Sri Guru Granth Sahib – Awareness of Ecology
Dr. Jodh Singh
Every microbe flourishes in a special environment and ecology being a branch of biology, investigates into the process of creation and the mutual relationship thereof with its environment. The thin layer of the earth, water and the air near the layer under it is the real environment of mankind and this environment is made of countless eco-systems which, in common parlance, is called the the sphere of life. These eco-systems are based on the relationship between the plants and animals and the life of all of them depends on the, source of life, that is, exchange of raw material. This eco-system, moving a little ahead, prepares the entire environment, or the large spheres of life-system in which overland and other matter is integrated. Their mutual revolution and their mutual relationship is based on mutual exchange.In this mutual exchange, the plants convert carbondioxide and solar energy into food, the animals use these plants as food and the excreta of plants and animals is broken by bacteria into gases. Nothing remains useless or unwanted in the entire process and every element, whether it is part of nature or a living being, is as important as any other part.
All these eco-systems are very delicate but intricate and taking any mineral, gas, flora or fauna, after destroying some necessary part or introducing new types, by deduction or addition, man influences the entire system to maintain its integrity and balance. The results thereof could be fatal. Dr. S Jayaram Coordinator of Pollution control Committee of India which keeps an eye on ecological balance, working in the Chemistry Department of Sri Venketesh University, Tirupati, conducted a study with his team, of the pollution created by Paper Mills, Cement factories, Sugar mills, etc. and its effect, went round a backward region of Andhra Pradesh and had a survey carried out. According to their report that because of location of factories in the region, though gradually, yet at a certain pace, trioxide is accumulating in the environment and it is just possible that Cuddappa Distrtict may seen face the big problem of toxic rain. According to the report, the initial signs of excess of sulphur trioxide have begun to appear in the people who are suffering from asthma, breathing troubles like cough and bronchitis and the ailment connected with the arteries of heart. Early greying of hair has become a common feature because the dust of the cement factory is getting settled as a layer on the arable land and therefore, farming would become a thing of the past around Cuddappa.’The nearby arable land because of accumulation of cement dust, has already become unfit for farming.’
This report says further that in the city of Cuddor surrounded by the barium mines, the people have per force to bear the undesirable effect of barium. ‘Watering from mouth, vomiting, colic and diaorrhoea, low and irregular pulse, increase of blood pressure, heart troubles, stiffness of muscles and noises or hearing of bells in ears, etc.are the ailments which show the level at which the workers employed in the mines are living.’ When the environment is loaded heavily with extra burden, space is created therein and to keep the ecological balance, nature does its work and by replenishing the needed elements to the extent more than needed, creates more imbalance. Because all eco-systems are connected with one another, no part of nature can be changed without affecting the other systems. From the point of view of understanding the pointers of nature, man has turned blind and deaf and is terriby busy in the process of destroying himself and his environment, creating wedges mercilessly in the entire atmoshphere. It would not be out of place to mention here that the eco-systems in the environment is not required only for maintaining its beauty but earth, water and air have to be taken care of, which is so very essential to keep man alive.
Though free of one another, all the eco-systems are tied to one another internally and for the power to keep them mutually connected, the word ‘Qudrat’ has been used in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.For the internal nature, the word ‘Mool prakriti’ (fundamental nature) had been used before Sri Guru Nanak but keeping in mind the difference between nature and ‘prakriti’, Guru Nanak chose from the common ligual treasure this Indian-Islamic word and lent it a definite meaning and philosophical content.. 2 In fact, in all the philosophies of the East and the West almost all the philosophers have have expressed deep thoughts about ‘self’ and ‘matter’, ‘mind’ and material object, ‘life’ and ‘death as also ‘nature’. In India the Sankh Shastra described the neutral concepts of ‘Purush and Prakriti’ in a very lucid manner in the ancient times. As we know, in the Sankh Shastra ‘Prakriti’ has its own independent existence in the neutral form and though she dances before male to entice him to fall in her ‘mayajal’ (net of illusion) it cannot be tied by man to any power. In fact the male of the concept of Sankh Shastra has nothing which may be called ‘power’ with him. We see in Guru Nanakbani that when he propounded the nature of his Faith, he kept ‘Purakh’ as the basic principle but he did not make use of ‘parkriti’, though he was not only fully aware of the dual meanings thereof, but also was conscious of their philosophical explanation. Guru Nanak consciously collected those hymns of Jaideva in which the words ‘Purush’ and ‘Prakriti’ had been used. Subsequently, these words were entered in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
‘Parmadi Purakh manopimang Sat Adi bhave ratang.
Parmadbhutang prakrit parng jagchinti sarab gatang. 3 –
meaning thereby that in the beginning was Akal Purakh (The timeless Male) who cannot be described. He was obsrobed in His original disposition. He is the greatest Wonder beyond the reach of ‘prakriti’. Dwelling on that Akal Purakh, enables one to have all attainments.
In the Sikh doctrine, Purkh-Parmatma is the Supreme Power and that status of Him has been called ‘Adi sach’ and ‘Hosi bhi sach(The primordial Truth has been True, is True and shall always be True). Recognising God in this form, Guru Nanak accepts the fact that the nature created by Him is at work in the sphere of activity drawn up by Him. In this nature are born the different types of eco systems under the set principles, which, though different from one another, are in unison with one another internally:
Qudrat dissai, qudrat suniai, qudrat bhao such saar.
