Happy New Year - the environment, the eco-system and mankind's responsibility

Environment awareness includes conserving energy, lesser reliance on fossil fuels, water wastage, greed motivated devast...


14th March is slowly but surely becoming an important day in the Sikh calender .

(Sadly, this date is not yet fixed. Some are celebrating this on 14. Some 15th. And some even 17th. A sad indictment of our ‘leadership’ from Akal Takhat for not ‘fixing’ this date once and for all, according to the Gregorian calender. Hopefully this will happen soon – the majority of Sikhs do not even know that our year starts one month before Vesakhi!)

Editors Note:  There is already an "Earth Day" of global awareness regarding conservation of our planet.

The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970 and it activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air ActClean Water ActEndangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people worldwide now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

It is : Sikh New Year Day (1 Chet.)

       : Gurgadhi Devas – 7th. Patshah – Sri Guru Har Rai

       : International Sikh Environment Awareness Day

Firstly I would like to applaud the Eco-Sikh Movement which is gaining momentum globally to create greater awareness of this day.

Though we do not want to overshadow the importance and significance of Khalsa Devas (14 April), I believe a greater awareness of this date is of importance in line with one of the greatest ‘needs’ of the moment for this planet – environment awareness which includes conserving energy, lesser reliance on fossil fuels, water wastage, greed motivated devastation of vegetation without proper rejuvenation, minimisation of garbage and encouraging recycling.

What are we doing, as individuals, as families and as a community towards these aspirations? What practices are we changing to become more environment friendly?

As Sikhs, just like every other faith group, it is our responsibility to become more environment and conservation conscious.

With the help of some close friends, I have put together the article below, along Sikhi lines towards these aspirations..

 

Central Message

{Avar jone teri panehari. iss dharti meh teri sikdhari. SGGS p.374

Dharti degh milai ik vaar, bhaag tera bhendari. SGGS p.1190.}

'The earth is thy playground and its resources and all other life on it, for you to utilise. But, this 'bounty' is only bestowed once. Man, you must manage it, optimise it, replenish it, nurture it - or perish. Your destiny is in being an astute store-keeper.'

Kudrat = Nature + Creative Potency

There is a strong relationship between God and nature in Sikhi. In fact sometimes the Sikh word for nature (kudrat) even refers to the ‘creative potency’ of Waheguru.

Kudrat keem n janiyai, veda vaypervaho.(P724) His creative potency and His value cannot be measured. He is the great and Carefree Lord.

Kudrat deesay, kudrat suniyai kudrat bhau such saar… Sabh teri kudrat, tu kader karta, paki naayi paak (p.464 : Asa Dhi Var). By His power we see and hear. By His power we have fear/awe and the essence of happiness.  Everything is in Your Power. You are the all-powerful Creator. Your Name is the Holiest of the Holy.


Then, the Creator within His Creation …


Anik roop khin mai kudrat dhaarda
In an instant He assumes numerous forms of Nature " [519]

Nature is God's glory manifested for all to see in awe.  Indeed Guru Nanak
Sahib Ji tells us to see God in nature. At page 141 in Majh Ki Vaar the
powerful exclamation appears..

Nanak sach dataar sinakhat kudratee
O Nanak, the True Creator can be recognized in nature"

At page 84, Guru Nanak Dev Ji exclaims.
Kudrat kar ke vassiya soye
He created nature and within it He dwells

Then Guruji tells us that even if one were ever to realise nature, it could
never be expressed.

Kudrat hai kimat nahi paiye . Je kimat paiye ta kahi na jaiye"
The value of the Nature can never be known
If its value were ever to be known it could never be described
Nature is so valuable that its value and usefulness  is beyond words.

Nature is not static. It is very much alive and ever dynamic. When we destroy or over-utilise nature without replenishing, the balance of all creation around us is disturbed. For example, the importance of trees and re-greening of the planet takes on an even greater significance as realisation dawns that we are cutting down forests at an alarming rate, destroying the very lungs of this planet.



HIS CREATION IS PERFECT

"Vartai takko taak…", He creates and distributes without missing a beat.



FEAR – AWE – RESPECT – ACCEPTANCE

Bhai vich pavan vahai sad vao
Bhai vich chalai lakh dareayo
SGGSp.464

In fear of the Lord the wind and breezes blow
The rivers flow as He dictates. They obey His dictates. They cannot flow as
they wish. In the fear of the Lord, thousands of rivers flow.

