By Malkeet Singh Rawang | OPINION |
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a game changer who preached a life of harmony with all of existence including Mother Nature.
Not only was Nanak a reformist, challenging age-old rituals but also advocating respect and protection of Mother Nature. He wanted communities to have equal access to clean water as the source of life that brings food for both humans and animals. This is illustrated by Guru Nanak’s numerous encounters during his travels including the famous Panja Sahib narrative.
Guru Nanak’s eco-theological teachings were spread more than 500 years ago, long before the alarm bells rang on environmental devastation, climate change, pollution and rampaging forest fires.
The founder of Sikhism was a nature-lover. He inspired humanity to look at Mother Nature as the divine presence of the Almighty Creator through a symbiotic relationship with the environment.
Guru Nanak foresaw the imminent dangers of global warming and ecological degradation as quoted in the Japji Sahib:
‘Pavan guru paani pita mata dharat mahat, divas raat dui daee daya kheylai sakal jagat’
Air is the Guru, Water the Father, and the Earth is the Great Mother. They give us life, we sleep in their lap night and day, so we should not spoil them.
In essence, Nanak was driving home the inherent importance of keeping our earthly environment safe. Translated into everyday language, Guru Nanak was telling us not to cut trees and forbid the indiscriminate throwing of rubbish.
As a conservationist, Guru Nanak laid the foundation for humanity to pay obeisance to God’s creation. He stressed that our daily life must be based in sharing nature’s bountiful resources equitably .
Hence, it is not surprising that Sikh organisations have adopted Guru Nanak’s eco-theology and embarked on environmental awareness projects globally.
Amongst the most prominent is EcoSikh, headquartered in the United States of America, espousing in their mission statement:
“We honour our Gurus’ wisdom by believing that all humans have an intrinsic sensitivity to the natural world, and that a sustainable, more just society is possible, where water, air, land, forests, and biodiversity remain vibrant, living systems for our generation and future generations.”
To commemorate Guru Nanak’s 550th Birth Anniversary, EcoSikh launched a global campaign to plant one million trees before the end of 2019.
Closer to home, kudos to the Gurdwara Sahib Rawang for being one of the earliest adopters in harnessing solar energy for a cleaner and more sustainable environment through the installation of 48 units of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in 2016.
For 50 years, Gurdwara Sahib Rawang has been involved with the harvesting of rainwater. Concrete tanks collect and store rainwater for washing of cooking utensils and general cleaning.
In line with Guru Har Rai’s aspiration of building Green Gurdwaras, plans are afoot in landscaping compound of the Gurdwara Sahib Rawang with flora and fauna upon completion of the building expansion project.
Interestingly, the Gurdwara grounds were home to several fruit-bearing mango trees in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. It is heartening to see the regeneration and renewal of this practice soon.
The Sikh community of Rawang must participate in conservation projects which use recycling, clean and renewable energy supplies and locally-grown organic food sources. They can support green workshops on home-grown organic vegetables and herbs, harvesting rainwater and composting techniques among others.
Guru Nanak decreed that it is the moral and spiritual duty of every Sikh to look after Mother Nature. Indeed, Sikhs are reminded of the importance of eco-theology in their daily prayers. We will find Nanak in the exuberance and beauty of Mother Nature.
Rawang tree planting, essay writing competition for #GuruNanak550 (Asia Samachar, 9 Nov 2019)
Myanmar Sikhs paint earth green with 550 tree saplings (Asia Samachar, 26 April 2019)