Qudrat patali akasi, qudrat sarab akar.
Qudrat Ved Puran katebaan, qudrat sarab vichaar.
Qudrat khana peena, pehanan, qudrat sarab pyar.
Qudrat jati jinsi rangi, qudrat jia jehaan.
Qudrat nekiyaan, qudrat badiyaan,
Qudrat maan abhimaan.
Qudrat paun pani besantar qudrat dharti khak.
Sabh tari qudrat to qadar karta, paaki nayee paak.
Nanak hukmai andar veikhai, vartai tako taak. SGGS .464)
(Thou art seen and heard through thy nature, O Lord and we experience thy Bliss. In Thy nature we perceive the seas and skies, and the entire formulation. Thy nature pervades in the Vedas, Puranas and the Occidental scriptures, and in all the philosophies. It is thy nature which is in food and drink, in dress, and in love with all. Thy nature is perceived in all the material things of all hues and in all creatures. In all the evils and virtues also pervades Thy nature as also in all honour and dishonour. Air water and fire have Thy nature in them as also the mud and earth. It is all thy nature (creation) and Thou art the Creator, Holiest of the Holy. All this is managed through thy Nature, sayeth Nanak, and happens in Thy Will).
To see, hear, fear and to enjoy all the comforts are all due to nature. The nature creates all the seas, skies and all the visible matter and forms. The Vedas, Puranas and western scritptures talk of nature only. The daily needs of eating, drinking dressing, etc. are all provided by nature and even love (as also hatred) are also created by nature. All classes of creatures, their form and features and hue, virtues and vices, honour and dishonour are all within the control of nature though they are free to take independent decisions. Still they are all connected with one another according to the rule of nature. Air, water, fire, earth, etc. have not been created from the vacuum but have evolved through the natural process. Nature is the power which connects them with one another. The Creatore (God) is the Master of all in this universe and He acts according to His Own norms. He is holiest of the Holy and acts with all the wisdom. 4
Thus we see that Guru Nanak regards the all round environment as the Body of God and says that God keeps it going and His light shines in everything. It has been stated in the Assa di Var also that the Supersoul (World soul) created personal souls under different names and then in order to inculcate in them the sense of discipline, He created nature and He Himself pervades in the nature as the Centre Point of this Beauty and to make this nature meaningful, abides in every particle of it. 5
Guru Nanak considers this earth as the place of living in a righteous way and man being at the peak of development, it is expected that he should be more sensitive to the prevailing cultures, the process of creation and the creatures of other classes. The religious sense of man makes him higher than other less developed species but in reality this is the reason why man should be more considerate, moral, compassionate and responsible to other creatures. No one is a favourite child in the lap of mother earth, all are equal. But as we have been doing for the past few centuries and even now we are destroying the living conditions, cutting down the forests and killing animals as a sport, bringing an end to many species of creatures. It would not be impossible that this earth may become a wasteland with the creatures dwelling thereo and may prefer to live without those creatures. Such greedy and opportunist behaviour of man is indicative of man’s treatment of earth as lifeless and ‘made for man’ which would keep quiet suffering all excesses on his part and would not react in any way. But if we look back at the history of mankind it does not seem to be the case when man had been so rude and selfish as he appears to be today.
Going by the principle of anology, from times immemorial the creative process of nature had been taken to be connected with the human creative process and mother earth had been seen in the form of the human mother who gives birth to her offspring. The mother’s womb and the earth’s womb are shown equal respect. Man is born naked out of his mother’s womb and after death joins the earth in the naked form. Earth, like a woman, is the manifestation of procreative process and the mention of their similarity is found in the Indian and other folklore. However, just as in very advanced countries also, the woes of women have been brought under consideration, understood and appreciated only in the recent past, the care of the earth too has not been able to become a subject needing serious attention. In the rural areas of many countries, even today earth is regard as ‘Mata dharat mahat’ (The Great Mother Earth) but the greed of the urban life has almost killed this spirit and trees, plants and grass have been cut down depriving the earth of its vegetable base, and thus denuding the mother earth shamelessly.
According to archaelogical finds, it is almost certain that in ancient Greece, Europe and other places and in pre-Aryan India, mother earth was worshiped. In Narendra Nath Bhattacharya’s words, because farming was not the main means of of food of the Rigvedic Aryans, in the Vedic literature no special mention is made of the Great Mother Earth. Earth and sky (heaven) have been mentioned in the Vedic literature in the form of universal parents but nowhere mention has been made of their creative role. 7 In Sri Guru Granth Sahib, air has been regarded Guru and water the father, the vast Earth has been called great mother in the lap of which the day and night are all helping the creatures to play –
Pavan Guru Pani Pita, Mata Dharat Mahat.
Divas raat doey dayee daya, khailai sagal jagat. 8
In fact earth is the symbol of bearing hardships. For the sake of its offspring (Humans) it absorbs all the woes within it –
Asaadh bhala suraj gagan tapai.
Dharti dookh sahai, sokhai agan bhakai.9
(In the month of Asadh – mid June to mid July- the Sun is so hot. The earth bears the scorching heat, and absorbs fire within it.)