Sikhs are God-inspired. There is a respectful fear/awe and love of God. The Sikh God is not a vengeful God, and does not ‘punish’ as understood by some other faiths. It is an all-powerful God who has set the ‘Law of Karam’ in operation. (What you sow, so shall you reap. This is the field of cause and effect.)  We live within the ‘Hukm’ (Universal Law). Nature and its balance is part and parcel of that law.


God is present in His Creation

Eh jagh sachai ki hai kothree sachai ka vich vaas..  [464]
This world is a room of the True Lord and He dwells in it



Ghat ghat rav rehiya banvaree
Jall thall mahiyal gupto vartai Gur shabdi dekh niharee jeey.

In each and every heart the Lord is permeating and pervading

In water, on land, in the sky He pervades; through the Guru's
shabad He is revealed"



Hukm razaee chalnaa Nanak likhya naal [1]
O Nanak it is ordained that you shall obey His Order and walk in the way
of His Will "

Thus you have His kudrat, His creation [all nature], and man subject to His
Divine Order. The emphasis is on Order as opposed to chaos.


In the scheme of things, man is the prime of creation, top of the food chain. Gurbani tells us,

Avar joon teri paneharee
Is dharti mai teri sikdaree" [374]

Other forms of creation are your water carriers [ in your care]. In this world you have [been granted] custodianship. This implies responsibility for the eco-system.

Dhharathee saevak paaeik charanaa (page 130, line 14, Raag Maajh: Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji)
The earth is Your servant, a slave at Your Feet.

GOD IS WITHIN – HUMAN, A REFLECTION OF GOD

At page 695, Bhagat Pipa Ji declares..

Jo brahmandey soeey pinday
Whatever is in the Universe is within ourselves "

Guru Amardass Ji reinforces this in His Maru Sohle at page 1064, when he
says.

"Mere kartey ik banatt banayee
Is dehi andar sabh vathh payee "

My Maker has made this formation
Within this body He has placed everything "

Kaeeya andar sabh kich vassai khand mandal patalaa SGGSp.754
In this body everything resides - the continents worlds and nether
regions.

Har mandir eh sareer hai gyan rattan pargat hoye
This body is the Temple of the Lord, in which the jewel of spiritual

wisdom is revealed. This sentiment resonates with numerous other religions too.


SPRING (Basant).

Nature and changing seasons affect us and there is advice in Sikhi about how to use nature to keep us in an uplifted state. Changing seasons, rejuvenation and demise of nature on an annual basis are all great themes in Sikhi and gurbani. Spring is the season for rejuvenation and Gurbani urges us to always be in ‘spring’ as God too is within spring – the period of youthfulness and rejuvenation.

God Himself, is described as ever new.
"Sahib mera nit navaa.." [660]
My Lord and Master is forever new

The Lord is ever described as fresh and dynamic, ever vibrant, never stale
or old. He never decays. It is this stage that Sikhism encourages us to
aspire for.  A state of "chardi kalaa" always optimistic, and in full
bloom.

The first shabad in Raag Basant speaks of the month of spring which is
described as a blessed month.

Maha mah mumarkhee charreya sada basant [1168]
Among the months, blessed is this month when spring always comes.

Taking it further, God Himself and His Wonderful Play is described in terms
of spring.

Mera prabh mauleyaa sada basant [1173]
My Lord is in bloom, forever in spring.

It follows therefore, that those who are imbued in His love are also in
spring, the bountiful season.

Sach ratey tin sada basant[1173]
Those who are imbued with Truth are forever in the bloom of spring.


If the mind is in spring, then the whole world appears rejuvenated and
fresh.
Man basant harey sabh loiye [1176]
When the mind is in spring, all are rejuvenated

This spring in the mind also give us a fresh body. The internal freshness
manifests outwardly.

And, to top it all, the Lord Himself is described as spring with eternal
freshness, and this world, i.e our surroundings, are His Garden.



Aap basant jagat sabh varrhee  [ 1176]

The Lord Himself is the season of spring; this whole world is His Garden"


THE GARDENER

Sinchanharey ekkai malee
Khabar karat hai paat patt dale
SGGSp.385
There is only One Gardener
He takes care of every leaf and branch.

