The Damdami Taksal (Punjabi: ਦਮਦਮੀ ਟਕਸਾਲ) is a Sikh educational organization in India. Its headquarters are located in the town of Chowk Mehta, approximately 25 miles north of the city of Amritsar.
In 1706, after the Battle of Muktsar, Guru Gobind Singh camped at Sabo Ki Talwandi. The place became known as Damdama i.e. a halting place (or breathing place), this place is now referred to as Damdama Sahib (In 1737, Damdama Sahib was considered to be the highest seat of learning for the Sikhs). Damdami Taksal claims to be over 300 years old and names Guru Gobind Singh as its founder. However, some scholars, such as Harjot Oberoi, assert that there is no firm evidence to support this claim.
The word taksal (literally 'mint') refers to an education institute or community of students who associate themselves to a particular sant or prominent spiritual leader. "In 1706..... Gobind Singh...... is said to have founded a distinguished school of exegesis". It was later headed up by Baba Deep Singh According to the Damdami Taksal, it was entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the reading (santhyia), analysis (vichar) and recitation of the Sikh scriptures by Guru Gobind Singh.
Damdami Taksal's or Jatha Bhindran Mehta has its main center located at Gurdarshan Parkash gurdwara at Mehta near Moga, Punjab in Amritsar. Damdami Taksal is a branch of bhindran Taksal, a major religious school of traditional Sikh learning. The name Bhindran Taksal was made after the village of Bhindran Kalan where its head Gurbachan Singh Bhindranwale lived. Jatha Bhindran Mehta or Bhindran Taksal is considered the current Damdami Taksal.
In 1975, a large event to commemorate the 300th anniversary martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur was attended by Indira Gandhi and the leader of the Damdami Taksal (Kartar Singh Bhindranwale). This was the starting point of tensions between Damdami Taksal and the Indian Congress Government. The dispute[note 1] was about who was the leader and who had the greater authority over the Sikh people, the Guru Granth Sahib or Indira Gandhi.
The Damdami Taksal was brought to wider attention by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and the 1978 massacre, the Anandpur Resolution with the Dharm Yudh Morcha of 1982, and later the Khalistan movement.
During British Colonial rule, Sunder Singh Bhindranwale[note 2] set about purging diversity in Sikh doctrine, ritual and practice, hoping to have a uniform Sikh community. Part of this strategy was to have a standardized code of conduct (Rehat Maryada). Sunder Singh established Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash at Mehta, Amritsar district, which now is the headquarters of today's Damdami Taksal.
Sunder Singh was succeeded by Gurbachan Singh Bhindranwale in 1930, after whom Kartar Singh Bhindranwale continued his work in 1961. In 1977, after the death of Kartar Singh, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale became the head of Damdami Taksal. Baba Thakur Singh Bhinderwale took over his Taksal when Sant Jarnail Singh was killed in 1984 by the military assault on Harmander Sahib, referred to as Operation Bluestar. Baba Takhur Singh died in 2004. Current leader of Damdami Taksal is Harnam Singh Dhuma.
The Damdami Taksal have their own Sikh Code of Conduct, the Gurmat Rehat Maryada, which differs from the Rehat Maryada published by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. Some differences include the reading of Ragmala after Akhand Path and not eating meat, fish, and eggs. Damdami Taksal is somewhat influenced by the Nirmale school of thought as the eleventh leader of Damdami Taksal, Sant Baba Bishan Singh Muralewale, studied under Nirmale Sants such as Pundit Tara Singh and Pundit Sadhu Singh during the late 19th century.
- When Indira Gandhi came onto the stage in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, while all those on the stage arose to welcome and respect her, but it was only Kartar Singh Bhindranwale remained seated. On the stage Kartar Singh spoke saying no one is more powerful than our Guru and we are not required to get up and pay respect to her, he was applauded by the people.
- Sunder Singh was from the Bhindran village and thus was referred to as Bhindranwale, "the one from Bhindran"
- Baba Thakur Singh of Damdami Taksal dead
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