Science and Spirituality

In this latest entry for GURDWARA DESIGN series, VISHAL J SINGH considers establishing hubs of learning within the Gurdwara itself where matters of science, too, can be as inspiring as matters of faith

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Gurdwara Design: Science and spirituality under one roof – Design: Vishal J Singh
By Vishal J.Singh  | GURDWARA DESIGN |

 

Patala Patal Lakh Agasa Agas

The galaxies can’t be estimated, they are beyond our reach,  there are worlds upon worlds 

These incredibly profound words, as uttered by our First Master, Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and enshrined in the Japji Sahib from the very beginnings of our faith, have always held a special place in our collective hearts. Having the divine ability to see that there are countless stars and planets in our universe, and countless universes in creation itself, demonstrates an astonishing insight of the workings of the cosmos at a time when almost all of humanity believed the world to be flat and nothing else beyond our world was even of existence.

Recent developments in our understanding on how this magnificent universe works through the development of concepts such as String Theory, Supersymmetry, Quantum Mechanics and such seemed to have resonated beautifully with the revelations revealed by these profound words, that the universe and its attributes truly are limitless and infinite.

To imagine that such visionary and progressive thinking, almost scientific in nature, was brought to light by Guru Nanak almost 500 years ago is a mind-boggling epiphany, at a time when superstition reigned supreme in most parts of the world, and the idea of seeing the world through the lens of science and rationality was inconceivable to begin with.

Inspired by the notion of these enlightened words that seem to poetically vindicate and even celebrate the study of science in understanding the universe presently, the next modern Gurdwara design proposed as a concept in this edition of my articles centres on the idea of marrying the need for faith and the study of science in one organized complex. The conceptual design for this Gurdwara incorporates the establishment of an institute dedicated to learning the various fields relevant to scientific industries, specifically the ones relevant to subjects connected to Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education while maintaining the Gurdwara’s primary identity as a house of worship and community centre for the followers of the faith.

Ultimately, the conceptual design of this Gurdwara seeks to express the belief that the study of religion and the study of science need not be in conflict with each other, but can find ways to co-exist and even complement each other in various ways once thoroughly explored. Essentially, as many brilliant minds had come to realize, when it comes to understanding creation via the cosmos, science and faith are simply two sides of the same coin, and they both have valuable insights to share that tend to lead us to undeniable awe at the divine work of the Supreme Being.

The concept for this Gurdwara, affectionately designated as the ‘Cyber Gurdwara’, and named in the same spirit of boldness and creativity of a certain radically designed new pickup truck that was recently launched in the US, celebrates a look that is sleek, angular and striking in its appearance. The ultra-modern visual identity that the Gurdwara embodies serves to highlight its connection to the scientific and the high tech, while maintaining its primary role as a place of worship for the ‘sanggat’  to congregate and to perform their social and religious duties.

THE ENTRANCE: Science and spirituality under one roof – Design: Vishal J Singh / Gurdwara Design

The entrance of the Cyber Gurdwara on the ground floor, framed as a simple rectangle in white and flanked by two water features on each side, is located in-between the research lab and the library on the left and the classrooms for learning on the right. The Darbar Sahib is located on the first floor and is the most striking and visible component, with tall windows at a slanting angle, of all the areas within the complex of the Gurdwara.

THE FRONT: Science and spirituality under one roof – Design: Vishal J Singh / Gurdwara Design

The front of the Cyber Gurdwara is covered by sheets of steel. The walls are made of exposed concrete that have horizontal lines. These lines, or grooves as they are called, project an impression of movement and velocity on its walls, drawing the visitors’ eye from one corner to another, and serve as an interesting feature of the modern high-tech aesthetic of the Gurdwara itself. The research lab and the library on the left incorporates letters of the Gurmukhi alphabets on its glass walls as a symbolic gesture to convey that knowledge and communication is primarily conveyed through the employment of language.

CLASSROOMS: Science and spirituality under one roof – Design: Vishal J Singh / Gurdwara Design

Classrooms for learning are located on the right of the entrance and is located with the Nishan Sahib Plaza in front of the enclosure. Both the research lab and the library and the classrooms are located at the ground floor to allow for direct and convenient public access, to facilitate the notion that education and training is easily available on the premises of this Gurdwara, and the doors are always open to anyone seeking knowledge in this complex.

THE BACKYARD: Science and spirituality under one roof – Design: Vishal J Singh / Gurdwara Design

The back portion of the Gurdwara is where more classrooms and administration offices are located on the left and the Langgar Hall on the right of the complex. Both these areas open up into a courtyard in the middle where people can socialize under the sky, and has landscaping areas to incorporate green spaces to create a pleasant external environment. A private area for teachers and the staff who operate this complex is built above the Langgar Hall as an additional area for them to plan and organize their agendas accordingly for the benefit of the public who come here to study the sciences.

THE LEFT SIDE: Science and spirituality under one roof – Design: Vishal J Singh / Gurdwara Design

The left side of the Gurdwara, where the Darbar Sahib is located on the first floor, has clear open windows to allow views of the external surroundings to be enjoyed, and certain areas have horizontal metal louvers that shade the parts of the building from excessive exposure to sunlight and heat.  All the design features incorporated here showcase elements of the modern high-tech aesthetic that the Gurdwara attempts to portray as an institute that celebrates faith through the learning of the sciences and the practice of religion on its premises.

As we approach the onset of the third decade of the 21st century, we have all come to realize, that through the astonishing advancements of present day scientific innovation, like it or not, we are all on a relentless but progressive march into an exciting future for all humanity. Things that seemed so unimaginable just a decade or two ago, through the development of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, engineering, transportation and communication and such, have now come into fruition,  and are available at our fingertips whenever we need them, and the things that we have achieved since this technological revolution began are truly marvellous and inspiring.

Subsequently, we have now come to a crossroad that demand we ask ourselves how best are we going to cope with the inevitable changes that are going to significantly alter our lives and even more so, our children’s lives in the very near future. We must all be prepared to embrace this future and all its exciting developments, and by incorporating an institute that celebrates learning of the sciences in our Gurdawaras to all members of the sanggat could be a viable strategy to consider for the benefit of community.

Indeed, as mentioned before, science and religion are simply two sides of the same coin when explored in depth. Where we have always looked upon the Gurdwara for comfort and guidance where matters of the spirit are concerned, perhaps we can consider moving forward and establish hubs of learning within the Gurdwara itself where matters of science, too, can be as inspiring as matters of faith.

Waheguru Bless.

The next design will explore the idea of a Gurdwara that is built with the most abundant building material that has been used worldwide since the dawn of the 20th century, and where many incredible buildings have been built using this one versatile, flexible and malleable material as its primary structural ingredient … raw, brutal and unrefined concrete.

Vishal J.Singh, an aspiring architect, holds a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur and enjoys engaging in architecture and its theories as his first love.

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

 

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