Shri Akal Takhat Sahib
It is the most supreme of all the Takhats. The Sri Akal Takhat is an impressive building that sits directly in front of the causeway leading to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India. The Sri Akal Takhat was founded by Sri Guru Hargobind Ji on June 15, 1606 (now celebrated on 2 July) and was established as the place from which the spiritual and temporal concerns of the Sikh community could be acted upon.
It stood as a symbol of political bulwark against the Mughal Emperors in the 17th and 18th century. Various attacks on the Sri Akal Takhat and Sri Harimandir Sahib have been led in past by Ahmed Shah Abdali and Massa Rangar in the 18 century. On June 4, 1984, the Indian Army did more than just damage to the outer facade of the Sri Akal Takhat. They destroyed the sancitity of the Sri Akal Takht with tanks and reduced it to rubble, while attempting to take out Baba Jarnail Singh Bindrenwala & men in a controversial military operation known as Operation Bluestar.
The Role of Akal Takhat:
The original structure of Akal Takht was built by Guru Hargobind ji, Bhai Gurdas ji and Baba Buddha ji, with their own hands. No other person or artist was employed to build the platform. Guru ji remarked that the seat of guru would serve the panth for eternity. Guru ji raised the height of the platform to twelve feet, defying the royal edict of Jehangir that no other person except the Emperor himself can sit on a raised platform of more than three feet. Guru Hargobind would regularly sit on the raised platform, Takht, with all marks of royalty and dispence justice for all disputes of Sikhs.
The Akal Takhat was built a fraction lower than the Harimandir Sahib, implying the order of importance, that the search for spiritual grace was always to lead. A similar balancing of assertion and submission was built into Guru Hargobind’s daily routine, which alternatively highlighted the shrine, with its spiritual function and self-effacing architectural symbolism, and the throne platform, with its assertion of sovereignty and temporal authority. The Guru started the day with worship in the Harimandir; he would then go on a hunt in the late morning and grant audience from the Akal Takhat in the afternoon; in the evening he would return to the shrine for prayers and hymns, and at night he and his followers would return to the Akal Takht to listen to martial songs of heroic deeds.
It is from the Akal Takhat that Hukamnamas (edics or writs) are announced to provide guidance or clarification on any point of Sikhdoctrine or practice. It may lay under penance persons charged with violation of religious discipline or with activity prejudicial to Sikh interests or solidarity. It may place on record its appreciation of outstanding services rendered or sacrifices made by individuals espousing the cause of Sikhism or of the Sikhs. Importantly, no individual is above the Akal Takhat.
On one occasion the Sarbat Khalsa met at the Akal Takhat and decided to penalize Maharaja Ranjit singh for his misdemeanours with a certain number of lashes on his back. The Gursikh in Ranjit Singh surrendered to the discipline and presented himself at the Akal Takhat to receive chastisement. However, corporal punishment to the sovereign was converted into a heavy fine.