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Guru Nanak Dev Scholarship Award Instituted at BU Univ.

Brandon’s Sikh community's new scholarship at Brandon Univ....

Editor's note: The article below was originaly published on May 28th 2015. Since that time the scholarship has awarded the following: 

1. 2016 / 2017 Academic year        
Cyril Mathew  Parrenas, a fourth year student in Psychiatric Nursing Program at Brandon University. Received $1415.00
2. 2017 / 2018 Academic year         
Jasmine  Chapman, a third year student in Bachelor of Science program at Brandon University. Received   $1680.00

Award Established at BU in Honour of Guru Nanak Dev

 

BRANDON, MB – Brandon’s Sikh community has established a new scholarship at Brandon University (BU) in honour of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism. The Guru Nanak Dev Scholarship will award approximately $1,400 each academic year to a continuing BU student on the basis of academic merit and a record of significant community service to a volunteer organization.

“We are proud to support this scholarship in honour of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism,” said Mr. Ramjit Mann, a member of the Brandon Sikh community. “His philosophy for everyone to follow was very simple; make your living by honest means, share your earnings with the poor, sick and disabled, and respect nature for the abundant resources provided to humankind.”...

Brandon University, founded in 1899, promotes excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship, and educates students so that they can make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders.

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Guru Nanak Scholarship

This scholarship was established to Honour and Celebrate the philosophy of an outstanding scholar, who was not only a great philosopher but also an outstanding teacher, scientist and environmentalist during the 15th century. Through his philosophical approach he shared the importance of Education to make this world a better place for all humankind.

One wonders, who is this outstanding scholar? It is Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, most appropriately the founder of modern Humanism.

According to Guru Nanak, "Knowledge" is the most significant element in the educational process.

Saying goes: some one asked Guru Nanak, Where to find peace and happiness?

Guru Nanak replied, It is all within, however you have to have Knowledge to find it.

So what is Knowledge?:

Knowledge is rightly called the "third eye" of a man/woman
Knowledge is strength
Knowledge leads to wisdom and insight
Knowledge elevates body, mind and soul
Knowledge is virtue

   Vidyaa vichaari ta paropkari. AGGS, M1, Ang 356
Says Nanak: That education is worth, which is applied to the welfare (uplift) of the humanity.

"Wisdom is not to be wasted in futile arguments.Use wisdom and reason in the service of humankind and the practice of charity.Learn by intelligent readings and earn respect by exercising wisdom. Says Nanak, this is the right path while other things (failure to apply discerning intellect) lead to wickedness". AGGS, M1, Ang 1245

Guru Nanak travelled more than 20,000 miles during his life time and used what ever means to travel were available e.g. Walking, horseback, boat etc.( there were no trains, buses or aeroplanes at that time) to spread his philosophy by engaging in healthy dialogue based on logic.

"Do not live a life of isolation, interact with others. Keep learning from others and teaching others, as long as there is a breath of life." AGGS, M1, Ang 661

Highlights of Guru Nanak's Philosophy:
Guru Nanak had unique revolutionary and liberating philosophy of universal humanism- liberty, love, respect, justice and equality applicable to all.

Humanism:
Promotion of humanism started in 19th and 20th century in Europe and USA. In 1952, it was recognized by UNO.

It may look surprising to know that Guru Nanak is the pioneer of modern humanism. Not only this, he was the first in the world to have actually launched a revolutionary movement for achieving the aims of humanism. The movement unparalleled in the world, was run successfully for more than 2 centuries.

Share (Charity):
This means to share what you have and to consume it together as a community. This could be wealth, food etc. to share with poor, sick, disable and underprivileged and also help the weak.

Environment:
Guru Nanak in 15th century, using the most revered icons of Indian traditions; Teacher, Mother and Father, he expressed his reverence for the environment as:
"Air is Guru, Water is the father and Earth is the great Mother of all. Day and Night are the two nurses (nannies) in whose laps the whole world is at play." AGGS, M1, Ang 8

"Harmony with Hukam (cosmic law) means concern for the ecosystem, treating all beings with kindness and respect for the environment."

Cosmology:
The Big Bang Theory in 20th century , creation of universe, about 13.7 billion years ago.
Guru Nanak expressed his own views on the vastness of the cosmos, time of its creation and how it came into being.
"The cosmos sprang from a single act of Entity (cosmic law) generating innumerable currents of creation". AGGS, M1, Ang 3.

"Arbad narbad Dhundhookaaraa" AGGS, M1, Ang 1035
For endless eons, there was only utter darkness.
The Entity (cosmic law) was inactive state.

Guru Nanak called it "Sunn", very close to Nothingness by some and Singularity by other scientists. Guru Nanak also postulated that there are other places with life in cosmos:
"There are living beings in water, on land and in the cosmos" AGGS, M1, Ang 466

Evolution:
Nanak discussed and imparted credence to the subject of evolution of life about 500 years ago, roughly 350 years before Charles Darwin. Guru Nanak says that basic elements were recycled as inanimate matter like rocks and mountains before the creation of the "building blocks of life" for the evolution of living cell.The discovery of DNA and the principle of double helix have shown how self- regeneration molecular chains evolve naturally from non-living matter.(1)

"Ka-ee janam bha-ay keet patangaa" AGGS, M5, Ang 176

Many births (different evolutionary stages of life) created worms, insects, animals, rocks, mountains and trees. Similarly, it took a very long time (4-5 billion years) for human body to evolve, through many evolutionary stages of life.

Community Farming:
Guru Nanak was a pioneer in community farming, about 400 years before Community-Supported Agriculture in America was influenced by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher. After his travels, he settled down at Kartarpur, Punjab,(now in Pakistan) a town he founded himself. At there, he started community farming and community/common kitchen. Guru Nanak established an Education/Training centre for his philosophy and principles. It has been said that, there were several millions people who adopted his philosophy and principles in their daily life at time of his death on September 5th, 1539.

One important point to note here is that, he brought this revolution by peaceful means, without shedding a single drop of human blood.

This Scholarship has been established by the Sikh Community of Brandon with the cooperation of Brandon University to honour and celebrate Guru Nanak's contributions to all humankind.

Since Guru Nanak's philosophy was for all human beings, this scholarship will be awarded each year to an individual regardless of their race, culture, religion etc.

The student who believes in and executes philosophy of Guru Nanak through actions to improve him/herself and the society at large:

  • Works hard to his/her fullest potential,
  • Continuing to develop/increase his/her knowledge through education,
  • Volunteers ( shares time, skills, knowledge etc.) to help others. On behalf of Sikh Community of Brandon, I would like to thank Brandon University staff, Scholarship committee, Senate and Students to be partners in promoting and celebrating Guru Nanak's philosophy for all human kind!

Thank you
Ramjit Singh Mann

Reference:
1. Dr. Baldev Singh, Gurmat - Guru Nanak's Path of Enlightenment, First Edition 2015.

Acknowledgements:
My special thanks to Sukhminder Singh Bath for his expert help and advice in preparation of this presentation.

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