Singing the Environment Into Balance

Gurbani has the power to bring balance and healing on all levels - to ourselves and to our environments.

Drought. Extreme heat. Crop failure. Insanely massive storms.

When I was a little girl, the scientists warned us what the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would do to the environment.

My personal joke about climate change is that the future generations will say of us: We were smart enough to see it coming. Just not smart enough to do anything about it.

Political unrest. Wars. So much of the violence in the world has nothing to do with “sectarian” sentiments. What religion you belong to, what tribe you feel loyalty to is not the heart of the problem. People fight with each other over food, water and energy. The more scarce the resources become, the more violent the fighting.

So what can a person do in the face of these global issues? Make personal changes to live a more environmentally friendly life? That helps. Support the political movements that seek to confront the abusive consciousness towards mother earth held by governments or companies? That helps. Start an environmentally friendly business? Plant trees every year? All of those actions help.

But we sometimes forget the powerful gift of the Shabad. Gurbani is not just spiritual poetry to elevate the mind and open the heart. It also has the power to bring balance and healing on all levels - to ourselves and to our environments. The weather has gone out of balance because the human consciousness has gone out of balance. One of the most powerful practices we can do is to chant the Shabad to bring harmony to ourselves and to the earth around us.

It is said that the Sikhs had the power to make the desert bloom. How did they do it? How, throughout history, did they develop this reputation? From my personal perspective, they did this not only through hard work, but through the Shabad. By singing these most sacred words given by the Light of Guru Nanak. The Shabad can creates miracles. But “miracle” is just a word we use because our mind is limited in its understanding of Infinity. What looks “impossible” from our mental perspective is not impossible at all from a Higher View. Prayer does have power, when it is done with love. And the Shabad is the most loving, universal and positive prayer. It can heal the mind, the heart, and the body. It can heal relationships and communities. It can heal the interdependent network of life. If we chant it with depth, dedication and devotion - the Shabad can do more than we can ever imagine.

Last year, I found a beautiful Shabad from Guru Amar Das in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib that spoke so clearly and directly to the act of renewing the earth. I took the Shabad and chanted it to my garden.

This winter, New Mexico and California have suffered from a record-breaking lack of snow and precipitation. A friend of mine, Sat Purkh Kaur, took this particular Shabad and put it to music. Then she began hosting chantings evening at her home for the community to come together and pray for rain. Friends of ours in California heard about this, took the recording of the shabad, and began chanting it, as well.

Within days, rains came to California and New Mexico.

Did the rains come because we chanted this Shabad? I won’t claim that. But does chanting help create balance, harmony and healing with ourselves and our environments? Yes. I believe that. To me, that is the true power of the Shabad. That is why the Sikhs could make the desert bloom.

This week, we honor the Guru Gaddi of Guru Har Rai, and raise the consciousness within the Sikh community about environmental issues. At this time, it is good to remember the power of chanting the words of the Gurus. And how the frequency of their teachings created one of the most extraordinary social, spiritual and environmental healings that the world has ever seen.

Here is the Shabad - along with a recording and poetic interpretation. Hope you enjoy it!


Guru Amar Das: Shabad for Corn-Grain and Rain

Recording by Sat Purkh Kaur Khalsa


ਮ: 3  (1281-5)

Mehlaa 3. (1281-5)

ਕਲਮਲਿ ਹੋਈ ਮੇਦਨੀ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ਕਰੇ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥

Kalmal ho-ee maydnee ardaas karay liv laa-ay.

ਸਚੈ ਸੁਣਿਆ ਕੰਨੁ ਦੇ ਧੀਰਕ ਦੇਵੈ ਸਹਜਿ ਸੁਭਾਇ ॥

Sachai suni-aa kann day Dheerak dayvai sahj subhaa-ay.

ਇੰਦ੍ਰੈ ਨੋ ਫੁਰਮਾਇਆ ਵੁਠਾ ਛਹਬਰ ਲਾਇ ॥

Indrai no furmaa-i-aa vuthaa chhahbar laa-ay.

ਅਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਉਪਜੈ ਬਹੁ ਘਣਾ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਕਹਣੁ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥

An Dhan upjai baho ghanaa keemat kahan na jaa-ay.

ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਲਾਹਿ ਤੂ ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਦੇਦਾ ਰਿਜਕੁ ਸੰਬਾਹਿ ॥

Naanak naam salaahi too sabhnaa jee-aa daydaa rijak sambaahi.

ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਸੁਖੁ ਊਪਜੈ ਫਿਰਿ ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ਆਇ ॥2॥

Jit khaaDhai sukh oopjai fir dookh na laagai aa-ay. ||2||

When the earth is in distress,

It attunes itself with love

And sends out a prayer.

The True One hears it,

And with total ease

Is pleased to give Its strength and steadiness.

It sends a command to the Power of Rain,

And the rain pours down in torrents.

The wealth of grain and corn grows thick.

A person cannot describe its value.

Oh Naanak, appreciate the Divine Identity.

You, Divine One, cause the life-giving food to be given to all the creatures.

Eating this, peace grows,

And the cycle of pain

Comes no more.

Poetic Interpretation by Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa

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