Akal Takht literally means Eternal Throne. It is part of the Golden Temple complex and is situated on the other end of the causeway connected to the Harmandir Sahib. The foundation was laid by Guru Hargobind. It was here that he was ceremonially installed as Guru in 1606. The building of the Akal Takht opposite the Golden Temple has a special meaning.
While the Golden Temple stands for spiritual guidance (piri) the Akal Takht symbolizes the dispensing of justice and temporal activity (miri). During the day the Guru Granth Sahib is kept in the Golden Temple, while at night it is kept in the Akal Takht. Traditionally all Sikh warriors sought blessings here before going to battle. During the 18th century while Sikhs were fighting a guerrilla war in the forests they used to gather at the Akal Takht on special occasions such as Baisakhi and Diwali.
Here the community used to have general meetings and approve resolutions. The Akal Takht was the oldest of the Five Takhts, but it was destroyed by the Indian Army during its military invasion in 1984. The construction of the new Akal Takht is almost complete with only some interior work remaining.
It is from the Akal Takhat that Hukamnamas (edics or writs) are announced to provide guidance or clarification on any point of Sikhdoctrine or practice. It may lay under penance persons charged with violation of religious discipline or with activity prejudicial to Sikh interests or solidarity. It may place on record its appreciation of outstanding services rendered or sacrifices made by individuals espousing the cause of Sikhism or of the Sikhs. Importantly, no individual is above the Akal Takhat.
On one occasion the Sarbat Khalsa met at the Akal Takhat and decided to penalize Maharaja Ranjit singh for his misdemeanours with a certain number of lashes on his back. The Gursikh in Ranjit Singh surrendered to the discipline and presented himself at the Akal Takhat to receive chastisement. However, corporal punishment to the sovereign was converted into a heavy fine.