Celebration of any Gurpurab and, especially, the 550th Parkash Divas (Birthday) of Guru Nanak Sahib is also the time when we reflect on the state of the Panth. We have to ask ourselves honestly if we are the true followers of the Sikhi preached by the Guru. If not, then we need to rediscover Sikhi in its pristine form.
The True Source for doing that is Gurbani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib as ordained by Guru Gobind Singh ji. The Singh Sabha Movement started by Gursikh scholars in the second half of the 19th century was a major initiative to do that continually and to guide ourselves back to the Sikhi as taught by Guru Nanak Jot and Jugat over a period of 239 years from 1469 to 1708.
We have hundreds of gurdwaras and Panthic jathebandis. There is no shortage of paper and electronic information and publications about Sikhi. We need to lay the foundations for Sikhi milestone achievement for the next 50 years as we celebrate the arrival of Guru Nanak Sahib 550 years ago. We need to spread Gurbani-based guidance about the most pressing issues facing humanity today.
One global issue of great concern is the climate change threatening our very survival due to irresponsible human activity. In Japji Sahib, the founding Bani (sacred composition) of Guru Nanak Sahib, the concluding Salok, refers to earth as the great mother earth (Mata Dharat Mahat). Today, Mother Earth is being stripped bare of its natural resources. That is the first topic discussed in parts from this week.
There is little doubt now that the danger of global climate change is real. In April 2019, thousands of environmental activists supporting the Extinction Rebellion campaign group, made news headlines. For days they blocked roads in London at Westminster, Parliament Square, Waterloo Bridge and West End. The demonstrations aimed to block five iconic locations to draw attention to what they see as the Ecological and Climate Emergency of climate change.
Many responsible and well-known figures joined these massive protests and camped at the famous landmark places overnight. They defied police attempts to move them and hundreds were arrested. They brought the capital city to a standstill. The message they were conveying was that the danger of the consequences of climate change due to mis-management of the global environment and resources by humankind was real and imminent. This is a real global threat and politicians at all levels can no longer play political games with the issue.
Religious organisations are also addressing this issue at interfaith forums. Gurbani based briefings are needed for Sikh representations at such events. One example of a related interfaith one-day event being organised in September this year has rather a sensational heading: We have 12 years to save the planet. The Sikh Missionary Society UK is briefing a Sikh lady journalist to give the Sikh Faith perspective on the environment and to take part in the follow up discussions.
The ecological (environmental) message of Guru Nanak Sahib is highly relevant today and such events provide opportunities for disseminating that message while promoting Sikh identity. (To be continued).
Gurmukh Singh OBE, a retired UK senior civil servant, chairs the Advisory Board of The Sikh Missionary Society UK. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The article first appeared at The Panjab Times, UK. See here.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Climate emergency – What would Nanak do? (Asia Samachar, 16 July 2019)
Linking charity work with extremism (Asia Samachar, 13 July 2019)