Ecological Concerns in Sri Guru Granth Sahib

The increasing barrenness of the Earth also reflects a spiritual emptiness within humans

This article 'Ecological Concerns in Sri Guru Granth Sahib' written by Dr. Devinder Pal Singh was originally published on January 14th 2021. It is a paradigm shifting discussion about the centrality of nature with God and the implications of this in our lives especially as Sikhs (namely that we learn virtues from the natural elements and take care of the planet as an equal entity within the Body of Divinity). We are grateful to republish this article in honor of SikhNet's 25th anniversary. Register to attend SikhNet's 25th Anniversary Virtual Gala. 

At present, amid a technological revolution, humanity is facing significant challenges for its survival. Ecological crisis is one of the gravest among these. There is a severe concern that the Earth may no longer be a sustainable biosystem. Although human beings are seen as the most intelligent life form on Earth, yet they are responsible for almost all the ecological damage done to the planet. 

According to the Sikh scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) [1-2], humans create their surroundings as a reflection of their inner state. The current instability of the Earth's natural system is only a reflection of the instability and pain within them. The increasing barrenness of the Earth also reflects a spiritual emptiness within humans [3]. 

SGGS declares that human beings' purpose is to achieve a blissful state and be in harmony with the Earth and all of God's creation. It seems, however, that humans have drifted away from this ideal. The Sikh scripture tells that an attitude of humility, surrender to the Divine Spirit, and maintaining a harmonious relationship with all existence is sine-qua-non for humanity to find a way out of this dilemma. 

Grave Crisis

For the survival and development of an organism or an ecological community, its environment depends on biotic and abiotic factors. Biotic factors include the organisms themselves, their food, and their interactions, whereas abiotic factors include sunlight, soil, air, water, climate, and pollution. The ecological crisis has been triggered as both these factors have come under great stress due to unbridled demands of national economic growth and individual needs and desires. 

A severe environmental crisis is caused by man's exploitation of Nature (material world and its phenomena) on the abiotic front. The large-scale depletion of natural resources, destruction of forests, and overuse of land for agriculture and habitation have contributed immensely to this peril. Poisonous smoke from industries, homes and vehicles is contaminating air, land, and water. A smoky haze has enveloped significant cities of the world. Industrial waste and consumer trash are choking streams and rivers, ponds and lakes, killing marine life. Much of the waste is a product of modern technology. It is neither biodegradable nor reusable, and its long-term consequences are unknown. The viability of many animal and plant species, and possibly that of humankind itself, is at stake.

At the biotic level, humanity is facing a social justice crisis, which is caused by humanity's confrontation with itself. The social justice crisis is that poverty, hunger, disease, exploitation and injustice are widespread. There are economic wars over resources and markets. The rights of the poor and the marginal are violated. Women, constituting half the world's population, have their rights abused. Thus, contemporary human society is in the midst of a grave ecological crisis.

Interdependence 

In our daily life, we are inclined to perceive things as real and independent of each other. Take, for example, a leaf, which we see on the branch in front of us. We may think that this leaf exists independently of all the other leaves, independently of the branch, the trunk, and the tree's root, independently of the clouds, the water, the Earth, and the Sky. In truth, this leaf could not be here without the presence of all the other things, which we see as different from it. The leaf is one with the other leaves, the branch, the trunk, and the tree's roots; with the clouds, the river, the Earth, the Sky and the sunlight. If anyone of these things were not present, the leaf could not be. If we look deeply into the leaf, we can see the presence of all these things. The leaf and these things are present together. It is the principle of interbeing and interpenetration, the code of one is all, and all is one. This principle of interdependent origination tells us that things do not exist outside of each other. Things exist within each other and with each other. So all phenomena in the Universe need to be observed in the light of interdependence.    