One may dig earth or splash it with chandan paste, it does not lose its patience. It is for this reason that Guru Arjan likens an ideal person ‘Brhamgyani’ to earth-
Brahgyani kai dhiraj eik.
Jio basudha koyee khodai koyi chandan lape (explained above).
The words Degh (Cooking cauldron) and Tegh (Sword) have a very special place. Degh symbolises compassion, generosity, equality, neutrality, secularism and sharing of food. In the Sikh faith, Degh stops people from renouncing the world and exhorts them that a person has to have the sense of belonging to the world but not to become worldly. Tegh is made use of for those who try to become an obstacle in the way of fulfilling the aims of the Degh. The Sikh Degh does not believe in discrimination in the name of caste, relgion or class and holds every one equal as the mother earth is equally meant for all of us. Guru Nanak says-
Ghar ghar laskar pavak taira dharma karai sikdari.
Dharti degh milai ik vaira bhag taira bhandari.
Meaning thereby, ‘O Lord, thy fire burneth in every hearth and home and the conscious of faith is above all. The earth is such a big ‘Degh’ (cauldron) which provides everything needed by the creatures and every being (according to his deeds) receives his share in His Will.’ 11
Clearly in Guru’s view the earth is holy. In Japuji, earth is called ‘Dharamsal’ (Place of righteousness) where a person has to do self-analysis and inculcate a sense of sacrifice and responsibility towards others. At another place, Guru Nanak says-
‘Dharat upaiye kari dharamsala.
Utpati parlaou aap nirala.
Pavnai khel kiya sabh thayee,
kala khinch dhhaiyeda.’
Meaning thereby ‘He creates the earth as the place of righteousness and before doing so and after its destruction, He keeps Himself aloof. He makes life the electrtic current run in the air but when He withdraws His power, everything visible crumbles down
The fundamentals of a faith and the place of its birth point to the tune, pace and direction and show as to how long that faith shall remain effective and meaningful. For this the world view of the religion alone is not enough but the contexts of time and place are also decisive factors. Many of the semitic faiths belive in Historical particularization. From this comes forth the philosophy of their prophets in which time is marching ahead in a straight line. Consequently, there is a great zeal among the people for expansion and development which can be the cause of doom. The Doom’s day is a concept which presupposes that the world has to go from bad to worse and day by day it is moving towards destruction. The growing calamitous situation concerning environment could be the means of pleasing the people as the means of development, because it strengthens their belief that the world has to come to and end on a pre-determined day. It is therefore better to be as quick as possible. It is a good excuse for being unconcerned with the environment. On the other hand, India and many other countries, believe in the cyclic system of time. This concept of activity within the round circle of time, brings to the fore a creative process which accepts the mingling of the creative elements again and again.
Being totally a spiritual expeience, the Sikh faith, as also believing in creative activity to raise the world view to higher level, is ever ready to be attuned to the creative process of nature. No doubt, in Sri Guru Granth Sahib the cycle of time has been divided into aeons, years, months and week but this division of time and space inspires a Sikh, absorbed in meditation and devotion, to be more responsive to the realities of nature. Being one with nature and yearning for union with God is vividly described in the Baramaha Tukhari. This depicts the moving cycle of time, its beauty, its keenness evokes in Guru’s mind to be attuned to the echoe heard everywhere in all the four directions. Gurus’ consciouness of the environment and love of nature can be explained through some references in Baramaha in which the yearning mind and the forlorn soul have been likened to a black bee, a papiha (rain-bird), a frog, or a blossomed flower and green branches:
Chet basant bhala bhavar suhavrai.
Ban phoolai manjh bar mai pir ghar bahurai.
Pir ghar nahi avai, dhan kyo sukh pavai,
briha brodh tan chheejai. Kokil amb suhavi bolai
kyo dukh ank saheejai.
Bhavar bhawanta phooli dali,
kyo jeevba mar maye.
Nanak Chet Sahej sukh paye
je Hari Var ghar dhan paye.5.
(The spring month (chet) is beautiful with black bees hovering around so nicely.Though surrounded by flowers, I’m without my spouse. My spouse does not come home, how can I find comfort? The pangs of separation are rotting my body.The koel sings on mango tree, but I suffer the pangs. The black bee hovers over flowers and branches But how can I live? Better I should die, my mother. Sayeth Nanak, thinking of her Spouse. the yearning dame shall have the ecstatic company of the Eternal Spouse.)
Asadh bhala sooraj gagan tapai.
Dharti dukh sahai sokhai agan bhakai.
Agan ras sokhai mariay dhokhai
bhi so kirat na harai.
Rath phirai chhaya dhan takai
teed lavai manjh barai.
Avgan badhi chali dukh agai
sukh tisu sach samalai.
Nanak jisno ehu man diya
maran jiwan Prabhu nalai.9.
(The scorching sun torments me with heat, in Asadh. The earth bears the pain and absorbs its fire. The ill effect of this fire leads me to death But those devoted to Him truly, do not feel defeated The sun goes on doing its duty to dry)
Its chariot keeps moving though the
weak of the mind seek a shady spot
Those bound by vices suffer in hell
And those live in virtue have comfort.
Those who have been given the power
Of thinking, sayeth Nanak, know
The reality of life and death.
Bhadoi bharm bhuli bhari joban pachhtani.
Jal thal neer bharai baras rutai rang maani.
Barsai nis kali kyo sukh bali dadar more lavantai.
