Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Gateway to Sikhism

Q119. Explain the procedure and significance of Gurmatta (Guru's Decision).

Gurmatta or Guru's decision is a special resolution passed by the corporate personality of the Sikh community. Its features are as under:
(i) Gurmatta may be taken only by one of the five Takhats in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib.
(ii) 'The five beloved ones' (Punj Piyara) including the Head (Jethedar) are selected by the participants on basis of merit, piety and religious living.
(iii) The persons present must have no enmity against one another, and must declare their impartiality; personal difference cannot be expressed here.
(iv) The subject must be of concern to the entire Sikh Community, and must not pertain to the interests of a group or party of Sikhs.
(v) The Gurmatta has to be unanimous; there is no question of majority view.
(vi) The Gurmatta is binding on all Sikhs; they must respect and implement it, though they may not be personally in favour of it.
So, in essence, Gurmatta is a "decision of the collective will of the Sikh community". It is a symbol and form of the supreme authority of the Panth. It has the sanction of the Guru Granth Sahib and the entire Sikh Community. The solution of new problems facing the community can be sought through the institution of Gurmatta.
One of the important Gurmattas passed in 1747 was the nomination of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia as the Commandar of the Dal Khalsa against the forces of Ahmed Shah Abdali. In December, 1920, Gurmatta was passed for liberating Sikh Gurdwaras from proprietory control, and bringing them under popular administraion. Gurmattas are taken in cases of emergency or when a crisis faces the Sikh community as a whole.

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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