Care For The Environment: Our Collective Sacred Responsibility

Nature is the crowning glory of God; within it: All life is sacred

Editor's note: Below is an article that appeared in the Indianapolis Star -Faith & Values Section- on Sunday, August 9, 2020
by Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh. Before the article we got KP's explanation for why he wrote the article from a Sikh perspective: 

My main focus from the Sikh faith perspective was to highlight that in the Sikh spiritual context, history and tradition, that: All sentient beings, all elements of Nature and all the regions of Creation are sacred and that they all venerate God. Various hymns in Rehras Sahib and Guru Nanak's Japji Sahib illuminate that thought that God's Praise is resounding throughout the unfathomable Universe.
Photographs: Baba Buddajee Thee Bairee: Named after Baba Buddajee, a venerable Sikh Saint, this ancient original tree (at least 450 year old) that still bears fruit (a family of berries) that are considered as a blessing by the faithful. The tree is located in the Parkarma (ceremonial walkway) of the Golden Temple  at Amritsar, the holiest shrine of the Sikh faith. The venerable tree has been the site of many historic ceremonial events associated with the Sikh Gurus. The tree has been venerated, taken care of, preserved, and treated as a sacred icon and a blessings; its fallen fruit as a healer and people offer prayers as they pass by. A metal frame supports it from falling.
Also attached is a photograph of a sacred memorial at Pushkar Lake in Ajmer, India where Guru Gobind Singhjee stopped by on his way South in 1707 AD. An old tree has sprung up from the walls of the sacred marker and it is creating cracks in the walls. Both the building and tree are sacred and are preserved to coexist as of their cherished historic and spiritual significance.

Sikh Faith Perspective

The Sikh scriptures reveal a deep relationship, advocacy and celebration of a divinely-ordained interconnectedness and interdependence of Nature and all sentient beings. Nature is the crowning glory of God; within it: All life is sacred, for “Every being is a repository of the same Divine Light.” Nature and Creation are the unfathomable manifestations of God’s Shabad (Word) that “transcend in all directions and dimensions” - across all spiritual realms, frontiers of Time and Space, cultural thresholds and temporal landscapes. God has provided limitless resources for all Creation to exist and prosper according to His Command.

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Baba Buddajee Bairee

Respect for and preservation of all marvelous blessings enshrined therein must be an act of our obedience to God:

“Men, trees, pilgrimage places, banks of sacred streams, clouds, fields. Islands, spheres, universes, continents, solar systems… The Creator who created the world, He takes care of it as well.” - Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Scripture).

God has “established Earth as a magnificent Dharamsaal (Sacred-Inn) to know and serve God amidst His unfathomable Universe.” As stewards of this Earth, humankind’s immediate task is to put our best minds and intentions to work. Sustainability of the Planet demands responsible care and wise shared responsibility. Our survival depends on that!

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Air, rain, and pollution have no boundaries; clean air and water are a universal sacred right.

That puts the complexity and magnitude of this problem in perspective. Global warming, even if a part of the earthly climatic cycles, is real; and the impact of rampant pollution and related ecological, biological, psychological, and environmental threats cannot be ignored.

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Guru Gobind Singh visited Pushkar in 1707

Reversing and reducing this threat to life, liberty, and environmental health must be a sustained and collective undertaking. Adopting responsible measures to mitigate the devastating impact of past inactions, neglect, and apathy is an urgent first step. Recycling and reusing all that one can; renewing the Earth as our sacred Home is a valued spiritual lesson and practice in many cultures.

Awareness and respecting nature have been an honored commitment by the Sikh Gurus (Enlightened Teachers). Founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, reminds us: “Pawan Guru pani pita mata dharat mahat: Air is our Teacher, the Water our Father, and the sacred Earth is our great Mother.” Air, water, fire, and sunlight are critical to life. The Earth, with its awesome abundance is a sacred inheritance that we share as one human family. Physical, mental, and spiritual health, and the peace and prosperity of all sentient beings depend on stopping further deterioration of its life-sustaining blessings. Continuing violations and neglect hurt all life and our future!

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Pushkar Lake, Rajistan

The Washington-based environmental organization EcoSikh that has been mobilizing up to 2,000 Sikh organizations worldwide since March 2011, released a statement on climate change from the Sikh perspective… “As Sikhs, we appeal to lawmakers, faith leaders, and citizens of the world to take concrete action toward reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment. ... (we) have to put environmental issues at the center of security concerns.”- Dr. Rajwant Singh.

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Dukh Bhanjanee Beri is associated with Bibi Rajni

Today, Sikh volunteers and organizations around the world annually plant hundreds of thousands of new trees to replenish deforestation that cause ravaging erosions and flooding and damage to life and property. The Sikh Gurdwaras (places of worship) are ending the use of plastic spoons, styrofoam plates and cups and replacing them with the traditional stainless steel utensils for community meals. Sikhs are networking with interfaith congregations on ecological concerns, conservation of raw materials, and safe-energy strategies; and adopting the latest weathering techniques to make buildings eco-friendly and respecting environmental concerns. We remember recycling-vendors coming through our neighborhood to pick-up newspapers, metal containers, and glass bottles since we were children.

The Sikh Faith Message: Together in a solemn commitment, we have to end thoughtless encroachments and trampling of the sacred boundaries that violate environmental balance. Passionately engage in renewal, innovative initiatives that replenish, safeguard, and respect the “exalted Mother Earth” that provides limitless blessings for all sentient beings and earnour worthy rightful place in God’s “Sacred Cathedral,” His Beautiful Planet Earth.

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<> KP Singh - author, public speaker, Sikh and interfaith leader, community volunteer <>
All quotes used in the article are directly from Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh Holy Scriptures)

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