Prio prio chavai babiha bolai bhuyjangam phirai dasantai.
Machhar dang saiyer bhar subhar bin Hari kyo sukh payiai.
Nanak pooch chalau Gur apnai jah Prbhu taha hi jayiai.10
(The woman, in Bhadav, the month of rain, proud of her beauty and youth acted erroneously and she had to repent because of separation from her spouse It rains at night so dark, the frogs quack, the peacocks chirp, the rain bird sings ‘Pee-pee’ but the woman separated from her spouse derives no happiness from the fine weather. She peceives only in this month that the serpents sting and the mosquitos bite. The ponds and pools full to the brim do not interest her. Sayeth Nanak, following the exhortation of my Guru, I will go to meet my spouse wherever He is.)
Pokh tukhar padai van trin rasu sokhai.
Avan ki nahi man tan wasahe mukhai.
Man tan ravi rahya jag jivan Gur sabdi rang maani.
Andaj jeraj setaj utbhuj ghati ghati joti samaani.
Darsan dehu dayapati datai, gati pavau mati deho.
Nanak rang ravai ras rasiya Hari sio priti sanehho.5′ 13
(In the frosty month of Posh, the forest and grass get dried. Why don’t you come to dwell in me O my Lord?)
When the Lord comes to abide in the body and mind of a devotee, he enjoys the bliss of His Name in this Union. He perceives His light in all the creatures born in four ways. O Merciful Lord let me have Thy glimpse, give me wisdom so that I can attain the high spiritual state. Sayeth Nanak, one who loves his Lord with utmost devotion, enjoys the Bliss of ecstasy.
All the above stanzas touch upon the life in the surrounding villages of his plce of Birth in the Bar region (now Pakistan Punjab) and it is evident therefrom that Guruji is conscious of his surroundings and fully absorbed therein. Now yearning of the separted soul is portrayed on the canvas of lovely nature and now the the description of the state of mind in the month of Asadh when the internal heat of a self-guided person is likened to the scorching heat of the sun causing pain and discomfort in the whirlwinds. The seven days, dates, eight parts of the day are the compositions wherein time and space and their cyclical flow has been described as personal experience. All these compositions strengthen our faith in the infinite process of nature whereby we become aware of the divine presence pervading the environment. Such a bent of mind of a person fills him with contenment and humility and both these virtues are absolutely essential for a true Sikh. In the context of the cyclical flow of time and space, it would not be out of place to quote Respected Ananda Viraraja. He says –
‘In the present age of turmoil caused in the human mind by the life style and the pressures being exerted thereon, the human point of view with regard to the cyclical pace of human life seems to be wise conduct because such a point of view is essential not only for a person’s health and happiness but also to maintain the continuity of nature. Those, who live in the belief of going on a straight line, seem to be constantly under the pressure of history. It is true that such people have achievements to their credit, feeling of accomplishment and reaching the targets and contentment thereof, but for the fulfillment of such desires they are harming their environment and neighbours.’ 14 Whatever may be the case, our personal feeling has become so sharp and forceful that we do not consider it necessary to think that in our mad and blind race towards so called development, urbanization and self-satisfaction, we will fully destroy the eco-systems in the environment. Who will then change our stale breaths into fresh air and how shall our excreta and urine be transformed into small plants without which one cannot think of the creatures living on this earth.
It is clear in the light of the above, that it is impossible for a Sikh, not to protect the ‘Great Mother Earth’, not to love it and not to look after it. But as it is clear in regard to other matters, the Sikh worships only God who sustains the earth and other planets and is the Master thereof. Human body has been likened to earth in many hymns of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and it has been said that the seeds of good deeds should be sown in this body. 15 Along with this, under the true Sikh spirit, worship of earth or nature in a ritualistic manner has been cautioned against. ‘O brother, by forgetting God, the sustainer of earth you are serving the low born maid Maya and because of her you are spending your age in practicing I’ism –
Dharnidhar tyag neech kul seveh,
hau hau karat bihavath.
Fokat karam kareh agyani,
manmukh andh kamavath. 16
Guru Arjan Dev, laying more emphasis on this, and accepting the sovereignity of Lord, says, ‘O Lord, thou destroyeth the bondage of the world which causes pain to the people and al the gods, human beings and those who have renounced the world, serve thee. Thou alone art sustaining the earth and sky –
Bhavkhandan dukhnash Dev.
Sur nar, muni jan taki sev.
Dharan akash jai ki kala mahi,
taira diya sabh jagat khahi. 1
(Thou destroyeth the cycle of births and pains, O Lord. Gods, men and sages serve Thee. The earth and sky are sustained by thee and everyone partakes of what thou giveth them to eat.)
It can thus be said that Gurbani by talking of taking care of the earth, creates an awareness in our minds about our environment on the one hand, and forbids us from induling in unnecessary rituals, on the other. Not only that, going a step further, it inspires the human beings to be sensitive towards other creatures, and especially tolerant about other human beings. The brahminical approach has not only divided human beings into many castes and classes but distribution of work also strengthens the caste system. Among the Brahmin, khatri, shoodar and Vaish, only Vaish does farming, connected with earth, and it is therefore clear that he has to look after the earth and others have no particular concern in this behalf. This division while makes our claim hollow that we are all equal and brothers, it also disproves that the father of all of us is One God. Gurbani is fully conscious of this. Guru Angad Dev makes it clear in Var Assa, that everyone has to do everything and one who understands this mystery ‘I am his servant.’ –
‘Sarb sabdang, eik sabdang, je ko janai bheo.
