image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

Guru Nanak Parkash 550 Years: Seeking Gurbani Guidance: Climate Crisis

(Part III conclusion)


   The Gurmat way to commemorate a Gurpurab, especially a milestone event like the Parkash of Guru Nanak Sahib 550 years ago, is to seek Gurbani guidance to address the human condition from many perspectives. We continue with the topic of environmental threat to human survival. There is a dis-connect between human beings and nature as a consequence of modern living. Gurbani reconnects us with nature.

The Aarti of Guru Nanak rejected the traditional Aarti ritual of the vedic tradition and reminded us of the true Aarti of nature before the Creator of all. Thus:

The sky is the platter (thaal) used for the aarti, in which sun and moon are the lamps.
The stars in the constellations are the jewels
The wind, laden with sandal-wood fragrance, is the celestial fan
All the flowering fields, forests are the radiance!

This is Your true aarti by nature O&rsquo My Lord, Destroyer of fear!

(SGGS p 663)

The whole creation is a celebration of nature (kudrat) in which resides the Creator Being.

Another holy composition is the Barah Maha meaning "Twelve Months". Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan wrote Gurbani under this heading. It is wonderful divine poetry about the seasonal changes in nature which interact with the human soul yearning for union with the One Creator Being.

These are just some examples from Sri Guru Granth Sahib to show the essential unity of life-diversity in nature and the Creator of all. In other words: If you do not see God in all creation, the finely balanced eco-system, then you do not see God at all!

Today&rsquos selfish consumerism and market driven economies are a threat to the global climate and the environment. Sikhi &ndash Sikh thought and way of life &ndash has a powerful message for humankind regarding ecological issues. On this earth, man is at the head of all species but has forgotten his duty (to serve the Creator and His creation) due to lust and greed (SGGS p.374). The gist of some passages of Japji Bani and many other similar references in Sri Guru Granth Sahib can be summarised as follows:

The great mother earth (&ldquomata dharat mahatt&rdquo, with its many life forms, is the &ldquodharam khand&rdquo, the realm of balanced, responsible and righteous living. This earth, together with the environment (wind and water) is the &ldquodharamsaal&rdquo or &ldquomandir&rdquo (place of worship) where man is to achieve the purpose of this life. He is not to desecrate this place of worship by disturbing the fine balance of nature by abusing the environment through selfish overuse of resources.

The Creator Being resides in nature, creates numerous diverse species, and provides the fine balance in life. The air, the water and the earth are the givers of life and knowledge, and sustainers of life. The environment is the teacher, the water and the great mother earth the father and mother. Earth is the temple of God. Therefore, it is also our duty to serve the earth and the environment. Diversity must be preserved and respected.

The ecological message of Sikhi is highly relevant today as solutions to the climate crisis and related environment issues are being sought at local, national and global levels.

Gurmukh Singh OBE