Gurmat Rehat Maryada

The Points of Contention
Bhai Manmohan Singh Jee

Akhand Kirtani Jatha

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As already indicated in the preceding pages, the God-intoxicated personality of Bhai Randhir Singh attracted a large number of ardent seekers of the true Gursikh way of life and spiritual enlightenment. He was thus instrumental in initiating a movement of spiritual enlightenment among the Sikh's through Akhand Paaths, Akhand Kirtans, and Amrit Sanchaars. These programs were performed by his companions in a selfless and devoted way and without any renumeration This resulted in igniting a glow of love for the true Sikh way of life in rural as well as urban areas, amongst the educated as well as the so-called unlettered. Bhai Sahib's life and writings created a great impact on the religious as well as temporal life of those who had the benefit of personal contact with him or read his works. Under the influence of Akhand Kirtan Samagams started by him, many atheists among the Sikhs became staunch and faithful believers by partaking the holy Amrit (Khande-ki-pahul).

Although Kirtan (singing) of Gurbani has always been an integral part of the programs in the Gurdwaras in general, the Akhand Kirtan Programs of this group of Gursikh devotees remain unique even today. In the programs organized by the Jatha, no professional Ragi is invited or engaged. Only voluntary and honorary Kirtani Jathas of Amritdhari Gursikhs (both male and female) from different places get together and do the Kirtan. In these programs, only Gurbani is sung; without any lectures or expositions. These Kirtan programs continue uninterrupted for hours at a stretch! Such congregations in the lifetime of Bhai Randhir Singh himself were known to have extended up to 48 hours at a stretch. Whole night Kirtan programs are a common feature even now. That is how these ardent seekers of spiritual solace through Akhand (uninterrupted) Kirtan of Gurbani got the name of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha.

This Jatha is no organization or Sampardaya in the traditionally understood sense of the term. Bhai Sahib never created a system of succession nor established a Dera or Ashram. Even he himself never acted as a sole leader or head of the Jatha nor issued any unilateral injunction on any of the members. All important problems that occasionally arose were always put before the selected Five Beloved Ones (Panj Pyaras) in the holy presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Accordingly, Bhai Sahib Babu Mal Singh, who was second to Bhal Sahib in the Jatha, unequivocally declared alter the cremation of Bhai Sahib's mortal remains at Narangwal, that according to the wishes of Bhai Sahib, there would be no Sampardaya or any other system of succession in the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. All work would be done under the guidance of the Panj Pyaras who would be selected from time to time for specific occasions.

There is no regular membership and no written or unwritten by-laws or constitution. The only "Constitution" followed by all members, as well as by Bhai Sahib himself, was and is, the Sikh Code of Conduct as originally enunciated by the Satguru and which is told to the recipients of the Holy Amrit at the time of their baptism, and the teachings contained in the Gurbani, and the works of well-known Sikh Savants: Bhai Sahib Bhai Gurdas Ji and Bhai Sahib Bhai Nandlal Ji, including, of course, the well-established and approved Sikh traditions. All those who attend the Akhand Kirtan Smagams and get baptized at the Amrit Sanchaar functions arranged by this Jatha consider themselves automatically as members.

The main objective of the members of this Jatha is to uplift their souls by tuning it to the Divine Will through the practice of the Holy Naam and the recitation or singing of Gurbani. With this end in view, the Akhand Kirtan, Akhand Path and Amrit Sanchaar functions are frequently arranged. All members consider themselves as Bhais or Brothers. There is no craving or tussle for leadership - in fact, it is generally shunned as an obstacle in the way of spiritual pursuit. Whenever a genuine need of leadership arises to meet certain exigencies, it is generally forced on unwilling shoulders. This Jatha has never had any political ambitions - neither Gurdwara nor Governmental politics. Its members generally avoid entangling themselves even in local Gurdwara managements as they consider even this entanglement a hurdle in the way of their smooth, routine and spiritually dedicated lives.

In the absence of any enrollment registers or records, it is difficult to estimate about the numerical strength of this Jatha. However, its members are spread in every corner, not only of India, but even abroad wherever some Sikil population exists. Their flowing beards, double dastaars (turbans) of the men and the topknot of head hair covered with a Keski (mini turban) in case of women, and their fondness for uninterrupted singing and recitation of Gurbani as well as their faithful observance of the Rahit Maryada and wearing of the Sikh Kakaars, make them conspicuous everywhere. Thus, the Jatha, without being a formal organization in the strict sense of the term, is bound and united by the Code of Conduct taught at the Baptismal ceremony. Its members are just trying to follow the example of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh in treading the true Gursikh way of life as enunciated by the great Satguru - the only objective being the upliftment of their souls through Naam Simran, Path, Akhand Kirtans of Gurbani and the following of the Gursikh Code of Conduct.

The programs of this Jatha have given a great impetus to the popularization of the Paths and Kirtans amongst the Sikh families. A time had come when the Sikh populace had become almost totally dependant upon the professional Pathees and Ragis for these purposes. On special occasions of happiness or sorrow, they had to search for and wait for such professionals for the required services and even for Ardas. The Jatha families tried to become self-sufficient in this respect because all family members gradually became involved in doing Path and Kirtan.

The Jatha's contribution is substantial with respect to providing the required momentum in conducting research in Gurbani and in selecting new hymns for Kirtan. Previously, only a specified number of hymns were sung on specific occasions and the Sangat could almost forejudge what Shabads (hymns) would be sung on a particular occasion. Devoted Paths by the Jatha members resulted in their finding new Shabads by diving deep into the ocean of Divine Wisdom contained in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. This resulted in providing incentives to persons interested in doing further research themselves.

This site and organization has allegiance to Sri Akal Takht Sahib.