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Sikhism Scientific vision in SGGS and interfaith dialogue (A Review)

Discussion in 'Book Reviews & Editorials' started by spnadmin, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    1947-2014 (Archived)
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    Forwarded and posted at SPN with permission of Jagpal S. Tiwana

    Scientific vision in SGGS and interfaith dialogue

    By Hardev Singh Virk
    Published by Singh Brothers, Amritsar
    Publication year: Nov. 2007, Pages: 156, Price: Rs. 225

    A Review by Dr. D. P. Singh
    Dept. of Physics, Govt. Shivalik College, Naya Nangal-140126,
    Dist. Ropar, Punjab.
    E-mail: drdpsn @hotmail.com

    Religion and Science represent two great systems of human thought.
    Both of these seek objective perceptions in their attempts to
    comprehend existence and reality. The fundamental distinction lies in
    the direction in which they look in pursuit of their aims. In both
    cases a subtle interplay between theory and observation is involved.
    Both approaches are intellectual as well as empirical. Professor
    Hardev Singh Virk's book titled 'Scientific Vision in Sri Guru Granth
    Sahib and Interfaith Dialogue' offers an exciting bridge between
    religious studies and natural sciences. He has made a splendid
    in-depth study of Sikhism and its relationship with

    The book contains 12 Chapters. In the Prologue, the
    author traces a brief history of the kindling of his interest in
    Cosmology. Then he articulates the purpose of the book to show
    glimpses of Scientific Vision in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) by
    interpreting its text in the light of scientific theories.

    Prof. Virk stresses that Interfaith dialogue is the need
    of the hour for promotion of world peace. He points out that
    twenty-first century will be a witness to two types of dialogues for
    the promotion of world peace and harmony: (i) Science-Religion
    dialogue, and (ii) inter-faith dialogue. The author has a strong
    faith and conviction that SGGS has the potential to play a leading
    role in both these dialogues.

    Science and Religion are not polarized in the Sikh text. Sikh
    scripture brings us face to face with the concreteness and reality of
    the interdependence of all life, and of our own microcosmic and
    macrocosmic interrelationship. Science, with its observations and
    factual data, doesn't clash with Sikh sacred scripture; they reveal
    its intrinsic vigour, its far reaching insights and its contemporary
    relevance. These facts emerge most convincingly in Prof. Virk's
    interpretation of Sikh scripture in the light of scientific theories
    of evolution, cosmology, nature of reality and time.

    In the 'Glimpses of a Scientific Vision in SGGS' author
    points out that the spiritual / mystical vision in SGGS is compatible
    with modern science in its approach to cosmology, nature of reality,
    relation of microcosm to macrocosm and consciousness. The concept of
    supreme reality as presented in SGGS is unique, scientific and
    revolutionary. It is not a mere abstraction. Its realization is
    possible through the practice of Sabda and Naam. SGGS envisages the
    Creation of the Universe out of Sunya, which is devoid of matter but
    not of energy. The author points out a beautiful analogy, with
    quantum concept of Creation - out of nothing, as a vacuum fluctuation.

    Elaborating on the 'Cosmological Ideas in Science and
    Religion' the author has given an overview of the various
    cosmological theories and models proposed in both science and
    religion. The cosmological hypothesis, as propounded in SGGS, has
    been compared with other texts, both of oriental and occidental
    traditions. After a detailed analysis, the author opines that Sikh
    Cosmology as enunciated in SGGS is most scientific and compatible
    with the modern cosmological theories of science.

    In describing 'The Concept of Reality and its Physical, Metaphysical
    and Mystical aspects' the author has pointed out that there has been
    a dynamic change in the physical interpretation of Reality from
    Aristotle to Einstein. As the Reality is trans-empirical so it can be
    comprehended through intuitive experience rather than sense
    experience. Guru Nanak's intuitive insight into the metaphysical
    realm, presents an integrated view of the basic Reality that is
    monistic but whose manifestation is pluralistic. According to SGGS,
    Reality can be realized through Guru's sabda. The wonderful concept
    of Sunya was introduced in Sikh scripture by Guru Nanak to explain
    the pre-creation state of the universe. Sunya is not equated with
    void or emptiness rather it represents the state of equipoise where
    Absolute Lord exists in primordial trance.

    The concept of Nature has played a predominant role in science and
    religion since ancient times. After discussing its development over
    the centuries and in Newtonian world-view, the author has elaborated
    on the impact of Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics on its
    various aspects. Talking about the Hindu and Muslim viewpoints about
    Nature, the author points out that Guru Nanak's vision of Nature is
    far more comprehensive than his predecessors both in the East and
    West. It is a holistic vision, which can act as a platform for a
    dialogue between science and religion. After a detailed deliberation
    about the Concept of time and its development, the author points out
    that the 'Creation of Time' as enunciated in SGGS is analogous to
    creation hypothesis of 'Big-Bang'. Time has a beginning and an end
    and it can't be treated as absolute or eternal as God.

    On the basis of a comparative study of the various theories of the
    origin of life in the universe, the author concludes that the cause
    of this phenomenon is still a mystery for the scientific world,
    although Charles Darwin's hypothesis of natural selection is the most
    successful theory of organic evolution till date. The author points
    out that according to SGGS, God is the creator of life in this
    universe. He adds that Guru Nanak accepts the theory of evolution in
    his own characteristic manner without taking recourse to the concept
    of natural selection in the Darwinian way.

