A Brief History
Contents 1 A Brief History
2 Mahants Resistance and Deaths
3 Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925
4 Expanded Mission of the Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee
1. It originated with the Gurdwara Reform or Akali movement of the early 1920’s, which lasted until the 1925 when the Gurdwara bill was placed on the statute book.
2. The administration of Darbar Sahib (the Golden Temple) complex had been, since the annexation of the Punjab to the British territory in 1849, controlled by the British government through a committee of Sikh aristocrats and a manager (sarbarah) appointed by the British deputy commissioner of Amritsar district. The committee and the sarbarah, a retired risaldar (cavalry) major and honorary captain of the Indian army, Arur Singh, were anathematized among Sikhs for their association with the Jallianvala Bagh tragedy.
3. On 12 October 1920, the Khalsa Baradari, an organization of Sikhs from backward classes, held a divan (religious assembly) in Jallianvala Bagh at which some teachers and students of the Khalsa College were also present. A large number of new entrants were initiated into the Khalsa Brotherhood by administering to them the rites of the Khalsa.
4. As the ceremony concluded, the entire sangat went to the Golden Temple to offer karah prasad and ardas. The clergy at first refused to accept the offerings from the so called untouchables/but later agreed when on a reference being made to the holy book, a Hymn which was read out instantaneously favoured the reformists’ views.
5. The sangat then went to the Akal Takhat, honoured as the highest seat of religious authority for the Sikhs, to pay their homage. The priests on seeing the sangat coming fled leaving the holy Takht Sahib unatended. The reformers occupied the Akal Bunga and appointed Teja Singh Bhuchchar as Jathedar of the Akal Takhat, with 25 volunteers to guard and serve it.
6. The deputy commissioner, on 13 October 1920, summoned the priests, the sarbarah, and some notable citizens for consultation. The priests did not appear at the meeting, and the deputy commissioner appointed a fresh committee under the chairmanship of the sarbarah. The reformers on the other hand summoned, under the authority of the Akal Takhat, a general assembly of the Sikhs to meet in front of the Akal Takht on 15 November 1920 to deliberate the question.
7. The government held hasty consultations with the Maharaja of Patiala and, on 13 November, nominated a committee of 36 Sikh notables for the management of the Golden Temple and other gurdwaras including the Darbar Sahib at Tarn Taran.
8. The Sikh assembly, held on 15 and 16 November, elected a committee of 175 members representing all the districts, Sikh states of the Punjab, other Indian provinces, and Sikh organizations in Burma, Malaya, China and North America. It also included the 36 government nominees in the committee which it named the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, SGPC for short.
9. The inaugural meeting of the SGPC was held at the Akal Takht on 12 December 1920. It appointed a subcommittee to draft the Committee’s constitution. It elected Sardar Sundar Singh Majithia as president, Harbans Singh, of Atari, as vicepresident and Sundar Singh Ramgarhia as secretary.
10. The Majithia Sardar resigned early in 1921 to join the ministry set up under the Government of India Act, 1919, and Baba Kharak Singh was elected in his place president of the SGPC. The Committee was registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, on 30 April 1921.
11. Under its constitution, 80 per cent of the 175 member Committee were to be elected from different constituencies in the Punjab and outside including the princely states and the remaining seats were to be nominated by the elected members. There were to be a president, a vicepresident, a secretary, an executive committee of 35 members of whom 19 could form a quorum and a 7 member working committee.
12. In addition, local committees with paid secretaries were to be formed for the management of important shrines or groups of shrines. Conditions of membership of the SGPC included conformity to the teachings of the Gurus, adherence to the injunction regarding five K’s, and a subscription of Re. 1.25 per month.
13. The prime functions of the Committee were to manage all gurdwaras under its control, cleanse them of un Sikh and undesirable practices, to regularize expenditure and to utilize all income appropriately for purposes such as propagation of religion and education, upkeep and improvement of buildings and the running of Guru ka Langar (free community kitchens).
New elections under the constitution were held in July 1921. Baba Kharak Singh was elected president. Captain Ram Singh vice-president and Sardar Bahadur Mehtab Singh secretary. Meanwhile, more gurdwaras were brought under the Committee’s control, usually through negotiation and persuasion but also sometimes by coercion or use offeree. The mahants often resisted strongly with resort, at times, to violence. The first such incident took place at Tarn Taran where a group of Akali negotiators was attacked by the priests with lethal weapons causing the death of two Akalis and injuries to many others. A far more serious tragedy took place on 20 February 1921 at Nankana Sahib where about 200 Sikh volunteers were killed by hired assassins of Mahant Narain Das, the custodian of Gurdwara Janam Asthan.
SGPC the abbrevation for the SHIROMANI GURDWARA PARBANDHAK COMMITTEE. It is directly elected by an electorate of the Sikh Nation