Sikhs believe that an awareness of the sacred relationship between humans and the environment is necessary for our planet's health and our survival [4-6]. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib, man and the material world are seen no more as external to each other, but being involved in inter-dependent relationships, reciprocally conditioning each other's life. Guru Nanak proclaims this kind of inter-dependent relationship in his composition 'Jap (u)';

ਪਵਣੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪਾਣੀ ਪਿਤਾ ਮਾਤਾ ਧਰਤਿ ਮਹਤੁ ॥ ਦਿਵਸੁ ਰਾਤਿ ਦੁਇ ਦਾਈ ਦਾਇਆ ਖੇਲੈ ਸਗਲ ਜਗਤੁ ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 8) 

Air is the vital force, water the progenitor, the vast Earth is the mother of all, Days and Nights are nurses, fondling all creation in their lap. (Mehl First, SGGS, p 8)

SGGS articulates that human beings' purpose is to be in harmony with all creation and that human domination is to be rejected. The Sikh Gurus recognized human responsibility towards the material world. So, Air, Water and Earth's importance to life is emphasized repeatedly in the SGGS. The Earth is referred to as the mother and, as such, requires our respect. Great care needs to be taken to ensure that no damage occurs to it while a Sikh is going about his or her daily life. The pollution of these three elements is against the principles laid down by the Gurus. The Sikh Scriptures enunciate the importance of the environment as:

ਪਉਣ ਪਾਣੀ ਧਰਤੀ ਆਕਾਸੁ ਘਰ ਮੰਦਰ ਹਰਿ ਬਨੀ ॥(ਮ. 4, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 723) 

Air, water, Earth and Sky - the Lord has made these His home and temple. (Mehl 4, SGGS, p 723)  

The Sikh Gurus showed the world the way to appreciate the interdependence of living beings and their environment. They also evinced the way to nurture this interrelationship [7-8]. All their constructions adhered to this principle. They built many Gurudwaras surrounded by large pools, which supported marine life, especially fish. It was a sign to live in harmony with the environment rather than in conflict with it. Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh Guru, developed Kiratpur Sahib as a town of parks and gardens. Located on the banks of a tributary of the Sutlej, he planted flowers and fruit-bearing trees all over the area. It created a salubrious environment, attracting beautiful birds to the town and turning it into an idyllic place to live in. 

Nature - A Spiritual Guide

Spiritualization is liberation from material compulsions and attractions. It means an awareness of the Cosmic Order and striving towards the execution of Divine Will3. So, a spiritualized human is creative and constructive. Therefore, a Sikh's life is a life of harmony with other individuals, other beings and other forms. For an enlightened individual, the world has only one purpose - to practice spirituality. 

Sri Guru Granth Sahib declares that Nature is a great spiritual teacher because it enables the spiritual seeker to be in touch with Ultimate Reality. God is revealed through His All-powerful Creative nature. As pointed out in Gurbani, everything seen is God in action. The Sikh scriptures are replete with examples about the interrelationship of the Creator (God) and Nature. 

ਨਾਨਕ ਸਚ ਦਾਤਾਰੁ ਸਿਨਾਖਤੁ ਕੁਦਰਤੀ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 4ਪੰਨਾ 141) 

O Nanak, the True One is the Giver of all; He is revealed through His All-powerful Creative Nature. (Mehl 4, SGGS, p 141) 

ਉਤਭੁਜੁ ਚਲਤੁ ਕੀਆ ਸਿਰਿ ਕਰਤੈ ਬਿਸਮਾਦੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਦੇਖਾਇਦਾ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 1ਪੰਨਾ  1037) 

The Supreme Creator created the play of Nature; through His Word (Sand), He stages His Wondrous Show. (Mehl 4, SGGS, p 1037) 

SGGS places a great deal of spiritual significance on the lessons we can learn directly from Nature. One can learn true selflessness, real renunciation, and sacrifice from it. According to SGGS, Earth teaches us patience and love. Air teaches us mobility. Fire teaches us warmth and courage. Sky teaches us equality and broadmindedness. Water teaches us purity and cleanliness. This emphasis comes out clearly in the following hymns;  

ਚੰਦਨ ਅਗਰ ਕਪੂਰ ਲੇਪਨ ਤਿਸੁ ਸੰਗੇ ਨਹੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ॥ ਬਿਸਟਾ ਮੂਤ੍ਰ ਖੋਦਿ ਤਿਲੁ ਤਿਲੁ ਮਨਿ ਨ ਮਨੀ ਬਿਪਰੀਤਿ

Earth neither loves Sandalwood, aloe, or camphor-paste. Nor does it mind if someone digs it up bit by bit or applies manure and urine to it. 

