Clarification Regarding New Jathedar of Akhand Kirtani Jatha - Bhai Mohinder Singh Kala Sanghyaan (Jan 3rd, 2009)


The controversy surrounding the next Jathedar of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha has become public and many in the Sangat have questions about what is going on.

An international group of various Akhand Kirtani Jatha units has announced Bhai Mohinder Singh as the next Jathedar of the AKJ. At the same time there have been reports about the announcement of Bhai Bakshish Singh in Amritsar. This post will attempt to shed some light on the issue.

Firstly, it is important to recognize what is at issue. The Akhand Kirtani Jatha is a group of Gursikhs dedicated to the principles of naam, bani, rehit and seva in the spirit of Tat-Gurmat. The Jatha has a history of being at the forefront of the Panth in doing seva and upholding Gurmat principles. Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh was sentenced to life in prison by the British for struggling for the freedom of the Panth. He spent years in dark solitary cells, but remained steadfast in his dedication. The Jathedari of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha is a position that carries with it a very large responsibility. The Jathedar of the Jatha must be a highly spiritual Gursikh, leading an inspirational life, dedicated to Gursikhi. The Jathedar must be able to lead in the spirit of Gurmat and refuse to compromise his principles at any price.

Bhai Mohinder Singh Kala Sanghiyaa has been selected by the International Sangat because he embodies so many of the principles the Jatha stands for. Bhai Sahib has been in the Jatha since the time of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh. He has maintained strong rehit and in the spirit of the puraatan Singhs in the Jatha including amrit vela, sarbloh bibek, kirtan and seva. Bhai Sahib has served as the Jathedar of the Punj Pyaaray in a great many amrit sinchaars for a number of decades now and is respected by the entire Jatha in that role. Bhai Sahib remained committed to serving the Panth during the dark days of the 80s-90s. He continued to do seva in amrit sinchaars and advise Singhs even though he was imprisoned and tortured on a number of occasions by the Indian security forces. Bhai Sahib has been unwavering in his principles over the decades and no one can question his honesty and Jeevan.

Bhai Mohinder Singh is the ideal choice for Jathedar at this time. The International Sangat has faith that in a time where politics and greed have resulted in corrupt leadership in the Panth, Bhai Sahib will be a unique ray of hope. He will speak loudly and clearly for what is Gurmat and not compromise those core principles at any cost.

As mentioned, it is unfortunate that in India, some Singhs have announced Bhai Bakshish Singh as jathedar. To be clear, the International Sangat has no personal problem with Bhai Bakshish Singh. The problem is with the process of his selection. Bhai Bakshish Singh was elected by the 11 member committee in India. The 11 member committee was appointed on a temporary basis in 2005 in response to Baldev Singh’s attempts to declare himself the Jathedar of the Jatha after Jathedar Bhai Ram Singh.

The 11 member committee is not representative of the entire Jatha and does not have the authority or right to elect the next Jathedar unilaterally without consulting the Sangat. More importantly, they do not have the right to vote for the next Jathedar like a common political election. Bhai Bakshish Singh, himself a member of the 11 member committee, was elected by votes cast by 8 of his fellow members of the 11 member committee (3 members were not present or did not vote). Bhai Bakshish Singh received 3 votes while the remaining 5 votes were split between 3 other candidates. Bhai Bakshish Singh’s background and jeevan are not well known in the jatha and he received less vetting than ordinary politicians. It is also worth noting that input from sangat was refused during this private meeting and representatives from sangat living abroad were told that their opinions were not wanted.

It cannot be stressed enough: Jathedars cannot be elected by votes. The concept of voting does not exist in Gurmat when selecting a Jathedar. Only merit is considered. Although the 11 member committee may have wanted to elect someone with influence and thus voted for Bhai Bakshish Singh, this is not the Gurmat approach.

The lack of knowledge about the jeevan of Bakshish Singh has also to many been a major factor in declaring support because on one hand we have someone who has not been vetted in seva and on the other hand we have someone who has been the Jathedar of the Panj Payare in most Amrit Sanchaars as having been seen as the ideal Gurmukh with the right qualities for the biggest seva there can be.

The selection of Bhai Mohinder Singh was done by consensus. It was a decision based on Gurmat principles and not on politics, friendships, influence or family relations. More importantly, it was not done by voting. The International Sangat stands with Jathedar Bhai Mohinder Singh because he is the right and principled choice.


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