Akhand Path and Sikhism – Truth is Bitter series 3



Akhand Path is the most common ritualistic tradition performed in Sikhism. It is said that it bring peace and solace to the participants and to the passive listeners. The principle objective of Gurbani for a person is to become a Gurmukh (moral enlightened being, God/Truth/Knowledge-centered being) by reading, through interpretations(Vichaar) and logical discussions. There are two different beliefs regarding how this ritual originated in Sikhism. One belief is that the Akhand Path was started by Guru Gobind Singh at Talwandi Sabo renamed Damdama Sahib. The second belief is that Akhand Path was started by Buddha Dal who were responsible for the management of Sikh shrines and also do preaching to Sikh sangat.

Guru Nanak the founder of Sikhism rejected all the rituals/traditions which did not pass the test of Logic. Now we have to apply the Logic Test to find out which belief will pass or fail the test. To do this we have to apply process of exclusion or elimination based on Gurmat philosophy. This process will give us clear indication that who was responsible initiating the Akhand Path ritual.

First of all we have to find out to see if Gurbani ( Guru Granth Sahib) has approved Akhand Path ( continuous recitation without any break or pause for 48 hours).  Sikhs are familiar with Gurbani ‘s format, that Guru ji provided for our understanding. Guru Sahib added one word “Pause”( Rahaoo ) to help us understand the given Stanza ( Salok ). The word “Rahaoo” mean “Stop” and do Vichaar before proceeding further as the Central Idea of the Salok is described here. Some Saloks have more than one Rahaoo which works as question and answer. Guru sahib applied “Rahaoo”  2685 times in Guru Granth Sahib, meaning stop 2685 times during the Akhand Path. Now if we  apply this “Rahaoo” logic to Akhand Path ritual it would be totally rejected as it is against the Guru’s philosophy.

During the Guru period from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh there was no change in Guru’s philosophy which is also present in Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh edited Adi Granth and also incorporated Guru Tegh Bahadur’s bani at appropriate places. Before Guru Gobind Singh died he passed on the Spiritual Guruship to Guru Granth Sahib and transferred the Corporate Guruship to the Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh also known as 10thNanak was aware of Guru’s philosophy including the purpose of “Rahaoo”. Guru Gobind Singh had panoramic personality, saint-soldier, scholar, inspirational leader, creative and genius. A person with all these qualities and who gave every thing including his family for the Humanity (Sikhism), can not perform or start a ritual which would be against his own or Guru’s philosophy. Sikhs, should not compare  Guru Gobind Singh with today’s Jathedars or Deradar, who change their policies or principles every day.  Therefore it is very simple to exclude or eliminate that Akhand Path ritual was not initiated by Guru Gobind Singh. Sikhs do great injustice to Guru Gobind Singh when say that Akhand Path ritual was first performed by him.
There is a strange fake  storey labelled with Guru Gobind Singh, saying during the Akhand Path, Guru Gobind Singh ji kept standing at the door of the room in which Gurbani was being read.  Sikhs provided food, water for bath and cloths while he was standing at one spot for 48 hours. Some preachers say he stood on one foot. I have couple of questions for those who believe this is a true storey:
1. Did Guru ji answer nature’s call ( washroom break) during 48 hours?
2. Did Guru ji keep standing while he was performing editing of Adi Granth, I bet it must took few weeks to complete the task?

The Brahman who was considered religious guru and a preacher was not happy when Guru Nanak refused to wear Janeu, as this and other rituals were his big source of income. The Brahman felt threatened of his authority. Guru Nanak described Brahman be very corrupt and dishonest with people from whom he was making his livelihood. Brahman was committing fraud on the public with false claims and fake rituals, taking advantages of their ignorance. He become the number one enemy of Guru Nanak’s philosophy or Gurmat and  waited for almost 250 years for the opportunity to get involved in preaching to Sikh sangat.

