image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Guru Nanak Parkash 550 Years: Seeking Gurbani Guidance: Climate Change - Continued (Part II)

        As we celebrate 550th Guru Nanak Parkash anniversary, we seek Gurbani guidance about some critical global issues facing humanity. From last week, we continue with climate change as one such issue. Massive demonstrations organised by the Extinction Rebellion campaign group in April 2019, drew political and public attention to the seriousness of this global challenge.

Life on earth incudes all life forms. They were evolved by nature over millions of years to co-exist interdependently in a finely balanced system. Guru Nanak Sahib (1469-1539), the founder of Sikhi (Sikhism) called this system, Dharam Khand. The Creator Being established this dimension of life existence as the home of Dharam &ndash the sacred place where righteous conduct is to be practised. (SGGS p.1033)

In this system, the law of cause and effect operates. That means one reaps what one sows (Jeha beejay so lunnay, karma sandra khet SGGS p. 134.). That is how Dharam operates. The law of Dharam teaches us how to live responsible lives if we are to be saved from disorder leading to chaos and destruction.

In Sikhi, the purpose of human life on earth is to see the Creator Being in His creation (kudrat) and to serve both. Only then is a state of harmonious living achieved.

The description of Dharam Khand is introduced as follows: Nights, seasons, wind, water, fire and life below the surface of the earth, in the midst of these He set His temple []]the earth] so that humankind may learn and practice righteous living. Therein he created limitless diverse species with own living modes.&rdquo (SGGS p. 7 )

And so the description of Dharam Khand continues in Japji Sahib, which is the founding holy composition of Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak saw the Creator in the diverse creation wherein He sits and watches over all with joy and satisfaction (chaao). Many passages in Sri Guru Granth Sahib are devoted to nature, the environment, the wind and the rain, day and night, the changing seasons, and the rich diversity of life on earth. The Creator created the air, which created water and brought life on earth. (SGGS p.19).

The concluding hymn of Japji Sahib teaches us that the air which gives life is the guru, the teacher, water is the father and the great earth is the mother (pawan guru, paani pita, mata dharat mahat.)  

Another beautiful example in Gurbani (the Guru&rsquos Word) is of nature performing its own version of the Aarti ceremony before One Creator Being. Aarti is also a Hindu religious ceremony of worship in which light is offered to one or more gods or goddesses while songs are sung in praise of the deity. Aarti means light which removes darkness and is linked to ancient Vedic fire rituals.

However, Guru Nanak offered the true version of Aarti worship to the One Creator Being, with a powerful ecological message. This discussion is continued next week as we also learn how the path of Sikhi is sovereign and distinct from ancient Vedic and Abrahamic traditions. We need to re-discover Sikhi in its pristine form as we celebrate the arrival of Guru Nanak Sahib on this earth 550 years ago.

Gurmukh Singh OBE