News & Views
UNICEF Allotted a Project Regarding The Clean and Tidy Environment to IOSS
During the last week of October, 2014, a Treasurer of the Institute of Sikh Studies, Sardar Gurpreet Singh came into contact with UNICEF consultant at Bombay Mr. Josantoni Joseph through e-mail. Their exchange of view focused the role of Sikh religion towards clean and tidy environments, for healthy human surroundings. As regards clean environments the founder of Sikh thought Guru Nanak in one of his utterances termed the role of clean air as guide and that of water and earth as father and mother respectively for healthy human development.
Keeping in mind the above facts UNICEF allotted this Project to the Institute of Sikh Studies. Dr Rajinderjit Kaur, an other member of the Institute prepared a detailed project exploring the different aspects given in Gurbani on the purity of environment in Punjabi language. With the help of two Gursikh from Sikh missionary college place, Sardar Gurbir Singh and Sardar Paramjit Singh, the final project has been prepared in English and sent to UNICEF. A grant of Rs 50,000/- (Rs fifty thousand only) has been received from UNICEF for this project.
The Institute made a detailed report in this regard. A abridged report of this project is being reproduced below:
Commitment of Sikh religion for high moral character of society and clean environment:
- Call everyone exalted; no one seems lowly -- Guru Nanak
- Rise in the early hours of morning, and take your cleansing bath. Before you go to bed at night, remember to worship the Lord - Guru Arjan Dev
- Early in the ambrosial hours pious persons take bath and recite Guru's teachings -- Bhai Gurdas
- Sikh is not to drink the water in which hand is dipped -- Bhai Chaupa Singh.
- After taking your cleansing bath, remember your God in meditation, and your mind and body shall be free of disease.
- Air is the Guru, Water is the Father, and Earth is the Great Mother of all.
As a specimen, some quotes have been given above which specify that the 'Theme' we have taken up today for deliberations, was well-communicated to the world five centuries earlier by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion.
The followers of Sikhism call themselves Sikhs - meaning there-by a person who is desirous of learning all the time. It is his belief that the learning process continues throughout his life. Guru Nanak lived among the common folks, traveled extensively to reach out to the religious leaders of his times in order to spread specific awakening on certain important matters like:-
- One must live in tune with nature; submit to the Divine Law; a Sikh maintains the physical form as gifted by Almighty.
- His approach to life: earn honestly livelihood, share earnings with the needy, and remember Godforever, and thank Him for his blessings.
- A Sikh must remain committed to the tradition initiated by Guru Nanak for providing free food services to the needy, without distinction of any kind.
- He prefers spending 1/10th of his earnings for charitable purposes, like providing education and health-related services to the poor and needy, providing succor to the victims of natural calamities, wars, etc.
- He is committed to justice for all; he is to stand up for the oppressed.
Sri Harmandar Sahib Amritsar is the central shrine of Sikh religion. Every Sikh looks forward for visiting this place. The doors of Harmandar Sahib remain open for the entire humanity, without distinction of caste, creed, colour or gender. Herein, the soul finds peace. Lakhs of people take food in the free kitchen called 'Guru Ka langar' to satiate their hunger. No one is required to pay for food, rather one considers oneself blessed to join in the preparation of food, serving the food, or cleaning the utensils. There are always numerous devotees waiting for their turn to perform such services.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture, is installed in the sanctum sanctorum. The concept of 'Word Guru' is distinct from all other religions of the world, wherein Saints of all castes are equally revered like the Gurus themselves. When Sikhs pay their obeisance before this Granth, they also bow before Muslim saints as well as Hindu bhagats, irrespective of the denomination and/or the caste to which they belonged, given the then prevalent hierarchy in the social system. The holy Granth, thus, truly represents the spiritual treasure of mankind as well as reaches out to entire humanity - with the message of Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of mankind.
Sri Akal Takht Sahib is that central place, situated facing the sanctum sanctorum where the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib, started the tradition of taking decisions regarding the community's temporal concerns for his followers. The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ordained the Granth Sahib to be the Eternal Guru. He also introduced the concept of collective decision-making called Gurmatta in the light of teachings of Guru Granth Sahib. These unique concepts empower the Sikhs as a Community worldwide to make decisions as per the changing needs of the times, in line with the teachings of the Eternal Guru.
Sikhism is, thus, a dynamic religion committed to the service of entire humanity through active, social participation by each and every follower. In every prayer of the Sikhs, an appeal is made before the Almighty to "Bless All of Mankind" - sarbat da bhala.