ਊਚ ਨੀਚ ਬਿਕਾਰ ਸੁਕ੍ਰਿਤ ਸੰਲਗਨ ਸਭ ਸੁਖ ਛਤ੍ਰ ॥ ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਸਤ੍ਰੁ ਨ ਕਛੂ ਜਾਨੈ ਸਰਬ ਜੀਅ ਸਮਤ ॥ 

The comforting canopy of the Sky stretches evenly overall, without any consideration of their being high or low, good or bad. It does not distinguish between friends and enemies. For it, all beings are alike.  

ਕਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੁ ਪ੍ਰਚੰਡ ਪ੍ਰਗਟਿਓ ਅੰਧਕਾਰ ਬਿਨਾਸ॥ ਪਵਿਤ੍ਰ ਅਪਵਿਤ੍ਰਹ ਕਿਰਣ ਲਾਗੇ ਮਨਿ ਨ ਭਇਓ  ਬਿਖਾਦੁ॥ 

Blazing with its dazzling light, the sun rises and dispels the darkness. Touching both the pure and the impure, it harbours no hatred to any.  

ਸੀਤ ਮੰਦ ਸੁਗੰਧ ਚਲਿਓ ਸਰਬ ਥਾਨ ਸਮਾਨ ॥ ਜਹਾ ਸਾ ਕਿਛੁ ਤਹਾ ਲਾਗਿਓ ਤਿਲੁ ਨ ਸੰਕਾ ਮਾਨ ॥ 

The calm and fragrant wind gently blows upon all places alike. It touches all the things wherever these are, without even a bit of hesitation.| 

ਸੁਭਾਇ ਅਭਾਇ ਜੁ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਆਵੈ ਸੀਤੁ ਤਾ ਕਾ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਆਪ ਪਰ ਕਾ ਕਛੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਸਦਾ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 5, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 1018)

Whoever comes close to the Fire, his cold is taken away without considering his being Good or Bad. It does not know to differentiate between its own or others. It always has the same nature. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 1018)

Thus, Nature, a great teacher of ethics and spirituality, provides practical examples of the valuable lessons to be learnt. Following these lessons, human beings can make marvellous achievements at the worldly and spiritual level. Such an action is the need of the hour and a harmonious relationship with Nature.  

Harmony with Nature 

Sri Guru Granth Sahib emphasizes the importance of living in harmony with the eternal—God—which implies a life of peace with all existence of Nature. It declares that Nature is a manifestation of God. Every creature in this world, every plant, every form is a manifestation of the Creator.  

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਖਾਲਕੁ ਖਲਕ ਮਹਿ ਖਲਕ ਵਸੈ ਰਬ ਮਾਹਿ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 5, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 1381) 

Fareed, the Creator, is in the Creation, and the Creation abides in God. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 1381) 

SGGS proclaims that God is the bumble-bee, flower, fruit and tree. He is the water, desert, ocean and pond. He is the big fish, tortoise and the cause of all causes. Each is part of God, and God is within each element of creation. God is the cause of all, and He is the primary connection in all existence.

ਆਪੇ ਭਵਰੁ ਫੁਲੁ ਫਲੁ ਤਰਵਰੁ ॥ ਆਪੇ ਜਲੁ ਥਲੁ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਸਰਵਰੁ ॥ਆਪੇ ਮਛੁ ਕਛੁ ਕਰਣੀਕਰੁ ਤੇਰਾ ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਲਖਣਾ ਜਾਈ ਹੇ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 1, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 1020) 

You are the bumble bee, the flower, the fruit and the tree. You are the water, the desert, the ocean and the pool. You are the great fish, the tortoise, the cause of causes; Your form cannot be known. (Mehl First, SGGS, p 1020) 

ਖਾਕ ਨੂਰ ਕਰਦੰ ਆਲਮ ਦੁਨੀਆਇ ॥ ਅਸਮਾਨ ਜਿਮੀ ਦਰਖਤ ਆਬ ਪੈਦਾਇਸਿ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 5 ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 723) 

The Lord infused His Light into the dust and created the world, the Universe. The Sky, the Earth, the trees, and the water - all are the Creation of the Lord. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 723) 

ਬਨਿ ਤਿਨਿ ਪਰਬਤਿ ਹੈ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ॥…. 