    A set of fundamental beliefs, attitudes, values etc., which
    constitute a comprehensive outlook on life and the universe is called
    a world-view. With suitable quotes from SGGS, the author describes
    that the world-view in Sikhism dialectically unites the idea of God
    and the world. God himself transforms into creation, which is
    changing His nirguna (Transcendence) form into sarguna (Immanence)
    form. The world is neither maya nor a perversion. It is a dharamsala,
    a place for righteous actions. Prof. Virk expresses that there is a
    perfect correspondence between the epoch of 'big-bang' and the
    creation out of sunya phase as enunciated in SGGS. The most important
    concept in the Sikh world-view is the creation of an ideal man, the
    'Gurmukh' of Guru Nanak or the 'Khalsa' of Guru Gobind Singh. In this
    world-view, withdrawal, monasticism and asceticism are rejected and
    instead, a householder's life is accepted. Guru Nanak declares that
    liberation is possible even while enjoying bounties of life as a
    householder by living truthfully.

    'Inter-faith dialogue' and 'Science-Spirituality dialogue' have an
    important role to play in this era of globalisation. The conflict
    between Science and Religion, which had started after Renaissance in
    Europe, has retreated during the new millennium. The author points
    out that we are now living in a world where a dialogue between
    Science and Spirituality has become possible. He emphasizes that a
    new 'holistic' view is needed to see Reality in its concrete
    wholeness - a view that would see the whole in the parts and the
    parts in the whole, envisioned as dynamic becoming and not static
    being. This would not mean a negation of reason but going beyond it,
    to the realm of spirit. Recent advances in Quantum Physics support
    the idea of a cosmic spirit pervading the cosmos and
    inter-relationship of individuals in world society. Talking about the
    global perspectives in Sikh Philosophy, the author tells that it has
    a universal appeal for the mankind irrespective of its religious and
    cultural affiliations. In the holistic vision of the Sikh philosophy,
    God, nature and man are integrally bound to each other.
    In the last section of the book, Prof. Virk elucidates the concept of
    Interfaith dialogue and its importance in present times. He stresses
    that such dialogue issues forth in a spirit of fellowship and
    recognizes the whole in each part. The author has described
    Interfaith dialogues in Sikh Religion, Christianity, Islam and
    Hinduism. He has elaborated on various common points in Sikh Religion
    and other religious systems especially about Concept of God, Creation
    of Universe, Concept of Salvation, Heaven and Hell, Ethics and
    Morality. The author points out that Sikh religion, despite its
    doctrinal newness and distinct identity, shares with the other
    religions certain recurring archetypes that have shaped different
    cultures and civilizations arising the world-over. The author has
    been successful in bringing out the unique identity of Sikh religion
    in relation to the Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, on the basis of
    some essential elements common to these religious systems.
    Prof. Virk has summed up the discussion with an article titled
    'Religion, Science and Mankind' (authored by D. P. Singh) to
    emphasize the inter-relationship in Science and Religion. It is
    concluded that, during present times, coherence of both these systems
    is a sine qua non factor for attainment of everlasting peace,
    prosperity and spiritual enlightenment of mankind.
    Prof. H. S. Virk has done a momentous work in projecting the divine
    thought of Sikh Gurus to the modern world through this book.
    Scientific Vision of Sikh Gurus comes out brilliantly through this
    work. His thesis is strongly supplemented by appropriate quotes from
    SGGS. Though there has been some repetition of Gurbani quotes and
    textual material in the book yet it does not take the reader astray
    rather it helps in making the things clear. Though the book is a gist
    of research papers prepared/presented at various conferences/seminars
    by the author, yet each article is complete in itself and is a treat
    to read. The younger generation of the Sikhs is likely to gain much
    from this treatise of scientific and spiritual knowledge. It is
    pertinent to add that this is one of the best books ever authored on
    this topic till date. I strongly recommend that this book should be
    on the shelves of all libraries and be distributed by all Gurudwaras.
    It is imperative that the Sikh youth of today are encouraged to read
    works of this nature.
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  3. Taranjeet singh

    Taranjeet singh India
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    Oct 21, 2009
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    Very many thanks for posting this material.
    It is certainly a good exposition and stretching sikhism and the scripture a length that elasticity and plasticity will have to be brought into play.

    Author deserves full compliments for this.

    The author must have made many presumptions and about 'Naam' and 'sabda'. Being on this forum for quite sometime now, I doubt that if the meaning of either of the terms is standardized. Both the terms are as confusing as these are praiseworthy. We are ourselves not clear as to what exactly is naam, the sole medium provided for the sikhs to meet the ultimate. I am not to criticize this aspect so far as the author and his work is related.

    When the concept of naam is not clear, how can it be said that HE can be realized and it is a reality. He has been stated to something that is beyond comprehension and unfathomable. All this gives and idea that there is God but HE is Akaal and ajuni.

    I presume that the author must have done full justice to the concepts like Nadar and pre-ordained destiny and without which nothing can be done. How can it be stated that HE can be realized of our own?

    There is no claim about this. Every thing is enveloped by HIS grace/Nadar and above all pre-ordained destiny and Karma.

    I do not agree with this part of the claim of the author. God, as per sikhism , can only be experienced if He so wishes and there is no scope of the individual's aspirations and wishes. if the seeker does not find this time well there next time..when the present karma would be duly considered. Looked from this prismatic views the book should make an interesting read for the westerner and not by the seekers who are yet grappling with the naam/sabad/akhar. We are yet not clear if someone else would give us naam or we should be satisfied with 'waheguru Guru Mantar hey'. Sikhsim remains unexplored in this area and no claim of the author would be authenticated. Sunnn or sunya are abstracts only. But we accept everything that is contained in the Holy scriptures and that is the way the things should be.

    There are some other aspects that can be discussed if one has the time. There is silence over the aspect if the sikhism reject the Vedas. It is another grey area. Likewise there are many other aspects that would need clarification.

    However, all said and done the author has done a praiseworthy job.

    To be edited....
    • Like Like x 1
    #2 Taranjeet singh, Dec 7, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009

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