Nanak taka das hai, soyee niranjan Deo.
The principle of brotherhood and the presence of the light of One God in everyone or to regard God as the Father of every one has been stated by Guru Nanak in Sorath Raga. 18 –
Pud dharti pud pani asan, char kunt chaubara.
Sagal bhavan ki moorat eika, mukh terai taksala.l.
Mairai Sahiba, tairai choj vidana.
Jal thal mahiyal bhar pur leena
aapai sarab samana. Rahau.
Jeh jeh dekhaan tahe jot tumari, taira roop kineha.
Ikat roop phireh parchhanna koye na kis hi jeha. 2.
Andaj jeraj utbhuj setaj, tairai kitai janta.
Eik purab main taira dekhya
too sabhna mahi ravanta.3
(Like the two grinding stones, there is division into land and water and the four directions wherein Thou pervadeth. In Thy Form are enclosed all the spheres and thou sustain them. O my Lord, Thy doings are so wonderful. Thou art pervading in water, land and skies, Thou are everywhere and in everyone. Pause. Thy light shines whichever way I look, what a form Thou hast? Though one Form dwells in all, no one is like any other one. Those born of the egg, womb, perspiration and vegetation, are all created by Thee. I have seen this wonder of Thine that thou dwelleth in all of them.)
This type of thinking creates in our mind a world consciousness wherein every one, country, economic system, relgion and every aspect of life seems to be precious. ‘We have to worry about ourselves’ point of view is extended and all those get included among our own who clearly do not belong to our caste, nation, country or the class of our life. The most respected way of becoming one with God, as stated in Gurbani, is that we should not cause pain to any creature of any class –
Dookh na deyi kisai jia, pat sio ghar javau.
(Don’t cause pain to anyone and go to His Place with honor.)19
Viewed from the Gyan Shastra angle (Realm of Knowledge) it becomes clear that Gurbani regards ‘Vismad’ and the spirit of love the means of attaining true knowledge. It is expected of an individual that he should keep himself pure and innocent like a child who feels surprised on seeing different kinds of creatures and things. Such a person gets lost in ‘Vismad’ (Wondrous Ecstasy) and remaining continuously in this state his ego begins to corrode. This ego has been called the serious illness. His shrinking personality gets developed and he willingly accepts the existence of other beings and begins to believe that all those are no less important than himself. Guru Nanak says in the 25th Pauri of Japuji about this –
‘Dharamkhand ka eho dharam
Gyan khand ka akhhu karam.
Ketai pavan pani vaisantar
kaitai Kahan Mahesh.
Ketai Brahmai gharat ghadiai
roop rang kai vais.
Ketya karam bhoomi,
mer ketai dhu updesh.
Ketai Ind Chand Soor,
ketai ketai mandal desh.
Ketai Sidha Budha Natha,
ketai ketai devi vais.
Ketai deva, danava, muni,
ketai ketai rattan samund.
Ketiya khani ketiya bani,
Ketai paat narind.
Ketiya surti sevak,
keatai Nanak ant na ant.
(This is the calling of this realm of duty. Now I describe the next stage the Gyan Khand (Realm of knowledge). So many Brahmas have been created, many forms and appearance. There are so many fields of action, Sumer, the high mountain and Dhruva and exhortations. Many Indras, moons, suns and many spheres have been created. Many are the sidhas, budhas, nathas and many are the goddesses in many forms. There are many gods and demons and sages and many pearls in the seas. There are many khanis (modes of birth), many are the toungues and many are the rulers of men. There are many teachers and learners, sayeth Nanak, there is no end to them).
The vastness of nature, and different aspects of it are explained in the concept of Vismad and the deep interest of Gurbani in nature, all these go to prove how much sensitive the Sikh faith is to the other traditions and tolerant of the other eco-systems. The feeling of pride and ego gets destroyed when one stops from finding excuses to deny the existence of others. In such a state of mind, the question of harming any other creature cannot arise. A truly knowledgeable person in Sikh faith is the one who neihter frightens any one nor is he afraid of anyone –
Bhai kahoo kau det nahi, nehi bhai manta aan.
Kahu Nanak Sun rai mana, gyani tahi bakhan. 21
Working as oxygen for the creatures living on earth is the love for them which is the second name of true knowledge in the Sikh faith. When this life force diminishes in any society, the society becomes rude, tense and hollow. Of the five dialogues of Plato, in ‘Symposiumn’ 22 love has been openly discussed. In a dinner hosted by Agathan, Socrates, witty poet Aristofanise, Pheaders assembled and to make the evening a pleasant occasion everyone was asked in turn to speak on love. As usual, Socrates adopted the logical way of talking and talking in this strain he gets mingled with the though of the Infinite, leaving behind the mortal world. Pheader presents the most emotional appraisal of love and in support of the solid views that he expressed, he recites those lines of the great poet Hesodus which say, ‘There was thick haze to start with, then to sustain all, the earth and love were born.’ Pheader further recites the lines of Permanides.
‘In the long line of gods, God created Love first of all.’