In the forests, fields and mountains, He is the Supreme Lord God. 

ਪਉਣ ਪਾਣੀ ਬੈਸੰਤਰ ਮਾਹਿ ॥….. 

He permeates the winds and the waters. 

ਸਸੀਅਰ ਸੂਰ ਨਖ੍ਯ੍ਯਤ੍ਰ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ॥….. (ਮ. 5, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 294) 

In the moon, the sun and the stars, He is the One. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 294).

ਜੋ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਸੋ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਦੂਜਾ ਕੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਏਕ ਦ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਕਰਿ ਦੇਖਹੁ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਮੋਈ ਜੀਉ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 1, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 599) 

He is within as well as outside; See that there is no one, other than Him. By divine prompting, look upon all existence as one and undifferentiated; the same light pervades all existence. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 599)

SGGS opposes the idea that the human race's struggle is against Nature and that human supremacy lies in the notion of "harnessing" Nature. The Gurus' history is full of stories of their love for animals, birds, trees, vegetation, rivers, mountains, and Sky. Many Sikhs, though not all, also have a strong tradition of being vegetarian. A simple life free from conspicuous waste is the Sikh ideal – a life that stresses mastery over the self rather than mastery over Nature. 

Earth – A Dharamsala  

SGGS emphasizes the significance of various aspects of Nature and declares the Earth as Dharamsala, i.e. a place for righteous action. 

ਰਾਤੀ ਰੁਤੀ ਥਿਤੀ ਵਾਰ ॥ ਪਵਣ ਪਾਣੀ ਅਗਨੀ ਪਾਤਾਲ ॥ ਤਿਸੁ ਵਿਚਿ ਧਰਤੀ ਥਾਪਿ ਰਖੀ ਧਰਮ ਸਾਲ॥ (ਮ. 1, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 7

Nights and days, weeks and seasons; wind, water, fire and the nether regions – in the midst of these, He established the Earth as a home for Dharma. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 7)

ਧਰਤਿ ਉਪਾਇ ਧਰੀ ਧਰਮ ਸਾਲਾ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 1ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 1033) 

Creating the Earth, He established it as the home (place) of Dharma (righteous actions). (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1033) 

By this portrayal of the world (Earth) as a place for righteousness and purity, SGGS insists that we relate with others with equality and justice. Sri Guru Granth Sahib reveals that real peace can only be found when desire and greed are subdued and diminished. It will only happen when the individual realizes that God abides in all the elements (including water, Earth and the woods), and he/she stops damaging these elements purely to satisfy his/her material greed. 

ਸਾਂਤਿ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਹੋਵਹਿ ਮਨ ਸੀਤਲ ਅਗਨਿ ਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਧੁਖੀ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਕਉ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਦਿਖਾਇਆ ਜਲਿ ਥਲਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣਿ ਰੁਖੀ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 5, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 617) 

You shall find peace, and your mind shall be soothed and cooled; the Fire of desire shall not burn within you. The Guru has revealed God to Nanak, in the three worlds, in the water, the Earth and the woods. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 617)  

World Society

Sikhism enunciates that ecological concerns must be viewed as part of the broader issue of human development and social justice. Many environmental problems, particularly the exploitation of natural resources in developing nations, are due to the poverty of large parts of the population. Therefore an integrated approach is necessary.

Sikhism proclaims that the main objective for humanity is to be in harmony with all existence. Striving for a life of peace also implies a life of supporting individual rights and environmentalism. Such a life works against injustice toward anybody and anything.

