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The Akhand Kirtani Jatha (or AKJ) is a sect or jatha (collective group) of Sikhism dedicated to the Sikh lifestyle.

The AKJ has been called a purist or fundamentalist group within Sikhism,[1] because it believes that the words of the Guru Granth are literally the words of the Guru, asserting that no interpretation of scriptural passages by others is necessary, whose meaning is clear and self-evident.[1] The sect extends the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct) of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, and includes its own code called the Rahit-bibek.[1] The group, for example, extends the uncut hair (kesh) requirement for men, with a small turban (keshki) to be worn by both women and men.[1][2]

Contents

HistoryEdit

The roots of this sect are in the movement initiated by Randhir Singh (d. 1961) during the Indian independence movement in the first half of the 20th century.[1][2] It emerged in ca. 1980.[clarification needed]

Randhir SinghEdit

 
Randhir Singh

Randhir Singh (1878–1961) from Ludhiana who opposed the British rule and was imprisoned by the British authorities in 1914 till 1931. His followers were known as the Bhai Randhir Singh da Jatha.

AKJEdit

The Akhand Kirtani Jatha was a group that grew in the later half of twentieth century. Since the 1978, it was headed by Amarjit Kaur, whose husband was killed in the 1978 Sikh–Nirankari clashes in Amritsar in 1978.[3][4] After the death of her husband she directed the organisation to focus on isolating and even killing the Nirankaris.[5] An extremist offshoot of the AKJ, known as the Babbar Khalsa, was active in assassinations and religious violence against the Nirankari Sikhs during the 1980s.[1]

The AKJ appears as a group of the Sikh diaspora involved in the Khalistan movement in the 1980s. The AKJ participated in a convention in Slough, Berkshire in 1987.[6]

No estimates on the number of adherents is known. Outside of Amritsar and Ludhiana Panjab, the AKJ appear to have a United Kingdom chapters in Coventry,[1] Birmingham and Derby UK.[citation needed]

BeliefsEdit

Akhand Kirtani Jatha believe that "'all praise must be to the Guru Granth Sahib and God and there is absolutely no need for any respect for a living sant' [7][not in citation given]

AKJ differs in many parts from mainstream Sikhism in their interpretation of one of The Five Ks of Sikhism: instead of accepting the kes or "uncut hair", they interpret the command as referring to keski, a small turban, which they maintain must be worn by Sikhs of either sex.

In Bhogal's[8] description of beliefs and practices of the AKJ, he noted some of the group's beliefs and said "In such beliefs the group reject the general code of conduct known as the Sikh Rahit Marayada of the S.G.P.C. [...], and produced their own called rahit-bibek (bibek means discrimination, discernment, insight)."[1][9]

LiturgyEdit

Bhogal also noted that "They also believe in a "different Khalsa initiation ceremony" (as of the original which was set up in 1699 by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh himself), wherein the five beloved ones, or five Gursikhs place their right hand on the neophyte's head and meditatively repeat the mantra 'Vahiguru', revolving around the innitiate for five or so minutes."[1]

The Jatha's devotional singing programmes include all-night Rain sabai and Kirtan Darbars which usually last around 11 hours. The kirtan is usually sung with basic musical tunes as the main emphasis of the kirtans is on the Guru's Word and repeating the Gurmantar (Guru's Mantra) of vaheguru with great fervour when prompted to repeat the Lord's Name in the sacred hymns being sung. Jatha members never eat meat, fish or eggs, and the AKJ argues strongly that eating any form of flesh is forbidden in the AKJ rahit-bibek.[1][10][11]

Raagmala is a composition appended to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, appearing after the "Mundaavni" (epilogue or "closing seal"). The Jatha do not accept the Raagmala and do not read it when concluding a scripture-reading - the vast majority of baptized Sikhs read since 1604 the Raagmala.[1]

Bhogal noted that this is one of the areas in which the AKJ rejects the "Sikh Rehat Maryada of the SGPC"[1][9][12][13] interpretation.[1]

VegetarianismEdit

The AKJ have their own interpretation of the Sikh prohibition against "Kutha meat". They hold that this term means "slaughtered animal" or "killed animal", and thus that eating any meat whatsoever is a transgression.[10][11]

The Sikh Rehat Maryada[14][15] and some[16] Sikh scholars define Kutthaa as meat "slaughtered in the Muslim way" (Halaal meat).[17][18][19]

OrganisationEdit

The current official AKJ leadership details are:

Five Members CommitteeEdit

  1. Harbhajan Singh (Anandpur Saaheb)
  2. Sahib Singh (Ludhiana)
  3. Karam Singh (Tanda)
  4. Hardial Singh (Gurdaspur)
  5. Avtar Singh (Mallian)

