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Sikhism Scientific Vision In SGGS And Interfaith Dialogue (A Review)

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Sikhism Scientific Vision In SGGS And Interfaith Dialogue (A Review)

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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
science.

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.
 
Oct 21, 2009
451
895
India
Forwarded and posted at SPN with permission of Jagpal S. Tiwana
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.
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....
 
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