Akhand Kirtani Jatha
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, 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. 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. 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.
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. It emerged in ca. 1980.[clarification needed]
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.
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. After the death of her husband she directed the organisation to focus on isolating and even killing the Nirankaris. 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.
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 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)."
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."
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.
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.
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.
The current official AKJ leadership details are:
Five Members CommitteeEdit
- Harbhajan Singh (Anandpur Saaheb)
- Sahib Singh (Ludhiana)
- Karam Singh (Tanda)
- Hardial Singh (Gurdaspur)
- Avtar Singh (Mallian)
Bakhsheesh Singh (Phagwara)
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.