The tenth Guru in 1699 founded the Order of the Khalsa. Its members practise the spiritual discipline of Sikhism and are committed to ensuring the preservation and prevalence of a World Society. Over the last three centuries, the Khalsa order has stood up for the rights of the oppressed and the disenfranchised. The Khalsa vision of the World Society is:

ਹੁਣਿ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੋਆ ਮਿਹਰਵਾਣ ਦਾ ॥ ਪੈ ਕੋਇ ਨ ਕਿਸੈ ਰਞਾਣਦਾ ॥ ਸਭ ਸੁਖਾਲੀ ਵੁਠੀਆ ਇਹੁ ਹੋਆ  ਹਲੇਮੀ ਰਾਜੁ ਜੀਉ ॥(ਸਿਰੀਰਾਗੁ ਮਹਲਾ 5 ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ  74) 

Now, the Merciful Lord has issued His Command. Let no person exploit another. Let no man coerces another; Let all abide in peace, under this Benevolent Rule. (Sri Raag, Mehl Fifth, SGGS, p 74) 

Each individual has the inalienable birthright to seek and pursue happiness and self-fulfillment. Love and persuasion is the only law of social coherence. The Khalsa has opposed any force that has threatened the freedom and dignity of human beings. In the eighteenth century, it was the oppressive rulers of northern India and invaders from Afghanistan; in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they have struggled against oppression by European colonists and Indian governments. For the Khalsa, justice requires the participation and inclusion of all in obtaining and enjoying the fruits of God's creation. Justice achieved through cooperative effort is desirable. The ideal for the Khalsa is to strive for justice for all, not merely for themselves. 

Prudent Life-Style

SGGS describes the norms for a Sikh to live a life that does not harm their mind, health, others around them, society, or the environment. Therefore, Sikhs are prohibited from consuming tobacco, alcohol or any other intoxicant and keep a simple vegetarian diet. Gurmat is against causing cruelty and suffering to animals.

ਸਚੁ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਤਿਨ ਸੋਫੀਆ ਰਾਖਣ ਕਉ ਦਰਵਾਰੁ ॥(ਮਹਲਾ 1, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ  15) 

Those who do not use intoxicants are true; they dwell in the Court of the Lord. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 15) 

ਜਿਤੁ ਪੀਤੈ ਮਤਿ ਦੂਰਿ ਹੋਇ ਬਰਲੁ ਪਵੈ ਵਿਚਿ ਆਇ ॥ ਆਪਣਾ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਨ ਪਛਾਣਈ ਖਸਮਹੁ ਧਕੇ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਜਿਤੁ ਪੀਤੈ ਖਸਮੁ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਦਰਗਹ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ ॥ ਝੂਠਾ ਮਦੁ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਪੀਚਈ ਜੇ ਕਾ ਪਾਰਿ ਵਸਾਇ ॥ (ਮ. 3, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 554) 

On drinking the wine, a person's intelligence departs, and madness enters his mind; he cannot distinguish between his own and others, and he is struck down by the Lord (God). Drinking it, he forgets his Lord, and is punished in Hise Court. Do not drink the false wine at all, if it is in your power. (Mehl 3, SGGS, p 554) 

ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛੁਲੀ ਸੁਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ ॥ ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ  ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥  (ਭਗਤ ਕਬੀਰ, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 1377)   

Kabir states that those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine - no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, will all go to hell. (Bhagat Kabir, SGGS, p 1377) 

It is now a known fact that smoking is both a primary and secondary health hazard. In addition to harming the environment, it has incredibly harmful effects on the person who smokes, on the bystander who breathes the second-hand smoke, and on the female smoker's unborn fetus. Though this has only been scientifically verified in the last half-century, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, listed the use of tobacco as one of the four significant acts forbidden to initiated adherents of the Sikh religion. Though tobacco was introduced into India only in the mid-1600s, he had the wisdom to interdict it in 1699 specifically. From its very beginning, Sikhism had forbidden the use of any intoxicants or mind-altering substances for any purpose except medicinal.