As a matter of fact, love is the integral and deep rooted part of man’s personality. Talking about honour and dishonour, Feeders says that a lover does not suffer much on being arrestred for an act of cowardice and being dishonoured before his father or friends as he does before his beloved. Therefore, love is prior to all and the source of good deeds. Honourable love is the best inspirer for good deeds. Many of the Greek Philosophers before Socrates and after him believed that before the creation of universe, love was the power which kept the elements connected to one another. Opposition drives these elements away from one another and in common parlance this is the doom’s day for universe though these elements do not get destroyed; because of opposition, they just distance away from one another. This state has been called ‘Sanyog’ and ‘Viyog’ in Gurbani. Guru Gobind Singh terms this ‘Akarkhan’ and ‘Udkarkhan’. These elements combine because of love and because of hatred, they break away from one another. It is therefore, a fundamental truth that love joins the different eco-systems and the widespread hatred, jealousy and exploitation in today’s society, pull away people from one another.
Bacon too, in his essay on love, has separated sex related love, friendly love and passionate love, to make us undersand its true nature (23).
In the 33 Swaiyas in Dasam Granth, Guru Gobind Singh says ‘Love is the best means of attaining God’. 24
Dhyan lagaye thagyo sabh logan
sees jata nakh hath badhaye.
Laye bibhoot phiryo mukh oopar
dev adev sabhai dehkaye.
Lobh kai lagai phiryo ghar hi
ghar jog kai nyas sabhai bisraye.
Laj gayee kachhu kaaj saryo nahi
prem bina Prabhu hath na aye.
(Sitting in meditation to dupe the people Growing matted hair, and lengthening nails of hands.Smearing ashes on the face and wandering about Scaring both gods and demons. Going from door to door driven by greed, Forgetting all vows of yoga Lost his honour and no purpose got served Without love, God cannot be attained. )
When the dry and hard discipline takes the place of love, a tastelessness and arrogance make their permanent place in society. To keep the life going, many rules and regulations create a feeling of revolt, and the good life attuned to oneness, breaks into pieces. The Sikh faith puts forth the concept of ‘Halemi Raj’ which is based on humilty and love. It is a system in which the mutual relationships among people are not based on governmental rules and regulations, but on love and freedom. When life is laden with negative ordinances and laws, the disintegrating force certainly enters our life and the individual suffering loneliness in such a society, instead of coming closer to others, begins to sow the seeds of revolt even in his own family. Thousands of rules can be counted to make life worth living, but it is also a fact that the life span is so short that all these rules and regulations can’t be made applicable in one life. Therefore, the essence of all the rules is love which incorporates in itself all the spiritual and general behavioural aspects. A person, who loves, cannot steal; he cannot hate anyone and anger cannot destroy him. Greed cannot touch him. As a matter of fact, greed and love cannot live together because a greedy person is always after money, wealth, spleandour while a true lover is always ready to give everything that he owns to others. Baba Farid says –
‘Farida ja lab ta nehu kya, lab ta kooda nehu.
Kichar jhat langhaiai, chhappar tutai mehu.’ 25
(Love and greed do not go together. If one has greed, his love is false. Such love is useless in the same way as the thatched roof cannot stop water leaking through it and causing loss.)
God is the greatest lover because He goes on giving and is never tired of doing so. The recipients of His bounties might get tired. Counting numerous names of God and regarding Him above all symbols, castes and creeds, Guru Gobind Singh calls God the most generous, Primaordial Male, not subject to births and pervading everywhere in the form of love –
Naam thaam na jati jakar roop rang na rekh.
Adi Purakh udar moorti ajone Adi Asekh.
Des aur na bhes jakar, roop rekh and raag.
Jatar tatar disa vish hue phailyo anurag. 26
To make this natural world a museum of countless laws, man has always been trying and these laws have almost snatched away from the individual his mother nature’s lap. Man was supposed to learn from nature the way to remain free but without paying heed to this, the loveless man built castels of different faiths, communities, castels, etc and in the name of moral codes, the walls of these castels have been built so very high and strong that man can easily deny the existence of others. This separatism and pride does not apply only in relation to other faiths but within ones own faith and community also when we are always ready to remove the other’s turban. The tension that exists between the Sunni and Shia sects of Muslims, between the Hindus and Muslims is no less. Similar strong wall is raised between a Brahmin and a shudra or the ‘Saryupareen brahmin’ and ‘kanyakubja brahmin’. It is perhaps for this reason that Guru Gobind Singh in Jap Sahib not only regards God above all the castes and creeds and rituals, but above all the religions also –
‘Namastang amajbe. Namasatsat ajbe.’
Accepting the existence of others is the first step towards mutual love and amity. This fact has been accepted very delightfully in Akal Ustat (Praise of the Timeless) Guru Gobind Singh says –
Kou bhyao mundia sanyasi kou jogi bhayo
Kou brahmchari kou jati anumanbo.
Hindu Turak dou rafzi imamshafi
manas ki jati sabhai eikai pechanbo.
Karta Karim soyee, razak rahim oyee
Doosrau na bhed koyee bhool bhram manbo.
Eik kee sev, sabh he kau Gurdev eik
Eik hi saroop sabhai eiko joti manbo.. 28
Looking at Mosque, temple, Puran, Qur’an, etc. equally and permitting every one to see and hear as he wills, such a wisdom full of love and intellect is seen in His Divine Light.
