this mission.

    I always meant to ask these Jathedars of today, the so called keepers of the faith this:-


    Have you achieve these oh! Jathedars of India?

    You deal with the elite!
    You stand to answer to the very few who can bring a dramatic change……
    You look at people from a high seat…….

    Have you stood by the change to
    ….brings peace and solace to the mother earth and Punjab the land of our beloved Gurus?
    ….brings joy to many hearts?
    ….JUSTs to keep people united?
    ….bring harmony among the races?
    ….helps to lift people up?
    ….have praises by millions against a few only?

    Don’t look back the hardship you have faced….
    Look at those who seek solace and peace….

    You are high up today as a fellow human, don’t forget !, It’s a blessing…..and for a reason by Divine powers above.

    Don’t forget the world now look at you for a touch of yours that can change the lives of many through the Gurmat discourses.

    Don’t forget the friends who were with you…
    During the time you were walking that moved you up to this peak…Do you still remember them Oh Jathedars?

    Your true friends did not become your sewaks but rather are Angels sent to you for a purpose from above…..

    You climb to such a point when, on one side you have fame and on the other hand you would feel suffocated at times of test, as your freedom of decision making may be in someone’s hands….you’ll feel it being snatched… I not true Jathedar Ji?

    But you need the WILL to withstand all those pressure. Did you listen to your inner Oh Jathedar?

    Have you prayed hard enough for You to withstand the invisible shackles of powers of the few above you with the blessings of whom you are seated here Oh Jathedar Ji?

    You are at the position either you excel in heavens or LEAP OFF the pathway in Grace to be among the ordinary people like us. Will you have that guts to do it during the testing times. Oh Jathedar Sahib?

    Oh Jathedar Sahib?

    Don’t let the upper few use and manipulate you to their whims…
    Don’t let these few change the fabrics of unity through you.
    Don’t let your prayers be revoked of what you ask each morning from God.

    It’s not your position that would be questioned in the Courts of God…..It’s your deeds, your principles, your compassion, your kindness, your love and your hearing ears……..

    Oh Jathedar of India can I say for sure “you are caught in the Net of Maya yourself?

    Wake up Sikh International Diaspora.

  2. When chaos rules, many aspirants arise, and not all are correct nor will succeed.

    The SK is NOT developed by any Guru.This is totally incorrect for Mr Harinder to claim, or suggest without factual reference.The word SK fist appears in 1726.There is a lot misinformation being spread about the concept of SK, which was commenced by Sr Darbara Singh, head of Sikh military in 1726, when the first such was held.It initially applied to only the Sikh military heads.
    Coincidently, it was held on Vesakhi day, a day on which Sikhs had been gathering historically.Although, the larger sangat had no part, the decision made by the representative Sikh Military heads was conveyed to the sangat.
    Since then many SK’s took place, until the last one held under the auspices of Maharan Ranjit Singh to discuss the position of Holker,before Ranjit fully became the maharajah.One he was the established Maharajah, having consolidated his power, Ranjit saw no need for the SK.

    The next representative SK took place through modern means was the discussion of about 15 years through the course the Gurduara Act, leading to the formal Rehat Maryada formation.

    The word SK then disappears, until suddenly some bright spark, found out that a concept of SK used to place in the 18th & centuries.

    Without full understanding the idea was spread to counter the government control management of the AT in 1986.800,000 Sikhs out 26,000,000 attended is hardly a sarbat of Sikhs.Some people have tried to relay it is a MASS gathering of ALL Sikhs, which it really is not.It should be a representative gathering of Sikhs from all sections of community.

    The 1986, may have had some psychological or social impact, but in legal terms it as good as non existent!
    Absolutely ZERO was achieved from all its declarations.

    What these people failed to understand is the concept worked within the period the Sikhs were confined to the Punjab,when no such laws as we know today, linked to a national constitution existed.Now a hundered years later, a legal act has been implemented, and the Sikh bodies are required to work within that legal sphere.Whether that act, Gurduara Act passed in 1925, in a haste reaction to equally unthought out Sikh demand is now appropriate or not, has short commings etc is another subject.

    In 2015, another SK was called for where at Chabba,where approximately 600,000[out of 31,000,000] attended with a mish mesh of confusing declarations, including ousting of the current jathedars, when these people have no legal powers.It ended dividing and confusing many many more in the community.Within weeks the so called jathedars declared at Chabba were arrested, with many arrests.All then sat about quietly, moaning,Why?

    These people have been acting outside the lawfully constituted law.Whether we like or not our ancestors asked for a legal act to protect their interests in 1920s,the act was seen sufficient then.Later some issues arose, which were asked to be amended, and done so recently.

    What was not included legally in that act is the position of a SK.It is an unrecognised concept in legal terms.

    But some people like Harinder probably believe that some how, magically the SK is simply a magic wand, with the touch of which all the issues in the community will be solved. No, that will not be the case.

    In 2015, opposing groups were calling for a number of SKs.Can one imagine the number of SK that can start taking place, know the Sikh mentality for divisions?When one SK takes place, it is highly likely that another SK will then take place to counter the previous one.We are no longer living in a cowboy era, where SK’s of man marzi takes place.This will cause untold damage.Enough has been done.

    I am very concerned that we are encouraging such Sks to place outside the rule of law and our leaglly constituted body.The fact SGPC has been hijacked and is not acting as it should be is an entirely different matter, that should be addressed and changed according to the law constituted for now, and not outside it.
    The problem is those who see the weakness of the SGPC are all foreign resident Sikhs, and not eligible to vote in the SGPC elections, but the Indian citizens are , and have no plan to want change or make a change!
    However, we can still build lobbies and bring about the change through influence, to change the SGPC.But wallowing on about SK, is not the way, as knowing Sikh love for disunity and setting up parallel groups,it will give rise to counter SKs, and chaos will reign in the community.
    It appears that such individuals find it a hard task to confront the SGPC, but create more chaos with this call for SKs.If we accept one today out the lawfully constituted body, tomorrow one will find it difficult to stop another.

    Such unthought moves , has created more divisions, nothing positive.If the bachitrri natakis, who are rearing the head currently,call for a SK and declare their porno book to be the younger brother of the Guru Granth sahib, what then?

    There is a lot wrong with the SGPC, but the solutions too lie in controlling the SGPC.These needs raisng awareness among the people of the Punjab.These needs education among the people of the Punjab.A lot more.

    The global Sikh sangat does not outnumber those Sikhs in Punjab, but we can influence them to bring control and order to the SGPC.

    This subject is vast, thus not all can be written here.I think a lot of short sightedness and imaginary “perfection” is at play here.

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