By Harbans Lal | Seeking Wisdom | OPINION |
Although every day is an occasion to exchange gifts, the new year is a unique opportunity to do so according to Western culture.
While thinking of gifts, it came to my mind that why not, this year, I share gifts of spiritual values. That way, we may create an occasion of sharing Guru’s Wisdom as a new year’s gift. Sharing grace and blessings of knowledge with the people around us should be a pride privilege. This is especially true on days like New Year Day.
Following this idea, I am presenting you my gifts. These are selected publications as gifts for you all, my friends, and your friends. They are all through the courtesy of the generous writers and publishers. You may feel free to share them with your friends. That should make your next year more meaningful and overwhelming with intellectual pleasure.
Here are two books, The Japuji: The Way to Divine Life and JAP: The Essence of Nanakian Philosophy (a scientific and logical interpretation); two issue of the Journal Nishaan – Nishaan – Blue_Star-II-2018 and Nishaan – Guru_Granth_Conference2017.
Everyone asks this question: “How to be truthful and live a life of goodness”. Guru Nanak answers this, and other similar issues in his treatise translated and expounded most recently by Prof. Balbir Singh Makkar of Guru Nanak Dev University and Professor Devinder Singh Chahal of the Institute of Understanding Sikhism.
Among the world scriptures, the Japuji is considered Guru Nanak’s original composition, thereby qualifying it to be the essence of Sikh thoughts and Sikh teachings. Some find it an inspiring prologue to the universal Sikh scripture, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, as the Japuji prefaces it.
On this account, the Japuji has attracted the attention of theologians and scholars alike so that they rendered it into many world languages including Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Hebrew, all the European languages, and so on, and over a hundred translations into English.
The Punjabi translations dated back to the times of Guru Arjan Dev (1563 –1606); and an Arabic rendering going back to the times of Guru Nanak (1469-1539). We are indebted to Dr. Rattan Singh Jaggi and Raja Mrigindra Singh for exploring many of them and giving us a comparative overview.
With a few exceptions, the available translations are regurgitations of what has been published centuries ago. Then, some versions were just devotional, others were outlines of the philosophical traditions of the time, and still, others were the interpretations of a class of god-men and clerics who toed the themes of their times when religions were replete with Man-Made rituals, superstitions, and beliefs in occult traditions.
Until the advents of the Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar), the Punjabi University (Patiala), and alike, the god-men were devoid of modern education and were ill-trained to interpret Sikhism to the millennial generation. Instead, they propagated ethnocentrism and blind faith in the local lingua franca that benefited them by promoting their commercial and political interests or enterprises. Their compositions were devoid of modern exegesis of the scripture, or the practices of Sikhism as a more contemporary global dharma or religion that was initially founded for the benefit of the whole humanity. The illiterate kept on harping on the ancient concepts of orthodox schools of ancient philosophy.
More recently, Sikh academia felt challenged to the necessity of interpreting the Japuji for the Millennials. They began to make welcome efforts. I recall with appreciation, the translation and commentary of Japuji by Dr. Diwan Singh and his contemporaries as the very first ones in the new series. Professor Makkar’s rendition and that of Dr. Devinder Singh Chahal are the most recent contributions.
Both of the recent translations in English are included here as the New Year gifts to all of you. Please feel free to share with your family and friends.
I HOPE THAT you must be sick of receiving fashion magazines and Hollywood magazines as New Year gifts. They contribute little to today’s problems of humankind. A journal issue on the subject of the Guru Granth scripture and another on ghalughara of 1984 will be excellent reading material for you, your family and your friends. I have permission to distribute these issues widely free of cost for your reading and hopefully subscribing when you realize their worth.
Harbans Lal, Ph.D.; D.Litt (Hons) is the Professor Emeritus & Chairman at the Dept of Pharmacology & Neurosciences, University of North Texas Health Science Center. He is also the Professor Emeritus at the Amritsar-based Guru Nanak Dev University as well as President of the Academy of Guru Granth Studies. He can be reached at Japji2050@gmail.com. Link to the original article.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
International peace bridge connecting Kartarpur in Pakistan and Dera Baba Nanak in India (Asia Samachar, 21 Sept 2018)