TAKHT, Persian word meaning a throne or royal seat, has, besides its common literal use, other connotations in the Sikh tradition. In Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture, phrases such as sachcha takht (true throne) and pura takht (perfect throne) have been used to signify God`s seat of divine justice. Guru Nanak in Var Malar KI alludes to the created universe as His sacha takht (GG, 907), but also qualifies that “His is the sacha or everlasting takht while all else comes and goes” (GG, 1279). God in Sikh metaphysics is described as Formless but to make Him intelligible to the lay man He is sometimes personified and referred to as sacha sah, sultan, patsah meaning the true king or sovereign.

As such his seat is appropriately referred to a sachcha takht sitting on which he dispenses sachcha niaon, true justice. Bhai Gurdas (d. 1636), poet and exegete, also describes sadh sangat, holy fellowship, as God`s takht (Varan, .XI. 5). Guru in Sikhism is believed to be one with God, and it became common among the Sikhs, at least by the time of Guru Arj an (1563-1606), to refer to the Gurus too as sachcha patshah and to their gaddior spiritual seat as takht. The bards Balvand, Nalya and Mathura, in their verses included in the Guru Granth Sahib, use takht in this sense. Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) in fact adopted a princely style.

He constructed a high platform opposite Harimandar, the Golden Temple of modern day, for his investiture as Guru, in 1606. It was named Akal Takht, the Throne of the Timeless One. Subsequently a building, Akal Bunga, was raised over it so that the Akal Takht continues to be its popular name. Here the Guru conducted the secular affairs of the community. Sitting on high takht he held his court, received offerings, heard the bards recite heroic poetry, and issued hukamnamahs or edicts to Sikhs and distant sangats. In the open space between the Harimandar and the Akal Takht were held tournaments of physical feats in the afternoons.

The Akal Takht became for the Sikhs the highest seat of temporal as well as spiritual authority. The Sikhs recognize four other holy places as takhts. They are connected with Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708)Takht Sri Harimandar Sahib, Patna, where he was born ; Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur, where he created the Khalsa; Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib, Abchalnagar, Nanded, in Maharashtra, where he passed away; and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib , Talvandi Sabo, where he stayed for several months in 1706. While the other Takhts were recognized as such in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, the one at Talvandi Sabo was officially declared a Takht by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee at its general meeting held on 18 November 1966.

Takhts are equally regarded as high seats of religious authority, but the Akal Takht at Amritsar enjoys a special status as the religious capital of the Sikhs. For example, meetings of the Sarbatt Khalsa or a general assembly representative of the entire panth, can be summoned only by the Jathedar of Akal Takht and it is only there that cases connected with serious religious offences committed by prominent Sikhs are heard and penalties imposed where necessary. Important hukamnamahs, edicts or proclamations on behalf of the Panth, issued by the Akal Takht have precedence over those issued by other Takhts.

According to conventions evolved over the centuries, the Takhts as a matter of policy have refrained from entering political controversies or administrative questions unless a question also touches matters of religious faith or doctrine. Although ever since the rise of the Akali movement religious and political morchas (agitations) were generally conducted from the Akal Takht, administration of religious places is vested in a statutory representative body, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee of which Jathedars of all the five Takhts are exofficio members, and political affairs of the panth are handled by the Shiromani Akali Dal.

References :

1. Teja Singh, Sikhkm; Its Ideals and Institutions. Bombay, 1937
2. Dilgeer, Harjinder Singh, The Akal Takht. Jalandhar, 1980
3. Sukhdial Singh, Akal Takht Sahib. Patiala, 1984