In Sikhism, as in other faiths, sacred and secular are closely related to each other. The sacred aspect defines and determines the everyday, mundane life as well. The Akal-Purakh (Timeless Almighty) is regarded as the “sachcha patshah” (True King), occupying the true throne (sachcha takht) and dispensing sachcha niaon (true justice). He is the only Creator and creation as well. Guru Nanak in “Var Malar Ki” says, “His is the sachcha or everlasting takht while all else comes and goes.”
Takht means a throne or royal seat and it symbolises authority, sacred and secular. There are five takhts in Sikhism which have great significance for the Sikhs. The first and the most important one is “Akal Takht”, situated near the Harimandar Sahib, Amritsar. The “Darbar Sahib” represents spiritual power and “Akal Takht” is a centre for worldly affairs.
The Guru, bards, warriors, saints, preachers and sangat would assemble at the Akal Takht to discuss, share and decide various issues. The presence of the Guru and disciples, spiritual (Harimandar Sahib) and temporal (Akal Takht) is a hallmark of the Sikh faith. Hukamnanas or edits on behalf of the Panth are issued by the Akal Takht. Bhai Gurdas rightly describes the sadh sangat (holy congregation) as God’s Takht.
In addition to the “Akal Takht”, there are four other sacred places as takhts. These four holy takhts are associated with Guru Gobind Singh. Takht Harimandar Sahib (Patna Sahib), where Guru Gobind Singh was born; Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib (Anandpur Sahib), where the Khalsa was formed; Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib (Nanded in Maharashtra) where Guru Gobind Singh breathed his last; and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib (Talwandi Sabo), where he stayed and rested in 1706.
Damdama means a mound or a monument built in commemoration of the Sikh Gurus. It also refers to a breathing or a halfway place where the Sikh Gurus rested for a while. Takht Damdama Sahib, also known as Talwandi Sabo, is in Bathinda and marks the site where Guru Gobind Singh had arrived and stayed for nine months. He had devoted this time to literary activities and also had Bhai Mani Singh prepare a full version of the Adi Granth.
Takht Damdama Sahib, within a short duration of time, became a centre of great learning. It is believed that the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, had called Talvandi Sabo “Guru ki Kashi”, predicting that “many scholars, philosophers, theologians, copyists with elegant hands, students and devotees will adorn the place”. A number of scholars joined Guru Gobind Singh and one day, he declared, “Here we will create a pool of literature. Not one of my Sikhs should remain illiterate.”
Bhai Deep Singh was installed as the first Jathedar of Gurdwara Damdama Sahib, and he also helped in preparing copies of the sacred Granth. This version of the Granth is also known as the Damdama Wali Bir and it was during this time when the bani (hymns) of Guru Tegh Bahadur was added to the sacred Granth.
During his stay at Talwandi Sabo, Guru Gobind Singh had baptised lakhs of followers on the occasion of Baisakhi and till now, the same practice has been followed when a large number of devotees arrive at Damdama Sahib to partake amrit.
Some of the sacred articles of Guru Gobind Singh like the Sri Sahib (sword), a mirror, a matchlock, a portrait of the ten Gurus, a pothi (book) transcribed by Baba Deep Singh and a Persian sword are displayed in the gurdwara. A seal used by Guru Gobind Singh for his edicts is also preserved at Damdama Sahib.
Damdama Sahib, Guru ki Kashi, has emerged as a major centre of Sikh learning and is also known as the Damdami school of learning.
Kulbir Kaur teaches sociology at Shyama Prasad Mukherji College, Delhi University...