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Reviving the Gurmatta: Reestablishing Effective Panthic Leadership and Decision-Making

June 29, 2023 | By

In a historic step–after a gap of more than a hundred years–Sikhs have come together to resurrect the traditional collective decision-making process of the gurmatta. The gurmatta adopted adopted by the gathering at Sri Anandpur Sahib today declared that: the current management of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib is rejected and a nishkam (selfless) and sovereign Jatha must be constituted to ensure the alternative seva sambhal of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib in accordance with the institution and principles of gurmatta-based decision-making (the text of the entire gurmatta is included below)

The panj sakhi Singh take their position behind Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee at the start of the proceedings

This is a groundbreaking step that comes on the back of years of grassroots work and organizing to reinstill the values of collective decision-making in panthic circles and coordinating panthic jathay (units) from all around the world to participate. Although this appears to be a relatively minor milestone, the long-term impacts of the exercise carried out in Sri Anandpur Sahib today will reverberate in panthic history for years to come. Particularly given the volatile geopolitical climate of the region right now, and the simmering Sikh conflict with India today, reestablishing credible, legitimate, and effective leadership structures is a crucial prerequisite to advance our panthic agenda today. Rejuvenating the process of gurmatta-based decision-making is a crucial first step towards laying the foundations of a collective leadership structure based at Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib that will be both agile and effective in the looming conflict ahead of us today.

Representatives of many Sikh sampardas, jathay and organizations got together at the Vishav Sikh Ikattarta at Sri Anandpur Sahib answering the call of the Panth Sewak collective as part of an endeavor to revive the Sikh tradition of gurmatta-based decision-making once again.

At the start of the event, a collective ardaas was performed by the Panth Sewaks who called this meeting, and facilitated the proceedings as a collective sakhi (witness) to the decision-making process led by five Singhs. The gathered assembly openly deliberated on the suitability of each individual nominated to participate in the panj and then engaged in an open discussion regarding the issue. The central point of discussion focussed on how to renew the seva sambhal (administration) of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib in order to free it from the whims and control of the Indian state and once again become the central point of collective leadership for the Guru Khalsa Panth throughout the world.

The participating representatives of various organizations, jathebdandiya, and sampardas were invited to present their views to the sangat one-by-one, but only after publicly affirming before Guru Granth-Guru Panth, that they are participating for the collective benefit of the Panth and that they would not allow their personal interests or benefits cloud their judgment or influence their vichaar (suggestions). After hearing from the gathered sangat, the panj singh took some time to reflect on the suggestions in light of Sikh tradition, and ultimately announced the collective decision to the sangat through the gathered sakhi singhs. Rather than trying to launch yet another political organization along modern/colonial lines, or establishing the panj as a bureaucratic council of five individuals, the gurmukhs selected for this seva immediately returned to the sangat as ordinary individuals as soon as the final ardaas was concluded.

The most intriguing thing about this gathering is the way a genuine (and successful) effort was made from the grassroots to meaningfully rejuvenate Sikh traditions of leadership and decision-making. With the participation of a widespread array of panthic jathebandiyan from all around the world–including major jathebandiyan, Sikh institutions, and numerous local jathay–this is one of the most significant Sikh gatherings in years, which inevitably lays the foundations to eventually revive the Sarbat Khalsa in its truest and most meaningful sense.

The following jathay and organizations participated in person while a number of international jathay participated remotely:

Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal
Damdami Taksal Ajnala
Misl Shaheed’aan Harianbela
Panth Sewak Jatha
SGPC Member Bibi Kiranjot Kaur
Rajasthan Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee
Akhand Kirtani Jatha
Nihang Dal Panth Arb’aan Kharb’aan
Sahibzada Ajit Singh Dal Panth Chamkaur Sahib
Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha
Dal Khalsa
Jatha Sirlath Khalsa
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satikar Committee
Satkaar Sabha Haryana
Nirmal Samparda
Guru Ki Mateeli Bagha Purana
Dal Baba Bidhi Chand ji Sursingh
Amrit Sanchaar Jatha Damdami Taksal
Damdami Taksal Jatha Langiana
Loh Langar Kartarpur Sahib
Kaar Seva Khadur Sahib
Kaar Seva Dukhniwaran Sahib
Akal Federation
Sikh Youth of Panjab
Ek Noor Khalsa Fauj
All India Sikh Students Federation
Amrit Sanchar Jatha
Guru Aasra Trust Mohali
Panthic Akali Lehar
Gurmat Vidyala Damdami Taksal Janer
Miri Piri Seva Dal
Misl Shaheed’aan Tarna Dal Kotha Guru
Sikh Jatha Malwa
Panth Sevak Jatha Doaba
Chhauni Shaheed Bhai Maharaj Singh Naurangabadi
Damdami Taksal Jatha Kanakwal
Waris Panjab De
Gosht Sabha Punjabi University Patiala
Sikh Youth Federation Bhindranwala
Gatka Akhara Tibba Sahib Hoshiarpur
Sikh Youth Power of Panjab
Safi, and
Budha Dal Jatha Hoshiarpur
Unionist Sikh Mission
Karseva Huzur Sahib

This Ikattarta was also attended by representatives of Sikh jathay from around the world:

Sikh Federation Germany
Babbar Khalsa Germany
Sikh Council Belgium
Sikh Federation Belgium
World Sikh Parliament (Germany)
Gurdwara Sikh Center Frankfurt (Germany)
Gurdwara Shri Guru Dashmesh Singh Sabha Cologne (Germany)
Gurdwara Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Stuttgart (Germany)
Gurdwara Guru Nanak Mission Neunburg (Germany)
Gurdwara Guru nanak Darbar Munich (Germany)
Gurdwara Singh Sabha Leipzig (Germany)
Gurdwara Singh Sabha Regensburg (Germany)
Sikh Federation America (USA)
Sikh Youth of America (USA)
Gurdwara Sikh Sabha Glen Rock NJ (USA)
Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Culture Society New York (USA)
Philadelphia Sikh Society (USA)
Gurdwara Sahib Fremont (USA)
Free Akal Takht Movement
Sikh Research Institute
Sikh Federation UK
Sikh Sangat of Victoria (Australia)
Sidney Sikh Sangat (Australia)
Sikh Sevak Jatha Perth (Australia)
Paris Sikh Sangat (France)
Sikh Education Council UK
Panch Pardhani UK
National Sikh Youth Federation (UK)
Adelaide Sikh Sangat (Australia)
Windsor Sikh Panthic Jatha (Canada)
Brisbane Sikh Sangat
Babbar Khalsa France
World Sikh Parliament (France)

At the end of the gathering, this hukamnama (command) was recited from Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee:


—Beginning of official text of the adopted gurmatta—


Today, on 14 Haarh, 555 Nanakshahi, representatives of karjsheel (active) Sikh jathay (units), institutions, sampardas, and jathebandiyan (organizations) convened at the Vishav Sikh Ikattarta (World Sikh Gathering) held at Sri Anandpur Sahib and adopted a collective decision through the process and institution of gurmatta. After deliberating on the suggestions and perspectives of the participants, a gurmatta was adopted that the Khalsa Panth rejects the current administration of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib as it has has failed to ensure the participation of the collective Khalsa Panth and has been unable to maintain the supreme, sovereign authority of the Takhat Sahib. The seva sambhal (governance/administration) of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib is currently administered by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee which directly and indirectly subordinates Sri Akaal Takht Sahib to a duniyavai takhat (worldly power ie. the Indian state). As a result, the supreme, sovereign authority of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib has been undermined and it is unable to function as the central institution of the Khalsa Panth. In light of these conditions, the current management is rejected and a nishkam (selfless) and sovereign Jatha must be constituted to ensure the alternative seva sambhal of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib in accordance with the institution and principles of gurmatta-based decision-making.

These qualities are the prerequisites for individuals to participate in the Akali jatha that may serve in the seva sambhal of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib:

1. They should be satisfied with a meal from Guru ka langar and a siropa from the sangat .
2. They should lead a pure life (i.e. they should be strict in upholding their rehat (discipline/regimen).
3. They should be naam bani de abhiyaasi (experienced practitioners of naam and gurbani).
4. They should be fearless and bear no hatred towards anyone.
5. They should actively contribute in panthic activities like seva (service), sangram (battle/struggle) and parchar (explaining the tenets of Sikhi) without seeking limelight or expecting any reward.
6. They should be well acquainted with gurmat and Sikh history.
7. They should be completely detached and relinquish any claims to wealth, land or other material possessions.
8. They should be free from any familial or professional duties or responsibilities.
9. They should not have any intention or desire to occupy a seat of authority in any worldly organization or political system.
10. They should not be a member of any gurdwara management committee which operates according to Western principles and processes.
11. They should be free from any and all responsibilities towards any particular samparda, jathebandi, or other institution.
12. They should be knowledgeable in the realm of politics and political strategy.
13. They should not serve or be subservient to any worldly authority or other organization.
14. The personal and sangati (collective) rehat (discipline/lifestyle) of the jatha responsible for the seva sambhal of the Takhat Sahib should be along the lines of the authentic Panth Akali Chalda Vaheer Jatha.

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