IOSS Participates in the Peace Summit by HWPL, S Korea
Dr Birendra Kaur, President, Institute of Sikh Studies, and Dr Rajindarjit Kaur, Member, IOSS, participated in a Peace Conference on 11th December, 2014, organized by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) of S Korea at Mata Sundri College, New Delhi. They signed an Agreement 'Unity of Religions' along with representatives of major religions of India, such as, Chief Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi (Islam), Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Hinduism), Hari Prasad Kanoria (Hinduism), Heero Hito Venerable (Buddhism), S Manjit Singh GK (Sikhism), Bijaya Kumar Pattnaik (Christianity). They also submitted a brief note on Sikhism (reprodueced at the end of this news), some quotes from Gurbani relating to the topic: Scriptural Interpretation of Peace, and some quotes of non-Sikh scholars, historians and thinkers on Guru Nanak and Guru Granth Sahib.
A Brief note on Sikhism Sumitted in the Peace Summit
World Peace Through Unity of Religions
In behalf of the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, I extend a hearty welcome to our revered guests from South Korea. I am extremely grateful to HWPL for giving me this opportunity to interact with not only our guests but also the valued representatives of other religions from my own country. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this historic event.
Peace worldwide is the need of the hour. Nations, states, races, political ideologies, religious ideologies are at loggerheads. As religion addresses the human in every man, the main responsibility falls upon religions to participate towards bringing peace on this planet.The efforts by HWPL to form an alliance of religionsare, indeed, a noble service to humanity.
Five centuries ago, a blessed soul responded with such sincerity of purpose, single-handedly, to the then aggression of the ruler class as well as the meek submission of public, in general. He was Guru Nanak, the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. He introduced innovative concepts to address every issue of life, be it social, moral, political, spiritual. His Ideology has the potential, and history is witness, to transform an ascetic into a warrior; to embolden the oppressed to stand up for human rights; to enlighten the superstitious to live fearlessly; and so on. He is the first oneto have advocated gender equality with vehemence unknown thus far. He urged one and all, to rise above religions to become instruments of Almighty to ensure justice for all. Force is justified for a just cause as a choice but only after all other options have proven unsuccessful. He, thus, created saint-warriors, who neither frighten anyone, nor fear anyone; who serve friend and foe alike.
The eternal Guru, Guru Granth Sahib is the Sikh scripture. Its very format reflects the Sikh concept of peaceful co-existence. This is the scripture wherein are enshrined, along with Gurus' own divine hymns, those by other pious persons hailing from different faiths and regions. As such, many languages also form a part of Guru Granth Sahib. Further, the Gurus have used different names of God, as were in usage by other faiths, such as, Ram, Allah, Raheem, Gopal - to name a few. Guru Granth Sahib, thus, is an embodiment of harmony, andequally respects and celebrates the vibrant diversity in creation.
The concept of Fatherhood/Motherhood of one God of all humanity makes us all one people - none is a stranger, nor an outsider or enemy. The hymns steeped in love for Almighty infuse bliss within - a prerequisite for a lasting peace without. These hymns inspire the individual to serve His creation, as an expression of his love for Him;in love he lives, and for love he can sacrifice his all. Emancipation is to be achieved while living; there is no hell/ heaven hereafter.
The Guru claims no exclusivity for his path, as he prays to God to save the burning world through whichever way it is possible. Sikhs, thus, will always be at the forefront of any movement which leads to the 'good of all' - a part of our daily prayer. For successful execution of this mission, participants will need to secure a dignified existence for all through assurance of equality and recognition as independent entities. A new body, say, United Religions, may be formed as a wing of the United Nations or independently. All religions must have to sign and ratify the core principles as framed for its constitution. A new body is needed, because the United Nations comprises of only states and, as such, the many religions/nations, which do not possess a state, find no representation therein.
We, the Sikhs, hope and pray that the major religions worldwide may enter into a meaningful and responsible dialogue and lead by example towards world peace. Good Luck and Good Day!
Sikh Awards 2014 - Award of Honour
An internationally renowned Sikh Organisation named "Social Educational Welfare Association (SEWA)" located at Jandiala Guru, Amritsar Dist, has been selecting and awarding a few Gursikhs who have rendered outstanding sewa to society at large. Col Jagtar Singh Multani, Secretary, International Sikh Confederation, and Member, Institute of Sikh Studies, has been selected for this award for his outstanding work in the field of uplifting education in the rural areas and distribution of over Rs 200 crores of Central Funds under the PM's 15-Point Programme for Minorities. This is a recognition of the Herculean efforts put in by the ISC in raising the position of Punjab in Education to the maximum as recorded by the HRD Ministry in the Indian Government.
