CELEBRATION OF GURU NANAK PARKASH DIVAS
PHILOSOPHY OF GURU NANAK IN MODERN WORLD
at Gurdwara Sikh Lehr Center, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Brampton, Ontario, Canada November 21, 2010
Almost every year Parkash Divas (Birthday) of Guru Nanak is celebrated in every Gurdwara all over the world by performing Akhand Paath(s), to which nobody listens. In one of the Gurdwaras of Toronto area 18 Akhand Paaths were performed on the eve of Parkash Divas this year. After completing the non-stop recitation of the Aad Guru Granth Bhog is performed. Thereafter, Kirtan is followed by reciting some Vaars of Bhai Gurdas in praise of Guru Nanak and Bhatt Swayiay also in the praise of Guru Nanak along with narrating some mythical stories. But Sabds of Guru Nanak are seldom recited. The irony is that philosophy of Guru Nanak embodied in his Bani incorporated in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib is rarely explained or discussed in the Gurdwaras.
The 541st Parkash Divas of Guru Nanak was celebrated differently this year at the Gurdwara Sikh Lehr Center, Brampton, Ontario, Canada by holding a conference on “Philosophy of Guru Nanak in Modern World” on 20th November in English in an auditorium of the Gurdwara. The objective of the conference was to rekindle the original and unique fundamentals of Guru Nanak’s Philosophy. This conference was continued in Punjabi on 21st November in the Main Divan Hall of the Gurdwara in the presence of the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS). Dr Parkash Singh Ahuja from Kitchener, presided the conference. He inaugurated the conference with remarks that the Sikhs of today are strongly shackled with rituals and superstitions from which they were liberated by Guru Nanak. He said that today’s conference will discuss acceptability and suitability of philosophy of Guru Nanak in today’s modern world.
Mr Manjit Singh Mangat, President of the Gurdwara Sikh Lehr Center, explained the objectives of the Gurdwara that this is the first Gurdwara with an open mind to hold conferences and open discussions to understand Sikhi. Today the Parkash Divas of Guru Nanak is being celebrated by holding a conference in collaboration with the Institute for Understanding Sikhism (IUS), Laval, Quebec.
Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, President of IUS, explained the objectives and achievements of the IUS since its formation during 1999 when the ‘300th Initiation of Khalsa’ was celebrated. He explained that all the publications of the IUS are based on scientific and logical interpretation of Gurbani. The IUS hold conferences at various places in the world and also present their work on Nanakian Philosophy on various National and International Conferences in the world. With this conference the IUS is introducing a system that will help the Executives of those Gurdwaras which would like to hold conferences on scientific and logical presentation of Nanakian Philosophy on which Sikhi (Sikhism) is based.
Dr Avtar Singh Dhaliwal, Co-editor of IUS Journal, Understanding Sikhism, from Tennessee, USA spoke about Guru Nanak’s Philosophy – The Truth. He explained the golden rule in Sikhi, “Truth is higher than everything but higher still is truthful living,” expounded by Guru Nanak. While explaining applications of Guru Nanak’s philosophy in present times, he elaborated on 4H principals. Hukam (acceptance of the Will); Humility; Humanity; and, Honesty for truthful living.
Prof Devinder Singh Chahal, President of the Institute for Understanding Sikhism, spoke about the uniqueness and originality of philosophy of Guru Nanak. He emphasized that Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhi, was the first Guru, Prophet, Philosopher and Scientist, who was challenging the wrong religious concepts in South East Asia and Middle East during the same time of Period of Renaissance when the scientists in Europe were challenging the wrong religious concepts. He also explained that when the Bani of Guru Nanak is interpreted with currently known knowledge of science and logic it becomes easily understandable and acceptable by the youth of the Modern World. He emphasized that ‘Nanak’ is the ‘Guru’ and this fact was recognized by the Sikh Gurus, who succeeded to the ‘House of Nanak’: Guru Angad, Guru, Amardas, Guru Ramdas and Guru Arjan in their Bani incorporated in the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS). Prof Chahal further explained in details how the Gurbani has been misinterpreted under the influence of ancient and Vedantic philosophy by the earlier Sikh theologians and the contemporary Sikh theologians and scholars. Consequently, such misinterpretations lead some non-Sikh scholars to declare that Sikhi (Sikhism) is syncretism and there is nothing original or unique in Nanakian Philosophy. Finally, Prof Chahal quoted a number of verses of Guru Nanak to prove that philosophy of Guru Nanak embodied in his Bani incorporated into the AGGS is original, unique, and scientific, which can be easily understood and accepted by the humanity of the modern world if taught scientifically and logically.
Dr Surinder Singh Sidhu of Brampton, Onatrio spoke about the suitability of Guru Nanak’s philosophy for maintaining peace in the world. Dr Gurdev Singh Sangha spoke about uniqueness of Guru Nanak’s philosophy and emphasized that Sikhism is distinct religion from Hindus. There were quite a good number of questions posed to the speakers on both days and the speakers answered their questions very convincingly. That is the way of learning in Gurdwaras. In fact the Gurdwara is a learning institute (Guru dwaray hoai sooji paisi – Guru Nanak) but it is being used for worship only.
The IUS also displayed their publications outside the Divan Hall. The book, Nanakian Philosophy: Basics for Humanity, was signed by Prof Chahal, the author.
The conference was conducted very successfully by Mr Amarjit Singh Chahal from Windsor, Ontario. This conference left very good impact about Nanakian Philosophy on the Sangat. At the end of the conference each speaker was honored with Saropa (Robe of honor) by Giani Ji, S Jawsinder Singh, of the Gurdwara Sikh Lehr Center.
Dr. Devinder Singh Chahal,
Laval, Quebec, Canada