TAKHT, Persian word meaning a throne or royal seat, has, besides its common literal use, other connotations in the Sikh tradition. In Gurū Granth Sāhib, the Sikh Scripture, phrases such as sachchā takht (true throne) and pūrā takht (perfect throne) have been used to signify God's seat of divine justice. Gurū Nānak in Vār Mālār Kī alludes to the created universe as His sachā takht (GG, 907), but also qualifies that "His is the sachā or everlasting takht while all else comes and goes" (GG,1279). God in Sikh metaphysics is described as Formless but to make Him intelligible to the lay man. He is sometimes personified and referred to as sāchā sah, sultān, pātsāh meaning the true king or sovereign. As such his seat is appropriately referred to a sachchā takht sitting on which he dispenses sachchā niāoṅ, true justice. Bhāī Gurdās (d. 1636), poet and exegete, also describes sādh saṅgat, holy fellowship, as God's takht (Varāṅ, XI.5).
Gurū in Sikhism is believed to be one with God, and it became common among the Sikhs, at least by the time of Gurū Arjan (1563-1606), to refer to the Gurūs too as sachchā patshāh and to their gaddī or spiritual seat as takht. The bards Balvaṇḍ, Nalya and Mathurā, in their verses included in the Gurū Granth Sāhib, use takht in this sense.
Gurū Hargobind (1595-1644) in fact adopted a princely style. He constructed a high platform opposite Harimandar, the Golden Temple of modern day, for his investiture as Gurū, in 1606. It was named Akāl Takht, the Throne of the Timeless One. Subsequently a building, Akāl Buṅgā, was raised over it so that the Akāl Takht continues to be its popular name. Here the Gurū conducted the secular affairs of the community. Sitting on high takht he held his court, received offerings, heard the bards recite heroic poetry, and issued hukamnāmahs or edicts to Sikhs and distant saṅgats. In the open space between the Harimandar and the Akāl Takht were held tournaments of physical feats in the afternoons. The Akāl Takht became for the Sikhs the highest seat of temporal as well as spiritual authority. The Sikhs recognize four other holy places as takhts. They are connected with Gurū Gobind Siṅgh (1666-1708) ---Takht Srī Harimandar Sāhib, Paṭnā, where he was born; Takht Srī Kesgaṛh Sāhib, Anandpur, where he created the Khālsā Takht Sachkhaṇḍ Srī Hazūr Sāhib, Abchalnagar, Nāndeḍ, in Mahārāshṭra, where he passed away; and Takht Srī Damdamā Sāhib, Talvaṇḍī Sābo, where he stayed for several months in 1706. While the other Takhts were recognized as such in the Sikh Gurdwārās Act, 1925, the one at Talvaṇḍī Sābo was officially declared a Takht by Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee at its general meeting held on 18 November 1966.
Takhts are equally regarded as high seats of religious authority, but the Akāl Takht at Amritsar enjoys a special status as the religious capital of the Sikhs.
For example, meetings of the Sarbatt Khālsā or a general assembly representative of the entire panth, can be summoned only by the Jathedār of Akāl Takht and it is only there that cases connected with serious religious offences committed by prominent Sikhs are heard and penalties imposed where necessary. Important hukamnāmahs, edicts or proclamations on behalf of the Panth, issued by the Akāl Takht have precedence over those issued by other Takhts. According to conventions evolved over the centuries, the Takhts as a matter of policy have refrained from entering political controversies or administrative questions unless a question also touches matters of religious faith or doctrine. Although ever since the rise of the Akālī movement religious and political morchās (agitations) were generally conducted from the Akāl Takht, administration of religious places is vested in a statutory representative body, the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee of which Jathedārs of all the five Takhts are ex-officio members, and political affairs of the panth are handled by the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal.