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petals (49K)Mar 18, 2013: One day as a child, while passing through a garden, Guru Har Rai, the seventh Sikh Guru, damaged some flowers with his loose-flowing robe. The sight of scattered, crushed petals — separated from their stems — affected his tender heart and he resolved never to harm anything in the world.

No wonder, the Sikh Environment Day, which was celebrated all over the world on March 14, is the coronation day of Guru Har Rai, the Guru who is remembered for his deep sensitivity to nature and who taught us that one must live a life that is harmless to one’s surroundings because nature is the abode of God.

In Sikhism, the Supreme Being is “Wahiguru” — the wondrous master who manifests Himself in the qudrat (nature) and in the entire cosmos. He is “Akal Murati” “the timeless image” — the divine reality that is beyond time and permeates the cosmic forms. He is Karta Purukh — the prime mover, the creator. It is He who has created the world — with its sky, mountains, sun, moon, stars, oceans, rivers, rains, dew, flowers, animals... He is there even in a small drop of water. “He is the tablet, he is the pen also — writing on it too,” says Guru Nanak. The Supreme Being is conceived of as a being whose presence is diffused all over His creation. If he is present everywhere and in everything why create havoc? Why harm his creation?

The Almighty’s creation implies harmony and it originates in two forms — manifestation and will. He reveals Himself in nature and it is His divine will that is at the base of the entire cosmic existence. It was His raza, His bhana, His hukam which was instrumental in the world’s coming into being as is stated in Asa di Var. He created nature and seating Himself in its centre, watches with delight its play. The divine will controls all types of life and seeks harmony in the cosmic order.

Guru Nanak sees the presence of God in every object of nature and we, the mortal beings, are but one of the expressions of His creativity. The mere awareness of His creation, His vastness instils humility in man which would rid him of his “haumai” (ego) — the greatest hurdle in the path of self-realisation. A man full of haumai (manmukh or ego-centric) asserts his own needs and is not bothered about the interests of others. Only with humility the seeker becomes a gurmukh. One can learn from nature since it showcases the attributes of the supreme being — a giver, a protector and always forgiving. For instance, water flows downwards — a symbol of humility and is there for everyone. A gurmukh man does not think about his needs, he is above greed. Not surprisingly, the Ardas, the Sikh prayer, seeks the welfare of the entire humanity — “Sarbat da bhalla,” because true worship of God is the service of His creation.

As a tribute to the Creator and His Creation, Sikhs have decided to observe the 14th of March as the Sikh Vatavaran Divas, to maintain harmony between man and nature. On this day each Sikh family is asked to plant one tree and to turn eco-friendly in every possible way.

Kulbir Kaur teaches sociology at Shyama Prasad Mukherji College, Delhi University


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