546. Akal Takht & it’s Jathedar

In 1606 Guru Hargobind and Baba Buddha built a platform which was 12 feet in height in defiance of a decree Mughal Emperor Jahangir that no one but his own royal personage be allowed to sit on a dais over three feet in height.

Guru Hargobind called it the Akál Takht, the Throne of the Deathless One (God). Inside Harmandr Sahib the Ádi Granth, the first version of Guru Granth Sahib, was installed as the Shabad Guru, the Teacher of the Word (of God).

There was no building, there was no institution with its own Maryada, nor was there any suggestion that whoever was in charge of this Takht was the ruler of the Sikh panth.

When Guru Hargobind lived in Kartarpur (Jalandhar) and Kiratpur, and during the the Guruship of Guru Har Rai, Guru Har Kishan, Guru Teg Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh the Harmandr Sahib complex was in charge of non-mainstream Sikhs. These ‘sikhs’ never thought that because they were in charge of the Akál Takht they could issue Hukamnamas that had to be followed by the panth.

The Akál Takht as a concept went with the Guru Sahib to Kartarpur, Kiratpur and Anandpur.

Guru Gobind Singh ordained that after his passing away the Sikhs would be ruled by the Guru Panth (Sikh community) under the guidance of the Guru Granth. He did not say that any power was vested in Jathedars or in any building.

The missal system, established after the death of Banda Singh Bahadur consisted of 11 fighting missals (guerrilla groups) and one group of veterans, the Buddha Dal. Their Jathedar played a role in the functioning of the Sarbat Khalsa, which was the meeting of all the missals.

Decisions were made by the Sarbat Khalsa while striving for unanimity. A decision taken in this manner was called a Gurmatta. The Jathedar of the Buddha Dal would then make this Gurmatta official by announcing it from the Ákal Takht.

This is comparable with procedures that exist in many countries where decisions made by parliament are made official by the signature of a head of state.

I am not suggesting that during the missals period Sikhs were always sensible, and only fought for the values laid down by the Guru Sahib, selflessly serving the wider interest of all peoples of their areas of influence.

But If we want to practice Guru Gobind Singh’s Guru Granth/Guru Panth we should copy elements of the arrangements that existed in the missal time. Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations would be the missals, and sarbat khalsas could meet discussing Sikh issues on the level of countries, continents and world-wide.

What we don’t want is Jathedars without jatha who instead of serving the the panth serve corrupt political masters.

547. Man in Blue – Enough for all, enough for ever

547.b.DodoThe Dodo

Enough for all, enough for ever, I think this is a good summing up of Guru’s teachings. God the Giver, who never stops giving, supplies the Universe with enough resources to last for as long as the Universe exists.

If we narrow it down to the planet earth, it has enough resources to feed, clothe and house the billions of people that live on it in the 21st century.

But the people who are living by the grace of God’s generous gifts are too greedy, consuming too much and polluting our beautiful and productive planet so that it will end up feeding fewer and will ultimately run out of resources.

There are many examples of how we destroy the food sources given to us by the Creator. The demise of the dodo is a good illustration of how wasteful man is.

The dodo was a flightless bird that lived on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. After the Europeans discovered the sea route to South and South-East Asia via the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) it became one of the stops where the ships would take on fresh water, fruit and vegetable and anything else edible.

And the dodos were edible. They were not afraid of humans and could not fly away, so many ended up in the cooking pots on board European merchantmen.

You do not need to be a genius to work out that if you kill more birds than are born, you end up with a diminished number of birds, who produce less off-spring and soon enough you end up with no birds at all.

The demise of the dodos was speeded up by the introduction by Europeans of pigs, dogs and rats, all of which developed a taste for dodo eggs. As far as I know the dodo was first described by Portuguese sailors around 1500 and became extinct in the late 17th century.

You can put a lot of the blame on enterprising fellows from the Netherlands, who on their way to their settlements on Sri Lanka and in the ‘Dutch East Indies’, now Indonesia, caused a good bit of environmental damage.

These days we are more subtle. We claim more and more land for cities, towns, motorways and agriculture, which leaves less land for the natural resources that our forefathers used to live on.

We are steadily working on the pollution of the oceans, which could be an incredible rich source of food that could feed us for a long, long time if we treated it with more respect.

We are also the masters of waste, in the rich western countries thirty percent of the food produced is thrown away. We grow soya which can easily be eaten by us, but we feed it to cattle and then eat the cattle. Not very efficient at all.

Living in Hukam includes respect for the creation of which we are part. Nature is not something outside us, we are part of it. If nature dies, we will die with it. Abusing nature will be punished by death of all and everything on the planet.

545. The Man in Blue – If you want to play the game of love

If you want to play the game of love
then step onto My Path with your head on the palm of your hand.
When you place your feet on this Path,
give Me your head, and do not listen to what others say ||20||
Guru Nanak, Guru Granth Sahib page 1412

I am not a great kathakar, I like it much better when what I say is part of a dialogue and when I am not obliged to make a long speech. But listening again to the katha that I did for Sangat TV, starting with the above slok, I feel that I did a reasonable job on that occasion.

The slok is well known, and is often compared with Guru Gobind Singh’s question on Vaisakhi 1699: Who wants to give their head? The circumstances were different, but the meaning of giving your head or carrying your head on the palm of your hand is the same. It means total dedication, total commitment to God.

The meaning of ‘game of love’ should also be clear to those who are familiar with the Guru Granth Sahib. It is about the love that God pours out over us, without limit, without condition, and the unconditional love that we should try to develop for God. We are all brides of God, God is our groom.

The strength that you can see in real Gursikhs comes from that mutual love. Of course the Sikh warrior-saints of the past trained their bodies and worked on their skills with various weapons. But without the love for God and without experiencing God’s love, they would just have been warriors, not Saint-Warriors.

The game of love is played when you always keep God in mind, whatever you do, when you make an honest living and when you share money, goods or time with others.

The game of love is played by those who are in control of their lust, anger, greed, attachment and pride and instead are full of Truth, Contentment, Humility, Love and Compassion.

We should realise that the five ‘thieves’ which take away our peace of mind are based on natural inclinations. Sexual desire is part of our nature and can be a force for the good within a loving relationship, but we should not be ruled by it.

We should feel anger when we see injustice, and use that anger as a motivator for positive action. Greed is there where the natural desire to have our basic needs fulfilled changes in lust for more, more and more again. We should not be attached to our cars, our families or to branded clothes that are unnecessary expensive. It is good to feel satisfied with a job well done, as long as we realise that our talents are gifts from God. Where ego is, God is not!

If you don’t see God in all
you won’t see God at all.