The recent developments at Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion, where the Panj Pyaras (five beloved of Guru) have ordered the sacking of the high-priests has plunged the Sikh community into more controversy. One of the Panj Pyaras Giani Mangal Singh explains their decision to Anju Agnihotri Chaba
Do the Panj Pyaras, who are employees of the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), have the authority to summon the Akal Takht jathedars, who according to the SGPC are more powerful?
There is no doubt that the Panj Pyaras are SGPC employees but they are considered a ‘part of the Guru’ as the Panj Pyaras are appointed in front of the supreme Guru Granth Sahib. And so if sentiments of the Sikh Sangat (population) are hurt by the highest temporal seat, then Panj Pyaras have all the right to summon the jathedars. Guru Sahib [Guru Gobind Singh] who started the tradition of Panj Pyaras in 1699, himself accepted the their command and prayers. During the battle of Chamkaur, the last five surviving Sikhs constituted themselves into the Panj Pyaras and commanded Guru Gobind Singh to leave the fortress and save himself so he could regroup instead sacrificing himself at that point of time. The Panj Pyaras of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, should not be treated like the Panj Pyaras of any ordinary gurdwara.
This is the first time that the jathedars of the five Takhts have been summoned by the Panj Pyaras. How do you justify this when the SGPC was quick to term the decree as being illegal?
According to ‘Sikh Rehat Maryada’ (code of Sikh conduct and conventions), the Panj Pyaras are vested with the power to award religious punishment to the guilty after seeking an explanation for religious offences when sentiments of Sikhs are shattered.
The action of the Panj Pyaras is being viewed as being influenced by some outside forces. What do you have to say about it?
No outside force can influence the Panj Pyaras. This decision was totally ours. Whatever we felt we did as we could not bear to see wrongs being committed in the religion. All the employees of SGPC, in their hearts of hearts, know that our decision is right. Being part of our Guru, how we can tolerate the disrespect shown towards him by anyone.
What would be the impact of your suspension on the Panth?
Everyone knows about it. What I can say? I just want to appeal the masses to maintain peace and ‘maryada of the religion and not to harass the general public at all.