dictionary meaning is, a worshipper of Akal i.e. the Timeless God.
Originally, the Akalis were the death-squads of the Sikhs, who spearheaded
the task of toppling down the 'Mughals and Pathans' political hegemony
in the North West of India, according to the programme given to Banda
Singh Bahadur by Guru Gobind Singh in the year 1708 A. D. Eversince,
these Akalis have been in the vanguard of the Sikh struggle against
tyranny and foreign rule and during the Sikh Raj in the Punjab, the
Akalis were the custodians of the Seat of Spiritual Sikh Authority,
the Akal Takht at Amritsar. These Akalis, the most famous of whom
was General Phula Singh, rendered most conspicuous service in establishing
Sikh Power up to the Khyber Pass, but they never recognised the political
jurisdiction of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the King and always upheld
the banner of the supremacy of the mystic Sikh Panth, in all matters,
spiritual or political. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was diplomatic enough,
not to challenge this legitimate claim of the Akalis, and on one occasion
submissively accepted corporal punishment awarded to him at the Akal
Takht, Amritsar for a sex-scandal involving breach of the discipline
of the Khalsa.
In the year 1922 and afterwards, those who
came forward to organize themselves into bands of volunteers to rescue
the Sikhs' Holy shrines from the management of the hereditary priests,
who were backed by the British Government, labeled themselves as Akalis
and when these well-endowed historical holy shrines passed under the
statutory management of elected Sikh representatives, these Akalis
captured the management bodies and ever since have maintained their
position as the managers of the Sikh Gurdwaras as well as the true
spokesmen of Sikh political ideas and aspirations. The Shiromani Gurdwara
Parbandhak Committee holds sway over the important Sikh Gurdwaras,
while the Shiromani Akali Dal which is merely another side of the
medal reigns supreme as the political spokesman of the Sikhs.
In current political parlance an Akali is one who holds the view that
the management of the Sikh religious institutions must remain outside
the control and influence of the Government in power whether in Punjab
or at Delhi and who demands that in the North of India there should
be a region where the Sikh voice is accorded a special political importance
and who further acclaim that politics must not be wholly divorced
from the postulates of religion.
Whatever the external dissensions and the fratricidal conflicts amongst
these Akali organizations, these three aims and objectives remain
as unchanging foundations of the Akali politics and mode of thought.