Seminar on Peaceful Co-Existence and Role of Sikhs – A Report
This was the special occasion in celebration of the Silver Jubilee (25 years) of the Institute of Sikh Studies (IOSS). On this occasion, the founder members who were honoured included Bibi Baljit Kaur, Bhai Ashok Singh and S Inderjit Singh honored for their outstanding service to the IOSS were Dr Kirpal Singh the famous Historian, Prof Emeritus, S Gurdev Singh IAS (retd), now Patron of IOSS and Sardar Sardul Singh outstanding donor.
This occasion also marked the Release of two very valuable books. Sainapati's Gursobha published in 1711 now translated into English by Prof Kulwant Singh. A book "Nereon Dithe Dr Kharak Singh" authored by the devoted disciple of Dr Kharak Singh ji namely Sh Jaswant Rai was also released.
The Seminar took off with a keynote paper prepared by S Harinder Singh and Surinderpal Singh of Sikh Research Institute, USA. This session was presided over by Dr B S Ghuman, Head of Department of Public Administration of Punjab University.
The Seminar papers deal with the peaceful co-existence of mankind and role of Sikhism and the Sikhs. In the First session Dr Dr Rajesh Kumar of Panjab University, Dr Rajinderjit Kaur have presented their papers and also a message sent by Dr DP Singh of USA was readout by Dr Rajinderjit Kaur.
The next three sessions were chaired by S. Nanak Singh Nistar (Hyderbad), Dr BS Bhoop and by Dr Amrik Singh Ahluwalia (PU).
S Nanak Singh also traced the role of Sikhs in promoting peaceful existence and harmony at every stage of Sikh history.
Sh Narinder Kumar, Ph.D. student of Panjab University made an impassioned plea and emphasis on the need to bring Dalits at par with the Sikh Sangat. He pointed out the abberations in Sikh society in Punjab where Sikhs had divided into different religious groups with separate places of worship. This is leading many disillusioned and Dalit Sikhs are likely to go away from the Sikh faith due to prejudice shown against them by the so-called higher caste Sikhs. This needs to be arrested forthwith.
Another paper traced the history of the travels of Guru Nanak Dev ji and his stress on Peaceful Co-existence and amongst all humankind. He preached against bigotry and rigidity of the existing religion and advocated the oneness of all human kind. Also the speakers established the vital role by the ten Gurus in liberating mankind from superstitions which had gripped society.
All speakers advocated a strong move for the need of propagating the Guru's message to promote harmonious and peaceful co-existence, locally as well as globally. Stress was laid on creating and promoting a casteless society. It was felt that we, the Sikhs, have a great responsibility to taking the Guru's ideology to the world.
At the end, of the Seminar following two given Resolutions were passed:
1. This gathering unanimously demands that SGPC and Sri Akal Takht Sahib must revert to the original Nanakshahi Calendar in view of the several distortions which have crept in due to the frequent amendments resorted in the original Nanakshahi Calendar in the recent past.
2. This gathering at the Institute of Sikh Studies unanimously supports the demand of Sardar Gurbakhsh Singh Khalsa, sitting on an indefinite hunger fast at Gurdwara Lakhnor Sahib, Ambala, calling for the release of those Sikh prisoners who have completed their jail terms in respect of 1984 incidents. They must be released. Internment over and beyond the stipulated jail term is not only a violation of our constitution but also a gross violation of fundamental human rights. It further resolved that a copy of this resolution to the Chief Minister Punjab and Minister of Home Affair, Govt of India, New Delhi.
Misleading Report in "The Chandigarh Tribune" Regarding the Seminar at Institute of Sikh Studies
News regarding the annual Seminar of the IOSS published in Chandigarh Tribune on November 23, 2014 was totally wrong and factually incorrect. Although the news item in "The Chandigarh Tribune" dated November 23, 2014 carried the photograph of the book release at the Institute of Sikh Studies, but the accompanying news item "Vanishing Panthic Agenda paving way for RSS in Punjab: Sikh Scholars" contained the proceedings of an other conference held at another venue which was of political nature. This mixup has tarnished the image of our Institute which is a completely apolitical, academic organisation engaged in the pursuit of Sikh Studies. This gross reporting was brought to the notice of the Editor, The Tribune and the Secretary of Press Council of India at New Delhi. None of them replied on this misreporting. We are reproducing the IOSS letters to the Editor "The Tribune" and Secretary, Press Council of India in this regard, for the knowledge of the readers of AOSS:
First Email: [Dt: 23rd Nov, 2014]
Reference: News under the title "Vanishing Panthic Agenda Paving Way for RSS in Punjab: Sikh Scholars" on November 23, 2014
The above mentioned news item has been wrongly reported as the proceedings of the Seminar remained confined to the topic of the Seminar "Peaceful Co-Existence and Role of Sikhs". It was purely academic exercise deliberating on the topic.