Integrated Approach to Sustainability  

In Sikh beliefs, ecology is part of an integrated approach to life and nature. As all creation has the same origin and end, humans must have consciousness of their place in creation and their relationship with the rest of creation. Humans should conduct themselves through life with love, compassion, and justice. Becoming one and being in harmony with God implies that humans endeavour to live in harmony with all of God's creation. A true Sikh is for individual human rights, the environment and justice for all.

ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਪਰਉਪਕਾਰ ਉਮਾਹਾ ॥ (ਮ. 5, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 273)

The God-conscious being delights in doing good to others. (Mehl 5, SGGS, p 273) 

All life is interconnected. A human body consists of many parts; every part has a specific name, location, and function, and all of these are dependent upon each other. In the same way, all the constituents of the Universe and the Earth are dependent upon each other. People in other countries or continents cannot ignore decisions in one country or continent. Choices in one place have measurable consequences for the rest of the world. It is part of the same system. SGGS assures that the entire creation is inter-related mutually supporting one another.

ਅੰਡਜ ਜੇਰਜ ਸੇਤਜ ਉਤਭੁਜ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਮਾਣੀ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 1, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 1109) 

His light fills all those born of eggs, born from the womb, born of sweat and born of the Earth, every heart. (Mehl 1, SGGS, p 1109) 

ਏਕੋ ਪਵਣੁ ਮਾਟੀ ਸਭ ਏਕਾ ਸਭ ਏਕਾ ਜੋਤਿ ਸਬਾਈਆ ॥ (ਮਹਲਾ 4, ਸਗਗਸ, ਪੰਨਾ 96) 

There is only one breath; all are made of the same clay; the light within all is the same. (Mehl 4, SGGS, p 96) 

Any solutions to the ecology problem must be sensitive to women's concerns and must include women as equals. Piecemeal solutions to ecological issues will merely focus, for example, on limiting population growth through family planning measures, which often end up abusing women's rights and should be rejected on those grounds alone. SGGS contains an important message on this. Guru Nanak and other Sikh gurus advocated equality for women and took steps to implement this. Community-based sharing of resources (e.g. langar) is another practice prevalent in Sikhism, which can be adopted worldwide to share scarce resources, emphasizing recycling and avoidance of wastage.

Life, for its very existence and nurturing, depends upon a bounteous Nature. A human being needs to derive sustenance from the Earth and not deplete, exhaust, pollute, burn, or destroy it. SGGS reveals that awareness of that sacred relationship between humans and the environment is necessary for our planet's health and survival. A new "ecological ethic" dedicated to the conservation and wise use of the resources provided by a bountiful nature can only arise from an honest understanding and dedicated application of our old, tried and true spiritual heritage. Such an integrated approach to the current ecological crisis can lead to a permanent sustainability of life on Earth.

Devinder Pal S 125.jpg

Author:

Dr. Devinder Pal Singh M.Sc., Ph.D.

Director, Center for Understanding Sikhism, ON Canada

 

References:
  1. Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), published by SGPC, Amritsar
  2. Sant Singh Khalsa, English trans. of SGGS,  http://www.srigranth.org/servlet/gurbani.gurbani?S=y       
  3. Rajwant Singh, 'Sikhism and the Environment,' Proc. 'The Role of Religious Institutions' at http://www.SikhismandtheEnvironment.com  
  4. N. Muthumohan, 'Eco-Philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib,' at www.SikhSpectrum.com
  5. S. Lourdunathan, 'Ecosophical Concerns in the Sikh Tradition,' Proc. "Sikhism & Global Living," Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, 1996; Sikh Spectrum, Issue No. 4, Sept. 2002 at www.SikhSpectrum.com  
  6. D.P. Singh, Relevance of Guru Granth Sahib in 21st Century, Watan Weekly, Canada, 2006, p 2.
  7. "What does Sikhism teach about ecology?" Alliance of Religion and Conservation (ARC), at http://www.arcworld.org/ 
8.  Martin Palmer and Victoria Finlay, "Faith in Conservation," Pub. by World Bank, 2003. 

~Image from Jass Records

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Center for Understanding Sikhism, Mississauga, ON, L5A1Y7, Canada
website: c4usikhism.com    Email:  [email protected]

Add a Comment