Gurbani And The Natural World | SIKH PHILOSOPHY NETWORK
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Gurbani And The Natural World


We must dare to reexamine our longstanding preference for history over nature. The celebration of "historical monotheism" is a fierce attempt thinkers to distance Guru from the world of Hinduism. Nature is faulted for the primitiveness and decadence of pagan religions, and the modem sikh is saddled with a reading of his tradition that is one-dimensional. Sikhism has been made to dull our sensitivity to the awe-inspiring power of nature. Preoccupied with the ghosts of other religions, it appears indifferent and unresponsive to the supreme challenge of our age: man's degradation of the environment. Our planet is under siege and we as sikhs are in silence.

What a monumental disservice to Sikhism and human kind! For, properly understood, Sikhism pulsates with reverence for God's handwork. Man may embody the highest form of consciousness in the universe, but hardly merits the limitless power of an absolute monarch. His unique ability to unravel the secrets of nature does not make him the equal of its creator. In the tart words of William Blake, the unrepentant critic of Newton and the Enlightenment: "He who sees the infinite in all things sees God. He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only." Sikhism is a religious tapestry designed to sharpen our eye for the divine, in nature as well as in history, and thus is laced with universal motifs relevant to our contemporary crisis.

Sikhs must recover, even symbolically, harvest festivals, despite the historicizing overlay never lost their agricultural roots. No matter how urban Sikh life became, the ancient harvest festivals have echoed liturgically and ritually with an undertone of anxiety. The fertility of nature is the most basic condition of human survival.

What has become so shockingly clear of late is that our own reckless assault on the environment--whether stemming from indescribable poverty or ever more industrialization--is part of the sentence. The rhythm of the natural year might undulate through the Nanakian calendar, which in turn yields an annual rendition of Sikhism vision of balance and harmony. Sikhs might keep a day of rest reminding man of his earthly status as tenant and not overlord. To rest is to acknowledge our limitations. One day out of seven we cease to exercise our power to tinker and transform. Willful inactivity is a statement of subservience to a power greater than our own.

Once in a week, following the natural path of nature, the world, so to speak, is restored to God, and thus man proclaims, both to himself and to his surroundings, that he enjoys only a borrowed authority.

The design of the day of rest to rein in our lust for grandeur and gratification, then, addresses the environmental issue head on. For the first time, a species has the power to render this planet uninhabitable, either cataclysmically or incrementally. We are not free to act indifferently or selfishly. Our mission is to tend to this cosmic oasis, to perpetuate an islet of consciousness in a seemingly mindless universe. More immediately, how salutary for the environment if one day a week we turned off the engines to walk rather than drive, to cultivate our inner fives, to relate to family and friends.

Errant and powerful, like the awesome potential of a gifted natural athlete, human nature needs to be focused, disciplined, and trained. The awareness of God's dominion, a proprietorship anchored in creation, is the ultimate constraint erected that Sikh could embrace to stay the hand of self-destruction.

Claudia G. S. Martins
Jul 13, 2004
Dear Singh ji (Claudia),

Lot of things are not understood in this article. Perhaps it is too concise to understand by person such as me with little brain.

I am still trying to understand what do u mean by ' Sikhism has been made to dull our sensitivity to the awe-inspiring power of nature'

Cud u write in more detail.

Environmental Concerns

I was just trying to stress the importance of pay attention to nature and environment degradation. Instead of discussing over beaten themes like Sikh identity x 5 K's we would rather discuss which is our contribution to theendangered planet we live in. That's a vital question for the 21st century.

Jul 13, 2004
Well, If we listen Guru ji's sayings, and live in totality as per those, I guess other issues are automatically taken care of.

Best Regards.

Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
Gurbani on Enviorment


pavan guroo paanee pitaa maataa Dharat mahat.
Air is the Guru, Water is the Father, and Earth is the Great Mother of all.

divas raat du-ay daa-ee daa-i-aa khaylai sagal jagat.
Day and night are the two nurses, in whose lap all the world is at play.

chang-aa-ee-aa buri-aa-ee-aa vaachai Dharam hadoor.
Good deeds and bad deeds-the record is read out in the Presence of the IK ONG KAAR.

karmee aapo aapnee kay nayrhai kay door.
According to their own actions, some are drawn closer, and some are driven farther away.

jinee naam Dhi-aa-i-aa ga-ay maskat ghaal.
Those who have contemplated on the Naam, are with IK ONG KAAR after having worked by the sweat of their brows

naanak tay mukh ujlay kaytee chhutee naal. ||1||
-O Nanak, their faces are radiant in the Court of IK ONG KAAR, as they have been blessed due to thier deeds. ||1||


Only if we could practice what we chant, we will become the first enviormental conscious faith and hence will lead this sikhi way of life by starting recycling at home before we venture on cleaning the earth from the man made hazards.

Peace & Love


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