After Banda Singh Bahadur, when Sikhs were facing religious persecution, genocide, forced to live in jungles, the Nirmalas and Udasis took control of Sikh Gurdwaras and helped Brahmanism to infiltrate in Sikhism. In 1733, Nawab Kapur Singh divided Sikhs in to Buddha Dal and Taruna Dal. The Buddha Dal had Sikhs over 40 years of age, to be responsible for management of Gurdwaras and do preaching to Sikh sangat. The Taruna Dal had men under 40 and to be responsible for more active contingent to fight in emergency situation.

The Brahman who was waiting for the opportunity, disguised as Nirmalas and Udasis entered in to Buddha Dal and started their mission against Sikh principles and Guru’s philosophy. Over time ,they had relapsed into old Hindu practises and the Gurdwaras became like Hindu temples. The Buddha Dal ( disguised Brahman) started the ritual of Akhand Path for Sikhs ( Taruna Dal) before they have to leave for battle. This was the first starting point for Akhand Path and slowly it spread like a wild fire in Sikhism, which is beyond control at present time. Even today, 300 years after, the management of our Gurdwaras and religious leadership are in the hands of Nirmalas and Udasis who are in fact disguised Brahmans. It is very sad but true.


1 Guru Granth Sahib’s format and philosophy does not approve continues recitation as it is performed during Akhand Path.

2 Akhand Path ritual was not initiated by Guru Gobind Singh.

3 Akhand Path ritual was started by Buddha Dal ( disguised Brahmans).

In conclusion, the Akhand Path is a ritualistic tradition, not compatible with Guru Granth Sahib’s format and philosophy. The Akhand Path tradition was initiated by Buddha Dal and Guru Gobind Singh has nothing to do with this ritual. The Akhand Paths are major income generating rituals for the Gurdwaras, that’s why the Prabandhic Committees are encouraging Sikh sangat to have Akhand Paths done in the Gurdwaras. Therefore no Sikh religious leader or a Deradar will inform Sikh Sangat that the Akhand Paths are waste of money and time. It is very similar situation when Guru Nanak rejected many money making Brahmanical rituals, which made Brahman enemy of Sikhism. It is time for the Sikh sangat to start reading and understanding Gurbani themselves, as this is the only way they can put stop to this ritual. The basic fundamental purpose of reading or listening Gurbani is to understand the “Truth” then apply it in our daily life. Unfortunately this is not being achieved with Akhand Paths, therefore the Akhand Path has no place in Sikhism.

Ramjit Singh Mann

  • I fully agree.
    When one is getting organized an Akhand Path or rather Sehaj Path one must understand the meaning written there in the slokas or the Guru's Bani.
    Nowadays People come in Gurudwara and do Ardas and Bhaiji does Ardas for the visitor/Devotee.While it is mentioned in Japji Sahib Itself "aape jaane aape deve".
    Then Guru nanak Devji Said in Japji Sahib "gaavie suniye man rakhiye bhao"
    So if we do not understand while reading holy Guru Granth Sahib there is no point.
    The ritual of doing Akhand Path Sahib can be better understood.
    People come first day then sit till Japji sahib is read/recited.
    2nd day during Madh they come and Ardas is done.
    3rd day morning before the beginning of Slok Mahalla 9van (57 Slokas) they come and then the completion is greeted.So the Akhand Path is OVer.
    Even if for the sake of arguement it is deemed to be a correct procedure then it must be considered that Guru is Jagrat during the AKhand path recitation.So you have asked Guru to stand Jagrat and you go to your business / office and do your routine work and take rest in night.
    And Guru is made to stand because you have organized an Akhand Path.
    Basically instead of Akhand Path Sahib Sehaj path should be prefered and the meaning of the slokas/Guru's Bani be also shown/described at PAUSE.
    48 HOURS means 2 minutes per holy page.Well one can understand how much one can listen carefully and understand the meaning in 2 minutes.

  • Dear Bhai Sahib

    Sat Sri Akal

    Thanks for your comments and they are noteworthy as you have highlighted the 3 day ritual from  start to the completion of Akhand Path without any Vichaar on  Gurbani. You have raised very interesting point here of 2 minutes per holy page during Akhand Path. I think there must be very few people who will listen and understand in this short time span, definitely not me.

    Thanks again

    Ramjit singh Mann