Now, if nature is indeed His Garden as Gurbani tells us, it behoves us to
care for His Garden with love.  When we have our own garden we tend to it
with care and attention. We water the plants, ensure enough sunlight, and do
many things to create a lovely environment. We get untold joy when we are
successful in getting a plant to flower or a tree to fruit. Gurbani says we
should take great care to live with nature and should have respect for the
environment.

Gurbani tells us that God preceeded creation of beings, by first ensuring there was sustenance for all .
Pehlo de tai rijak samahaa   Picho de tai jantt upahaa
 Firstly You created nourishment Then You created the living beings. SGGSp130.

6th Asthpadhi of Sukhmani Sahib:

Jih prasad chatee amrit khaye
Tis Thakur ko rakh man maiye

By His grace you partake of the thirty six delicacies
Enshrine that Lord and Master in your mind"

At page 913 Guru Arjun Dev Ji in Raag Ramkali reminds us we should be ever
grateful to the Lord who has provided us with so much.

Jin diya tudh pavan amoula   Jin diya tudh nir nirola
Jin diya tidh pavak balnaa   Tis Thkur ki raho man sarnaa

He gave you invaluable air  He gave you priceless water
He gave you the burning fire  Let your mind ever remain in the sanctuary of that Lord and Master"

Water, air, fire [fuel] originate from sources in nature. Guruji describes
them as gifts which are priceless. It is therefore our duty to ensure the
sources of these fantastic gifts are not depleted or destroyed. In the same
shabad Guruji emphasises ..

Basudaa deeyo bartan balnaa. He gave you the earth and things to use.


Since it is for use, logically we would be foolish and selfish to destroy
nature or foul up the environment.

GREED

Hey lobha lampatt sirr moarreh anik lahiree kaloltey
Dhavant jeeya baho parkarang anik bhaant baho doltay
Nach mitrang nach istang nach bandav nach maat pita tav lajyaa
Akranang krott akhyadeya khadiyang asajeyang saaj samajeyaa


O greed you cling even to the great, assaulting them with countless waves
You cause them to run around wildly in all directions wobbling and wavering unsteadily
You have no respect for friends, ideals, relations, mother or father
You make them do what they should not; You make them eat what should not
be eaten;
You make them accomplish what they should not accomplish

This clearly explains the greed motivation of big corporations when man made
ecological disasters take place. BP (Gulf of Mexico), Bhopal, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Seveso in Italy [where Dioxin was released and 37,000 people were affected and 80,000 animals put to sleep]. Wars for oil and other resources have been fought under the pretext of human rights.

There is a limit to what we as individuals can do. But do we must.  Gurbani
tells us we must be pragmatic and do altrusitic acts.   We are told the
earth is a gift to us and we must not forget that. In Ramkali Mehla 1 at
page 887 Guru Nanak Dev Ji looks at man and exclaims..

 Maran jeevan ko dhartee dinee aytey gun vissrai
To die and live in, He gave us this earth, but we have forgotten these
blessings

We as individuals can make a difference in our own way. Gurbani always
encourages one to adopt positive values ourselves first before expecting
others to follow. Even on the spiritual path it is "aap jepo" first, then
"avraa naam jaapavo". i.e improve ourselves in our attitude towards nature
and the environment. Regard it as God's gift and use with respect for the
Great Giver who gifted it to us. Then we will be making a small but
meaningful contribution to the world.

ORGAN DONATION / GIVING BLOOD

Sikhs have no qualms of parts of their body being of use after they pass away. Blood donation is carried out regularly through gurdwaras worldwide. Sikhs are urged to be organ donors.

Says Bhai Gurdas in Var 9/18, ‘Meri khalo maujeday, Gur Sikh hendandhay’. I will consider my life a success, if my skin is used for making shoes.

In conclusion, we come to this life, as guests.

Maran likhaye mandall mai aaiye.... [876]
With death pre-ordained the mortal comes into this world..."


Asa mansa jallai tu hoye raho mehmaan " [646]
Burn away your hopes and desires and live like a guest in the world".

As guests, it is immoral for us to remove, abuse or destroy things belonging to the host…


Note: I would like to thank my good friend Manjeet Singh Ji of Malaysia, Paramjit Singh of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Academy, Malaysia and Bai Ji, Pr. Gurmukh Singh of SEWA UK for information towards this article.

Add a Comment