A group of Sikh historians, intellectuals, teachers, religious leaders and veteran Akali leaders has appealed to all Panthic organisations to show “due respect to Sikh tenets and traditions” before terming the November 10 congregation, proposed to be held at Chabba village in the district, as Sarbat Khalsa.
“We must understand the Panthic rules and conventions that govern Sarbat Khalsa which, like the Akal Takht, is a very important institution of Sikhism. So, kindly do not refer to every gathering of Sikhs as Sarbat Khalsa,” former jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib Giani Kewal Singh said while addressing Sikh historians, religious leaders and others during a meeting here on Thursday.
The meeting was called by Giani Kewal Singh in his capacity as head of the Panthic Talmel Sangathan, a group that holds seminars and talks on Sikhism and has been protesting against the recent incidents of sacrilege.
Former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) secretary and ex-minister Manjit Singh Calcutta, too, observed that the term ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ should not be used for the November 10 event. “The institution of Sarbat Khalsa has a history attached to it and it is governed by a set of rules, principles and traditions that have evolved over the years,” he added.
Jaswinder Singh Advocate, a key member of the sangathan, said Sarbat Khalsa dated back to the period of the Sikh ‘misls’ (small kingdoms). Each ‘misl’ had its own head and followers, he added, while referring to ‘misl’ rulers such as Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.
Jaswinder explained that the heads or representatives of these ‘misls’ would meet at the Akal Takht on important occasions such as Bandhi Chhor Divas (Diwali) or Holla Mohalla. In these meetings, important issues facing the Sikh community and threats from then Mughal rulers would be discussed and suggestions given for countering such threats.
“Over the years, such meetings began to be called Sarbat Khalsa and decisions taken therein were passed on to the entire community. Often at such meetings, appeals for unity among the various Sikh ‘misls’ were made,” he added.
SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur referred to the Sarbat Khalsa held in 1920 that led to the formation of the SGPC and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The Sarbat Khalsa of 1984, called by then Akal Takht head, took stock of the situation after Operation Bluestar, she added.
Former bureaucrat Gurtej Singh, former SGPC secretary Gurbachan Singh Bachan and others also spoke on the occasion and supported the viewpoint that there was a dire need to “preserve and protect the sanctity” of Sarbat Khalsa, which is not a mere gathering of the community.
At the end of the meeting, a resolution was passed appealing to the United Akali Dal of Bhai Mohkam Singh, SAD (Amritsar) led by Simranjit Singh Mann and others not to use the term ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ for the November 10 gathering.
“You can call it a Panthic convention or meeting but cannot use the term ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ for it. This would amount to lowering the dignity and sanctity of this institution,” the resolution stated.
Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, too, has asked the organisers to call the event a Panthic conference or meeting and not use the term ‘Sarbat Khalsa’, which can be called only by the Akal Takht jathedar, in consultation with the other Takht jathedars.