It is most shocking and unprofessional that Daily of your stature should misinform its readers.
Kindly bring this error in reporting to the notice of your readers in your next edition and inform us about the same.
Second Email: [Dt: 25th Nov, 2014]
Ref: "Vanishing 'Panthic Agenda Paving Way for RSS In Punjab: Sikh Scholars" in Chandigarh Tribune of 23rd Nov, '14
We have taken note of correct coverage of our Seminar 'Peaceful Co-Existence and Role of Sikhs' today, i.e., on 24th Nov, 2014, Monday. We are thankful to you for the same.
However, as requested yesterday, there appears no correction of the gross misreporting done on our Seminar yesterday. This should happen at the earliest. Kindly do it by tomorrow now - on 25th Nov, '14, and inform us so we may not miss it. We have to keep everything related to this Issue in our records.
You are duty-bound Sir to take note of such blunders. The content-matter of the entire news under the name of our Institute - Institute of Sikh Studies and the title of our seminar was misrepresentation/ misinformation. Further, the names mentioned in that news item were not even a part of the audience at our seminar - on any of the two days that the seminar lasted.
The entire episode is absolutely unacceptable. We expect you to take action in this regard, so that it goes down in your records as well.
We also expect that you would identify your Reporter, who has reported absolutely irresponsibly; it is difficult to believe that you have such ignorant staff to carry news for your highly esteemed Daily.
We exhort you to take serious action and rectify the innumerable errors in the erroneous reporting at your end.
Email and hard copy sent to:
Press Council of India,
Soochna Bhavan, 8-C.G.O. Complex,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003
We wish to bring to your kind notice the gross misreporting, which was carried by the Chandigarh Tribune, dated November 23, 2014, about a Seminar (Peaceful Co-Existence and Role of Sikhs) held on 22nd - 23rd Nov, 2014, by our Institute, Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh.
The matter published under the heading "Vanishing Panthic Agenda paving way for RSS in Punjab: Sikh Scholars" on 23rd December 2014 with reference to our seminar had absolutely, cent per cent, nothing to do with our event. The persons' whose names are mentioned therein were not even a part of the audience on both the days. Our Seminar was a purely academic exercise, with no political overtones, as brought out by the news item.
Moreover, in spite of our repeated requests to the Editor, The Tribune to rectify the gross error, we did not receive even an acknowledgement of our complaints submitted.
We sincerely hope you would kindly look into the matter and do the needful. We would highly appreciate an acknowledgement of this email as well as of the action taken in the regard at your end.
The emails sent to the Editor, Chandigarh Tribune [on 23rd and 25th Nov, 2014], are reproduced below (emails given above).
Global Sikh Council wants Nanakshahi Calendar
Amritsar, December 19. Endorsing the original Nanakshahi Calendar, the Global Sikh Council (GSC) has appealed to the Sikh community worldwide to adopt it.
The council has given various reasons behind its move, the major one being that the dates of gurpurbs will remain the same year after year. In a press note, the council said: "It is of great significance for the Sikh community to have their own independent calendar. Nanakshahi Calendar is a symbol of the sovereignty of the Sikhs." The council also expressed gratitude to Pal Singh Purewal for working hard to prepare Nanakshahi Calendar for the Khalsa Panth.
"We respectfully request Sri Akal Takht Sahib to direct the Sikhs to adopt Nanakshahi Calendar that is proposed by Purewal," reads the press note. (Courtesy: The Tribune, December 20, 2014)
The Kannada Punjabi
Pandit Rao C Dharennavar is on a mission. To teach and save the language he loves, Punjabi. In doing so, he educates young children and is building a bridge between the cultures of Karnataka and Punjab. The 39-year-old assistant professor of sociology at Sector 46 Government College, Chandigarh, is from Bijapur, Karnataka. After finishing his classes at 3pm every day, he drives down to Dhanas, a village some 15 kilometres away, to give lessons in Punjabi to children.
The professor, who learnt Punjabi nine years ago, speaks the language like a native and objects if spoken to in English. He also writes all his official communication in the Gurmukhi script.
