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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh

 

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Institute of Sikh Studies

Annual Seminar

Sikhism in the making of Third Millennium Civilization

On

23rd and 24th Nov. 2013

Call for Papers

Second millennium civilization has seen unprecedented advances in the field of science and technology which started in sixteenth century in Europe and soon spread around the globe. Awesome advances in the field of communication technology and rapid means of transport made possible large scale migration of people from one land to the other all over the world.

The earlier civilizations developed in different regions of the world were restricted to the area of their origin, and because of this very reason man was dominated by a strong feeling of nationalism. The migration of the people the world over has resulted in intermingling of the cultures of different regions and the world is moving towards a conviction that all people belong to a worldwide human civilization

Arnold Toynbee in his monumental work ‘A study of History’ makes the observation that Sikh religion has the potential of ushering in a new and higher civilization in the third millennium which would be qualitatively different in its fundamental postulates from earlier civilizations including the modern western civilizations. In these days of increasing communication between all parts of the world and all branches of the human race, Sikh religion, and its scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib , will have something of special value to say to the rest of the world and Sikhism will have a special role to play in the making of a new civilization.

Today the world is waking up to the new realities.Keeping this in mind, Institute of Sikh Studies has decided to provide a guide map to the world to develop new institutions for the new civilization in the making. Accordingly, the theme for the seminar this year will be ‘Sikhism in the making of third millennium civilization’.

Many components make a civilization. But the focus for this seminar will be World Government and how the Sikh concept of peaceful coexistence expressed in the phrase ‘Sarbat da Bhala’ and protection of the oppressed in the concept of an individual being a saint soldier and Miri Piri model of governance, can be the guiding principles in the making of the new constitution for global governance. With the new advancements in the communication technology, the global civilization of the third millennium is bound to be pluralistic and Sikhism with its inherent message of pluralism has the potential of playing a very positive role in the making of a new world order. The message of religious pluralism contained in ‘ਜਿਤੁ ਦੁਆਰੈ ਉਬਰੈ ਤਿਤੈ ਲੈਹੁ ਉਬਾਰਿ’ provides the ideological base for peaceful coexistence of different faiths and ethnic communities in the new civilization.

The world has already envisaged a global government in the formation of UNO which affirms its ‘faith in the fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations, large and small’ a faith that stands witness to the birth of a new civilization which encompasses the whole humanity inhabiting the entire planet without making the individual surrender his identity and sovereignty; an idea which should form a preamble to the world constitution. 

It is the time the universal message of Sikhism is studied to rediscover its basic values of liberalism, humanism and universalism in the context of present day realities at international level. Along with the evolution of the individual to the highest level, the Sikh faith seeks the betterment of humanity by upholding the values of freedom from the oppressive authority, of man over man and of state over state. Religious faith is the keeper of human conscience for guiding and regulating the exercise of political authority, which should stand for human dignity. Guru Arjan Sahib, the fifth Guru encapsules the concept of Miri Piri in the following lines where he says that the homeland should be built on the unshakable pillars of truth and righteousness:

ਘਰੁ ਬੰਧਹੁ ਸਚ ਧਰਮ ਕਾ ਗਡਿ ਥੰਮੁ ਅਹਲੈ॥ (SGGS p. 320).

Here ਧਰਮ stands for righteousness which ideally should be the basis of any religious system.

 In the third millennium, with multiculturalism and peaceful co existence among nations as its important component, when the emphasis has to be on equal rights of men and nations and on the dignity of the individual, the nation states the world over are bound to adopt the concept of individual as a saint soldier committed to the creation of a new world order based on a system of governance on the principle of Miri Piri in its broadest sense.

This is also time the Sikhs have an introspective look at their own institutions to see how far they have been able to put this concept of Miri Piri into practice, wherein the Sikh gurus disseminated the idea that it was not possible for an oppressed person even to start his spiritual journey, leave alone attaining some degree of progress on the spiritual path.

One day of the seminar will be entirely focused on this theme and we expect the scholars to delve deep into the subject to give solid suggestions to be followed by leaders the world over to bring about a system of governance where justice to one and all becomes the modus operandi of the system. The scholars are also invited to give positive suggestions based on the concept of Miri Piri ( governance based on truth and righteousness) about the working of the existing Sikh institutions.

The topic for the deliberations on the second day will be Global Citizenship with special focus on the sustainable development by way of conserving the ecology of the planet so that the future citizens of this global civilization inherit a world that contributes to their well being in all possible ways. Special emphasis should be on Sikh environmental ethics and how Gurbani guides us to live in consonance with nature.

The scholars are expected to suggest ways on how the environment can best be conserved. Most civilisations, cultures and belief systems have views on human relation to the environment and cosmos and our behaviour towards the environment and sustainability is very much influenced by our belief system. Western technology based on the belief that lifeless nature existed for man to be discovered through the laws of Nature and exploited through the ruthless use of natural resources for his material progress, disturbed the ecological balance to the point where the very existence of the planet itself has been put in danger. We urgently need action towards environment preservation. We need to study:
How Sikh tradition can inspire us to be more responsible towards the environment?

What in Sikh thought is the status of the humans to other life forms? Is man master of all other species; the only species with a conscience, or simply another transient species in evolution?

What in Sikh tradition forms the basis of human relation to environment? Is it one of a guardian, a custodian, or a species with a right to exploit all that exists for its own advantage?

Is the interaction of the human to the environment one of fear, love, awe or without any emotion?

All civilisations and belief systems have concepts on human relation to the environment and cosmos. Ethical principles of a particular community are based on the belief system. What is the belief system in Sikhism? Is it ecocentric, cosmocentric or integrationist? And how can this system guide us in preserving the environment?

The scholars are expected to give their views on how Sikhism with its birthplace in Punjab, a province in India, is not bound to any particular region, considers whole earth as its mother and shares with the whole humanity its existential concerns–religious, economic, social, political, and environmental. Deliberations during the two day seminar on the Sikh model of governance based on the Miri Piri concept with the idea of an individual as a saint soldier, and Sikh perspectives on environment will contribute to the world thought in the third millennium in a big way.  Scholars are requested to contribute good quality, well researched papers on these topics. The paper should not be more than 4000 words. The abstracts of the paper should reach by Oct 1, 2013

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