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The Sanatan Sikhs - The Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa
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The Akalis

It is commonly stated that the Sikh religion historically began in 1469 with the birth of Guru Nanak. However, the Akali Nihangs point out that Sikhism, being the eternal Dharma has existed even before time began (see Introduction).

To expand upon this, in 1469 this Dharma was but given the appropriate expression for this, the fourth and final age, Kal Yuga (the age of darkness) by Akali Guru Nanak. Nanak was in time, succeeded by nine human Gurus, the final one being the foremost Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708).

Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj
A painting done in the Persian style depicting the great
Guru with his beloved 'Baj' (hawk) in a hunting expedition, c.1830

The Akalis (the soldiers of Immortal Being) came into existence during the tenure of Akali Guru Hargobind Sahib, when he created the Akal Boongah/Takht (the fort/throne of the Immortal Being) - the seat of Sikh temporal authority, built in 1606.

In his historical novel, Bhai Vir Singh, a prominent historian, gives written testimony to this Akali Nihang oral tradition:

'Akal Boongah was constructed by the sixth Sikh Guru, and at that time the foundation of the Akalis was laid.'
('Satwant Kaur', 1900 , Pa.222)

From the day of their conception the soldiers of the Akal Takht became the closest companions of the warrior Guru. They were the designated defenders of Sikhism. Bhai Vir Singh further comments:

'It is thought that from the time of the sixth master through to the times of the tenth, the Akalis of the Akal Takht were directly responsible to the Gurus only, but, then they did not have the burden of so many responsibilities as befell them after the tenth Guru.'
('Satwant Kaur' , 1900 , Pa.224)

Although it was the respected Sikh, Akali Baba Budha Ji, who trained and created the Akal Sena (the Army of the Immortals), its first Commander-in-Chief was Akali Guru Hargobind who was, paradoxically, Baba Budha Ji's chief student as well as his Guru.

Akali Baba Budha Ji
A fresco from a Gurudwara at Narangabad,
Punjab of the great 'Sidki' (proven) Sikh Baba Budha Ji

Until Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh's time, the warriors of the Akal Sena had no distinguishing dress from other Sikhs. The only things that distinguished them from other Sikhs were the fact they practiced the arts of war, hunted, ate ‘Mahaprashad’ (meat) and used cannabis for strict military circumstances.

A photograph of an Akali Nihang Singh at the annual Holla Mohalla festivities
at Anandpur Sahib, Punjab preparing 'Shaheedi Degh' (the drink of the Martyrs)

In time, all this was to change...

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