Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Sikhism & Ecological Issues

“Nights, seasons, wind, water, fire and nether worlds…in the midst of these He set the earth as His temple so that humankind may learn and practice righteous living. Therein he created limitless diverse species with own living modes…” (GGS p. 7 )

Today’s selfish consumerism and market driven economies are a threat to the global climate and the environment. Sikhi – Sikh thought and way of life – has a powerful message for humankind regarding ecological issues. On this earth man is at the head of all species but has forgotten his duty (to serve the Creator and His creation) due to lust and greed (SGGS p.374)

Guru Nanak Sahib, the founder of Sikhi, saw the Creator in His diverse creation where he sits and watches over all with joy and satisfaction (chao). Many passages in Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture, are devoted to nature, the environment, the wind and the rain, day and night, the changing seasons, and the rich diversity of life on earth. The Creator created the air, which created water and brought life on earth. (SGGS p.19). The gist of some passages of Guru Nanak’s Jap ji (mainly SGGS pages 7 and 8), and many other similar references in Sri Guru Granth Sahib can be summarised as follows:

The great mother earth (“mata dharat mahatt”, with its many life forms, is the “dharam khand”, the realm of balanced, responsible and righteous living. This earth, together with the environment (wind and water) is the “dharamsaal” or “mandir” (place of worship) where man is to achieve the purpose of this life. He is not to desecrate this place of worship by disturbing the fine balance of nature by abusing the environment through selfish overuse of resources.

According to Sikhi, the purpose of human life is achieved by seeking complete harmony with Waheguru, the Wondrous Enlightener, the Giver of knowledge, while living the life of a householder on this earth. The Creator Being resides in nature, creates numerous diverse species, and provides the balance in life. The air, the water and the earth are the givers of life and knowledge, and sustainers of life. The environment is the teacher, the water and the great mother earth the father and mother, the caring parents who look after us. It is also our duty to serve our “parents” – the earth and the environment - and not to disturb the natural mechanisms which provide the delicate (natural) balance in the environment and between the diversity in creation. Diversity must be preserved and respected according to the “Anekta meh ekta” principle by seeing One Creator in all. Every human being has a responsibility to selflessly serve the Lord’s creation and not to desecrate his temple, the great mother earth”Creating the earth, He established it as the home of Dharma – the sacred place where righteous conduct is to be practised.” (SGGS p.1033)

Gurmukh Singh (UK)

© Gurmukh Singh

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