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Sovereignty: A Sikh Birthright

July 2, 2024

Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fatih!

The Sikh world commemorates July 2 as the foundation day of Sri Akal Takht Sahib.

ਵਡਾ  ਤੇਰਾ  ਦਰਬਾਰੁ  ਸਚਾ  ਤੁਧੁ  ਤਖਤੁ  ॥
ਸਿਰਿ  ਸਾਹਾ  ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੁ  ਨਿਹਚਲੁ  ਚਉਰੁ  ਛਤੁ  ॥

Grand is Your court, true Your throne,
Sovereign, even above the kings, unmovable is Your fly whisk and canopy (royal insignia).

Guru Granth Sahib 964

Elevated above other worldly thrones, the platform stood occupied by Guru Harigobind Sahib, the bearer of two swords of Miri-Piri (Political-Spiritual). On 15 June 1606 (5 Har 1663), the Guru laid the foundation of Sri Akal Takht Sahib (Timeless Throne Sovereign). The community celebrates July 2 each year, marking the completion of the platform's construction by Baba Buddha ji and Bhai Gurdas ji in the Darbar Sahib precinct facing Sri Harimandar Sahib.

Guru Harigobind Sahib, the bearer of Divine authority, would sit at Sri Akal Takht Sahib and administer justice as the Sacha Patshah (Eternal Sovereign). This title became associated with the Gurus in Sikh tradition, contrasting with the worldly claims of sovereignty made by ruling dynasties. At the Akal Takht, the Guru held court, hosting emissaries and dignitaries and organizing divans (Royal Court) with dhadis (bards) singing ballads. It is said that the Guru issued his first hukamnama (edict) from Sri Akal Takht Sahib, asking the Sikh sangat (community) to bring arms and horses as offerings.

Sri Akal Takht Sahib has been the primary seat of Sikh religious authority and the center of Sikh political activity. It has hosted the institution of Sarbat Khalsa (Sikh Collective Assembly), major social and political programs, campaigns, and movements.

Over the past four centuries of turbulent Sikh history, Sri Akal Takht Sahib has stood unwaveringly as a mark of Sikh sovereignty. Those in power who do not want to see Sikhs as a political force have continuously tried to physically and institutionally destroy it, curtail its powers and functions, and sabotage the Panthak (Sikh collective) decision-making processes. The political struggles to control Sri Akal Takht Sahib must be understood in this context.

The edifice of Sri Akal Takht Sahib reminds all Sikhs that the principle of Miri-Piri makes sovereignty a central element of dignified spiritual existence. It is not the combination of two separate aspects of life but a unified principle that only exists as a whole, with both facets inseparably intertwined.

Political sovereignty is our birthright, as is the right to direct, unrestricted access to the Divine. Guru-awakened Sikhs have never accepted any form of slavery. With the Guru's Sabad on our lips and Divine love resonating in our hearts, we have defended the Darbar Sahib complex with every drop of our blood. In the spirit of liberty, we have chosen death over slavery, for our spirituality is inherently political, and our politics is deeply spiritual. Sri Akal Takht Sahib, facing Sri Harimandar Sahib, bears testimony to this fact.

May we always defend our institutions with every drop of our blood.
May the Wisdom-Guru guide us!

Watch, Listen, Read

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