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Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1) (Book Author: Dr. Kala Singh; Book Review by Dr. Devinder Pal Singh)

Dr. D. P. Singh

Apr 7, 2006
Nangal, India
Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1)

Book Review by
Dr. Devinder Pal Singh


Book Title: Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1)

: Dr. Kala Singh, Vancouver, B. C. Canada

Published by: Dr. Kala Singh, Vancouver, B. C. Canada

Year of Publication : 2021; Price : NA; Pages: 284

Reviewer: Dr. Devinder Pal Singh, Director, Center for Understanding Sikhism, Mississauga, ON, Canada

Dr. Kala Singh, a distinguished medical graduate from Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi University, brings a unique perspective to his work. Specializing in psychiatry and having practiced in Africa before moving to Canada, his extensive experience includes working with Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health until retirement. Dr. Singh's expertise extends beyond his medical background, as he has authored numerous articles on mental health and social issues within the Indo-Canadian community. His innovative approach, which incorporates Gurmat spirituality into Western counselling methods, is a testament to his deep understanding of both fields. His work, including his publication, 'The Sikh Spiritual Model of Counseling' in 'Spirituality and Health International,' is featured in various Sikh magazines and books, including his own publications, 'Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1)' and 'Part 2' on Amazon. Dr. Singh's contributions have been recognized with multiple awards, including the prestigious Pravasi Rattan. He also serves as Assistant Secretary and Interfaith Committee Chairman of the Global Sikh Council and Vice-Chair of the Multi-Faith Summit Council of BC.

'Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1)' by Dr. Kala Singh is not just a book but a profound transformative journey into the depths of Sikh philosophy. It doesn't just invite readers, it compels them to embark on a deep exploration of the tenets of Gurmat, the teachings of the Gurus, as derived from the Sikh scriptures. With a preface by Bhai Harbans Lal and a foreword by Dr. Kala Singh, this meticulously structured book is not just a beacon but a guiding light, leading readers to a comprehensive understanding of various aspects of Sikh theology, philosophy, and practice.

In the Preface to the book, Dr. Bhai Harbans Lal eloquently articulates the historical and philosophical significance of the book's subject matter. He points out that Sir William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, once observed that every human is born with an innate urge to know something higher, often called God. Despite many beliefs and religions, humanity has grappled with comprehending or describing this higher entity intelligently. Sikh theologian Bhai Gurdas, in his writings, expressed this innate urge and its human solution. Until Guru Nanak, religious views often anthropomorphized God. Guru Nanak's revolutionary perception of God as an omnipresent, formless reality, symbolized by the icon ੴ (Ek Onkar), is a cornerstone of Sikh philosophy. His teachings emphasized the realization of this divine presence within and around us through the appreciation of creation and the cultivation of divine virtues. This profound exploration of Sikh philosophy and theology, set in its historical context, is the essence of 'Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1) '.

Dr. Kala Singh's book, "Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1)," delves deeply into these teachings, offering a detailed exploration of Sikh doctrines and practices, highlighting the transformative journey toward realizing and embodying divine virtues in everyday life. The book is an invaluable resource for those seeking a profound understanding of Sikh theology. In "Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1)," Dr. Kala Singh seeks to interpret and spread the spiritual messages of Gurbani to English-speaking audiences. He acknowledges differing interpretations of Gurbani, likening it to an ocean where deeper dives yield pearls of wisdom. Dr. Singh shares his journey from questioning to understanding Gurbani’s spiritual insights, which transformed his life. He highlights Guru Nanak's mission to disseminate spiritual wisdom, challenging the ritualistic practices and social injustices of his time. Dr. Singh critiques the misinterpretation of Gurbani, driven by political and religious leaders, which perpetuates meaningless rituals. Emphasizing the internalization of divine virtues, he asserts that heaven and hell are experienced in this life based on one's deeds, not after death. This book addresses common questions about Sikh spirituality, advocating for a deeper understanding and practical application of Gurmat teachings.

The book is methodically organized into distinct chapters, each focusing on a specific concept within Sikhism. This clear delineation makes it an excellent resource for both beginners and advanced learners of Sikh theology. Here’s a brief overview of the content: The concept of God explores the Sikh understanding of God as an omnipresent, formless, and singular entity that transcends human characteristics and exists beyond gender. Gender of God discusses the theological perspective that God in Sikhism is beyond gender, emphasizing God's formless nature. Jot of God and How to Manifest It examines the divine light within every individual and provides guidance on recognizing and manifesting this inner divinity through righteous living and meditation. The Concept of Soul (Atma) explores the nature of the soul in Sikhism, its journey, purpose, and ultimate union with the Divine.

Akhand Path describes the practice of the continuous, uninterrupted recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib, emphasizing its spiritual pros and cons. Amrit Vela highlights that spiritual wisdom can be obtained from Gurbani and discussions at any time of the day, at any place and through any means. The time (Vela) when spiritual wisdom about the virtues of God (Amrit) is obtained is Amrit Vela. Anand discusses the concept of spiritual bliss and joy in Sikhism, derived from living in harmony with divine will. The concept of Ardas explains the nature and significance of Ardas, the Sikh prayer, as a means of seeking divine support and expressing gratitude.