Dehura masit soyee, pooja au niwaz oyee
Manas sabhai eik pai anek ka bhramao hai.
Devta adev jachh gandarbh Turk Hindu
Nyarai nyarai desan ke bhes ka prabhao hai
Eikay nain, eikai kaan, khak baad
atish au aab ka ralao hai.
Allah abhekh soyee puran au qur’an oyee
Eik hi sarup sabhai aik hi banao hai.
(Temple and mosque are the same. Hindu worship and Muslim prayer are the same All human being are alike and subject to the same Influence. Gods, demons, goddesses, singers and dancers in Indiras court, Muslims and Hindus may have different names or may belong to different countries, they have the effects of those countries on them. But in reality they have the same eyes, same ears; they are all made of the same elements earth, air, fire, water and space. They all have one God and all the scriptures are the same; they all have the same form as they are made by the same Creator.)
In this way according to Sikh faith, all those living in the lap of nature have no mutual or fundamental discord. Therefore thinking of devouring one another is not justified on any account. Guru Gobind Singh further says in Akal Ustat –
Jaise eik aag kai kanuka kot aag uthai
Nyarai nyarai hoe kai phir aag mahi milahenge.
Jaise eik dhoor tai anke dhoor poorat hai
Dhoor kai kanuka pher dhoor he samahenge.
Jaise eik nad to tarang kote upjat hai
Pan kai tarang sabhai pan hi kahahenge.
Taise bisav roop tgsai abhut but pargat hoye
Tahi te upaj sabhai tahi maai samahenge.
(Just as millions of sparks rise from one fire Though separate, they again mingle with fire. Just as innumerable particles rise from dust But they again fall down to mingle with dust. So many waves rise above a stream But all the waves are called water only. In the same way, many forms created by The Creator ultimately merge with Him.)
In fact, man is under a great misapprehension that he is the master of the all the creatures and is far superior to them. Man should never forget that if he has reached the peak of development it can never mean that he has no connection with those creatures who are struggling to come up by way of development. Undoubteldy, very long ago man was aso an animal and he still retainns those animal instincts. To raise man to a higher level to make him a better and cultured being, all the faiths show their own way. It is true that to achieve mental ability man had to struggle for thousands of years but based on this, he cannot be inimical to other beings because all of them, in different forms, help man in his existence but it is a matter of great regret that leaving aside love with other creatures, man is not ready to regard another man equal to him. In this way love is the only eternal relationship, which, being an integral part of human personality, should be revived again for mutual good and raised to a very high level on one hand, and from philosophical point of view, it should be accepted as the means of true knowledge, on the other. Man has countless desires because of which he is never satisfied. This hunger in him teaches him the way to loot others as a result of which he turns cruel and always remains tense. We know love only as a word but as knowing the word ‘water’ or ‘fire’ thirst cannot be quenced or warmth cannot be had, in the same way love in the form of a word is of no use. Love is that shining fire which burns to ashes the rubbish accumulated around our soul and then the soul, in its pure form of light, makes us tread the righteous path. Love is such a positive creative force, which, if not permitted to flow freely through mind, intellect and body along its natural course, it turns into anger, arrogance and assumes the form of destruction. A man devoid of love falls prey to many ailments and consequently, his entire personality emits such waves as pollute his environment. Such a person has been called a ‘manmukh’ by Guru Nanak in his long composition ‘Siddhagoshta’. The society of such people is responsible for the blind race for material gains. Such people turn blind and deaf to others needs and exploitation and loot of natural resources becomes their ideal of life. In the 26th pauri of Siddhagoshta, a manmukh is picturised as –
Manmukh bhoolai jam ki kaan.
Par ghar johai hanai haan.
Mamukh bharam bhavai bebaan.
Waymarag moosai mantra masaan.
Sabad na chinai lavai kubaan.
Nanak sach ratai sukh jaan. 31
(The self-willed faithless people forget that they would be accountable before the Yama. They go about commiting sins and coveting others belongings and women. They always grope in the dark and get duped in useless pursuits and sorcery. They do not ponder over the Word and talk non-sense. Sayeth Nanak, happiness is experienced by those who remain attuned to Truth.)
Giving up the path of love and truth, a manmukh employs all his means in such a way as makes him the centre point of all the social, religious and political activities. It is his cherished desire that all the ways to worldly comforts should lead towards him and for doing so he disregards all the values and traditions, and defines them in his own way. He not only needs money and wealth, he stakes his life towards that end and in this process he does not hesitate to destroy men, animals and other creatures of God.