JathedaarEdit

Bakhsheesh Singh (Phagwara)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Balbinder Bhogal Akhand Kirtani Jatha Archived 6 September 2005 at the Wayback Machine in: E. Shaw (ed.), Overview Of World Religions, Division of Religion and Philosophy University of Cumbria http://www.philtar.ac.uk/
  2. ^ a b "Akhand Kirtani Jatha (Sikh religious group) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  3. ^ J. S. Grewal (8 October 1998). The Sikhs of the Punjab. Cambridge University Press. pp. 216–. ISBN 978-0-521-63764-0.
  4. ^ Satyapal Dang (1 January 2000). Terrorism in Punjab. Gyan Publishing House. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-81-212-0659-4.
  5. ^ Fair, C. Christine; Ganguly, Šumit (September 2008). Treading on hallowed ground: counterinsurgency operations in sacred spaces. Oxford University Press US. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-19-534204-8. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  6. ^ Harry Goulbourne (1991). Ethnicity and Nationalism in Post-imperial Britain. Cambridge University Press. pp. 160–. ISBN 978-0-521-40084-8.
  7. ^ Nesbitt, Eleanor (25 July 2005). "Ten - Young British Sikhs and Religious Devotion". In Anna King; John Brockington (eds.). The Intimate Other: Love Divine in Indic Religious (Hardcover). Orient Longman. p. 328. ISBN 978-81-250-2801-7.
  8. ^ "Contributors to the Overview of World Religions". Philtar.ucsm.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 28 December 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  9. ^ a b Haynes, Jeffrey (30 June 2008). "19". Routledge handbook of religion and politics (1 ed.). Routledge;. p. 316. ISBN 0-415-41455-5. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Tapoban.org". Tapoban.org. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
  11. ^ a b "Kuthha and Sikhism". Fort:Panth Khalsa. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  12. ^ Singh, Nirmal (2008). "10". Searches In Sikhism: thought, understanding, observance. New Dehli: Hemkunt Publishers. pp. 184 onwards. ISBN 978-81-7010-367-7. OCLC 320246878. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  13. ^ Kapoor, Sukhbir Singh; Mohinder Kaur Kapoor (2008). "Introduction". The Making of the Sikh Rehatnamas. New Delhi, India: Hemkunt Publishers. p. 9. ISBN 978-81-7010-370-7. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  14. ^ "Sikh Reht Maryada, The Definition of Sikh, Sikh Conduct & Conventions, Sikh Religion Living, India". www.sgpc.net. Archived from the original on 20 August 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
  15. ^ Singh, Randip; Aman Singh; Narayanjot Kaur (24 May 2006). "Fools Who Wrangle Over Flesh". India: www.sikhphilosophy.net. p. 1. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  16. ^ Dr. S.S. Kapoor; Mohinder Kaur Kapoor (2008). "4". The Making of the Sikh Rehatnamas. Hemkunt Publishers. p. 43. ISBN 978-81-7010-370-7. Retrieved 16 June 2010.
  17. ^ Punjabi-English Dictionary, Punjabi University, Dept. of Punjabi Lexicography, Published Dec. 1994. Kuttha: meat of animal or fowl slaughtered slowly as prescribed by Islamic law.
  18. ^ Sikhism, A Complete Introduction, Dr. H.S.Singha & Satwant Kaur, Hemkunt Press - We must give the rationale behind prescribing jhatka meat as the approved food for the Sikhs. According to the ancient Aryan Hindu tradition, only such meat as is obtained from an animal which is killed with one stroke of the weapon causing instantaneous death is fit for human consumption. However, with the coming of Islam into India and the Muslim political hegemony, it became a state policy not to permit slaughter of animals for food, in any other manner, except as laid down in the Quran - the kosher meat prepared by slowly severing the main blood artery of the throat of the animal while reciting verses from the Quran. It is done to make slaughter a sacrifice to God and to expiate the sins of the slaughter. Guru Gobind Singh took a rather serious view of this aspect of the whole matter. He, therefore, while permitting flesh to be taken as food repudiated the whole theory of this expiatory sacrifice and the right of ruling Muslims to impose it on the non-Muslims. Accordingly, he made jhatka meat obligatory for those Sikhs who may be interested in taking meat as a part of their food.
  19. ^ Sikhs and Sikhism, Dr. I.J.Singh, Manohar Publishers. - And one semitic practice clearly rejected in the Sikh code of conduct is eating flesh of an animal cooked in ritualistic manner; this would mean kosher and halal meat. The reason again does not lie in religious tenet but in the view that killing an animal with a prayer is not going to enoble the flesh. No ritual, whoever conducts it, is going to do any good either to the animal or to the diner. Let man do what he must to assuage his hunger. If what he gets, he puts to good use and shares with the needy, then it is well used and well spent, otherwise not.

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