MĀÑJĪ, derived from the Sanskrit mañcha and mañchakā meaning a stage, platform, raised seat, dais, throne, beadstead, or a couch, has a special connotation in Sikh tradition. Ordinarily, a mañjī, in Punjabi, means a cot, especially of the simple, stringed variety. Social manner in India requires that when more than one person are seated on the same cot, the one senior in age or superior in relationship should occupy the upper portion of it. But when someone commanding high social or spiritual status is present, he alone occupies the mañjī, while the others squat on the ground in front of or around it. When Gurū Amar Dās, the third Gurū, appointed some leading Sikhs to cater for the needs of Sikh saṅgats in different parts of the country, the districts or dioceses came to be known as mañjīs, from the māñjīs or high seats on which the incumbents sat when preaching the Gurū's word. According to Sikh chroniclers, Gurū Amar Dās established 22 mañjīs. The persons appointed came to be called masands, a word derived from the Persian masnad also meaning, like the Sanskrit mañchakā, a throne or a couch. These mañjīs and masands played a significant role in knitting the Sikhs into a community. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh abolished the institution of masands and, implicitly, of mañjīs, establishing a direct relationship with Khālsā, without any intermediaries.
The Gurūs themselves travelled widely and frequently to visit their devotees, individually or collectively organized in saṅgats or holy fellowships. The Sikhs, naturally, had the Gurū seated on a cot while they sat on the ground to listen to his sermon. After the Gurū's departure the Sikhs treated the places where the Gurū had sat or stayed as sacred. Usually a platform was constructed on the spot, where they would assemble on festival occasions to pay reverence to the memory of the holy visit. Such a platform was reverentially called mañjī sāhib. Later, as Sikhs came through a period of prolonged persecution and acquired power in the Punjab, small shrines were raised over these platforms and the Gurū Granth Sāhib installed. Each such shrine or Gurdwārā was also called a mañjī sāhib. It usually consisted of a small, domed building, square or octagonal in shape, with or without circumambulatory passage. Even those constructed on a grandiose scale and liberally endowed with land and cash grants by Sikh rulers continued to be similarly designated. This name is generally followed by a reference to the Gurū whose visit the shrine commemorates —like (Gurdwārā) Mañjī Sāhib Pātshāhī Pahilī —shrine in honour of the first Gurū, i.e. Gurū Nānak, and so on.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)