CENTRAL MĀJHĀ KHĀLSĀ DĪWĀN, also known as the Shiromaṇī Panth Milaūṇī Jathā, was one of the several regional organizations that came into being on the eve of the Gurdwārā reform movement of the 1920's.

         A Khālsā Dīwān in the Mājhā area had in fact been established as early as 1904, but it had merged with the Chief Khālsā Dīwān three years later. Upon its revival in 1918 as Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān, it concerned itself mainly with reforming the ceremonial in Sikh holy places, especially at Tarn Tāran and Amritsar. With its headquarters at Kīratangaṛh, near Amritsar, the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān claimed a membership of over 1200 amritdharī Sikhs from the central Mājhā districts of Lahore, Amritsar and Gurdāspur. The Dīwān had a collegiate executive of five persons, called Pañj Piāre, elected at a plenary meeting held during March every year. Leaders from outside central Mājhā such as Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar from Shei khūpūrā bār area and Master Motā Siṅgh from the Doābā also lent their support and participated in the meetings of the Dīwān. Prominent among its own leaders were Jathedār Tejā Siṅgh Bhuchchar and the Jhabāl brothers, Amar Siṅgh, Sarmukh Siṅgh and Jaswant Siṅgh.

         The modus operandi of the Dīwān was to hold religious congregations at different places on important Sikh anniversaries and other festivals and to provide services of granthīs, rāgīs and prachāraks for functions such as Akhaṇḍ Pāṭhs, initiation ceremonies and marriages, etc. A regular feature was the monthly dīvān on amāvasyā, the last day of the dark half of the lunar month, within the precincts of the Darbār Sāhib at Tarn Tāran. The refrain of the Dīwān speeches used to be criticism of the superstitious rites and ceremonies which had taken hold of the Sikh masses and of the malpractices in the administration of the shrines. The clerics in charge of the gurdwārās resented this reformist propaganda. Their persistent opposition forced the Central Mājhā Dīwān to change the venue of their monthly meeting in Tarn Tāran from the Darbār Sāhib to one of the nearby buṅgās.

         At the annual meeting of the Dīwān held at the village of Bhuchchar in March 1919, Tejā Siṅgh Bhuchchar was elected Jathedār, with four others to assist him. A few days later, on 13 April 1919, occurred the Jalliāṅvālā Bāgh tragedy in the holy city of Amritsar which sent a wave of shock and anger across the entire country. The Sikhs had a further cause for offence when they learnt that Brigadier General Dyer who had ordered the Amritsar shooting had been received and honoured by the Sarbarāh, or manager and the priests of the Darbār Sāhib and that an address of welcome had been presented to the Lieut-Governor of the Punjab, Sir Michael O' Dwyer. A public agitation started against the Sarbarāh. The Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān took an active part in it and proposed social boycott of all those Sikhs who had been a party to the honour bestowed on General Dyer or to the address presented to the Lieut-Governor.

         As the Gurdwārā reform movement got under way, the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān was the first to swing into action. Its leaders, Jathedār Tejā Siṅgh Bhuchchar and Amar Siṅgh Jhabāl with a jathā of 25 reached Siālkoṭ and liberated Gurdwārā Bābe dī Ber on 5-6 October 1920. When Srī Akāl Takht was occupied by the reformists on 12 October the same year, the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān offered to administer it, Tejā Siṅgh Bhuchchar becoming its first Jathedār. Amar Siṅgh Jhabāl accompanied Kartār Siṅgh Jhabbar in November 1920 to liberate Gurdwārā Pañjā Sāhib at Hasan Abdāl. Towards the end of November 1920, Gurdwārā Bhāī Jogā Siṅgh at Peshāwar was taken over through the initiative of Tejā Siṅgh Bhuchchar.

         The Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān lent full support to the Gurdwārā Rikābgañj agitation revived after the end of World War I. Sardūl Siṅgh Caveeshar asked, through the columns of the Akālī, for 100 volunteers for a Shāhīdī jathā, i. e. band of martyrs, to march to Delhi and reconstruct on 1 December 1920 the demolished wall of Gurdwārā Rikābgañj if the government failed to restore it by that date. The Jhabāl brothers endorsed the proposal, repeated the call at conventions held by the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān and enrolled volunteers for the jathā. The government, however, had the wall rebuilt before the jathā intervened. When the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal was formed, on 14 December 1920, to coordinate the work of regional Akālī groups, Sarmukh Siṅgh Jhabāl of the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān was elected its first president.

         The reform of the administration of Srī Darbār Sāhib at Tarn Tāran had since the days of the Khālsā Dīwān Mājhā (1904-07) been a live issue. On 26 January 1921, Jathedār Tejā Siṅgh Bhuchchar led a jathā of 40 volunteers to Tarn Tāran. Through the mediation of Bhāī Mohan Siṅgh Vaid negotiations began between the reformist Akālīs and the clerics in control of the shrine, but they remained inconclusive. The latter resorted to force and suddenly fell upon Bhuchchar's jathā in the evening with lethal weapons. Nineteen Akālīs were injured two of whom later died. Of these first two martyrs who died in the cause of Gurdwārā reform, Bhāī Hukam Siṅgh of Vasāūkoṭ, in Gurdāspur district, was a member of the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān. The Darbār Sāhib at Tarn Tāran passed under Akālī management.

         Then followed the massacre at Nankāṇā Sāhib (20 February 1921) and the transfer of the control of the gurdwārās there into the hands of the reformists. The Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān deputed its volunteers to assist the gurdwārā administration at Nankāṇā Sāhib for several months. It was there that in a meeting held in March 1921, the Mājhā Dīwān approved a motion affiliating itself to the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal. It also passed a resolution of non-co-operation and called upon its members to withdraw their children from government schools. In spite of its affiliation to the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal, the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān maintained its autonomous entity. At its annual elections held in April 1921, Sarmukh Siṅgh Jhabāl, with four others, was chosen Jathedār. The members of the Dīwān continued to participate in the Akālī campaign for the release of Sikh shrines from the control of a corrupt priestly order. During the Gurū kā Bāgh Morchā, the Dīwān sent a batch of 110 volunteers to face, under a vow of non-violent passive resistance, the police beating on 1 September 1922.

         With the emergence of the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal as a viable political party, the Central Mājhā Khālsā Dīwān, like other regional bodies, lost much of its relevance. Some members left it altogether, while others were absorbed in the district Akālī jathās which now formed constituent branches of the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal. There are still some carrying on under the old banner, holding fast to their old schedule of monthly congregations at Tarn Tāran on the day of amāvasyā.


  1. Mohinder Singh, The Akali Movement. Delhi, 1978
  2. Sahni, Ruchi Ram, Struggle for Reform in Sikh Shrines. Ed. Ganda Singh. Amritsar, n. d.
  3. Pratāp Siṅgh, Giānī, Gurdwārā Sudhār arthāt Akālī Lahir. Amritsar, 1975
  4. Josh, Sohan Siṅgh, Akālī Morchiāṅ dā Itihās. Delhi, 1972

Jagjīt Siṅgh