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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Shromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (S.G.P.C.)

Time of origin: informally 1920, but 1925, formally (with passing of Gurdwara Act 1st Jan 1925)

It is this form of Sikhism, which today is presented as the orthodox form of Sikhism throughout the world. The term ‘Shromani’ means ‘the highest’: ‘Gurdwara’ refers to a Sikh temple: ‘Parbandak’ meaning ‘caretaker’.

Teja Singh Samundri Hall

The headquarters of the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee in Amritsar

The Shromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (S.G.P.C.) is a Sikh institution set up to look after Sikh shrines and came into being with the passing of the Punjab Gurdwara Act by the British in 1925. The act itself came about as a result of the Gurdwara Reform movement of the 1920s. The movement itself rose from the growing number of Sikhs possessing the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia mentality, and, the brainwashing of the Sikh masses. As the populace began to be re-educated to follow Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia doctrine, they began to see that many individuals, such as the Udhasis in particular, did not fit the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia criteria of the term ‘Sikh’. In addition, this also lead many of these brainwashed Sikhs to believe that the Gurdwaras, maintained by Udhasi ‘Mahants’ (caretakers), were not being run according to their newly formulated ideals.

A Gurdwara linked to Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji which once existed
in Deccan that was looked after by Udasi Mahants, circa late 19th century

These sentiments of the pro-Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia masses eventually lead to Mahants being kicked out of Gurdwaras and their new doctrine being applied to the functioning of the Gurdwaras. These actions were initially given impetus due to the discovery of a small handful of corrupt Mahants. This entire episode came to be known as ‘Gurdwara Sudhar Lehr’ (Gurdwara Reform Movement). The reformers themselves adopted the term ‘Akali’. Dr. Trilochan speaks of how the S.G.P.C. utilized‘Akali’:

‘During the Gurdwara Reform Movement, the Sikh leaders started a paper named Akali. From the paper and its policy the leaders began to be called Akalis, in view of which they formed the present Akali party. These Nihang Akalis should not be confused with the members of the Akali party.’
The Turban And The Sword’, by Dr. Trilochan Singh, Pa.402

Kartar Singh Virk (aka Kartar Singh Jhabbar)

One of the leading members of the Gurdwara Reform Movement

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