Science also confirms this that the entire world has come into being through the Supreme Element. The student of biology is taught in the beginning itself that the embryos of different species are similar to start with. If a few weeks old embryos of hen, fish and goat are examined, it would be difficult to guess what is what. In fact the real difference between the creatures is not that of their origin or traits but it is that of the level of development which it has achieved after developing for thousands of years. Almost all the scriptures of the world have gone deeply into this aspect of development of creatures. The Nasdia Sukat of Rig Veda talks of the creation of the universe and inspired by this, the writers of sutras and puranas regard Vishnu as the Primordial Male and through his incarnations like tortoise, fish, boar, etc. they hve related the tale of human development. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib the Supreme Element, God has been regarded as the basic cause of creation and from this Basic Truth was born air (the combination of gases) and then water and from water the entire universe. Though it is true that the theory of evolution was assigned the scientific form in the nineteenth century when Darwin propounded his Evolution theory and he told the world that first of all single cell amoeba was formed in water and after further development, multi-cell creatures like fish, frog, birds, creepers on land and mammals came into being. This theory of evolution proved by itself that the father of all creatures is God and for this reason the fraternal claim of every creature on other creatures is justified. Have we ever given thought to this fact that why does our mind feel attuned to the waves and experiences a sort of tranquility when we go to the sewa shore or on the bank of a big pool or tank. It is clear that man has reached this level of development rising from the level of being a sea creature and his soul has not yet learnt to forget the serene feeling of the waves. On the river bank or sea shore, his mind feels invigorated by the music of waves and one feels a strange kind of rapture. Further scientific research shows that the saline sea water is still the sustainer of man’s life because in the womb of the mother, the embryo floats in a membraneous sack of saline water and at the time of birth, this sack bursts to facilitate birth. Besides, all of us know how much role salt has to play in our body. Because of imbalance in the ratio of salt in our body, the blood pressure goes up and down. Similar type of relationship we have with the forests and fresh air which is so very important to maintain ecological balance. Nature has given us our bones, blood, flesh, etc and this nature is the visible manifestation of God.
Nature is the true form of God and it should not be harmed in any way. If we do so, being a small part of His nature, we are harming ourselves incalculably.
Dr. Prakash Singh Jammu, a social scientist has gone very deeply into the struggle and resettlement of Sikhs during the twentieth century. He has laid a special emphasis on the fact that various economic forces guiding the social life have a different attitude towards nature. Those who go for hunting and collect their food from here and there have no other go than worshiping nature while on the other hand those engaged in farming and depending on it try to make nature more useful and beautiful and keep making some changes therein. Undoubtedly, the Sikhs rely more on farming and their ability to run professions connected therewith. This ability was made use of by them before Partition in areas now in Pakistan and after levelling the uneven land, they developed it nicely and made it more fertile. In place of old kinds of trees, better and more useful trees were planted and bringing the dangerous animals under check, they developed the lineage of oxen, cows, buffalos, horses. Later on when the Sikhs had to settle in the sandy tracts of Rajasthan and Terai areas of Uttar Pradesh (now Uttrakhand), there also they repeated the same story. In accordance with their true tradition of honest dealings, they did not try to tamper with the unevenness manifest in nature till they were able to grow something as an alternative. Today these regions are lush green and this greenery is not only for human beings but also beneficial to animals and birds. The Sikhs do not favour the capitalist economy wherein without returning anything to nature, they go on exploiting nature. “The Sikhs established a new equilibrium with nature and instead of polluting it, they gave a new life to its imporoved form.” 32
Thy Sikh faith is very clear that before looking for outer attunement, the internal equilibrium in man is more important. Before the advent of Sikhism, self and matter, mind and possessions, life and nature, man and nature were the concepts which were presented as opposed to one another. Keeping in view the lack of awareness of the mutual cohesion of these concepts, the Gurus paid special attention to the practical aspect of these factors and instilled in the same person the combined spirit of devotion and power (Bhagti and Shakti). Bhagti helped in maintaining the inner balance and Shakti represented the outer or world of nature. Gurujis felt that humanity had one-sided development and there was a widening gap between man’s inner nature and outer nature and both are struggling against each other. In fact, they are complement to each other and as the Science also accepts that whatever is there in the universe is in a small particle also, the two are the two sides of a coin. Both these aspects of life are in fact one and the same and wherever they look different, they are eager to enter one another. Broadly speaking, mind and matter, life and nature are one and the same as are day and night, life and death which emerge from each other but are one in reality; of course, the degree of intensity and capacity differs. In spite of being a spiritual experience, the Sikh faith lays full stress on natural biological development wherein balance has to be maintained among various forms of nature. The creation of proper environment for everyone is an important task before man.
Indian Expxress, Hyderabad, May 9, 1990, p. 5
Sardar Kapur Singh, edited by Prof. Harbans Singh (Punjabi University Patiala)- ‘Perspectives on Guru Nanak – the essay on ‘Guru Nanak’s concept of nature’
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 526
Ibid, p. 464
Ibid, p. 463
Harvard Divinity Bulletin, book 4, p., 6.
N.N. Bhattachrya, Indian Mother Goddess, p. 23
Ibid, p. 272
Ibid, p. 1108-11.
Rev. Anand Virraj, World Religions and the Environment (editied by O.P. Divivedi), pp. 91, 1189.
SGGS, pp. 23, 1048
17 Ibid, p. 1183
Ibid, p. 596.
Ibid, p.l 7
Sympozium, Five Great Dialogues of Plato.
Bacon’s essay “Of love”.
Guru Gobind Singh, Dasam Granth, 33 Swaiyyas, 18 Sw.
SGGS, p. 1378
Guru Gobind Singh, Jap Sahib, 80 Chhand 80.
Ibid, Jap Sahib, Chhand 17
Ibid, Akal Ustat, 15.85
Ibid, Akal Ustat, 16.86.
Prakash Singh Jammu – Sikhs and Nature – Himalayan Environment and Culture, papers read in the Seminar held by the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies Simla in November 1986.