Bhakti (Worship) explores the practice of devotional worship in Sikhism, emphasizing love and devotion to God. Reference of Birds and Animals highlights metaphorical references to birds and animals in Sikh scriptures to convey spiritual lessons. Char Padarath (Four Cardinal Blessings) discusses how the Guru used Char Pdarath mentioned in Vedas to make people understand that spiritual teachings and wisdom from the Guru (Gyan Padarath, Ratan Padarath, Naam Padarath) are the supreme blessings. Chautha Padd elaborates on the concept of the fourth stage in spiritual development, emphasizing detachment and union with God. Chinta (Worry) addresses the concept of worry and anxiety in human life, offering Sikh perspectives on overcoming them through faith and surrender to the divine will.

Creation of the Universe presents the Sikh view of the creation of the universe, emphasizing the divine origin and interconnectedness of all existence. Death Rituals explores Sikh practices and beliefs surrounding death, focusing on the soul's journey and the importance of remembrance and prayer. Is Death Time Predestined discusses the concept of predestination in Sikhism, particularly concerning the timing of death. Dharam explains the concept of Dharam (righteousness or duty) in Sikhism, emphasizing ethical living and moral conduct. Dharamraj describes that we are judged every moment of our life by our consciousness (Dharamraj) and suffer a miserable (Hell) or peaceful life (Heaven) according to our deeds and obtain Mukti while living. Chitr, Gupt explores the metaphysical record-keepers Chitr and Gupt, who are believed to keep a record of human deeds.

The Concept of the Elephant Mind uses the metaphor of an elephant's mind to illustrate mental discipline and control in Sikh teachings. In Gurmat (Gaj Jeo Hohu Sahai) discusses how the concept of the "elephant mind" is applied in Gurmat, emphasizing mental strength and focus. Spiritual Family in Gurbani explores the concept of a spiritual family as presented in Sikh scriptures, emphasizing communal support and shared spiritual growth. Fasting addresses the role of fasting in Sikhism, contrasting it with other religious practices and emphasizing internal discipline over external rituals. Pavan Guru highlights the significance of breath (Pavan) as a teacher (Guru) in Sikh practice, emphasizing mindfulness and meditation. Guru Nanak, A Revolutionary discusses Guru Nanak's revolutionary teachings and their impact on spiritual and social reform. Heaven and Hell explores Sikh views on heaven and hell, emphasizing the state of mind and spiritual condition rather than physical places.

Heritage of the Turban discusses the cultural and spiritual significance of the turban in Sikhism, symbolizing honour, dignity, and responsibility. Turbans of India provides an overview of the various styles and significances of turbans across different regions in India. Hukam, Bhana, and Rza explore the concepts of divine will (Hukam), acceptance (Bhana), and contentment with divine will (Rza). Humility (Garibi) emphasizes the importance of humility in Sikh practice, advocating for a life of modesty and service. Kirtan (Kalyug Meh Kirtan Pardhana) highlights the central role of devotional singing (Kirtan) and to remember the virtues of God every moment of life. Kramat (Miracles) discusses the place and perception of miracles in Sikhism, emphasizing the power of faith and divine intervention.

Lavan explains the four hymns recited during a Sikh wedding ceremony, representing stages of spiritual union and marital commitment. Meditation (Simaran) is remembering the spiritual teaching of the Guru (Giyan) and the virtues of God all the time in the conscious mind (Mann). What to Ask God (Grace of God) guides on seeking divine grace and blessings through prayer and righteous living. Panth explores the concept of the Sikh community (Panth) and its collective identity and responsibilities. Paras discusses the metaphor of the philosopher's stone (Paras) in Sikh teachings, symbolizing transformation through divine grace. Pilgrimage (Tirath) examines the role and significance of pilgrimage in Sikhism, focusing on internal spiritual journeys over physical travel. Ramdas Sarovar Natey highlights highlights bathing in sacred shrines or other rituals cannot wash away sin. Are We Puppets in the Hands of God explores the concept of free will versus predestination in Sikh philosophy.

The Concept of Purable Karam discusses the impact of past actions (Karm) on present circumstances and spiritual progress. Purpose of Human Life explores the Sikh view on the purpose of human life, emphasizing spiritual realization and service. Reincarnation (Juna) and Life After Death (Antkal Jo Lachmi Simare) discuss the cycle of rebirth and the Sikh beliefs regarding life after death. Sach Khand Vasey Nirankar (Sach Khand, The Abode of God) describes the highest spiritual realm, Sach Khand, as the abode of the formless God (Nirankar). Sadh Sangat emphasizes the importance of a holy congregation (Sadh Sangat) for spiritual growth and support. Sanjam discusses the concept of self-discipline (Sanjam) in Sikh practice, essential for spiritual development.

Dr. Kala Singh's "Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1)" is an insightful and comprehensive work that meticulously covers many topics central to Sikh thought and practice. Bhai Harbans Lal's preface and the author's foreword add further credibility and context to the work. The strength of this book lies in its detailed and structured approach, making complex theological concepts accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Dr. Singh’s scholarly yet readable style ensures that the book is not just informative but also engaging.

Using metaphor and references from Gurbani (Sikh scriptures) enriches the narrative, providing readers with a profound understanding of the principles underlying Sikhism. Each chapter is well-researched and clearly presented, making it an invaluable resource for anyone interested in deepening their understanding of Sikh doctrines. "Gurmat Doctrines (Part 1)" is a must-read for scholars, students, and anyone interested in Sikh theology. Dr. Kala Singh has provided a comprehensive guide that is both enlightening and thought-provoking. This book is a testament to the depth and richness of Sikh philosophy and will inspire readers to explore the teachings of the Gurus further.​
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