Akhand Kirtani Jatha

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The Akhand Kirtani Jatha (or AKJ, also known as Bhai Randhir Singh da Jatha,[1] or Waheguru Singhs) is a jatha (collective group) of Sikhs. The AKJ are a purist or "fundamentalist"[1] fringe group within Sikhism, holding an interpretation of the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct) different from that of the Sikh mainstream.


It emerged in ca. 1980, based on the movement initiated by Randhir Singh (d. 1961) in the context of the Indian independence movement in the first half of the 20th century.[1][2][3]

Randhir Singh

Randhir Singh

Randhir Singh (1878–1961) was Jat from Ludhiana who was imprisoned by the British authorities. His followers were known as the Bhai Randhir Singh da Jatha. The Akhand Kirtani Jatha was a group within this movement in the 1970s, headed by Amarjit Kaur, whose husband was killed fighting the Nirankaris in Amritsar in 1978.[4] The AJK in turn gave rise to an extremist offshoot known as the Babbar Khalsa who were active in assassinations and religious violence against the Nirankaris during the 1980s. The AKJ appears as a group of the Sikh diaspora involved in the Khalistan movement in the 1980s. The AJK participated in a convention in Slough, Berkshire in 1987.[5]

No estimates on the number of adherents is known. Outside of Amritsar Panjab, the AJK appear to have a chapter in Coventry, UK.[1]


Akhand Kirtani Jatha believe that "'all praise must be to the Guru Granth Sahib and God and there is absolutely no need for any respect for a living sant' but are themselves criticised for paying glowing tributes to Bhai Randir Singh 'just like a Sant'".[6]

AKJ differs 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[7] 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)."[1][8]


Bhogal also noted that "They also believe in a different Khalsa initiation ceremony, 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."[1]

The Jatha's devotional singing programmes include all-night Rain sabai and Kirtan Darbars which usually last around 6 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 Waheguru with great fervour when prompted to repeat the Lord's Name in the sacred hymns being sung. Jatha members never eat meat or eggs, and the AKJ argues strongly that eating any form of flesh is forbidden in the AKJ rahit-bibek.[1] [9] [10]

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.[1]

Bhogal noted that this is one of the areas in which the AKJ rejects the "Sikh Rehat Maryada of the SGPC"[1][8][11][12] interpretation.[1]


Further information: Diet in Sikhism

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.[9][10] The Sikh Rehat Maryada[13][14] and some[15] Sikh scholars define Kutthaa as meat "slaughtered in the Muslim way" (Halaal meat),[16][17][18] and as any "ritually slaughtered" meat (Halal, Kosher, Hindu Bali, others). Thus, the Sikh Rahit Maryada[1][13] accepts the eating of meat, and the Akhand Kirtani Jatha does not.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Balbinder Bhogal Akhand Kirtani Jatha in: E. Shaw (ed.), Overview Of World Religions, Division of Religion and Philosophy University of Cumbria http://www.philtar.ac.uk/
  2. ^ Nihang Teja Singh, Shromani Panth Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa 96 Crore Budha Dal Chalda Vaheer (1903-06-14). "AOn 7th July 1878, Basant Singh Grewal was born to Sardar Natha Singh and Punjab Kaur, in the village of Narangwal, Ludhiana District. Natha Singh was a proud and wealthy Jatt lawyer who would later become a High Court judge in the state of Nabha. Basant Singh was educated at the Government and Foreman Christian Colleges at capital of Punjab, Lahore (circa 1896-1900). These schools run by the British Raj and the teachers were Christian missionaries. On 14th June 1903, Basant Singh was initiated into the Khalsa brotherhood by Teja Singh Bhasuaria (also known as ‘Babu Teja Singh’), and this spawned the beginning of the organization that today calls itself the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (A.K.J.). The A.K.J was initially known as the ‘Bhai Randhir Singh Da Jatha’, which was originally termed the ‘Tat Khalsa Jatha’ during the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia era". Sarbloh.info. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  3. ^ "Akhand Kirtani Jatha (Sikh religious group) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  4. ^ J. S. Grewal, The Sikhs of the Punjab, Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN 978-0-521-63764-0 p. 216. Satyapal Dang, Ravi M. Bakaya, Terrorism in Punjab, 2000, ISBN 978-81-212-0659-4, p. 11.
  5. ^ Harry Goulbourne, Ethnicity and Nationalism in Post-Imperial Britain, Cambridge University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-521-12435-5, p. 160
  6. ^ Nesbitt, Eleanor (25 Jul 2005). "Ten - Young British Sikhs and Religious Devotion". In Anna King (Editor), John Brockington (Editor). The Intimate Other: Love Divine in Indic Religious (Hardcover). Orient Longman. p. 328. ISBN 978-81-250-2801-7. 
  7. ^ "Contributors to the Overview of World Religions". Philtar.ucsm.ac.uk. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  8. ^ a b Haynes, Jeffrey (30 Jun 2008). "19". Routledge handbook of religion and politics (1 edition ed.). Routledge;. p. 316. ISBN 0-415-41455-5. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  9. ^ a b "Tapoban.org". Tapoban.org. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  10. ^ a b "Kuthha and Sikhism". Fort:Panth Khalsa. Retrieved 2009-08-28. 
  11. ^ Singh, Nirmal (2008). "10". Searches In Sikhism: thought, understanding, observance. New Dehli: Hemkunt Publishers. pp. 184 onwards. ISBN 978-81-7010-367-7. OCLC 320246878. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  12. ^ Kapoor, Sukhbir Singh; Mohinder Kaur Kapoor (2008). "Introduction". The Making of the Sikh Rehatnamas. New Delhi, India: Hemkunt Publishers. p. 9. ISBN 978-81-7010-370-7. Retrieved 17 December 2009. 
  13. ^ a b "Sikh Reht Maryada, The Definition of Sikh, Sikh Conduct & Conventions, Sikh Religion Living, India". www.sgpc.net. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  14. ^ Singh, Randip; Aman Singh; Narayanjot Kaur (2006-05-24). "Fools Who Wrangle Over Flesh". India: www.sikhphilosophy.net. p. 1. Retrieved 16 December 2009. 
  15. ^ Dr. S.S. Kapoor; Mohinder Kaur Kapoor (2008). "4". The Making of the Sikh Rehatnamas. Hemkunt Publishers. p. 43. ISBN 978-81-7010-370-7. Retrieved 16 June 2010. 
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.

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