DARBĀR, a Persian word meaning "a house, dwelling; court, area; court or levee of a prince; audience chamber, " is commonly used in Punjabi to signify a royal, princely or any high ranking officer's court (as distinguished from courts of justice) where dignitaries granted audience to the common people, listened to their grievances, or deliberated with their darbārīs (courtiers) on matters of public interest. In Sikhism the term came to have extended meaning as Gurū Nānak and his holy successors introduced terms such as sachā pātisāhu, True Emperor (GG, 17, 18, 463 et al. ), sirī sachā pātisāhū, at the head of kings and emperors (GG, 1426) for God Almighty. Later, the Gurūs themselves came to be called sachchā pātshāh. The Gurū's court, therefore, also came to be called gur-darbār or the gurū's darbār. In a hymn by Gurū Arjan addressed, according to tradition, to his father, Gurū Rām Dās, the Gurū's presence is referred to as gur-darbār (GG, 97). After Gurū Gobind Siṅgh had discontinued the institution of human gurū replacing it by śabda-gurū (the Word as Gurū) and passed on the gurūship eternally to the Gurū Granth Sāhib, the Holy Book itself as well as its court, the gurdwārā, came to be popularly called Darbār or reverently, Srī Darbār Sāhib. This name is particularly given to the gurdwārā complexes at Amritsar and Tarn Tāran, as also officially to some other historical gurdwārās such as the principal shrine at Ḍerā Bābā Nānak and the shrine raised over the cremation site of Gurū Aṅgad at Khaḍūr Sāhib.

         The Sikh usage of the term darbār for holy places has since spread to other communities so that Hindu devotees of Punjab, Himāchal Pradesh and Jammū region also refer to temples raised to their goddess as Mātā dā Darbār, the court of the Mother Goddess.

Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)