THE DATE FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF AKAL TAKHT
Dr Kirpal Singh
Akal Takht is one of the most important institutions of the Sikhs. It was due to its signficant functioning that the Sikhs become victorious in their struggle against the Mughals and Afgans. The Gurmatta system adopted at Akal Takhat during 18th century enabledthe Sikhs to unite themselves in those critical days of religious persecution. It is unfortunate that there has been a lot of confusion about the date of its construction. The purpose of this paper is to examine the various dates and come to some rational conclusion.
In Gurbilas Patshahi Chhevin it. has been recorded that:
hwV pµc pµcmI jwl sRI gurU sRI gur audm kIn mhwnw
gurdws buFy ko ly inij swiQ q^q ArµB kr dInw
The line preceding this as follows:
hwV ipRQm eyks iQq mwhI [
hirgoibµd gur pwg bµDwhI [
After the martyrdom of Guru Arjan, Guru Hargobind underwent turban ceremony and after that he laid the foundation of Akal Takht in June 1606 C. E. He only allowed Baba Buddha and Bhai Gurdas to construct the Takhat. It got completed in the same month. Evidently, the year is 1606 A.D. in which Guru Arjun was martyred.1
According to Twarikh Guru Khalsa, Giani Gian Singh, Guru Hargobind constructed Akal Takht in 1666 BK vix 1609 CE 2
Bhai Santokh Singh in Gur Partap Suraj Granth does not mention the specific date but follows the same order of events which had been in Gurbilas Padshahi Chhevin. For details see Ansu 41, 42 Ras 4. He agrees with Gurbilas Patshahi Chhevin, viz, Akal Takht was constructed 1606 CE in June after the turban ceremony.
Madanjit Kaur in her book Golden Temple : Past and Present (1983) records that Akal Takht was constructed in 1606 CE.
Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Vol 1, Punjabi University records that Akal Takht was built on Har Vadi 5, 1663 viz June 15, 1606.4
The modern writers like Teja Singh, Ganda Singh and Fauja Singh explicitly state that it was built in 1609.
It is very interesting to not that none of the above noted writers are giving any rationale for adopting a particular date. The Bhatt Vahis or Gurparnalis do not even mention Akal Takht, though they give a number of other dates relating to the Gurus. The purpose of this paper is to find the correct date of construction of Akal Takht.
The martyrdom of Guru Arjun, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs is a landmark and turning point in the history of the Sikhs. Emperor Jehangir wrote in his Tuzk “In Govindwal which is on the river Beas there was a Hindu named Arjun, in the garments of sainthood and sanctity, somuch so that he had capputed many of the simple hearted Hindus, and even ignorant and foolish followers of Islam, by his way and manners , and they have loudly sounded the drum of his holiness. They called him Guru, and from all sides stupid people crowded to worship him and had complete faith in him. For three-four generations, they kept this shop warm. Many a time it occurred to me to put a stop to this vain affair or to bring him into the assembly of people of Islam”. It is evident that Emperor Jehangir wanted an excuse to put an end to the life of the Guru. The excuse was provided by Khusro’s rebellion and he ordered:
“I ordered them to produce him and hand over horses, dwelling places and children to Murtaza Khan and having confiscated his property and commanded that he should be put to death with torture”.
The Emperor’s order was acted upon partially. The Guru was martyred but his son, Guru Hargobind could not be arrested:
Not that Farid Bokhari entitled Murtaza Khan did not want to arrest the Guru. He would have done his best to punish the Guru as he was a staunch followers of Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi who wrote him the following letter regarding the martyrdom of Guru Arjun.
“The execution of the accursed Kafir of Goindwal at this time is a very good achievement indeed, and has become cause of defeat of the hateful Hindus. With whatever intention they are killed and whatever objective they are destroyed, it is a meritorious act of Muslims. Before this Kafir was killed I had a dream that emperor of the day had destroyed the crown of the head of the shirks or infidelity. It is true that this infidel was chief of infidels and leader of Kafirs. The object of levying jaziya on them is to humiliate and insult the Kafir. Jehad against them and hostility towards them are necessities of Muhammadan faith”.6
According to Mathiral Umra Farid Bokhari has referred in his book Zakhira-ul-Khwanian to killing of thousands of infidels.7 It is certain that Farid Bokhari would not spare the child Guru.Hargobind, and would have arrested him as per orders of his Master. But it did not happen, as the Guru on the advice of elderly Sikhs, had left Chak Guru or Amritsar and had gone to Daroli (Modern Distt. Moga) as recorded by Guru Kian Sakhian by Sarup Singh based on Bhatt Vahis.
“Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru, son of Guru Arjun, resident of Guru Chak Sambat 1663 Jeth Shudi Ashtmi left Goindwal for village Daroli in the vicinity of forest in the house of his brother-in-law (saandoo) Sain Dass. Mata Ganga Ji and his wife Damodary, both accompanied him there. The Guru and his family stayed there for more then a year and half. Guru’s eldest son Baba Gurditta was born there in 1608 AD (viz.1663 B.K) as has been recorded in Bhatt Vahi Talunda:
bDwvI lI gurid`qw kI, bytw gurU hirgoivµd jI mhl Cty kI, poqw gurU Arjn jI kw [[[ sµbq solW sYˆ pYˆsT A`sU kI pUrnmw dy idhuµ mwqw dmodrI ky audr QI [ SuB GVI jnm hoAw gwm frolI ky mlHwn jµgl dys my [ B`t ibhwrI ko mwnw gurU kI kVweI kI [
It is important to note that Daroli was far safer place for Guru Hargobind on account of the following reasons:
1. Daroli was out of Jurisdiction of Lahore Governor, as according to Ain-e-Akbari, Suba Lahore consisted of Trans-Sutlej and the Cis-Sutlaj area, and was under administration of Sirhind.9
2. It was difficult to approach Daroli from Lahore because of forests surrounding Daroli.10
According to Bhai Kahn Singh, Mata Damodari died after giving birth to Baba Gurditta. There is memorial Gurdwara at the birth place of Baba Gurditta known as Damdama Sahib and Samadh of Mata Damodari. Some writers are of the view that Baba Gurditta was born in 1613 AD. But the year of birth of the Baba which is more acceptable is 1608 AD which also appears to be correct as per detailed account given in Bhatt Vahi Taluda quoted in Guru Kian Sakhian.11
It is certain that Guru Hargobind stayed at Daroli for one and a half year and then he returned to Goindwal, when the political atmosphere in Punjab had changed. Murtaza Khan, was appointed Governor of Gujarat and Qutlij Khan was made the Governor of Punjab in 1016 Hijri viz 1607-8 AD. Under these changed circumstances Guru Hargobind came to Amritsar and decided to build the Akal Takht. Still he was very cautions to avoid the interference of government. He entrusted this task to his most confidants persons, viz, Baba Budha and Bhai Gurdas.
It may be noted that Murtaza Khan was appointed Governor of Punjab in 1611 AD. During his governorship Guru Hargobind was arrested due to his hostile attitude and adverse reporting to Jehangir.
Thus, the correct year of construction of Akal Takht is 1609 AD.
1. Gurbilas Padshahi Chhevin, Ed. Giani Joginder Singh, SGPC, Amritsar, 1998, p. 210.
2. Twarikh Guru Khalsa, Giani Gian Singh, Pt I, Patiala 1999, p 440.
3. Golden Temple, Past and Present, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar 2002, p. 21
4. Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Harbans Singh, Vol. 1, Patiala, 2002, p. 57
5. Tuzik-I-Jahangir, Trans Alexander Rogers and Harry Beveridge, Vol I, p. 69
6. Perspectives on Sikh Gurus, Kirpal Singh, Delhi, 2000, p 33-34.
7. Maathirol Umra, Trans H Beneridge, Vol I, Kolkatta, 1952, p 105
8. Guru Kian Sakhian, Sarup Singh Kaushal, ed. Piara Singh Padam, Amritsar, 2003, p. 29-30.
10. Guru Kian Sakhian, p 29-30
11. Ibid, p 30
12. Perspective on Sikh Gurus, p 203