His Punjabi classes have about 20-30 students from class V to class XII and are held for two hours every day. Subreet, a Class VII student, says, “We have to learn Punjabi in school but we found it difficult. But sir has made it very easy.’’ Rao charges nothing from the students. Instead he gives `100 to every child as an incentive to learn.
Rao has also translated two holy scriptures of the Sikhs—Sri Jap Ji Saheb and Sri Sukhmani Saheb—into Kannada. He is now working on a Kannada translation of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs.
“Every day from 4am to 8am, I work on the translation. So far, about 40 per cent of the text has been translated. I also explain the meaning of the translated sentence,’’ he says.
Rao, who has an M.Phil and Master’s degree in sociology from JNU in Delhi, says he started learning Punjabi to teach better when he joined the Government College of Girls as a faculty member in 2003. “I used to teach in English but most of the girls did not follow, so I had to learn Punjabi. I learnt it by 2005,’’ he says. Rao’s wife Sridevi has also learnt Punjabi and the family speaks Punjabi at home. His four-year-old son, too, speaks fluent Punjabi.
He has translated 20 works of 12th century Kannada saint Akka Mahadevi into Punjabi. Apart from this, he has translated works of Kannada philosopher Basavanna, saint-poet Allamprabhu, poet-musician Kanakdas, and Carnatic music composer Purandardas as well. Punjabi University in Patiala has started research work on these books.
Rao has also translated Zafarnama of Guru Gobind Singh into Kannada. “No work of translation from Kannada to Punjabi or vice-versa has ever been undertaken. It is important to spread the universal messages of these holy scriptures,’’ he says. (Courtesy: The Indian Express, July 13, 2014)
In his latest gesture, he has offered his services free of cost to the PGI faculty to teach Punjabi since the doctors from South India feel handicapped in interacting with Punjabi speaking patients of this region.
A Demand by IOSS for Open Debate on Nanakshahi Clendar
– Letter Sent to Jethedar, Sri Akal Takht Sahib –
As for the issue of Nanakshahi Calendar (NS) is concerned, the Institute has always demanded that wider consultations be held before making any change(s) to the 2003 version approved by the SGPC, as the absence of such an exercise will lead to gross dissatisfaction among the Sikhs. Great responsibility lies upon the Akal Takht Sahib to keep the Sikhs well informed to remain united. If the issue would be well debated and well deliberated upon, then whatever the decision arrived at would be acceptable to all.
For the last many decades, since Independence, Sikhs are demanding an independent identity from other religions in the Constitution, which has gone unheeded so far. It is most unfortunate, therefore, that we are denying ourselves an opportunity whereby we can create a distincted icon both for Sikh religion and the Sikhs based on established scientific parameters.
The Gurus sacrificed their all to rid us of ignorance/ superstition; but we are failing them miserably by denying ours the adoption of an institution and tradition in tune with the modern times.
We, at the Institute, demand from Sri Akal Takht Sahib that the Sikh masses be given the advantage of an open debate on TV between the leading Proponent(s) and Opponent(s) as regards the Nanakshahi Calendar issue. Handling this sensitive issue without transparency is bound to prove detrimental to our image as a distinct entity.
Letters to Editor
During my last visit to Gurdwara Bangla Sahib in November 2014, I was shocked to find that at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, on the right hand side of the main entrance ( where there is the historical well)
A gold plated picture/Murti of Guru Harkishan Sahib ji has been installed, behind the glass enclosure. Now, ignorant but shardalo Sikhs have started doing Matha Tako to this Murti, either while going inside the Gurdwara Sahib or after coming out of it. There is a sewadar standing right across who does nothing to dissuade any body.
The question is : " Who has installed this Murti like photograph in the Gurdwara premises". Who has authorised it?
This sacrilege is happening all the time. What exactly is the Head Granthi ji doing? Why has he not got it removed immediately he first saw it. What about a battery of Katha Vachaks who come and do katha at the Dewan. Do they all pass by as blind people. What about the Dharam Parchar Committee Members of DSGMC?
It appears to me that our clergy has become ignorant and coward. Their condition is exactly like that of the Kazi in the court of Nawab Wazir Khan of Sirhind. He knew what the Quran says about punishment to children but was guided by Greed and Fear.
As per my understanding, we Sikhs worship only Akal Pukah and nothing else.
Will somebody please convey my humble plea to Jathedar Akal Takhat Sahib to intervene immediately and get the Murti removed and suitably punish the guilty.
Thanks and regards.
Col (retd) Avtar Singh
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