In the recent discussions about the ‘banning’ of Darshan Singh Ragi from the ‘Panth’ by the ‘Sikh Authorities’ in Amritsar, many participants showed that they did not fully understand where the authority in the Khalsa Panth rests.
Many talk about the authority of the Akal Takhat. When you think about it you must admit that thinking that ‘authority’ is vested in a building or a geographical location makes no sense whatsoever.
Guru Gobind Singh vested the Guruship in the Guru Granth and Guru Panth, not in a building, not in a geographical location, not in the Panj Piaré. Having institutionalised Panj Piaré made up of ‘Jathedars’ and ‘Mukh Granthis’ is nowhere near to what happened in 1699 in Anandpur Sahib. Panj Piaré should be independent minded model Sikhs.
The only period in which we had a more or less functioning Guru Granth / Guru Panth was the misl period after Banda Singh Bahadur and until Maharaja Ranjit (not so) Singh.
The authority was with the Sarbat Khalsa, which was flawed because it was a meeting of the Misl Jathedars and their adjutants and not a true ‘All the Khalsa’ meeting, but it was better than what we have now.
This meeting in case of conflicts would select Panj Piaré as mediators. Each party in the conflict would select two, which had to be approved by the other side, and the four would select the fifth. Obviously the ideal was to find five serious Sikhs who would have moral authority rather than power.
Any decision achieved was promulgated from Akal Takhat by the Jathedar of the Misl of the ‘veterans’. If the Sarbat Khalsa could not meet in Amritsar life got on. When I was with the IOSS in Chandigarh a member once said that Guru Hargobind took the Akal Takhat with him when he went to Kartarpur (Jalandhar) and later to Kiratpur (Anandpur Sahib).
The present set up does not fit in with anything that was practised in Guru’s time or during the Misl period. Even the Dhirmal followers who took over Darbar Sahib after the departure of Guru Hargobind, and who refused entry to Guru Teg Bahadur, did not think that they could issue hukamnamé on behalf of the Panth because they were in charge of Akal Takhat.
Darshan Singh Ragi has not been banned from the Panth and there is no hukamnama about not discussing the Dasam Granth, as these decisions were taken by people who have no authority to do so.
Being the leader of the Akali Dal and/or the Mukh Mantri of Panjab does not give you any authority over the Sikhs.
Appeal to stop the use of violence
All Sikhs, Sikh organisations and Gurdwaré should undertake never again to use violence as a means to settle differences of opinion. There is no precedent from Guru’s days for this bad practice, the Guru taught us to stand up against injustice, not against opinions that we do not agree with.